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The History of the Macdonalds
by A. MacKenzie, 1880


THE DARROCHS OR MAC-GILLE-RIABHAICHS, of whom there are a good many in the Island of Jura and in Kintyre, always claimed to have been originally Macdonalds. The Reachs of Inverness and London, originally from Easter Ross, where the name is still to be met with were, no doubt, from Mac-Gille-Riabhaich, and, if the traditional account be correct originally Macdonalds.

The origin of the Darrochs is said to have been as follows: A party of Macdonalds on one occasion invaded one of the remote Western Islands, and among them was a powerful youth, known by the sobriquet of ' Mac-Gille-Riabhaich ', whose principal weapon on such occasions was a sturdy oak cudgel, in the use of which he had become most proficient. By the time the Macdonalds arrived at their destination on this occasion, their supplies had become exhausted, and they were sorely pressed with hunger and fatigue. As soon as they landed they observed a party of the natives gathered around a fire in the open air, over which hung, from three sticks joined in Highland fashion, a large pot. Mac-Gille-Riabhaich, expecting that the pot contained something substantial that would allay their hunger, moved, as by a sudden impulse, rushed on the natives, plying his oak cudgel with such effect as to send them scampering in all directions to escape from his sturdy and powerfully applied weapon. He then seized the pot by placing the stick through the suspender, swung it over his shoulder, and carried it away with its reeking contents to his hungry comrades regardless of the fact that it was burning him. For this daring exploit Mac-Gille-Riabhaich secured the by-word of Darroch or Darrach, the Gaelic equivalent of oak.

( From a footnote on a later page )
The Darrochs have always considered themselves Macdonalds, and they wear the Macdonald tartan. According to tradition, Macdonald of Staffa ( a friend of Sir Walter Scott ) son of Macdonald of Boisdale, in South Uist, about a hundred years ago ( 1810 ) gave a great feast at which a woman of the name of Darroch attended. One of those present objected to her on the ground, as he alleged, that she was not of the clan; whereupon Staffa corrected him, and called out to the woman, saying, " Come up here and sit by me; you have a better right here than anyone; the oak is the true Macdonald".

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