Clan Mackay Society of the USA

About the Cover  

Painting by William Mackay
Historian / Artist

Image used by permission of the artist.

I received this painting from Bill Mackay several years ago when he and his wife Helen were visiting the United States. At the time I was the North Carolina Commissioner. The best I recall they were visiting and attending the Grandfather Mountain Games.

I am currently collecting several scans of his work to feature on our website. I may have to go to Scotland to finish out the rest of his work. Oh darn ...


This is a replica of the Bratach Bana  [The White Banner], which tradition in Strathnaver says was the battle flag of Ian Aberach, when he led the Mackays at the Battle of Drum na Coup in 1433.

The custody of the banner remained with Ian Aberach's descendants till 1897, when it was handed over to the Clan Mackay Society who deposited it for preservation in the Royal Scottish Museum. This was never the banner of the principal family of Mackay, but of the Aberach Mackays, its oldest cadet line.

The armorial charge is a lion rampant surrounded by a shield traced out by a double Tressure and Fleur de Lys. The heraldic significance of these devices is Royal descent, and both Ian Aberach and his brother Neil Vass were descended from Robert 11, King of Scots. The hand sinister which is not a common crest in Highland coats of arms is characteristic of Mackay Arms. It may have come from a charge borne by McNeil of Gigha, whose daughter married Donald 3rd Chief of Mackay, The motto on the palm is ‘Bidh Treun’ 'Be valiant', the slogan of the Mackays, which was law Latinised as ‘Manu Fort’, 'With a Strong Hand'.

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