The auld alliance?
The highland clan MacDonald is a sister clan to the Irish Clann MacAodhagain with an age-old relationship.
1) In 1567 Huw M'Kegane (in Gaelic Aodh MacAodhagain, in English Hugh Macegan) moved to Coll and his family spread to North Uist in the Scottish Hebrides which were owned by Clan McDonald of Sleat. The official clan MacDonald considers Keegans as part of their sept (provided they are descended from the McKeigans of North Uist)
2) The name McKeeg (obviously very similar to McKeegan) is a sept of the Clan Macleod who fought the MacDonalds on the Isle of Jura for control of the islands but were also related many times by marriage,
3) The name MacAodh (obvious similarity with MacAodhagain) which is often anglicised Mackay is a sept of Clan MacDonald
4) The Manx name Kaighan (Keigheen) is considered synonymous with Keegan (from MacAodhagain) but there is a possibility it developed from MacEachan which is, again, a sept of Clan McDonald
Keegans of Uist - a sept of Clan MacDonald
The branch of the clan that migrated from Antrim (Ulster) to North Uist (Outer Hebrides) are considered a sept of Clan MacDonald.
The name M'Kegane (as well as McKegaine etc) was introduced to Coll and Uist in Scotland in circa 1600 around the same time that Owen MacAodhagain (ancestor of the Keegan sept) and his brother Connor MacAodhagain (ancestor of the Egan sept) flourished.
North Uist was in the possession of MacDonald of Sleat from 1495 to 1855. The Macdonalds of Sleat are descendants of Hugh MacDonald (d.1498) who was a younger son of Alexander of Islay, Earl of Ross, 3rd Lord of the Isles and 8th chief of Clan Donald. On 28 May 1625, his great-great-great-great-grandson Archibald Macdonald was created a Baronet, of Sleat in the Isle of Skye in the County of Inverness, in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia.
By the 16th century the power of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles had warned. The Clan Matheson no longer supported the MacDonalds but were now in allegiance with the Clan MacKenzie. Chief Iain Dubh Matheson died whilst defending Eilean Donan Castle (pictured) against the Clan Macdonald of Sleat for the Clan MacRae and Clan MacKenzie in 1539.
The Battle of the Western Isles, 1586, Fought on the Isle of Jura, between the Clan Macdonald of Sleat and the Clan MacLean. The Battle of Siol Tormoit was fought in 1601 between the Clan Macdonald of Sleat and the Clan MacLeod.
Donald Gorm MacDonald of the Sleat had married the sister of Sir Rory Macleod of the Harris. For some reason Donald Gorm MacDonald did not like his wife. Sir Rory Macleod sent a message to Donald Gorm MacDonald, asking him to return his sister. Donald Gorm not only refused to obey this request, but also divorced her. He then married the sister of Kenneth MacKenzie , Laird of Kintail. Sir Rory Macleod took this disgrace (as he thought it) so highly, that, assembling his men and invaded part of Donald Gorm MacDonald's lands in the Isle of Skye, which lands Sir Rory MacLeod claimed to be his. Donald Gorm MacDonald then assembled his forces, and invaded MacLeod's lands of Harris, which he wasted and spoiled, carried away their store and bestial, and killed some of the inhabitants. Rory Macleod and his men traveled to the Siol Tormoit, Isle of Uist (which was Donald Gorm MacDonalds), sent his cousin, Donald Glas Macleod, with some 40 men, to spoil the island, and took much goods preserved in a church. John Macian-Macjames (a kinsman of Donald Gorm MacDonald), accompanied with 20 others, encountered Donald Glas Macleod. After a sharp skirmish, they killed Donald Glas Macleod, with the most part of his company, and so rescued the goods. Sir Rory, seeing the bad success of his men, retired home for that time. Both sides continued to steal and slaughter. In end, Donald Gorm MacDonald assembled his whole forces in the year of 1601 and invaded Sir Rory MacLeod's lands drawing them into a fight. Sir Rory Macleod was then in Argyle looking for advice from the Earl of Argyll against the Clan MacDonald. Alexander Macleod (Sir Rory's brother) resolves to fight with Donald Gorm MacDonald, even though his brother was absent. The battle lasted the most part of the day, both contending for the victory with great obstinacy. The Clan MacDonald, in the end, defeated their enemies, taking Alexander Macleod prisoner. The two sides later made peace and Alexander MacLeod was released.
MacDonald of Sleat and North Uist Tartan
The folklore of Aodhagain MacAodhagain and the giant Sea monster
Once a young man of the name of Egan Mackiegan (Iogan MacIogain - an old North Uist surname) went with a boat's crew to hunt seals on Cousamul.
He killed - as he thought - a huge seal by dint of the usual blows on the forehead, and, as it was too heavy to lift into the boat, he made a hole in its paw through which he put a rope, and took it in tow (Rinneadh toll'n a spòig, chuireadh hall ann, is cheangladh ris an sgoth e).
But the monster, which was only stunned, revived and made its escape (Thug e an habh air). Not long afterwards fog descended and the hunters lost their bearings. After hours of rowing they heard the sound of the sea breaking on some shore and the mist suddenly lifted (Chualas muir a' bualadh ri cladach agus thog an ceò).
They landed on a strange island which contained a solitary house. In the house they found a gigantic grey-headed old man and a family of sons and daughters, by whom they were hospitably received, and given food and drink. While the meal was in progress the old man surveyed Egan covertly, and, when it was over, asked his name. Egan told him, and received the startling reply:
Iogain a thàinig a nall Air bharraibh nan naoi caogada tonn, Fhir a bhrist fiaclan mo chinn, 'Saognaidh leam t'fhaicinn mar rium. Iogain MhicIogain, Ged a thug mi biadh dhuit - Aran is im is càis' is feoil - Air mo dhà làimh, Iogain, Gun chuir thu 'n gath am spòig.
Egan that came hither On the crest of the nine from fifty waves, The man who broke the teeth in my head, I am pale as death to see you with us. Egan Mackiegan,Although I give you food - Bread and butter and cheese and meat - With my two hands, Egan, Even though you put a shaft through my paw.
Afterwards Egan and his crew took their departure. When out at sea they looked behind, only to see the island disappearing as in a magic cloud.
Lairds of Crackaig, Jura
Since the clan MacKaigan ere involved with the Isle of Jura I was very interested when I discovered a conservation project in Jura whereby it is possible to buy land in Crackaig which is then maintained to allow the various deer and wilds birds to live there. I purchased this land and received the title Laird of Crackaig, Jura.
Laird of Crackaig, Jura