Thursday, November 17, 2011

McCains And Tartan

Barry R McCain

I am often asked about tartans and is there a McCain tartan, etc.   No, there is not 'McCain' tartan.  The use of family tartans was a recent development in Gaelic society and took place long after our family left Argyll.  Family tartans as they are used today came about in the 1800s.  Prior to this time there were no clan or family tartan in general.  There were colours and patterns favoured in a district and so there was some sense of people in an area using the same tartan.

For those McCain who would like to use tartan, I suggest any one that you like.  To reflect our history I like several of them, the Ulster tartan, which dates to the late 1500s, early 1600s, then any of the Black Watch, Argyll, tartans.  Historically we were connected to the Mac Lachlainn clan, so any of the Argyll Mac Lachlainn tartans have historical value.  We were also allies to the Campbell family of Argyll, so their basic Campbell of Argyll tartan historically important also.  

The Ulster tartan I mention is very nice, it was found on the body of a Gael in a bog in County Derry, Northern Ireland, in the 1950s.  There are two versions, one is a faded version then the other is the colours restored to their original forms.

I am wearing a 'MacDonald' tartan in the photo above.  Like many McCains, I assumed we were 'Clan Donald' before we did the research to locate our actual history.  But, I love this particular tartan, and so I wear it.  

Any McCains having photos of themselves sporting a kilt or tartan dress, please email me the photos and I will post them.  

 


10 comments:

Joe said...

Hi Barra,thanks for the invite! I see your comments on tartans---the Sobierski Stewarts have muddied the water so to speak.There are two MacIan tartans available--Ardnamurchan and Glencoe,though often called MacDonald.There is fragment of tartan said to date back to the late 1600's--I think it is on display at the Fort William museum and is the pattern shown on my own kilt.Fragments were supposed to have been found at Glencoe during reburials though I can't vouch for this,I believe there is also a painting by R.MacIan purporting to show the tartan

BR McCain said...

alas, our particular McCains come from a more obscure group than the Glencoe and Ardnamurchan families. We are not related to those McCains.

However from the DNA results we know that we come from Kilmichael Glassary McCains. They were connected to the Mac Lachlainn clan for a very long time. We have no 'tartan' per se, but the old Black Watch or a Mac Lachlainn tartan would be bona fide.

Joe said...

MacLachlainn would be a good choice if you want to have a clear familial connection,I quite like the idea of a MacIan tartan though...;O

BR McCain said...

I know what you mean Joe. It is a good looking tartan. You will notice, all of us McCain gents have on Mac Dónaill tartans! Ironic, as we were captains and tacsmen for the Caimbeul family! the Mac Lachlainns of Dunadd eventually became close to the Earls of Argyll, the Caimbeuls, which is why we moved to Ireland, in a party of Caimbeul Redshanks. Trying to get my book published now, it is finished, it tells all.

Joe said...

The irony is not lost Barra!!
Not all Caimbeuls were "bad" even if their mouths wer slightly crooked :-)

BR McCain said...

Very true. I am utterly fascinated with them. I have located our McCains actually in the same room literally with the 5th Earl of Argyll, i.e. Giolla Easpuig Donn Caimbeul. He in my opinion, was the most dynamic man in the British Isles and Ireland of his time, bar none. He campaigned in Donegal as a young man, for Calbhadh Ó Dónaill leading Caimbeul Redshanks, then became Earl of Argyll and Mary Queen of Scots' first minister and military commander. The Mississippi McCains still have an oral history of that time. The Caimbeuls were the most forward thinking dynamic family in Britain of their age.

Joe said...

Barra,they are a great clan with a complex history-unfairly treated by linkage to the massacre.I've no worries about our association--a real force.

BR McCain said...

Very true. They were allied with Clann Dhónaill and Clann Uí Dhónaill in those days. I was reading letters written by Elizabeth I to the Earl of Argyll (head Caimbeul), she suggested she might send some one up there to whup him. He gave her his address and said 'bring it on.' She didn't, she knew better, he was lord of his neck of the wood. Nothing happened in Argyll and much of Ulster, without his say. He could put 7,000 troops in the field that were superiour to anything the English had.

Joe said...

Barra
It has all traced back to "big Duncan" just as you first wondered-!!
Go raibh maith agat.
Joe

Joe said...

Barra
It has all traced back to "big Duncan" just as you first thought!!
Go raibh maith agat.
Joe