Gillean of the Battleaxe, and his brother Colin.
Shortly after the Danes were defeated at Largs in 1263, Gillean and his brother Colin (who is rarely mentioned in Clan history) were hunting with King Alexander III on The MacKenzie estates. A hart, which had been cornered by the brothers, suddenly charged the King, but Gillean’s grayhounds, flew between the King and the deer and severely mauled the animal, that was then killed by Colin’s sword.
From that day forward, the arms of the Mackenzie family have displayed a deer’s head and the early Maclaine and Maclean arms made use of greyhounds as their armorial supporters.
The Resourceful Chief – Hector, 1st Lochbuie – The Archer.
Hector, also known as Hector the Astute or Hector the Stern, was granted a charter to lands on Mull by the Lord of the Isles in 1360.
Legend relates that the land at the head of Lochbuie loch was then occupied by the MacFadyens. History does not inform us what type of dwelling the MacFadyen chief had constructed, but it was probably a barmkin – a defensive walled enclosure within which were located defensive wooden dwellings. Hector climbed to the top of the wall and from there aimed an arrow at a bone from which the MacFadyen chief was eating. Whether Hector was in reality aiming at the chief or the bone is unknown, but the arrow struck the bone, whereupon The MacFadyen took his leave and departed.
A further legend relates that Hector was given permission to build his castle “no bigger than the skins of four deer”. Another version is that the castle should be “as big as the skin of an ox”. Regardless of which version is correct, the Astute Hector cleverly cut the skins or skin into continuous thin slivers and laid the pieces end-to-end and established the ground plan of Moy Castle.
The Desperate Chief – John, styled Iain Og, 5th Lochbuie.
Iain Og was the first of the Maclean chiefs to receive a Royal Charter to his lands from James IV in March 1494 – two years ahead of the Duart chief. Iain Og was undoubtedly a favourite of the King and this gave rise to frequent feuding between the Lochbuie and Duart houses. At some time during the 1520’s – probably in 1526 when Lochbuie’s eldest son John was murdered by Allan Maclean of Gigha, Duart’s son, Ian Og was incarcerated by the Maclean of Duart on the fortress island of Cairnburg Mor off the coast of Mull. Legend relates that Duart was determined to deny Lochbuie the opportunity to sire any further sons as, following John’s death, Iain Og was reduced to a single heir – Ewen – the distinguished warrior.
Iain Og’s sole company on the island was reputedly an ugly maidservant. But in due time the woman fell pregnant and gave birth to a son –Murdoch Gearr or Short Murdoch.
Murdoch was spirited to safety at Glencannel and was raised by the MacGillivrays. He was legitimised on 13 September 1538, shortly before his father’s death in 1539.
Ewen – The Headless Horseman.
Of all the ghostly tales and legends in Scotland, the legend of Ewen of the Little Head is arguably the most famous. Members of the Lochbuie Clan, and in particular the Chief’s immediate family, are wary of the nocturnal sound of clattering hooves and a jingling bridle, for this spectral horse bearing a headless rider is a harbinger of death in the family.
Ewen was the son of Iain Og, 5th Lochbuie, and a distinguished and celebrated warrior. Encouraged by his ambitious wife, the Black Swan, Ewen pressed his father for more land. Meetings became increasingly acrimonious and escalated into a feud that would be resolved on the battlefield in 1538. On the fateful day when the opposing forces of father and son met, Ewen would die in battle when one of his father’s clansmen, standing on a rock, decapitated Ewen as he charged into the thick of battle.
Ewen’s horse thundered off with the headless body still firmly wedged in the saddle, to eventually come to an exhausted halt at the Lussa Falls, some five miles from the battle site. Here the body fell to the ground where it was temporarily interred before being carried to its final resting place on Iona by Ewen’s clansmen.
From that day forward, whenever a member of the Chief’s family is about to die, the ghostly vision of Ewen, or the sounds of his horse, are said to be seen or heard at Lochbuie.
The most recent account of Ewen followed the death of Kenneth’s (24th Lochbuie) wife, Olive, in 1958.
Biadh is deoch do MhacCormaig – “Food and Drink for MacCormicks”.
Following the death of Iain Og in 1539, Moy Castle was occupied by Iain Og’s brother, the Maclean of Scallastle. Murdoch Gearr, now Iain Og’s heir, fled to Ireland to his cousin, the Earl of Antrim. Antrim was impressed with young Murdoch, who had sworn to expel his uncle from Moy, and gave Murdoch a band of men led by a MacCormick.
Murdoch and the MacCormick sailed for Lochbuie, and recaptured the castle, expelling Scallastle and his supporters. In gratitude to MacCormick, Murdoch had carved into the lintel above the east facing doorway of Moy Castle, the Gallic words meaning “Food and Drink for MacCormicks” - meant to signify that anyone who bore this name would always be welcomed at Moy Castle.
To this day, the MacCormick sept holds a seat of honour within Clan Maclaine of Lochbuie.
The Swordsman – Iain Mor – 7th Lochbuie.
John or Iain Mor was renowned as one of the most expert swordsmen of his day. When a famous Italian swordsman visited the Court in Edinburgh he challenged any man in Scotland to a duel. Ian Mor accepted the challenge on behalf of the kingdom, and fought and killed the Italian in the presence, and to the delight, of the King and his Court.