Clan Donald

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Clan Donald Magazine No 7 (1977) Online

Changes at Keppoch by Ranald A. MacDonald.

Mr. Rory MacDonald chose a prophetic title for his very interesting article on Keppoch during the period 1680-1745, published in Clan Donald Magazine No6.

The changes I would like to see are as follows:

(1) A Keppoch Branch of Clan Donald formed as a society similar to our own Edinburgh Clan Donald Society with a Council or Parliament - Ard Chomhairle - as it was known in early times, to run its affairs, and a continued inter-connection with the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh maintained as with any other branches of Clan Donald throughout the world.

(2) On the land of my ancestors at Brackletter, I would build:

a. A Clan House and Museum.

b. A Ceilidh-Meadhon - an informal gathering or meeting place where I would entertain clansmen and visitors alike with song and dance in traditional style. Poetry and clarsach playing would feature in the programme.

c. A Community Centre for all natives and clansmen alike for the purpose of promoting a community spirit but also our early arts and crafts. Part of this would form a Folk Museum showing the work of the crofters over the centuries, bearing in mind that Keppoch means a Davoch or plot of land and that my ancestors were crofters to a man.

Principally, I would put my own money into this enterprise but I have already had offers of help from other interested parties and perhaps in time I can enlist the help of my fellow clansmen. One thing is certain, I am determined to see this project through if it takes me the rest of my life to do so and though independent, I am not aloof and I sincerely wish to involve my fellow clansmen in the building and reshaping of our great branch of Clan Donald.

Keppoch always was a chief of the people, for the people, and oft as not could be found amongst them on the Braes of Roy, living the normal life of a clansman. Possessing the bardic gift, it is easy to understand his real enjoyment of a Highland ceilidh. His fellow clansmen were of the same turn of mind being 'of the blood' so that high spirits and clan festivity was the normal way of life, and 'lows' and 'highs' of war and peace the exception. Too many historians concentrate on the martial qualities of Keppoch and trot out the old clich´┐Ż about him 'holding the land by the sword'.

Alasdair nan Cleas, 10th of Keppoch (1587-1635), was said to be the Devil Incarnate, whilst Coll nam Bo, 16th of Keppoch (1682-1729), was the greatest cattle reiver of his time. Of course no one bothers to try and explain that cattle reivers were Highland gentlemen who had the time to study the art as well as ample courage and daring to carry out such exciting forays with zeal and skill. That was a matter of politics and sure conviction. Much of the land plundered was Keppoch's by right and not by might, though his enemies encourage the belief that he was robbing them. As for Alasdair nan Cleas (Alasdair of the Tricks), he travelled in Europe a great deal. His natural love of magic as an exercise of the imagination is something hereditary and his 'workings of the devil' no more than clever sleight of hand parlour game stuff which would be highly amusing in today's society.

The clan slogan is particularly interesting being "Dia 's Naomh Aindrea" - "God and St. Andrew," Scotland's own slogan. Readers may wonder why the same motto. The quick answer is that Keppoch whose earlier ancestor was the Lord of the Isles - Good John, 1st Lord of the Isles - was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Somerled, Rex Insularum, d. 1164. The Lion Rampant is the early Celtic Royal insignia used by this house since they were descended from the Royal Celtic line going back to the Ard Righ of Ireland, Conn of the Hundred Battles, d.157 A.D. The MacLennans are entitled to use the same emblem since they are descended from the same line vide the younger brother Fiacha. Fiacha is the direct descendant of Conn too but his elder brother Eochaid is the progenitor of such illustrious names as "Niall of the Nine Hostages", St. Columba, Adamnan, and so on hence the cross crosslet used to denote the children of St. Columba and used both by MacDonald and MacLennan. I have just written an article for the Clan MacLennan Newsletter at the request of my friend, Chief Ranald MacLennan, explaining the matter in detail giving sources etc.

Footnote to the Online Edition.

Ranald made an unsuccessful bid for the chiefship of Keppoch at the Court of the Lord Lyon. However, the Court of Session overturned the Lord Lyon's decision on 30 January 2004 and Ranald is now Keppoch.

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