Saturday, February 9, 2013

Donnchadh Mór, Redshank Captain

burial stone of Donnchadh Mór Mac Eáin Mhic Lachlainn
It is often difficult to link any of the magnificent Gaelic burial stones in Argyll with historical figures, but in the case of the stone above, history has been kind to us and Donnchadh Mór appears several times in the primary sources of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  He was active from the mid 1400s until circa 1515 and so the stone above was probably carved in 1515.   While the stone is much weathered today, fortunately, it was surveyed and a transcript was made of the text on the stone in 1875, by the well know writer Captain T P White, and appears in his Archaelogical Sketches in Scotland, Knapdale and Gigha.  Donnchadh Mór is an important figure in the history of the Redshank migration to Ulster in the 1500s because he and his descendants were captains and bailiffs for the powerful Earls of Argyll and it was these Earls that orchestrated the movement of so many Redshanks to Ireland.

The inscription on the stone is in Latin, and reads Hic iacet Duncanus Mor M'Cane.  Captain White commented, 'This appears to be one of those rare instances where we are enabled to identify a mediaeval tombstone in the West Highland with a substantive individual of who there is documentary record.'  Indeed so, Donnchadh Mór appears in the Scottish crown records and in the Caimbeul family records several times. Also on the stone, across the top is the 'clan' name Lachlan.

Donnchadh Mór was the son of Ailean Mac Eáin Riabhach Mhic Lachlainn of the House of Dunadd.  Ailean was granted extensive lands in what is now Kilmichael Glassary Parish in 1434.  He had four sons and each establish their own House within the parish.  The four Houses and their locations were 1) Dónal of Dunadd, the ruling line, 2) Donnchadh Mór of Dunemuck, 3) Eáin Riabhach of Killiemuchanock, and 4) Giolla Críost of Creig an Taribh. 

While the clan association of this family was Clann Mhic Lachlainn, the surnames used by these related families followed Gaelic traditional patronymics.  In several records the family is referred by the name Mac Eáin Riabhach, after the father of Ailean, who obtained the original grant of land.  Some of the surnames associated with this family are Mac Ailpín, Mac Dónaill, Mac Donnchaidh, Mac Eáin, and Mac an Leagha (anglicised forms McAlpin, McDonald, Duncan, McKean, and McLea).

The family was closely associated with the Earls of Argyll and appear in Caimbeul family records.  Their main function were Captains, but each House had other duties as well such as Tacsmen (administrator lands, in this case lands of the Earl of Argyll) and physicians.   As military captains they served both in Argyll and in the many places the Caimbeul hand reached in the 1500s. 


No comments:

Post a Comment