Patrimonial Possessions of the Ancients

Standard of Ranald Alexander Macdonald of Clanranald, 24th Chief and Captain of Clanranald.
Standard of Ranald Alexander Macdonald of Clanranald, 24th Chief and Captain of Clanranald.

Seventeen hundred years exactly,
And fifteen years directly close,
From the birth of God to the death of Allan,
Whoever should enquire.

Our importuning of the Chief over heaven,
Grant, O Mary, O Son, our request.
That he be in heaven of the angelic orders,
If it be the will of our Lord.

To the abode of the pure angels
Is the journey for his soul;
It is not right to be sorrowful after him,
It is sufficient to remember our first redemption.

Such as have remained with us of his princely blood,
May the king of the elements well direct them,
And bring them to obtain their property by right,
And defend them against the power of the enemy.

Young Ranald, our country’s chief,
May he come with a right royal intention,
To the patrimonial possessions of the ancients
To awaken the spirit of the warriors.

The King who redeemed all people —
We implore Him to send prosperity in our time,
And to send [Ranald] to our presence over the wave,
Since the nobility of our wishes has fallen.

Excerpt of Elegy of Allan of Clanranald from the Book of Clanranald.

Continue reading “Patrimonial Possessions of the Ancients”

Band and Statues of Icolmkill

Iona Abbey.
Iona Abbey.

[T]he first of a succession of measures taken by the Scottish government specifically aimed at the extirpation of the Gaelic language, the destruction of its traditional culture and the suppression of its bearers.

Gaelic: A Past and Future Prospect. MacKinnon, Kenneth. The Saltire Society 1991, Edinburgh.

Whoever would understand one of the most important transactions in the History of the Scottish Highlands must read those six printed pages, containing the actual text of ‘THE BAND AND STATUTES OF ICOLMKILL.’ The purport of the BAND is that, at a Court held by Bishop [Andrew] Knox [of the Isles] in the sacred Island of Iona on the 24th of August 1609, nine of the Highland and Island chiefs, — viz., Angus Macdonald of Dunivaig in Islay, Hector Maclean of Duart in Mull, Donald Gorm Macdonald of Sleat in Skye, Rory Macleod of Harris, Rory MacKinnon of Strathordaill in Skye, Lauchlan MacLean of Coll, Donald Macdonald of Ylanterim in Moydart (Captain of Clanranald), Lauchlan Maclean of Lochbuy in Mull, and Gillespie MacQuharrie of Ulva, — had bound themselves by the most solemn oaths to future obedience to his Majesty and to the laws of Scotland.

The Statutes of Icolmkill.

They are nine in number as follows :–

  1. The ruinous kirks to be repaired, and a regular parochial ministry to be established and maintained, with the same discipline as in other parts of the realm, the same observance of the Sabbath and of other moralities, and the suppression in particular of the inveterate Celtic practice of marriages for a term of years.
  2. Inns to be set up in convenient places in all the Islands for the accommodation of travellers, so as to put an end to mere idle wandering and to the burden on the resources of poor tenants and crofters by the habit of promiscuous quartering.
  3. To the same purpose, all idle vagabonds without visible and honest means of living to be cleared out of the Isles; and the chiefs themselves to cease from capricious exactions upon their clansmen, and be content each with a household retinue of as many gentlemen and servants as his means will support, — e.g. MacLean of Duart with eight gentlemen, Angus Macdonald, Donald Gorm, Rory MacLeod, and the Captain of Clanranald, with six gentlemen each, and so proportionally with the rest.
  4. Still to the same purpose, all sorning and begging, and the custom of “conzie,” to be put down. [Sorning is the practice of extorting free quarters & provision. Conzie is the practice of billeting the lord’s soldiers upon the tenantry.]
  5. A main cause of the poverty and barbarity of the Islanders being “thair extraordinair drinking of strong wynis and acquavitie, brocht in amangis thame pairtlie be merchandis of the maneland and pairtlie be sum trafficquaris indwellaris amangis thameselffis,” all general importation or sale of wine or aquavitae to be stopped by penalties, with reserve of liberty, however, to all persons in the Islands to “brew aquavitie and uthir drink to serve thair awne housis,” and to the chiefs and other substantial gentlemen to send to the Lowlands for the purchase of as much wine and aquavitae as they may require for their households.
  6. Every gentleman or yeoman in the Islands possessing “thriescore kye,” and having children, to send at least his eldest son, or, failing sons, his eldest daughter, to some school in the Lowlands, there to be kept and brought up “quhill they may be found able sufficientlie to speik, reid, and wryte Inglische.”
  7. The Act of Parliament prohibiting all subjects of his Majesty from carrying hagbuts or pistols out of their own houses, or shooting with such firearms at deer, hares, or fowls, to be strictly enforced within the Islands.
  8. The chiefs not to entertain wandering bards, or other vagabonds of the sort “pretending libertie to baird and flattir,” and all such “vagaboundis, bairdis, juglouris, or suche lyke” to be apprehended, put in the stocks, and expelled the Islands.
  9. For the better keeping of these Statutes, and in conformity with the rule that the principal man of every clan is answerable for all his kinsmen and dependents, this present agreement to be a sufficient warrant to all chiefs and sub-chiefs to apprehend and try malefactors within their bounds, seize their goods for the King’s use, and deliver over their persons to the judge competent to be farther dealt with; the chiefs becoming bound not to reset or maintain within their bounds any malefactors that may be fugitive from the bounds of his own natural superior.

— Register of Privy Council of Scotland, Vol. IX, 1610-1613 (1889).

With regard to the “inveterate Celtic practice of marriages for a term of years,” Màrtainn MacGilleMhàrtainn observed eight-five years later:

It was an antient Custom in the Islands, that a Man should take Maid to his Wife, and keep her the space of a Year without marrying her; and if she pleased him all the while, he marry’d her at the end of the Year, and legitimated the Children: but if he did not love her, he return’d her to her Parents, and her Portion also, and if there happen’d to be any Children, they were kept by the Father: but this unreasonable Custom was long ago brought in disuse.

A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, by Martin Martin, 1693.

Culloden’s Dread Echoes Shall Ring

Marker designating the position of Clan Cameron on the field at the Battle of Culloden.
Marker designating the position of Clan Cameron on the field at the Battle of Culloden.

LOCHËIL’S WARNING
Wizard. — Lochiël.

Wizard. — Lochiël! Lochiël, beware of the day
When the Lowlands shall meet thee in battle array!
For a field of the dead rushes red on my sight,
And the clans of Culloden are scatter’d in fight.
They rally, they bleed, for their kingdom and crown;
Woe, woe to the riders that trample them down!
Proud Cumberland prances, insulting the slain,
And their hoof-beaten bosoms are trod to the plain.
But hark! through the fast-flashing lightning of war,
What steed to the desert flies frantic and far?
‘Tis thine, Oh Glenullin! whose bride shall await,
Like a love-lighted watch-fire, all night at the gate.
A steed comes at morning: no rider is there;
But its bridle is rrd with the sign of despair.
Weep, Albin! to death and captivity led!
Oh weep! but thy tears cannot number the dead:
For a merciless sword on Culloden shall wave,
Culloden! that reeks with the blood of the brave.

Lochiël. — Go, preach to the coward, thou death-telling seer!
Or, if gory Culloden so dreadful appear,
Draw, dotard, around thy old wavering sight!
This mantle, to cover the phantoms of fright.

Wizard. — Ha! laugh’st thou, Lochiël, my vision to scorn?
Proud bird of the mountain, thy plume shall be torn!
Say, rush’d the bold eagle exultingly forth,
From his home, in the dark rolling clouds of the north?
Lo! the death-shot of foemen outspeeding, he rode
Companionless, bearing destruction abroad;
But down let him stoop from his havoc on high!
Ah! home let him speed — for the spoiler is nigh.
Why flames the far summit? Why shoot to the blast
Those embers, like stars from the firmament cast?
‘Tis the fire-shower of ruin, all dreadfully driven
From his eyrie, that beacons the darkness of heaven.
Oh, crested Lochiël! the peerless in might,
Whose banners arise on the battlements’ height,
Heaven’s fire is around thee, to blast and to burn;
Return to thy dwelling! all lonely return!
For the blackness of ashes shall mark where it stood,
And a wild mother scream o’er her famishing brood.

Lochiël. — False wizard, avaunt! I have marshalled my clan:
Their swords are a thousand, their bosoms are one!
They are true to the last of their blood and their breath,
And like reapers descend to the harvest of death.
Then welcome be Cumberland’s steed to the shock!
Let him dash his proud foam like a wave on the rock!
But woe to his kindred, and woe to his cause,
When Albin her claymore indignantly draws;
When her bonneted chieftains to victory crowd,
Clanronald the dauntless, and Moray the proud,
All plaided and plumed in their tartan array —

Wizard. — Lochiël, Lochiël, beware of the day!
For, dark and despairing, my sight I may seal,
But man cannot cover what God would reveal;
‘Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore,
And coming events cast their shadow before.
I tell thee, Culloden’s dread echoes shall ring
With the bloodhounds, that bark for thy fugitive king.
Lo! annointed by Heaven with the vials of wrath,
Behold, where he flies on his desolate path!
Now, in darkness and billows, he sweeps from my sight:
Rise, rise! ye wild tempests, and cover his flight!
‘Tis finished. Their thunders are hushed on the moors:
Culloden is lost, and my country deplores.
But where is the iron-bound prisoner? Where?
For the red eye of battle is shut in despair.
Say, mounts he the ocean-wave, banish’d, forlorn,
Like a limb from his country cast bleeding and torn?
Ah, no! for a darker departure is near;
The war-drum is muffled, and black is the bier;
His death-bell is tolling: oh! mercy, dispel
Yon sight, that it freezes my spirit to tell!
Life flutters convulsed in his quivering limbs,
And his blood-streaming nostril in agony swims.
Accursed be the faggots, that blaze at his feet,
Where his heart shall be thrown, ere it ceases to beat,
With the smoke of its ashes to poison the gale —

Lochiël. — Down, soothless insulter! I trust not the tale:
For never shall Albin a destiny meet,
So black with dishonour, so foul with retreat.
Tho’ my perishing ranks should be strew’d in their gore,
Like ocean-weeds heap’d on the surf-beaten shore,
Lochiël, untainted by flight or by chains,
While the kindling of life in his bosom remains,
Shall victor exult, or in death be laid low,
With his back to the field, and his feet to the foe!
And leaving in battle no blot on his name,
Look proudly to heaven from the death-bed of fame.

— Thomas Campbell, 1802.

Castle Tioram

On Wi’ the Braid Claymore

Prince Charles Edward Stuart; portrait by Louis-Gabriel Blanchet.

Cam’ ye by Atholl, lad wi’ the philabeg,
Down by the Tummel, or banks of the Garry?
Saw ye the lads, wi’ their bonnets an’ white cockades,
Leaving their mountains to follow Prince Charlie.

Chorus
Follow thee, follow thee, wha wadna follow thee?
Long has thou lov’d an’ trusted us fairly!
Charlie, Charlie, wha wadna follow thee?
King o’ the Highland hearts, bonnie Charlie.

I hae but ae son, my gallant young Donald;
But if I had ten, they should follow Glengarry;
Health to MacDonald and gallant Clan Ronald,
For these are the men that will die for their Charlie.

Chorus

I’ll go to Lochiel, and Appin, and kneel to them;
Down by Lord Murray and Roy of Kildarlie;
Brave Mackintosh, he shall fly to the field wi’ them;
These are the lads I can trust wi’ my Charlie.

Chorus

Down by thro’ the Lowlands, down wi’ the whigamore,
Loyal true Highlanders, down wi’ them rarely;
Ronald and Donald drive on wi’ the braid claymore,
Over the necks o’ the foes o’ Prince Charlie.

Caisteal Tioram

Tioram Castle is a ruin that sits on the tidal island Eilean Tioram in Loch Moidart, Lochaber, Highland, Scotland. It is located west of Acharacle, approximately 50 miles from Fort William. Though hidden from the sea, the castle controls access to Loch Shiel.

The castle is the traditional seat of Clan MacDonald of Clanranald, a branch of Clan Donald. Castle Tioram was seized by Government forces around 1692 when Clan Chief Allan of Clanranald joined the Jacobite Court in France, despite having sworn allegiance to the British Crown. A small garrison was stationed in the castle until the Jacobite Uprising of 1715 when Allan recaptured and torched it, purportedly to keep it out of the hands of Hanoverian forces.