Angus Og MacDonald, was a fourteenth century Scottish chief of Clann Domhnaill. He was a younger son of Aonghus Mór mac Domhnaill, Lord of Islay. After the latter’s death, the chiefship of the kindred was assumed by Aonghus Óg’s elder brother, Alasdair Óg Mac Domhnaill. Most documentation regarding Aonghus’ career concerns his support of Edward I, King of England against supporters of John, King of Scotland. The latter’s principal adherents on the western seaboard of Scotland were Clann Dubhghaill (MacDougall), regional rivals of Clann Domhnaill. Although there is much uncertainty concerning the Clann Domhnaill chiefship at this period in history, at some point after Alasdair Óg’s death at the hands of Clann Dubhghaill in 1299, Aonghus Óg seems to have taken up the chiefship as Lord of Islay. Pressure from Clann Domhnaill and other supporters of the English Crown evidently compelled Clann Dubhghaill into coming onside with the English in the first years of the fourteenth century. However, when Robert Bruce VII, Earl of Carrick murdered John Comyn III, Lord of Badenoch in 1306 and made himself King of Scotland (as Robert I), Clann Domhnaill (MacDonald) switched their allegiance to Robert I in an effort to gain leverage against Clann Dubhghaill. Members of Clann Domhnaill almost certainly harboured the latter in 1306, when he was pursued by the English.

Who was he?  Aonghus Óg was a younger son of Aonghus Mór mac Domhnaill, Lord of Islay, Chief of Clann Domhnaill. The latter last appears on record in 1293, when he was listed as one of the principal landholders in Argyll. At about this time, territories possessed by the clan included Kintyre, Islay, southern Jura, and perhaps Colonsay and Oronsay. Clann Domhnaill was a branch of Clann Somhairle (from Somerled). Other branches included Clann Ruaidhrí. Aonghus Óg’s mother was a member of the Caimbéalaigh (the Campbells). According to Hebridean tradition preserved by the seventeenth-century Sleat History, she was a daughter of Cailéan Mór Caimbéal, Campbell chief.  Aonghus Óg had a sister who married Domhnall Óg Ó Domhnaill, King of Tír Chonaill (Tyrconnell, Ireland).

Step back in history a wee bit.  Clann Somhairle infighting appears to have stemmed from Alasdair Óg’s marriage to an apparent member of Clann Dubhghaill and seems to have concerned this woman’s territorial claims. Although the opposing chiefs swore to postpone their disagreement in 1292 and uphold the peace in the “isles and outlying territories”, the struggle continued throughout the 1290s. Clann Dubhghaill authority along the western seaboard was seriously threatened by about 1296, when Alasdair Óg was acting as Edward I’s royal representative in the region. Certainly, Alasdair Óg appealed to the English king regarding Alasdair Mac Dubhghaill’s ravaging of Clann Domhnaill territories in 1297 and may well be identical to the like-named Clann Domhnaill

Back to the Bruce; February 1306, Robert Bruce VII, Earl of Carrick, a claimant to the Scottish throne, murdered his chief rival to the kingship, John Comyn III, Lord of Badenoch, by March, the English Crown struck back, defeating his forces in June. By September, Robert I was a fugitive and seems to have escaped into the Hebrides. Aonghus Óg played an instrumental part in Robert I’s survival. Specifically, after Robert I was defeated at Methven and Dalry in the summer of 1306, the king fled into the mountains and made for the coast of Kintyre, where he was protected by Aonghus Óg himself. Aonghus Óg harboured the king at Dunaverty Castle, contemporary evidence reveals that Robert I’s men were already in possession of the fortress by March, having acquired it from a certain Malcolm le fitz l’Engleys. In fact, in the immediate aftermath of John Comyn III’s murder, Robert I secured control of several western fortresses (including that of Dunaverty – later Mactavish)), in an effort to keep a lane open for military assistance from Ireland or the Hebrides.

Clan wars again. The catalyst behind Clann Domhnaill’s shift of allegiance from Edward I to Robert I likely lies in local Hebridean politics rather than Scottish patriotism. Whilst Edward I’s destruction of the Balliol regime in 1296 resulted in Clann Dubhghaill finding itself out of favour with the English regime, Clann Domhnaill (Macdonalds) seems to have sided with the English Crown in an effort to earn royal support in its’ localised power struggle with Clann Dubhghaill. Pressure from Clann Domhnaill and other supporters of the English Crown evidently compelled Clann Dubhghaill (Macdougal) coming onside with the English in the first years of the fourteenth century. Whilst Robert I’s subsequent murder of John Comyn III undoubtedly galvanised Clann Dubhghaill’s new-found alignment with Edward I, it also precipitated Clann Domhnaill’s realignment of support from the English Crown to the Bruce cause. Although Edward I ordered Hugh and John Menteith to sweep the western seaboard with their fleets in 1307 the evanescent Scottish monarch remained at large, seemingly harboured by Clann Domhnaill and Clann Ruaidhrí. In 1307, at about the time of Edward I’s death in July, Robert I mounted a remarkable return to power, first striking into Carrick in about February. By 1309, Robert I’s opponents had been largely overcome and he held his first parliament as king. Clann Domhnaill clearly benefited from their support of the Bruce cause. Aonghus Óg was granted the former Comyn lordship of Lochaber and the adjacent regions of Ardnamurchan, Morvern, Duror, and Glencoe; whilst a certain Alasdair of the Isles received the former Clann Dubhghaill islands of Mull and Tiree (later Maclean). Later in the fourteenth century, Aonghus Óg’s son, Eóin Mac Domhnaill, was granted the territories of Ardnamurchan, Colonsay, Gigha, Glencoe, Jura, Kintyre, Knapdale, Lewis, Lochaber, Morvern, Mull, and Skye. It is possible that the basis for many of these grants laid in the clan’s military support of the Bruce cause, and stemmed from concessions gained from the embattled king in about 1306.  Aonghus Óg seems to have died at some point after the Battle of Bannockburn—One possibility is that he passed away between 1314 and 1318. Who knows for sure? Aonghus Óg married Áine Ní Chatháin, an Irish woman from Ulster. According to the Sleat History, Áine Ní Chatháin’s tocher consisted of one hundred and forty men from each surname that dwelt in the territory of her father, Cú Maighe na nGall Ó Catháin.[186] The Book of Clanranald numbers the men at eighty.[187] The Uí Catháin of Ciannachta were a major branch of the Uí Néill kindred (O’Neills to which the Maclean’s also trace back to).

Angus Og son of Angus Mor MacDonald 5th in descent from Somerled. Angus Og, who supported Robert the Bruce, and was ancestor of the later Lords of the Isles and the MacDonnell Earls of Antrim, including the present day Earl of Antrim (who is a descendant of the MacDonnells in the female line), the MacDonalds (MacDonnells) of Clanranald, Sleat, Glengarry, Keppoch etc. OG derives from the gaelic adjective ‘og’ meaning ‘young’ and was originally given as a baptismal or nickname of endearment.   STILL HERE? Scottish history and names can be confusing, I suggest reading this (if you managed to get down this far) 2 or 3 times, I did! PAUL MCLEAN.  Wee note, my own Clan Maclean had our troubles and hightimes with the Macdonalds, to be found here on other blogs.