"The Children Of The Mist"

Glen Lyon HS Talk on "The Children of the Mist"

The long winter in Glen Lyon was brightened up on a wild night this January by tales of the MacGregors of Roro. Richard MacGregor, Chairman and Genealogist of the Clan Gregor Society gave a fascinating account of the life, times and fluctuating fortunes of this often ill-fated clan.

Thought to be of royal decent, the MacGregors lost their ancestral home around Glenorchy at the head of Loch Awe at the end of the thirteenth century to the Campbells. From then on they became "an outlawed, lawless and landless clan," based around Rannoch, Balloch at the head of Loch Tay and Roro in Glen Lyon.

The MacGregors were relentlessly persecuted, leading eventually to the use of their clan name being banned in 1603. The ban was only lifted for good in 1774, forcing many to take on new names such as Stirling to hide their true identity.

The earliest records of the MacGregors of Roro date back to the 1460s and they stayed on in the area well until the 19th century. Although little remains of their settlements, Richard MacGregor used stories, pictures, poetry and song to bring these earlier times alive. Most famous of all the Roro MacGregors was the young clan chief Gregor MacGregor, who made a daring escape from his pursuers by leaping across the river Lyon. He was eventually captured and executed by Sir Colin Campbell in 1569. Richard read from the lullaby that MacGregor's grieving wife penned for their child, including the words: "Oh that Finlarig were wrapped in flames, proud Taymouth lying in ashes, and fair haired Gregor of the white hands in my embrace."

Although genealogical records of the MacGregors date back as far as 1379, the clan has been so scattered that there is little clear information about its origins, or where all the descendants have ended up.

Richard explained that a project by the Clan Gregor Society to trace the clan's DNA footprint through the centuries is throwing up some intriguing possibilities. Early results from the DNA testing of over 100 volunteers indicate royal Irish ancestry. There are also uncomfortable similarities between the genetic make up of the MacGregors and the Campbells, suggesting that the old rivals made love as well as war.

The talk was well attended with over thirty people braving the rains to visit Invervar, including two MacGregors who have traced their family trees as far back as the 1650s. "We were delighted with Richard's witty and informative presentation and look forward to collaborating with The Clan Gregor Society again in the future," commented Colin Wilson, Chairman of the Glen Lyon History Society.

For news, history, pictures and recollections on the history of Glen Lyon check out the History Society's web page at www.glenlyon.org. For more information about The Clan Gregor Society and their DNA project go to www.clangregor.org.

posted by Glen Lyon History Society Saturday, February 10, 2007