The name MacRae or the gaelic ‘McRath’ is understood to mean ‘son of grace’ and is commonly thought to be of ecclesiastical origin. The clan name first appears in the district of Beauly in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries but within one hundred years they had migrated to Kintail in Wester Ross.
The clan MacRae, sometimes known as the “wild MacRaes” became loyal supporters of the MacKenzie clan, and so fierce were they in their loyalty that they earned the name of “MacKenzie’s shirt of mail”. With support from the MacRae clansmen, the fortunes of the MacKenzies prospered and they became the “Earls of Seaforth”. They rewarded the MacRae family for their help by establishing them as hereditary constables of Eilean Donan Castle and also as chamberlains of Kintail.
The MacRae clan, while known for its warlike reputation, also produced notable figures in the fields of religion and literature. One of the most renowned of these figures, John MacRae (or Iain Mac Mhurchaidh, as he is often known) emigrated to America and fought there in the War of Independence. While in America he composed many gaelic songs and lullabies which were brought back to Kintail and preserved to the present day by the oral tradition.
MacRae Clan History