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    ScotClans: The MacGregors from Glen Strae, near Perthshire

    Hi Mairiuna!

    I’m happy to learn, inside your latest article touring us around Arcachon’s ‘less known heights’, that old villas of the area had a Scottish link!

    Great discovery my friend 😉 .

    And I just love the black & white postcards you showcased, as they romantically travel us back into time …

    The following excerpt from your post caught my attention:

    So, here we were, in Alley Faust, just in front of  “Craigcrostan”, the beautiful neo-Palladian villa built in 1880 by a London architect for William Laird Mac Gregor, a wealthy Scottish lord. The fact that he had renamed villa “Eugénie” into villa “Glenstrae”, after the name of a land occupied by the MacGregor clan in Scotland, shows how deeply attached he was to his Scottish roots. Why he did change “Hermosa’”, the name of his other villa, into “Soleil Levant” I don’t know, but what is sure is that from the “belvédère” (gazebo) of Craigcrostan he could admire the sun rising and setting on the beautiful Arcachon Bay.

    Arcachon villa Glenstrae old postcard Scotiana library

    Villa Glenstrae in Arcachon, France - Old postcard - Scotiana library

    Used to come there for health problems William Laird MacGregor had finally settled in Arcachon. I’ve read that at that time there was an important English and Scottish community there.  He was known as an eccentric man, never breaking his daily ritual ride in a horse car, beginning its trip snugly wrapped in a lot of blankets which he took off one after the other at defined ‘checkpoints’ where a servant was waiting for him to fetch the blankets back home.

    Source:  A Mysterious William Laird Mac Gregor in Arcachon… Mairiuna, Scotiana

    You mention above that William Laird Mac Gregor renamed villa “Eugénie” into villa “Glenstrae”,  ‘after the name of a land occupied by the MacGregor clan in Scotland, ..(…)...’

    That’s what triggered my curiosity. Glenstrae? Don’t recall reading about or viewing this part of Scotland. Where is it located?

    Off am I to research about this piece of land and the relationship it has with the clan Mac Gregor.

    Collins Guide To Scots Kith & Kin - A Guide To The Clans & Surnames of Scotland

    Collins Guide To Scots Kith & Kin - Harper Collins Publisher - Glsgow - c1989

    I found a little book in the Scottish Clans section of my library, bought while shopping at “The Book Shop” in Wigtown, Scotland, a few years ago, titled “Collins Guide To Scots Kith & Kin – A Guide To The Clans & Surnames of Scotland“, inside which there’s a fold-out color map of Scotland showing the homelands of the clans and illustrating significant events in Scottish history.

    Colour Map of Scotland Showing ScotClans Homeland

    Fold-out Color Map Od Scotland Clans Homelands - from Collins Guide To Scots Kith & Kins

    From it I cropped the image below to show the MacGregors homeland. It clearly indicates they were nested in between the Campbells and the Stewarts of Balquhidder lands.

    ScotClans MacGregor Scottish Clan Map

    Clan Mac Gregor homeland on Scotland's map

    But what I am now looking for is a map that displays geographically the Glen.

    On Hal MacGregor’s website, I collected a little bit more info,

    By the beginning of the 16th century, there were five main  MacGregor geographical districts, in valleys (Glens):  Glen Dochart, Glen Orchy, Glen Lyon, Glen Strae, and Glen Gyle.  There were also adjacent areas where the Gregor clan was prevalent.

    and I was glad to come across John Hennessy’s beautiful landscape photography of the glen. Contemplating this photo brings me into calmness of mind. Can’t wait to go back to this marvellous country…

    Glen Strae Scotland Photo by John Hennessy

    Photo by John Hennessey | Source:

    Still looking for a geographical map, I googled my way around.

    Ah! Getting closer…here’s an aerial view of the area:

    Glen Strae Scotlan Google Map

    Glen Strae-Scotland| Source:| Click On The Image For Larger Size

    It’s near Stronmilchan, encapsulated between Beinn Eunaich and Beinn Donachaine. There we go! 🙂

    It will now be easier for me to imagine the scenes, in those not so far away times, when the Scottish Clans were focusing on territorial possession.

    Flipping through the pages of the book, I found another reference to Glenstrae under the MacGregor descriptive text. I’ve scanned it for you below:

    Scottish Clan MacGregor Spreading To Glenstrae

    Scottish Clan MacGregor Spreading To Glenstrae and Perthshire

    MacGregor Scottish Clan Crest with Motto

    MacGregor Scottish Clan Crest - 'Our Race is Royal'

    Convinced that Nigel Tranter (23 November 1909 – 9 January 2000) had written something about the MacGregors, I grabbed “The Nigel Tranter Bibliography” from the bookshelf, as it compiles all his writings.

    By the way, this is such a great book for bibliophiles, as it contains every single edition of every single work published (more then 137) by Nigel Tranter during his career! Quite impressive.

    The Nigel Tranter Bibliography - Colin Mills - Underhill Publications 2003

    The Nigel Tranter Bibliography - Colin Mills - Underhill Publications 2003

    This compilation is an ‘extraordinary labour of love’ and I am grateful to Colin Mills for undertaking this great project thus giving us the opportunity to grasp the intensity of Nigel Tranter’s writing career and have such a great reference available. If not on your bookshelf yet, it’s a must, especially if you’re a fan of Scottish history.

    On page 104 of the book, there’s a reproduction of the text printed on the front flap of the 1st edition of his book: ” Children Of The Mist”. It goes like this:

    Children of the mist first edition nigel tranter

    Children Of The Mist by Nigel Tranter 1st Ed Hodder&Stoughton 1992

    “Our race is royal” was the proud claim of the MacGregors. Yet as resounding as was their background, and far from negligible their fighting qualities, they were small as highland clans went and they had the misfortune to occupy lands fairly close to the great Clan Campbell.

    “By the end of the sixteen century Alastair MacGregor of Glen Strae, the young chief, fell heir to a dire heritage indeed. With little left to his clan save Glen Strae and some smaller lairdships, where once they had owned more than half of Scotland, he is faced with a challenge. And although no warlike character, he sought to meet that challenge

    “The principal threat was Black Duncan of the Cowl, Campbell of Glenorchy, a dangerous foe indeed, clever as he was unscrupulous, and with the ear of King James the Sixth. This is the story of their conflict, of intrigue and folly, courage and treachery, and sheerest drama, which shows Nigel Tranter at the peak of his form, unveiling the heart and fascination of Scotland’s history.”

    You know what? From all the books written by Nigel Tranter housed in my library,  I don’t have ‘Children Of The Mist‘ ! Amazon, here I come 😉

    Children of the Mist by Nigel Tranter - Coronet Books 1998

    Children of the Mist by Nigel Tranter - Coronet Books 1998

    The MacGregors have such an important role in Scotland’s history, that I think we should write some articles on Scotiana , dwelving even deeper into the dramatic events that took part in those late 16th century years amongst the ancient Scottish clans. It’s a very complex system and it would be worthwhile to give some writing time to the subject.

    MacGregor's Gathering by Nigel Tranter 1974

    MacGregor's Gathering by Nigel Tranter - 1st Paperback Edition Coronet 1974

    MacGregor's Gathering - Nigel Tranter- Coronet Books - 1993 Reissue

    MacGregor's Gathering - Nigel Tranter- Coronet Books - 1993 Reissue

    What do you think Mairiuna?

    Until next, all the very best.


    PS:  You might also want to check out Bookabus’s Ebay Store for gorgeous Canvas Art Print on MacGregor Tartan


    7 comments to ScotClans: The MacGregors from Glen Strae, near Perthshire

    • This is an amazing article! I’m currently working on a short story that involves the clan MacGregor and this was pivotal in helping me determine where best to put a particular scene in the story. I’m definitely mentioning this site in the Afterword! 🙂 Thanks for putting this information up. 🙂

    • I wanna see Villa Glenstrae in Arcachon. Wow. That Villa is ancient. I would love to see how it looks now. Should check it online.

    • Michael Harrah

      Just got back from Glen Strae. Gorgeous place. It’s near Oban at the head of Loch Awe.Hiked around all day and visited Kilchurn.

    • Hal MacGregor


      Hal MacGregor.


    • Frances Haragan

      I have just finished Nigel Tranter’s “Children of the Mist” and was intrigued as to where exactly Glenstrae is geographically. I googled “Glenstrae” and came across your wonderful website. Interesting stuff indeed. As a family, some 20 years ago, we stayed at Dalmally on the Stronmilchan road in a little cottage. It is truly a beautiful area.

    • Richard

      Never at any stage in their history did the MacGregors “own more than half of Scotland”.

    • Dorothy Helen McGregor King

      I came accross this article upon looking for information about Glenstrae, I was born in Clarkston, Scotland, I now live in Australia. My grandson is making me a name plaque for our house, “Glenstrae” and, as I am from a very long line of the MacGregor Clan I wanted the plaque as a memory of my heritage.

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