October 11th, 2011
If someone were looking for the ancestry of Mary Rose McLean, the first stop on the quest would be the mountainous west coast of Scotland. This is where the McLean family history began.
In original Gaelic, McLean is translated as ‘Mac Gille Eoin’ which means ‘son of the servant of St. John’. It is one of the oldest known clans from the Scottish highlands. The ancient family creed is ‘Virtue, Mine, Honour’. If Mary Rose McLean were to look far enough back, she would find that the McLean family can trace its Scottish roots back over one thousand years to an ancestor, the famed historical warrior Gillian. Remembered as ‘Gillian of the battleaxe’, he was named Gilleathain na Tuaidh.
Two of Gillian’s descendants and famous members of the McLean clan were the brothers Eachan and Lachlan Reaganach. It was over five centuries ago that each of them would marry into the wealthiest and most powerful dynasties in the region.
Eachan married into the family of the ‘1st Lord of the Isles’ where he was given vast amounts of land by his new in-laws. Creating a small dynasty of his own, Eachan’s lands and family became one of the two branches of the McLean clan. They would be known as McLean of Duart.
Lachlan married the daughter of the Earl of Argyle. History tells that Lachlan became so angry at his wife one day, he left her stranded on a rock at sea to die. Fortunately, she was rescued by fishermen. Once she told of her account, Lachlan was stabbed to death by his wife’s family.
It was also this time that the McLean clan allied with its in-laws, the Campbells. Together, they would wage war against their rivals of the MacDonald clan, one of the most powerful families in Scotland. By the eighteenth century, the MacDonalds had taken possession of virtually all of the McLean estates and fortunes. In 1911, the original castle at Duart was restored to the McLean family.
The McLean clan was also remembered for their bravery at historic battles such as the Battle of Sterling Bridge and alongside Robert the Bruce in the Battle of Bannockburn where the outnumbered Scots defeated the mighty English army. As Mary Rose McLean would say, “Virtue, Mine, Honour.”