Fáilte a Chur Roimh an Tir Chlainn Domhnaill Oighreachd
That is, "Welcome to the lands of Clan Donald Heritage" in Gaelic, our ancestors' native language. The purpose of this web site is to provide information of interest to those with ancestors named Macdonald, McDonald, MacDonell, McConnell, McDaniel, Donaldson or any of the other English spellings of the original Gaelic name mhic domhnaill. There are also hundreds of family names associated with Clan Donald and its branches that together make us the largest of the Highland clans. The Top Menu (across the top of each page) contains links to the major categories of this web site such as the article on Donald of Islay which provides a history of the medieval King of the Isles from whom we get our surname. Brief histories of each branch of Clan Donald can be viewed by clicking on the appropriate crest on the left border of each page or clicking "Branches" on the top menu. This article about the Sliochd Chlainn Dhomhnaill (Gaelic term for Clan Donald Branches) provides an explanation of why Clan Donald is made up of branches and the important role that branches played in our ancestors' culture .
The Symbols of Clan Donald
The symbols of Clan Donald include the Red Right Hand, Clan Donald's cross, The Celtic Galley, The Salmon and The Rampant Lion as displayed in the 19th century Somerled Window from Armadale castle as well as many of the wax seals that accompanied the signatures of Clan Donald chiefs. One such wax seal is the 17th century Seal of Sleat displayed as part of the search feature at the top right corner of each page of this web site. Another significant symbol of Clan Donald since the Lordship of the Isles has been the Rising Eagle The historical and cultural significance of these symbols of our clan are presented here that you may know and understand your heritage. Just click on the brown, underlined text to learn more about each symbol. Since these individual symbols frequently appear in many of our clan crests and clan chief's Coats of Arms it is important that you understand their meaning and significance to our heritage. It is also important to understand the difference between these two achievements (crests & coats of arms) as they were used by our ancestors.
A New Digital Media Approach to Our Traditional Clan History
This web site is based upon Donald J. Macdonald's authoritative history of Clan Donald. Along side the text this site provides online maps, original photographs, the music of wonderful Celtic artists such as Steve McDonald, Julie Fowlis, and Liam O'Maonlai for your listening pleasure as you read. We have also included the digital version of the original Armadale video of the ancient Clan Donald lands so those who have never seen their ancestral lands may virtually experience them, and those who have experienced them may relive their experience here.
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,UK, Clan Donald, Australia, and Clan Donald, New Zealand to that end. All of these organizations are under the direction of the High Council of Clan Donald Chiefs. There are links to Regional Clan Donald web sites on the Clan Donald, USA and the Clan Donald Australia 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 they were illiterate, immoral, and a primitive culture requiring "civilization". We can now learn much about our ancestors by looking at the land which was so much a part of them, the legends they taught their youth, and 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. Their neighbors saw these differences as 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
Many histories of the Highland and Western Islands ignored or misinterpreted Celtic culture in order to justify the British government's punitive actions against the 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. We live in an age of more knowledge being available to more people than ever before. With modern Internet resources literally at our fingertips we have greater opportunity to study the original documents and see what they said in their native language better than any previous generation. This web site 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.
An underlined, brown word indicates a link to additional information concerning that word at another web site or another page of this web site (i.e. clicking on the word tartan will take you to the "Tartan Gallery" within this web site). Then you just click the back arrow at the top of your screen to return to the page you were reading.
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.