Clachan Duich and the Clan MacRae   5 comments

Eilean Donan is a much loved Scottish icon, but without the passion, commitment  and vision of Lt. Col John MacRae Gilstrap and his wife Isabella, todays castle just simply wouldn’t exist. Over the years, quite literally millions of people have enjoyed exploring its walls and ramparts. Additionally, hundreds of local people have been reliant on the vital employment it has offered through the decades.

I often wonder whether John could ever have anticipated how in years to come Eilean Donan would win a place in so many peoples hearts, or the important role it would now play in the local community.

From time to time I visit his graveside at Clachan Duich, just to pay my respects. I took a wander down yesterday, amidst the rain and the melancholy drizzle and was reminded how beautiful little places can often be over-looked.

Nestling in the shadows of the Five Sisters of Kintail, at the point where the River Crow meets Loch Duich, sits the ancient resting place of the Clan MacRae; Clachan Duich . This beautifully situated burial ground is absolutely steeped in history and folklore dating back to around the 8th Century, and it is here that John and Isabella lie.

If you’re at all interested in Clan MacRae or John and Isabella, it is well worth a small diversion off the main road to Eilean Donan just before you reach Inverinate.

Although the entire place is of great interest; located in the centre of the cemetry you will find a small area enclosed by a stout hedge, and this is where you discover the final resting place of John and Isabella. As is befitting, they lie beside each other, with other family members, including their only son Duncan close by.


The old church itself was destroyed by the same warships that were responsible for the destruction of Eilean Donan back in 1719, but contains fascinating memorial plaques detailing important moments and events in the Clan’s history. It was originally dedicated to St Duthac in 1050 AD, though the site was in use some centuries earlier.

Surrounded on all sides by the majestic hills of Kintail, the peace and tranquility of the place makes it easy to understand why it was chosen for its purpose. The sweet scent of the wild bog myrtle just adds to the calm atmosphere, and I can think of no better place for John and Isabella to rest.

To learn more about Clan MacRae please click on the following link –  CLAN MACRAE

Posted September 18, 2010 by eileandonan in Historical

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5 responses to “Clachan Duich and the Clan MacRae

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  1. thankyou

    Robert Graeme MacRae
  2. visited the Castle on Thursday 14th October 2010.was amazing ,Truly made our Holiday ,loved the portrait in dining room that follows you around , Thank you to the lady
    on duty ,very helpful.

  3. Is there a clan reunion at the castle or locally in 2011 ?

    • Hi David, the annual Clan MacRae Lunch takes place in the castle on the 16th of April 2011. International Clan gatherings take place every 5 years with the next one scheduled for 2014.

  4. The Old Statistical Account of Scotland (1790s) for Kintail/Glenshiel records how the Macraes came from Aird (near Beauly) to settle at Kintail. They are said to have defeated the MacLennans (who lived there) at the Battle of Drumderfit in 1372. Glenshiel was split off from an earlier slighly larger parish of Kintail. The MacLennans and Macraes (of Kintail/Glenshiel) became intertwined from then on. In this sense Kintail (including Eilean Donan) is the homeland of the MacLennan clan.

    Might anyone have something to add to this?


    Bruce A McLennan

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