~ SO WHERE ARE you from? Part of me is from just around here^. Loch Eil. Corpach (Fort William), Scotland. One part of my family rootage is via a sept (sub-clan) of Clan Cameron (Of Locheil).
Picto-Scoto-Viking-Highlanders, some of my family eventually migrated south to Cowal, then East to Glasgow– possibly in the aftermath of the horrible Highland Clearances, which went on for many decades, first under the English, then under the greedy sheep-loving Lairds.
Somewhere just around the scene at top, my indirect ancestor Black Donald Taylor of the (Lochaber) Axe (or, Taillear Dubh na Tuaighe, 1550-1590) escaped an ambush by warriors of the
stinking rat bastards MacIntosh Clan.
The story is told thus.
This story illustrates the Tàillear Dubh’s prowess and ingenuity in extricating himself from almost certain death at the hands of his sworn enemies, the MacKintoshes.
While out hunting one day, he accidentally fell into the hands of the MacKintoshes. ‘Had I fallen into your hands like this, what would you do with me?’, asked MacKintosh. Donald Tàillear repied, ‘I would at least give you a chance of escaping with your life : and if you could get free I would let you.’
‘Then I will do the same with you : you will not have to say that you outstrip MacKintosh in generosity,’ repied the chief, who thereupon formed his men into a ring with Donald in the centre, giving the order, ‘Men, present your arms, and if he rushes upon you it will but make an end of him all the quicker.’
Donald, after committing himself to God in prayer, exercised his battle-axe, as if with the intention to attempt an opening by which he could effect an escape, threatening to break the circle at various points, saying, ‘Na’n deanainn mar b’àill leam, chuirinn cleith as a’ ghàradh‘ (‘If I could do as I would wish, I would put a stake out the wall’).
After various evolutions and frantic rushes towards different points of the circle – always stopping short, until he convinced them that he thought his efforts were hopeless, and thus threw them off their guard – he at last, after one of these attempts, and while near one side of the ring, made a sudden spring, this time in earnest, and in the act slipped his hand along the haft of his axe to its extreme end, which the rope attached to his wrist enabled him to do, and so, getting a longer reach, the deadly weapon lighted like a flash on the head of one of his captors. A stake did disappear from the wall, and Donald was free from what seemed the arms of death. He then fled as fast as his feet could carry him, pursued by his enraged enemies, the foremost among them being the chief himself who, according to some versions of the tradition, is said to have been on horseback.
At last Donald came to a wide ditch over which he leapt lightly, and got safe across. MacKintosh, leaping after him, fell into the mire. The Tàillear Dubh, raising his axe above the head of his pursuer, addressed the floundering chief, ‘Dh’ fhoadainn, ach cha dean‘ (‘I might, but I will not’). MacKintosh, naturally grateful for the generosity of his foe, waved back his men from the pursuit, when Donald extended to him his hand and pulled him out of the ditch.
The spot where the Tàillear Dubh made his leap was near the present banks of the Caledonian Canal at Gairlochy, and was called ‘Leum an Tàillear‘ [or, Taylor’s Leap]; the ditch, though now filled in, was called ‘Lochan Mhic an tóisich‘ [or, Loch MacIntosh].