Isabella…..   4 comments

Much is known of the considerable achievements of Lt Col John MacRae-Gilstrap, the man ultimately responsible for the reconstruction of Eilean Donan, however as the old saying goes, “behind every good man there’s a good woman”, and the MacRae family is no different.

Isabella Gilstrap, John’s wife was a formidable woman and her role in Eilean Donan, her charity work, her war effort and her other various activities are often over-looked. I’m personally a huge admirer of this diminutive lady, and take every opportunity to make people more aware of her work. She kept scrapbooks that have provided us with truly fascinating detail of castle life in the early 20th century, and without her financial contribution, Eilean Donan may still be lying in ruins to this very day.

Last week, we came across a superbly well preserved copy of “The Scottish Field” magazine from January 1921 and excerpts from the four page article provide a fascinating insight to Isabella. The following paragraphs are lifted directly from the magazine.


“From the very moment that she was introduced to Scottish life, Mrs MacRae-Gilstrap conceived an almost perfervid love of for the country of her adoption, for its traditions and people, for its magnificent scenery, and the romantic setting of her Lochfyneside and Ross-shire homes. No one is prouder than she of the Celt and his history, and noone is more thoroughly imbued with the love of the clandom and all that clandom represents.

From the beginning of the war she has been constantly engaged in various activities connected with the great struggle, her attention being specially engrossed with the provision of comforts for Highland soldiers. She has been the means of raising sufficient funds to present the British Red Cross Society with three motor ambulances, handsome subscriptions received from all parts of the world. She has also kept a very complete roll of honour with respect to the Clan MacRae. This roll shows that about 3000 members of the clan answered the call of King & Country, and that over 430 have made the supreme sacrifice.

In 1920, the King sanctioned the appointment of Mrs MacRae-Gilstrap to be Lady of Grace of St John of Jerusalem, in recognition of her splendid services to the Red Cross Society during the Great War.”

In the fullness of time, I’ll share some of the detailed information from her glorious scrapbooks with you, and give you a greater insight of this wonderful lady. Gone but never forgotten……..


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Posted August 3, 2010 by eileandonan in Historical

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4 responses to “Isabella…..

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  1. Thank you for reminding me of this magnificent woman.

  2. In all my years of loving this castle, this is the first information I’ve ever had of the Mrs. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information, and for bringing her generous acts to the forefront. I look forward to future tidbits and pictures.

  3. Thank for this wonderful experience, I am very proud to be the president of The Clan MacRae Socjety of Australia & New Zeland

  4. I’d be fascinated to know more about Isabella’s support of the war effort and Highland soldiers. My grandfather was raised in Dornie and fought with the Scottish 9th Division (Seaforth Highlanders).

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