Eilean Donan Castle, part of my heritage.

One of my Scottish matriarchal ancestral homes Eilean Donan Castle. In 1362 the MacRae clan came to Kintail from Ireland.

Through the 14th century the Castle is ‘usually in the hands of Mackenzie of Kintail’ for whom the MacRaes provide protection. In 1509 John MacKenzie of Kintail obtains a Crown charter for the lands of Kintail including the Castle of ‘Elandonnan’.

From this time the Castle is often garrisoned by the MacRaes on behalf of the Mackenzie chiefs. In 1511 MacRaes became Constables of the Castle. In 1611 The Reverend Mr Farquhar becomes vicar of Kintail and Constable of the Castle after the death of Murdo Murchison. It is said his life in the Castle was lived in an ‘opulent and flourishing condition, much given to hospitality and charity’.

Then in the 1640’s Mr Farquhar is forced from the Castle by Simon Mackenzie of Lochslin (brother of the Earl of Seaforth). On leaving the Constable stated that he was ‘well pleased to be rid of the island, because it was a bad habitation for a man of his age and corpulence’. 1650’sThe Scottish Parliament imposes a garrison on the ‘house of Ellandolla’.

Their commander, John Campbell is killed in a dispute with local men and, in 1654, General Monk takes retribution by plundering and burning Kintail.1715 Garrisoned by Government troops but retaken by the Jacobites before the battle of Sheriffmuir.1719 Occupied by Spanish soldiers, part of a force of 300 who landed on the west coast to support the Jacobite uprising. Government frigates responded by bombarding the Castle and reducing it ruins.

Afterwards, the Captain Herdman of the Enterprise went ashore to destroy the powder magazine – it exploded and destroyed much of the remaining Castle.1719 – 1911 The ruins lie abandoned.1911 – 1913 Purchased by John MacRae-Gilstrap, second son of the MacRae family of Conchra.1912 Project to restore the castle begins with architect, George Mackie Watson and local clerk of works Farquhar MacRae.1932 Completed after 20 years of reconstruction.

Arched bridge to the island also finished and the Castle formally opens on 22nd July.1937 John MacRae-Gilstrap dies.1955 The Castle is opened to the public by Mr John MacRae, grandson of John MacRae-Gilstrap.1983 Conchra trust formed by the MacRae family to care for the castle.

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