The Definition of a Clan
The Gaelic word for ‘children’ is more accurately translated as ‘family’ in E’en Do bait Spair Nocht. the sense in which the word Clan became accepted in the Scottish Highlands during the 13th century.
A Clan is a social group whose core comprises a number of families derived from, or accepted as being derived from, a common ancestor.
Almost without exception, that core is accompanied by a further number of dependent and associated families who have either sought the protection of the Clan at some point in history or have been tenants or vassals of its Chief. That Chief is owed allegiance by all members of the Clan, but ancient tradition nevertheless states that the Clan is above the Chief.
Although Gaelic has been supplanted by English in the Lowlands of Scotland for nearly a thousand years, it is an acceptable convention to refer to the great Lowland families, like the Douglas’, as Clans although the heads of certain families, such as Bruce, prefer not to use the term.
Allegiance was generally given to a father’s Clan, but Celtic tradition includes a strong element of descent through, and loyalty to, a mother’s line. In reality, the chief of a Clan would ingather any stranger, of whatever family, who possessed suitable skills, maintained his allegiance and, if required, adopted the Clan surname. We welcome all Clan and Societies to participate in our Festival. To register please submit your application today. Slainte!