History of the Clan Macrae

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Tradition about Muireach Fial

About the time of the battle of Sheriffmuir there lived in Kintail a certain Maurice Macrae, known as Muireach Fial (Maurice the Generous).  He was a man of some means, and lent money to the Chisholm of Strathglass, in return for which he received certain grazing rights on the lands of Affric.  Maurice and his wife used to go once a year to Inverness to sell butter and cheese, which they carried on horseback through Chisholm country.  On one occasion, as they were returning home, they were met by a party of Strathglass men, who invited Maurice to drink with them in Struy Inn.  Maurice accepted the invitation, and being of a convivial disposition, was in no hurry to leave.  His wife, having vainly endeavored to induce him to resume his journey, started leisurely alone, expecting that her husband would soon overtake her.  But Maurice did not follow, and his wife, at last becoming anxious on his account hurried home to Kintail, where a party was immediately organized to go in search of him.  They searched all over Strathglass, and having made many inquiries without obtaining any information they returned back to Kintail.  On returning home one of their number disguised himself as a poor idiot, and went to Strathglass, where he wandered about begging his way from door to door, but at the same time keeping a careful watch for any trace or talk of the missing Maurice.  One night, while lying at the door of a house, he heard someone tapping at the window.  He listened attentively, and soon heard the man at the window and the master of the house talking about the bradan tarragheal (the white-bellied salmon), which was tied to a bush and concealed in a certain pool in the river.  When the conversation ceased and the visitor took his departure, the Kintail man, wondering what was meant by the salmon, stole quietly away to the pool mentioned, and there found the body of Maurice, who had been murdered by some of the Strathglass men, and whose body had been hidden in the river in a dark pool under a thick bush.  He drew the body out of the water, carried it some distance away to a safe hiding-place, and then set out in all haste to Kintail.

When the people of Kintail heard what had happened they formed a large party and went to fetch the body home to Kilduich.  As they were passing by Comar churchyard, in Strathglass, on the way back to Kintail, they came upon a large funeral party who were in the act of burying one of the principal men of Strathglass.  As the stone was being placed on the grave, four of the Kintail men stepped into the churchyard and carried the stone away.  This was done in order to provoke a fight, that they might have an opportunity of avenging the death of Maurice.  As the challenge was not accepted they carried the stone all the way to Kilduich and placed it over Maurice's grave, where it is still pointed out.  Maurice might have been murdered for the sake of the money he was carrying home with him from Inverness, but the people of Kintail suspected that the murder was instigated by someone connected with the Chisholm, who did not like to see a stranger's cattle grazing on the hills of Affric, and the tradition further says that as soon as Maurice was dead all his cattle were stolen from their grazing by the Chisholm's men.  Years afterwards, when Maurice's son, then an old man, was lying on his death-bed, a certain neighbor called Murachadh Buidh nam Meoir (yellow Murdoch of the fingers) went to see him.  It was a cold day, and as Murdoch, who was asked to replenish the fire, was in the act of breaking up an old disused settle for fuel, he found concealed in it the parchment bond of the above-mentioned agreement between the Chisholm and Muireach Fial.