Fáilte a Chur Roimh an tir Chlainn Domhnaill OighreachD
That is, “Welcome to the lands of Clan Donald Heritage” in Gaelic, our ancestors’ native language. The purpose of this web site is to provide information of interest to those with ancestors named Macdonald, McDonald, MacDonell, McConnell, McDaniel, Donaldson or any of the other English spellings of the Gaelic name “mhic domhnaill”.
There are also hundreds of family names from the Highlands & West Islands associated with Clan Donald such as Alisdair, Cunningham, Houston, Henderson, MacSorleys, Saunders and hundreds more that make us the largest of the Highland Scottish clans.
The following link (in blue) takes you to an article about theSliochd Chlainn Dhomhnaill (The Gaelic term for the branches of Clan Donald) . This article provides an explanation of why Clan Donald is made up of branches and the important role these branches played in our ancestors’ culture. You may also click on any of the Crests to the left or below (depending upon your device) to go directly to each of the Branches of Clan Donald. You may click on any of the major headings at the top of each page to read more on each topic and click on the Clan Donald Heritage logo at the top to return to this home page from any other page.
. The Symbols of Clan DonalD
From the Somerled window at Armadale
The symbols of Clan Donald include the Red Right Hand,The Rampant Lion, Clan Donald’s cross, The Celtic Galley, and The Salmonas displayed in this 19th century Somerled Window from Armadale castle as well as many of the wax seals that accompanied the signatures of Clan Donald chiefs for over 600 years. These symbols were often included in a chief’s signet ring that made his unique impression in a wax seal, often his coat of arms. The use of such wax seals gave rise to the still common saying, “signed, sealed, and delivered”. One such wax seal isthe Rising Eagle. The historical and cultural significance of these symbols of our clan are presented here that you may understand what your ancestors viewed as visual ties to our heritage.
Just click on the blue, underlined text to link to more about each symbol. Since these individual symbols frequently appear in many of our clan crests and clan chief’s Coats of Arms it is important that you understand their meaning and significance to our heritage. It is also important to understand the difference between these two achievements (crests & coats of arms) as they were used by our ancestors.
New Digital Media Approach to Our Traditional Clan History
This web site is based upon Donald J. Macdonald’s authoritative history of Clan Donald. Along side the text this site provides online maps, original photographs, the music of wonderful Celtic artists such as Steve McDonald, Julie Fowlis, and Liam O’Maonlai for your listening pleasure as you read. We have also included the digital version of the original Clan Donald Journey to Armadale video of the ancient Clan Donald lands so those who have never seen their ancestral lands may virtually experience them, and those who have experienced them may relive their experience here.
Becoming involved in activities in your area is the best way to keep your heritage alive. This web site is not just a history. The object of this web site is to provide information to those in Clan Donald today about the traditions and culture of their ancestors in an entertaining, multimedia format that will stimulate discussion between generations and within Clan Donald organizations. We have a proud heritage and a responsibility to convey our heritage to our children & grandchildren as our ancestors did for over a thousand years. The Gaelic word oighreachd (pronounced & sometimes spelled eiraght) means “heritage” in the sense of expectation, responsibility, or inheritance more than just one’s ancestry. By learning about our ancestors’ culture we learn something significant about ourselves.
Understanding Our Ancestors
We gain an understanding of our ancestors by learning about their culture, their language, how and where they lived. Before the advent of the Internet fundamental misconceptions concerning our ancestors filled British historical accounts with sweeping generalizations that our ancestors were illiterate, immoral, and a primitive culture requiring “civilization”. We can now learn much about our ancestors by reading their ancient literature, looking at the land which was so much a part of them, the legends they taught their youth, as well as the stories told by ancient seanchaidh (pronounced shawn-a-eh, Gaelic meaning oral historians). The meaning of many Gaelic words are provided to help you better understand the significance of place-names, slogans, and titles in your ancestors’ culture. With the Internet we can now see translations of ancient Gaelic documents that prove our ancestors were not only literate, but had a flourishing culture, which although was very different from its contemporary cultures, was frequently many centuries ahead of its time. For example the 12th century Kingdom of the Isles had a prototype of a public educational system and a representative form of government not found in their contemporary European feudal kingdoms. These were Celtic (Gaelic) cultural attributes. Although they did not originate with the Kingdom of the Isles, they were preserved by them as the world around them changed. Their neighbors saw these differences as archaic, chaotic, and barbaric. Our ancestors lived in an extremely violent age that does appear much less civilized than the current environment most of us enjoy, but their so called “civilized” neighbors were just as violent as our ancestors. We will seek to neither glorify their violence nor condemn it, but try to understand who our ancestors were, what was of most worth to them, and why.
Traditional Clan Donald History
Most of the 20th century histories of the Highland and Western Islands ignored or misinterpreted Celtic culture in order to justify the British government’s punitive actions against them. To be fair, the Highlanders were a very different culture from those governing them and were not easily governed! In 1978 Donald J. Macdonald compiled a beautiful history of Clan Donald that used the oldest surviving 14th-17th century Gaelic documents to traverse the “treacherous boggy moor” that centuries of misinformation had created. In the introduction to his work, Donald J. Macdonald gave considerable attention to the legend of Cú chulainn(Gaelic = Chulainn‘s hound) the most famous of the ancient Celtic champions. He explained the legend’s significance to Clan Donald and how these legends can help us understand our ancestors. They provide a window into our ancestors’ Celtic crofts and an ear to the songs sung on their galleyswhere genealogy, cultural values, and their life’s ambitions were planted in the fertile minds of the young. The Internet provides access to more knowledge, available to more people than ever before. We have greater opportunity to study the original documents and see what they said about themselves in their native language literally “at our fingertips”. This website provides links to Donald J. Macdonald’s original sources and other ancient Gaelic texts so you may study it out for yourself and come to your own conclusions.
There is much more to Clan DonalD Heritage
Major topics are listed on the menu at the top of each page. Related articles and announcements are listed at the bottom of each page. The Clan Donald Heritage search engine at the top of each page can search out any topic addressed in the pages of this web site. For example if you type in “Somerled” it will pull up more than thirty different articles on this site about our ancestor including “Somhairlidh or Somerled?“ which considers the preference of using our ancestor’s original Gaelic name, another article that explains “How Somhairlidh became Somerled“, and another article that reveals “What Somhairlidh May Mean in Gaelic”. You may also view the site map with a summary of every page of Clan Donald Heritage by typing “site map” in the search box or clicking here. To find out about the webmaster of this site click on About Us.