Clan MacLean History
The name MacLean is rendered in gaelic “MacGille Eoin” or “son of the servant of St. John”. The clan claims its descent from “Gilleathan Na Tuaidh”, of the royal house of Lorn. The Duart branch of the clan claim as their progenitor Lachlan Lubanach, son of Iain Dhu MacLean of Mull, and a direct descendent of Gillean.
The MacLeans of Duart married into the family of the 1st Lord of the Isles in order to gain power and prestige, but not all of their political unions were to benefit the clan – in particular the case of Lachlan MacLean who married the daughter of the Earl of Argyll in the sixteenth century. The match was not a happy one and Lachlan took drastic action by stranding his wife on a rock and leaving her to drown. She was rescued by passing fishermen, and her kinsmen later avenged her by stabbing her husband to death.
The MacLeans were united with their Campbell in-laws in a mutual dislike of the MacDonald clan, one of the most powerful families in the Western Isles. In the sixteenth century, Lachlan Mor, chief of Duart, continually harried the MacDonalds of Islay and after his death in 1598, his sons took revenge on his suspected murderers, the MacDonalds, by carrying out a massacre of the people of Islay which lasted for three days.
The massacre of the MacDonald clansmen marked the point when the fortunes of the MacLean clan began to wane, and by the seventeenth century the Campbells had gained possession of Duart Castle and most of the MacLean estates. However, Duart castle was reclaimed by the family in 1911 and has now been restored as the family seat.
Clan MacLean Posts
Ewan the Headless in our Scottish Myths Section
Ewan the Headless
The tale of Ewan “with the small head” and a clan split in two; the MacLeans of Duart and MacLaines of Lochbuie and a strange meeting with a washer woman.
We also visited the area and took photos of where this fantastic story took place.
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