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BADGE: Fraoch gorm (erica vulgaris) common heath

SLOGAN: Cruachan

PIBROCH: Gabhaidh sinn an nathad mor

Like Gow, MacNair, and others, the name MacIntyre is one of the Highland cognomens derived from a handicraft. Its holder was "the son of a carpenter". Whether or not all holders of the name are derived from a single origin appears doubtful, though common tradition asserts that they are a branch of the great Clan Donald. A romantic story which accounts for the conferring of the name is of a Macdonald at sea alone in an open boat, who found his craft suddenly spring a dangerous leak. Being without other means to stop it he thrust his thumb into the hole, and as it was impossible to keep the thumb there and at the same time navigate the boat to land he cut the thumb off. For this drastic expedient he was ever afterwards named "the Carpenter". Such a story looks like a device of the Highlander to escape from the necessity of deriving his name from an actual handicraft, which was looked down upon as unbefitting the character of a gentleman. Holders of the name, however, seem never to have taken the field under a single chief or leader, and from their appearance in widely separate parts of the country, there is room for the supposition that the name was derived not from one but from many individuals who each in his own district, were actual workers in wood. MacIntyres, at any rate, held lands under different chiefs of other names, and fought under different banners.

Perhaps the most notable ancestor claimed for the clan is a certain Paul, who is described as a personage of great power in Sutherland towards the close of the thirteenth century. Dun Creich, a vitrified fort in that county, is said to have been built by him, and to have been his stronghold. Even this tradition, however, seems seriously open to question, for vitrified forts, the construction of which is a long lost art, are believed to belong to a much earlier date than 1290 or thereabout. If Paul himself is not altogether a myth, he can hardly have been more than the builder of a wooden fort on the remains of a much more ancient vitrified foundation. To the fact that his fort was of wood like Macbeth's Dunsinnan, and Lumphanan and other strongholds of the middle centuries, Paul may have owed his name of Carpenter.

But the name of MacIntyre has been much more illustrious in the arts than in the crafts. In the district of Rannoch a family of MacIntyres were famous for centurles as musicians. From the year 1680 they were pipers to Chiefs of Clan Menzies, who owned the district, for whom, among other airs, they composed the salute. Ian MacDhonuill Mor, who was the Menzies piper at the time of the battle of Sheriffmuir, in 1715, was the composer of the fine pibroch, "Cath Sliabh an t-Siorra", which commemorates that event.

Most celebrated of all the holders of the name, however was Duncan Ban MacIntyre, the Gaelic poet of the eighteenth century, who ranks next to Ossian himself as the bard of the Gaelic race. Born in Glen Orchy in 1724, Fair Duncan had none of the advantages of education, yet for originality and sweetness his songs remain unsurpassed in the language of the Highlands. During the Jacobite rising of 1745 many MacIntyres fought under the banner of Stewart of Appin; but Duncan was on the side of Government, and took part against the Jacobites at the battle of Falkirk. He cannot, however, have been a very convinced Hanoverian, for after the battle he composed a humorous poem on General Hawley's defeat. When, a little later, as a result of the rebellion, an Act of Parliament was passed forbidding the clansmen to wear arms and the tartan, thus depriving Hanoverian and Jacobite clans alike of their national dress and weapons, he gave voice to a strenuous indignation, declaring that the Highlanders were made the Saxon's jest, and that, should Charles return, they were ready to stand by him. For this he was thrown into jail and only saved from a long imprisonment, or perhaps worse, by the solicitations of powerful friends. Thirty-five years later, when, at the instance of the Duke of Montrose and General Fraser, the Act against wearing Highland dress was repealed, Duncan burst forth in joyous strain with his "Orain na Briogas", the Song of the Breeches. Wearing these garments, the sons of the north, he declared, blushed when in presence of the fair. But now he exclaimed "the men of the hills appear again in their loved tartans, the coat with the strife of colours; gracefully stream our belted plaids, our hose reach not the knee nor hinder the step". To the Highland Society, of which he was appointed Bard, Duncan at the annual meetings addressed many stirring harangues in the Gaelic tongue. To the present hour the sweet singer of Glen Orchy remains the greatest glory of the name of MacIntyre.

The clan is generally believed to be an offshoot of the MacDonalds. A family of the name was in possession of Glenoe near Bonawe in Lorn from 1300 till 1810, and acted as hereditary foresters to the Stewart and Campbell Lords of Lorn. In 1556, under the name of Clan Teir, the MacIntyre's are mentioned in the Black Book of Taymouth as giving a bond of good behaviour to Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchy after the murder of one MacGillenlag. Branches were dependents of the Campbells of Craignish in 1612, and of the Mackintosh chiefs in Badenoch in 1496. The weaving village of Cladich on Loch Awe was once almost entirely peopled by holders of the name, and MacIntyres were the hereditary pipers to the Chiefs of Clanranald and Menzies.

The representative of the Chiefs of the name is now in America.


MacTear Tyre Wright

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