An Independent Web Site
This site is not affiliated with any Clan Donald society and its content does not necessarily convey the policies or represent any official Clan Donald organization, but we encourage you to find, and become involved in, your local Clan Donald organization. We have provided links to the official web sites of the Clan Donald Foundation, Inc., Clan Donald, USA, Clan Donald, Canada, Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh, Clan Donald Society of the Highlands and Islands, Clan Donald, Australia, and Clan Donald, New Zealand to that end. Outside the UK, these organizations are under the direction of the High Council of Clan Donald Chiefs. Links to Regional Clan Donald activities may be found on many of these web sites that include calendars of local Clan Donald events. Our goal is to provide information that may stimulate discussion of our Clan Donald Heritage whether it be around our family table, at clan social events, or at Highland Games.
Its Your Heritage
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 Gaelic words is provided to help you better understand the significance of place-names, slogans, and titles in your ancestors’ culture. We can now see translations of ancient Gaelic documents that prove our ancestors were not only literate, but had a flourishing culture, which although 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 galleys where 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 category. 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, an article that explains How Somhairlidh became Somerled, and the 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.
Additional Linked Articles
© Copyright Material of Clan Donald Heritage, Inc ®
Clan Donald’s Cross
Clan Donald Today
Why is it Called Clan Donald?
Who was the Ancient Scottish Warrior Fingal?
Our Surname in Census Records
Is it Mc or Mac? Signatures of Prominent Clansmen