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Lament For Donald Duaghal MacKay - Part One


Donald Duaghal MacKay, born 1590, was the 15th Chieftain of the MacKays of Strathnaver and the first Lord Reay (1628). His clansmen called him “Donald the Dauntless”. He was the son of Uisdean known to his clansmen as Hugh of the Axe.


Donald Duaghal had fought in many clan wars before entering the larger European field during the 30 Years War. First, he raised a regiment in Scotland and fought under the banner of the Elector of Hanover, son-in-law of King James VI. Later, he raised more troops and served under King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in the same war. He returned to Britain and became embroiled in the unending political struggles between great Peers of the Realm and came out a loser. He lost his lands as a result of both King Adolphus and King Charles failing to repay him relatively huge sums expended by him in wars on their behalf. Eventually he went to Denmark where he led a regiment for a time. He returned to fight for King Charles I with distinction in the Civil War that saw Cromwell and his Roundheads triumphant. He went once more to Denmark where he died in the spring of 1649. The King of Denmark returned his body to Scotland and he is buried in the family vault at Kirkiboll, Kyle of Tongue.


Donald Duaghal lived a tempestuous life in tempestuous times. A warrior he was, a diplomat he was not. The origin of his name Duaghal is uncertain but Angus MacKay, Raasay, believed it derived from the ancient custom of calling Danish Vikings “black strangers”, that is, Dhu Ghalls in the old Gaelic. Donald's people tagged him with the name after his service in Denmark. The name Duaghal fitted him as he was described as “of a swarthy complexion, having very black hair, head and beard”.


The tune is attributed by some to Iain Dall MacKay whose mother was an illegitimate daughter of Donald Duaghal MacKay. Poulter and Fisher (1936) suggested that the tune was composed by Padruig Mor MacCrimmon. Donald Duaghal would have been known to Padruig Mor MacCrimmon – Donald Duaghal's daughter Barbara was the first wife of Ruaridh MacLeod of Talisker, a son of Sir Ruaridh Mor MacLeod of Harris and Dunvegan. And, of course, Padruig's father, Donald Mor MacCrimmon, had served as piper to Donald Duaghal's father for about 15 years. Whatever, it is an outstanding piobaireachd from the Borreraig school.


Exit Lament For Donald Duaghal MacKay - Part One and return to the Lament Piobaireachd Stories




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