Clan Donald

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The Clan Donald

Author Donald J Macdonald of Castleton
Details Hardback Macdonald Publishers (1978) 467 pages
ISBN 0904265218

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The last comprehensive history of Clan Donald was published in three volumes between 1896 and 1904. It was a monumental work written by the Revs. A. & A. MacDonald, the seannachies of the Clan to whom the author of the present volume freely acknowledges his indebtedness for the liberal use he has been able to make of the results of their labours in order to make accessible a history of the Clan modified only in certain respects by the lessons of more recent research.

The book covers the lives and times of the Lords of the Isles from Somerled, Rex Insularum, down to the fall of the Lordship in 1493 and tells the story of the branches which thereafter rose to prominence down to the time of the 'Forty-five when the operation of powerful, political and economic forces sped the final decay of an already declining clan system.

At the zenith of their power the Clan Donald Lords of the Isles held sway over vast territories stretching from the Butt of Lewis to the Glens of Antrim, including the western mainland of Scotland from Lochalsh to Kintyre, and for half a century also dominated the north by their possession of the great earldom of Ross. Proud of their descent from Conn of the Hundred Battles through 1000 years to the great Somerled, they bore themselves as independent princes pledged to guard the political and cultural heritage of the Gael against the encroachment of alien influences which threatened its survival From Somerled's treaty with Malcolm IV of Scotland to the last Lord's fatal treaty with Edward IV of England, the Lords of the Isles asserted their separate authority against the central power of the state provided order and good rule within their own domain, and left a tradition of wise government borne out in sharp relief by the widespread anarchy which for more than a century succeeded their fall.

With the removal of their patriarchal head, the branches of the Clan were left exposed to the machinations of powerful families whom an unwise royal policy favoured with the opportunity to enrich themselves with the spoils of the defunct Lordship. Foremost among them was the Campbell House of Argyll whose adroit, dissension-provoking policies led to the ruin of two great families and to a fierce hatred among the rest which, more than any sense of loyalty to the Stewarts inspired them to become the victims of successive lost causes up to the culminating tragedy of Culloden and its aftermath.

The author, Donald J. Macdonald, 12th of Castleton, was born in Edinburgh in May 1897. He was educated at the Royal High School where he carne under the influence of Dr. William J. Watson (later Professor of Celtic at the University of Edinburgh) by whom he was encouraged to take up the study of Highland history and the Gaelic language. The Great War Interrupted his studies at the University and, commissioned into the Royal Artillery, he served in Egypt and Salonika until his demobilisation in 1919.

After a period spent in his father's home in the Manse of Arisaig, he decided that the prospects of pursuing a successful career in Britain were somewhat uninviting at the time, and he accordingly joined his elder brother in taking up land in British East Africa under the Soldier Settlement scheme offered by the government for the development of the colony. There he worked and prospered until his great love for Scotland brought him back to this country to settle eventually in Edinburgh and provide the benefits of a Scottish education for his family.

For over thirty years he has been associated with the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh, serving for many years as Secretary and for nine as President, during which he established a close, continuing contact with fellow clansmen all over the world, fostering their interest in the history and traditions of the Clan and encouraging the formation of their own Societies whose growth and development he views with great pride.

In 1965 he published his first book, "Slaughter Under Trust"' a short and factual account of the Massacre of Glencoe, which was well received and is shortly to appear in paperback in the U.S.A. Much of his time since then has been dedicated to the preparation of this volume - a task in which his researches have been greatly aided by an extensive knowledge of the territory it covers and, in respect of genealogical detail an especially fruitful relationship with the surviving representatives of the families whose story he tells.

In 1978 he and his wife removed from Edinburgh to Ardvasar in Skye to spend the rest of their lives on the isle of his ancestors.

The Clan Donald was re-issued by Pelican Publishing in the USA in 1982:


The Clan Donald

Author Macdonald of Castleton, Donald J
Details Pelican Pub Co Inc (January 1, 1982) 467 pages
ISBN 0904265218


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