A Quick McHistory

Whenever any discussion of McCormick ancestry arises one of the first questions asked is, are they Scottish or Irish? At this point my answer has to be that they have strong connections to both Ireland and Scotland, but are of neither. They are Dalriadan.

Before there was Scotland or even the Kingdom of Alba there was Dalriada – also spelled

dalriada map
Map of Dalriada

Dál Riata or Dál Riada . At its height, toward the end of the 0600s and early 0700s, Dalriada consisted of the Inner Hebrides, parts of Northern Ireland (Ulster) and Scotland’s west coast. It was a natural union of inhabitants for whom Sruth na Maoile (Eng – North Channel, Straits of Moyle, Sea of Moyle) was neither a border nor a barrier, but a roadway to be travelled and embraced. Its capital is believed to have been Dunadd in Argyle and Bute. Perhaps its most important site was the monastery on Iona from which Celtic Christianity spread across the isles with St.Columba.

It was an idyllic, beautiful kingdom and I wish I could say peaceful, but such was rarely the case. Invaders came from all quarters and eventually Dalriada ceased to exist as a political entity. Currently all of its territory is occupied by the UK. However, conquerors may come and go but the kinship of the people who formed this natural alliance remains. In that sense Dalriada is forever.

MacLaine of Lochbuie Crest

The McCormicks (there are many different spellings) are a sept of Clan MacLaine of Lochbuie. The following has been taken from the Clan’s official website and demonstrates the Dalriadan affinity with some clarity.

Biadh is deoch do MhacCormaig – “Food and Drink for MacCormicks”.

Following the death of Iain Og in 1539, Moy Castle was occupied by Iain Og’s brother, the Maclean of Scallastle. Murdoch Gearr, now Iain Og’s heir, fled to Ireland to his cousin, the Earl of Antrim. Antrim was impressed with young Murdoch, who had sworn to expel his uncle from Moy, and gave Murdoch a boat with a force of MacCormick warriors.
Murdoch and the MacCormick sailed for Lochbuie, and recaptured the castle, expelling Scallastle and his supporters. In gratitude to MacCormick, Murdoch had carved into the lintel above the east facing doorway of Moy Castle, the Gallic words meaning “Food and Drink for MacCormicks” – meant to signify that anyone who bore this name would always be welcomed at Moy Castle.
To this day, the MacCormick sept holds a seat of honour within Clan Maclaine of Lochbuie.

The Dalriadan theme is further emphasised by the Clan’s coat of arms which has a red lion in the first quadrant of the shield signifying descent from Dalriada. Indeed, the clan’s estate was granted by one of the Lords of the Isles in the mid 1300s. Alas, in 1920 the MacLaines were once again dispossessed of Moy Castle and the estate through a lawsuit. (I will write them to see if they require our further assistance. However, I will make it quite clear that they cannot expect us to save their bacon every 500 years).

The modern history of the McCormicks seems to begin in Ireland, but as I’ve found, that could change as more information is discovered. It had long been assumed that our immediate family (beginning with Jim and Ruth) was the first Canadian connection. However, recent discoveries show that is not the case and that McCormick descendants were prowling about London, Ontario in the late 1800s (more on that in a later post). Similarly, it was assumed Hugh and Catherine were the first to settle in modern day Scotland but evidence shows his older sister preceded him to Glasgow. In short, the tale that begins in Ulster leads us to Canada, the USA, England, Australia, New Zealand, Wales, and even places like Malaysia. I shall endeavour to bring some of our ancestors stories to life in these pages. The journey is convoluted and without end, but filled with tribulations and courage, struggles and perseverance, tragedy and hope.


Shortly after posting this I received the following email from Clan Chief, Lorne Maclaine of Lochbuie, 26th Baron of Moy,

Good evening Bill,

I think you and I could become good friends!

Yes.. I would welcome the MacCormicks help once again to re-take Moy Castle, but sadly the PC police might get annoyed with our probable methods. Ooh that it was a few hundred years ago when such things were possible.

Thanks for your sentiments, and food and drink is always supplied at a Lochbuie Gatherings, especially to the MacCormick team. In fact the current senior Clan officer is a MacCormick.

Best wishes,

Lorne Maclaine of Lochbuie.