Clan MacLean

  • Clan Territory:

    The island of Mull and the island of Coll

  • Clan Chief:

    Sir Lachlan Hector Charles MacLean of Duart and Morven.

  • Clan Castle:

  • Duart Castle
    Duart Castle

    Duart castle was rebuilt from a ruinous state at the beginning of the 20th century by Sir Fitzroy Maclean. Since then, successive clan chiefs have returned to live in their ancestral home on the island of Mull.

  • Clan Tartan:

    MacLean Hunting Ancient
    MacLean Hunting Ancient

  • Clan History:

    The Maclean clan is one of the oldest of all highland clans and was famed throughout history for great fighting skills of its warriors. For centuries they lived by the sword. However, the Macleans were eventually broken – not in battle, but by the law courts.

    According to early historical sources, the founder of the Maclean clan was Gilleain na Tuaighe - Gilleain of the battle-axe, who lived in the 13th century. Gilleain translates from the Gaelic as the servant of St John, although there is little in the records to suggest that Gilleain of the Battle-axe was a devout man of peace. In the 16th century, clan chief Lachlan Maclean led his clansmen against the MacDonalds of Islay at the Battle of Traigh Ghruinneart (5 August 1598. Sir Lachlan MacLean was killed in the fighting and his sons wrought a terrible revenge by carrying out a massacre of the people of Islay, a bloody operation that lasted for three days.

    Traigh Ghruinneart
    Traigh Ghruinneart

    Much has been made in Scottish history about the many battles fought against the English. What isn’t mentioned quite so much is that it wasn’t unusual for Scottish clans to work for the English when it suited them to do so. When Elizabeth I of England went looking for mercenaries to fight for her in Ireland, the Macleans were the obvious candidates for the job.

    With the promise of significant financial rewards, clan chief Lachlan Mor offered to provide Maclean men for the English campaign. His clan warriors fought in Ireland as mercenaries or Galloglas. The prospect of even more money came to Mull in the form of a Spanish Galleon, a survivor of the doomed Armada that Philip of Spain had launched against Queen Elisabeth. When it arrived in Tobermory harbour, Lachlan Mor agreed to help in return for Spanish assistance in his own fight against rival clan neighbours. But hopes of Spanish treasure onboard the galleon were thwarted when an English spy blew it up. The search for missing Spanish gold in Tobermory bay has been a pursuit that has occupied acquisitive souls ever since.

    Tobermory Bay
    Tobermory Bay

    Money – or the lack of it was the clan’s undoing. Unable to keep up with changing times, they wee outwitted and outmanoeuvred in the law courts by Clan Campbell, which eventually won nearly all of the traditional Maclean lands after successfully ensnaring the Macleans in a web of legal charters and contract.

    Filmed on location to the highest standards the Galloglas DVD, MacLean features unique stories that interweave romance, adventure, bravery and betrayal, set against a stunning landscape. This DVD is not yet available; if you would like to be informed of the release date please email

  • Famous MacLeans:

    Sir Fitzroy Maclean - WW2 British Spy and real-life inspiration for Ian Flemming’s hero James Bond.

    Alistair Stuart MacLean - the best-selling novelist who wrote successful thrillers and adventure stories, the best known of which are perhaps The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare, both having been made into successful films.

  • And finally:

    Relations with Clan Campbell were always difficult, but came to a head when the Maclean chief abandoned his Campbell-born wife to drown on a tidal rock a kilometer out to sea from Duart castle. Miraculously, the lady Elisabeth was rescued by a passing fishing boat. She then returned to her Campbell kinsfolk and urged them to avenge the crime.

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