Gilleain na Tuaighe mac Rath (c.1174 - c.1249) MP

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Nicknames: "Gillean of the Battle Axe"
Death: Died
Managed by: Richard Norton
Last Updated:

About Gilleain na Tuaighe mac Rath

Gillean of the Battle Axe, or Gilleain na Tuaighe in Scottish Gaelic, (flourished 1250's) is the eponymous ancestor of Clan Maclean and Clan Maclaine of Lochbuie. He is considered the 1st chief of Clan Maclean.

Gilleain flourished around the year 1250. He was known as Gilleain na Tuaighe, from his carrying, as his ordinary weapon and constant companion, a battle axe. He was a man of mark and distinction. The following anecdote is related of him, which probably accounts for the origin of the Maclean crest, which consists of a battle-ax between a laurel and cypress branch, and is still used on the coat of-arms: "He was on one occasion engaged, with other lovers of the chase, in a stag-hunt on the mountain of Bein 'tsheata, and having wandered from the rest of the party in pursuit of game, the mountain became suddenly covered with a heavy mist, and he lost his way. For three days he wandered about, unable to recover his route, and on the fourth, exhausted by fatigue, he entered a cranberry bush, where, fixing the handle of his battle axe in the earth, he laid himself down. On the evening of the same day his friends discovered the head of the battle-ax above the bush, and found its owner, with his arms round the handle, stretched, in a state of insensibility, on the ground."

Gillean of the Battle Axe had three sons: Malise mac Gilleain, 2nd Clan Chief; Bristi mac Gilleain; and Gillebride mac Gilleain.


John Patterson MacLean (1889) A History of the Clan MacLean from Its First Settlement at Duard Castle, in the Isle of Mull, to the Present Period: Including a Genealogical Account of Some of the Principal Families Together with Their Heraldry, Legends, Superstitions, etc. Edited for Wikipedia by Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) and loaded here on September 30, 2009.