OT: 15 January 1921 – John MacRae Gilstrap “MacRaes of Kintail”



The Oban Times, 15 January, 1921

MacRaes of Kintail

 Ballimore, Otter Ferry, 8 January, 1921

Sir,–I notice in your issue of to-day’s a statement in a paragraph under the heading, “A MacRae Highland Wedding,” namely, “Duncan Mor Mac Alister, who led the Clan MacRae at Sheriffmuir,” which is contrary to the historical facts.

At the Battle of Sheriffmuir the Clan MacRae was led by its Chief in person.

The MacRaes formed part of Seaforth’s two regiments, which were engaged on the left of the line of the Highland Army. These regiments were led by their chief, William, 5th Earl of Seaforth. Duncan Mor Mac Alister of the Torlishich family was present, and tradition says that before he fell he rushed on to a small eminence and shouted, “Cobhair! cobhair, an ainm Dhe ‘s an Righ Seumais” (Help! Help! in the name of God and King James)–help which never came, and Duncan Mor and most of the gallant Clan MacRae fell where they stood. This gentleman of the House of Torlishich was a man of mighty proportions, and according to tradition lifted a colossal stone in Glenshiel, near Achnagart, which is still pointed out, and is reported to have said he hoped the day would never come when the MacRaes could not put forward a man who could not lift that stone.

Duncan Mor’s broadsword was pulled up on the held of Sheriffmuir and taken to the Tower of London as the “great Highlander’s Sword,” but it disappeared in the great fire in the Tower in 1841. From the above historical facts and traditions, it is clear that Duncan Mor Mac Alisdair did not lead the Clan MacRae at Sheriffmuir; but that they were commanded and led by their chief William (Uilleam Dubh a Chogaidh), 5th Earl of Seaforth.–I am, etc.,

John MacRae Gilstrap

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