This Highland clan had its roots in the north-west of Scotland, around the mountains and lochs of Kintail. The MacLennans were related to Clan Logan, with whom they share a tartan.
Blasted apart by battle - that was the sad fate for much of Clan MacLennan. Heavy rain was soaking the battlefield on 9 May 1645 when King Charles’ representative, the Marquis of Montrose, confronted an army of Covenanters led by Sir John Urray, near Auldearn. Among the 3,500 foot and 400 horse assembled under Urray's command, was Ruairidh MacIain Domhnull Bhain MacLennan, Chief of the Clan, defending the standard of Lord Seaforth. A towering, rugged, red-bearded highlander, he fought savagely and desperately in the ensuing clash, but Urray's forces were slowly overwhelmed by a canny flanking movement of the Gordon Cavalry. Ruairidh, his two brothers and many more MacLennans were slain, and for the next 330 years the clan had no official chief. The decimated Clan MacLennan played little part in the Jacobite risings of the 18th century, although 11 were recorded as prisoners after the Battle of Culloden.
After Culloden the clan system began to fall apart and many MacLennans left Scotland to seek survival in far-off lands. There are MacLennan Mountains in New Zealand and a McLennan County in the state of Texas, USA.
Finally in 1978, the clan got a new chief. After thirty years of tenacious research, Ronald George MacLennan was recognised as the 'Chief of the Name and Arms of MacLennan’ at a ceremony in Inverness. It was the first such ceremony to be performed for at least two centuries. When Ronald died in 1989, his 13-year-old son Ruairidh became Scotland's youngest clan chief at the age of 13; he still holds this position today.
The Chief’s Coat of Arms, with the motto “Dum Spiro Spero” (While I breathe I hope) includes two pipers because the clan is noted for its piping talents. The surname MacLennan in Scottish Gaelic is Mac Gille Fhinnein, meaning ‘the son of the follower of St Finnan’.
You can join members of Clan MacLennan at the Worldwide Clan Gathering from 4th – 8th July 2018 in Inverness.
Fascinating clan locations to visit
Lace up your boots and pack a hearty lunch - to really feel what it was like to be a clan member centuries ago you have to take to the hills. Luckily the MacLennans had some of the most beautiful mountains, glens and coastline within their lands in Kintail. If you’re an experienced outdoors person, the Five Sisters of Kintail is one of Britain’s classic ridge walks. You’ll climb three Munros (hills over 3,000 ft) and enjoy magnificent views on an unforgettable day out.
To understand why the clan system was suppressed and scattered in the 18th century, you should visit the superb visitor centre at the Culloden battle site near Inverness. This was the last pitched battle fought on British soil and it forever changed the MacLennans' way of life.