Home Origins Clan Colla (Origins part 2)
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Thosaigh sé le Ríchíosa  Ceannas Ghaidheal do Chlann Cholla 's còir frògrad

The head of the Gael it is Clan Colla's right to proclaim!

Origins Part 2:  Clan Colla and the Origins of Clan Donald

According to the Black and Red Books of Clanranald in the 4th century the three sons of Eochach Dumhlein or Dubhlein (Dublin) were Colla Uais, Colla Fo Chri, and Colla Menn, the Three Collas.  Their mother was Aileach (Gaelic = beautiful) daughter of an Alban king.  This is the same woman that the Galley Aileach was named after.  Celtic legend states they were of the derbfine of the àrd righ of Eire and went to battle to prove Colla Uais was better suited to be àrd righ than his uncle.  But Donald Schlegel has proposed an alternate explanation of the origin of the Three Collas.  He believes the Three Collas are the only instance in the recorded ancient history of Ireland in which three brothers each have a personal name, a name in common, and titles. He concludes they were not Irish, but imported.   He suggests they were not descended from Irish Kings on their father's side, but instead were Romanized Britons.  This might account for the y DNA found among the Colla's descendants being unique among the Irish. But this theory requires we consider only the paternal line which contradicts the Celtic view of royal heritage.   Their traditional lineage makes no claim of a purely Celtic blood line.  It lists their mother as British at a time of Roman influence.  Schlegal simply reverses their traditional lineage to be consistent with current yDNA conclusions.  I've had my yDNA charted and had a close match with several who also have the surname McDonald, MacDonald, or McDaniel.  I had an exact match that put me in contact with a second cousin I hadn't known before.  I also had just as close of a match with several who have traced back several generations without a single McDonald on their paternal line! But they do have a recent McDonald on their maternal line!  I am more inclined to believe that this is evidence the geneticists need to tweak their yDNA premise rather than assuming the infallibility of the genetic testing based upon the premise (that all these people have a recent paternal McDonald ancestor they just don't know about).

The Curse of the Finghal

There was a strong Celtic prohibition (Geis) against slaying a sitting crofters cottage àrd righ to gain the throne.  If someone violated that geis none of their descendants would ever sit upon the throne.  But  Colla Uais and his warriors slew the sitting àrd righ (their own uncle)  and defeated his warriors in total disregard of the Geis.  Thus Colla Uais became àrd righ of all Eire from 322 AD until 326 AD , but not one of his descendants ever occupied that throne.   Then the "The Three Collas" were driven from the throne in 326.  Their clans were banished from Eire to their mother's land, Alba (ancient Scotland).  The legend of The Three Collas has been repeated around peat fires in the crofts of Clan Colla for over 1500 years to proclaim our royal pedigree, and also explain why the right to rule all Ireland had been lost to Colla's descendants.  The Annals of the Four Masters refer to this as "The curse of the Finghal". Finn Gaidheal or Finghal (Gaelic = fair Gael) was a term used to designate Clan Colla (and Clan Donald) in the Leabher Dearg (The Red Book of Clanranald). The Three Collas returned to Ireland with only 27 followers left after what must have been a difficult three years in Alba.  They  tried to induce their cousin (the sitting High King) to kill Colla Uais so this High King's posterity would also experience the "curse of the Finghal" and lose their place in the royal derbfine, but he wouldn't take the bait. Rather than kill the former High King, he sent the Three Collas on a dangerous quest to subdue the rebellious kingdom of Ulster. The Collas assembled an army (obviously more than their 27 kin) and succeeded in establishing the kingdom of Airgialla in Ulster Ireland.  From Airgialla came Fergus (Gaelic = man who is strong or in a battle rage & Mòr = senior) who's army  would strengthen the Irish Dalriadic kingdom on the west coast of Alba about 500 AD. It still bears the name Argyll from the Gaelic Airer Gaidheal (pronounced Ar-gile) meaning coast of the Gael.

Clan Donald's ancestors were known anciently as Clan Colla because they were descended from those who followed Colla Uais (given name was Cairell) who was once àrd righ of all Eire.  At the Battle of Harlaw the brosnachadh (Gaelic= inciting to battle) address to the Highland warriors proclaimed Clan Donald their rightful leaders because they were proclaimed descendants of the ancient High Kings of Ireland "Chlann Cholla agus siol Chuinn" (Gaelic= family of Colla back to Conn cued cathach). The 1411 poem declares, "Ceannas Ghaidheal do Chlann Cholla 's còir frògradh" literally meaning The head of the Gael it is Clan Colla's right to proclaim!

Gaidhealach, Gall Gaidheal, & Galloglach

These three Gaelic descriptive terms are frequently confused.  Gaidhealach (pronounced "Gaelic") was a term Scottish Highlanders used to denote themselves.  Galloglach (pronounced "Gallow glass") was an Irish Gaelic term for the many Highlanders hired as  mercenaries by Irish Kings. The Irish term for the mixture of AnnalsGaels and Norse or Picts in Dubhlein, the Isle of Mann, Galloway, the Orkney islands, and the Hebrides were called Gall Gaidheal (pronounced Gall Gael).

The Gall Gael or Ghall Gaoidheal literally "foreign Gael", were characterized in the 8th century Annals of the Four Masters as heathen (non-Christian), often Irish born, foreigners who joined in Viking raids of Ireland and Dalriada from Dubhlein, the Isle of Mann, the Orkney islands, or the Hebrides. The term Gall Gael was also used by Highlanders to denote Lowlanders who were considered the offspring of Gael and Pict (Cruithna) in Alba (especially Scotland's Galloway).   Clan Donald was definitely considered Gall Gaidhael by Irish Celts as our documented family tree includes a mix of Celtic, Nordic, and Albanic ancestors.  Clan Donald were also  Gaidhealach (Highlanders) and Galloglach (Highland mercenaries in Ireland), but in their own writings they referred to themselves as Finn Gaidhael (Gaelic = fair haired Gaels) usually rendered Fingal.

In 563 ADC another member of the ruling derbfine, Colum cille's cathach or battlementand a cousin to Colla Uais namely Còllum Cille (St. Columba), established a Celtic Christian monastery at Iona that was later to become the burying place of Clan Donald Lords. Còllum Cille helped establish peace between Dalriada and the Picts (native inhabitants of Alba) by orchestrating a massive missionary  effort to convert them to Celtic Christian beliefs.  Then in the 8th century Viking raiding parties began tormenting the kingdom of Dalriada in both Alba and Eire. Viking colonies in the Orkney Islands, the Hebrides, the Isle of Mann, and Dubhlein or Dublin, Ireland became Viking launching sites for constant raids on Ireland, Dalriada, and Britain. In the 11th century the Irish King, Brian Baru, drove the Vikings from Ireland and after another hundred years Somhairlidh (Somerled) drove the Vikings from Argyll and the Isles that would later become part of Scotland. (Continue by clicking on Somhairlidh.