Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Grandfather, Scotland and our ancestry

My grandfather's name was Angus McDonald which is about as Scottish as you can get. Living close to my grandparents resulted in growing up very Scottish but I never realized how much so until I started spending so much time in Scotland. The many things that I viewed as peculiarities of my grandfather proved to be just Scottish! From the way my grandfather spoke to the foods we ate and the customs and traditions we observed. It was very important to my mother to continue these traditions and customs during our upbringing. I still remember so vividly my first day in Scotland and feeling that everything finally made sense. I had an immediate connection that is just as strong today if not stronger.
I had long heard the stories that my family were descendants of Somerled who was the very first Lord of the Isles in the 12th century. It was his grandson Donald who started the McDonald Clan which was the largest and most powerful clan in the Highlands. Having the name McDonald of course suggests that I must have come from the original McDonald line but I always had some loose ends in my ancestral search. Last year I did some DNA testing and was thrilled to learn that yes, we were indeed descendants of Somerled! I am a 26th direct generational descendant of Somerled. My cousin Richard who's surname is McDonald is a direct paternal descendant of Somerled. I can now trace both sides of my family back to 12th century Scotland.
I have always been proud of my Scottish ancestry but having the data to back up the stories that have been passed down through the generations is like icing on the cake.

Shannon McDonald Tate


  1. Shannon I'm just thrilled to be able to follow your blog. I can hear your voice very clearly as I read your posts. If you don't recognize the avitar,its The Harpy from Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow,taken on one of my numerous trips with you. Keep posting and I'll keep reading. Great job.

  2. Hi Shannon and Mario. This blog is a great idea. Did the pictures of our Highlands and Islands ever get posted? My best to you both and hope that you are getting at least some relaxation.
    Donna the Scone

  3. Hello Donna the Scone,
    Mario has been busily posted pictures on our Facebook page for Scottish Dream Tours.