CLAN MACRAE : SCOTTISH CLANS
– Rooms 101
The name MacRae or the gaelic ‘McRath’ is understood to mean ‘son of grace’ and is commonly
thought to be of ecclesiastical origin. The clan name first appears in the district of Beauly in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries but within one hundred years they had migrated to Kintail in
The clan MacRae, sometimes known as the “wild MacRaes” became loyal supporters of
the MacKenzie clan, and so fierce were they in their loyalty that they earned the name
of “MacKenzie’s shirt of mail”. With support from the MacRae clansmen, the fortunes of the
MacKenzies prospered and they became the “Earls of Seaforth”. They rewarded the MacRae
family for their help by establishing them as hereditary constables of Eilean Donan Castle
and also as chamberlains of Kintail.
The MacRae clan, while known for its warlike reputation, also produced notable figures in
the fields of religion and literature. One of the most renowned of these figures, John MacRae
(or Iain Mac Mhurchaidh, as he is often known) emigrated to America and fought there in the
War of Independence. While in America he composed many gaelic songs and lullabies which
were brought back to Kintail and preserved to the present day by the oral tradition.