The Head of the Table

Ruins of Finlaggan Castle, former stronghold of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, on Eilean Mór on Loch Finlaggan, Islay.
Ruins of Finlaggan Castle, former stronghold of the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, on Eilean Mór on Loch Finlaggan, Islay.

The Chief of the Macdonalds happening to be in Ireland, was invited to an entertainment given by the Lord-Lieutenant. He chanced to be among the last that came in, and set himself at the foot of the table near the door. The Lord-Lieutenant asked him to come and sit beside him, and Macdonald, who had no English, inquired “What the Carle said?” He bids you move towards the head of the table, was the answer. “Tell the Carle,” (replied the Chief indignant that the dinner had not been kept back till his arrival), “that wherever Macdonald sits, that is the ‘head of the table’.” An Account of the Highland Society of London, 1813.

Arms of Dómhnall Íle at Reid Harlaw

Arms of Donald, Lord of the Isles on the Harlaw Monument, north of Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Arms of Donald, Lord of the Isles on the Harlaw Monument, north of Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
A chlanna cuinn, cuimhnichidh
Cruas an am na h’iorghuil
Gu arinneach gu arronntach,
Gu arch, gu allonnta’
*  *  *  *  *  *
Gu gruamach, gu grinnail,
Gu grainail, gu gaisgail,
Gu gleusda, gu geinnail,
Gu gasda, gu guineach,
Gu galghaircach, gu griongalach,
Gu griosnamhach, gu gairlamhach,
Gu glansgathach, gu geurlannach, &c.
Race of Conn, be hardihood
Remembered in the day of strife,–
Repeatedly thrusting confidently,
Strongly, nobly–
*  *  *  *  *  *
Sternly, elegantly,
Terribly, heroically,
Eagerly, in a wedge-like column
Gallantly, keenly,
Causing lamentations, ardently,
Inveterately, with sounding blows,
Lopping off limbs, with keen swords.

— Excerpt of poem by Lachlan Mac Mhuireach, Bard to Donald of the Isles, to inspire his troops before the Battle of Harlaw (1411).

The Cat’s Back

Knockfarrel Hill or Drumchatt (Druimchat) or "the Cat's Back", a ridge to the southeast of Strathpeffer, Ross and Cromarty, Highland, Scotland.
Knockfarrel Hill or Drumchatt (Druimchat) or “the Cat’s Back”, a ridge to the southeast of Strathpeffer, Ross and Cromarty, Highland, Scotland.

Thereafter, some of the islanders and the Clandonald met with Clankeinzie at a place in Ross called Drumchatt, where ensued a sharp skirmish; bot in the even the ilanders wer put to the worst, and chassed out of Rosse at that tyme.

— Genealogical History of the Earldom of Sutherland, Sir Robert Gordon, 1625.