BADGE: Cuileann (Hex aquifolium) Holly
Not a great deal appears to be known about this West Highland clan. The common derivation of the name is from Angus, one of the most ancient of Christian names among the Gael. In the genitive the "g" of this word is aspirated, and the name is left with the sound MacAon'es or MacInnes. Who the original Angus was, however, appears to be unknown; and as the name MacInnes also means "Son of the Islet", many of the bearers of it are no doubt descendants of individuals who dwelt in such a spot, and in the usual way took their name from their location. The ancient family of Innes of Innes in Moray, of which the Duke of Roxburghe is head, no doubt derives its name from such a circumstance.
Skene, in his Highlanders of Scotland, says, "The oldest inhabitants of Morven, Ardgour, and Lochaber consisted of two clans, the MacGillivrays and the MacInneses, who were of the same race. The statement is confirmed by an old Manuscript History of the MacDonalds written in the reign of Charles II in the Gregory collection. Before the defeat of the Lord of the Isles and the dispersion of the clans by Alexander II a single confederacy, the Siol Gillivray, appears to have included the MacGillivrays, MacInneses, MacEacherns, and MacMasters.
Clan MacInnes had its headquarters in the heart of Morven, and at the head of Loch Aline, which winds away into the hills from the Sound of Mull, the ruin of an old square tower is still pointed out as the ancient seat of the chiefs.
Tradition avers that this old tower of Kinlochaline was built by a lady of the name of Dougall. This tradition is corroborated by an old saying - MacAonghais an Dun's MacDhughil an Laorn", "MacInnes of the Fort of MacDougall of Lorn". The stones of which the stronghold is erected are remarkable for their size, even to the top of the wall, and it is said that the cost of the building was equal to that of a mass of butter of the same extent.
Whatever the cost, the builder chose a site for the fortalice that was both picturesque and of great natural strength. From the summit of a bold rock overhanging the loch the ruin still romantically lords the scene. Kinlochaline was within a short distance of Ardtornish, on the Sound of Mull itself, one of the principal seats of the all-powerful Lords of the Isles, and the MacInneses were probably, therefore, closely allied with and dominated by these potentates. The seat of the MacInnes chiefs, however, was still a place of strength in the middle of the seventeenth century. In 1645, during the wars of Montrose, Kinlochaline was besieged by the Irish auxiliaries of that leader. The siege was pressed with much vigour, but Clan MacInnes held out with great bravery till a breach was made in the wall and defence became hopeless. The castle was then taken and garrisoned for King Charles I.
The MacInnes chiefs sleep their last sleep in the little burial-ground of Kilcolumkil, a short distance away. Several of their monuments are there to be seen, slab stones beautifully sculptured with intricate designs of foliage and tracery. No inscriptions, however, remain to tell the names of the sleepers or the deeds which they performed.
In early times the MacInnes clansmen were famous for their skill in archery, and one of their families held the office of hereditary bowman to the Chiefs of MacKinnon. This official had the duty of instructing the MacKinnon clansmen in the use of the weapon, and for its services the family enjoyed a hereditary farm, Dal na Saighdear - "the Field of the Archer". Many characteristic anecdotes are related regarding these hereditary bowmen.
SEPTS OF CLAN MACINNES