The Serpent Connection

[Origin of Clan MacIvor] Origin of Clan MacIvor

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There is a curious Gaelic stanza relative to the Clan, well-known in the Highlands, the words of which are supposed to be uttered by the serpent or adder, the only poisonous reptile found in the country:

Mhionnaich mise do Chlann-Imheair,
'S mhionnaich Clann-Imheair dhomh,
Nach ______insa do Chlann-Imheair
'S nach beannadh Clann-Imheair dhomh,

I have sworn to Clan-Iver,
And Clan-Iver has sworn to me,
That I will not injure Clan-Iver,
And Clan-Iver will not injure me.

The compact recorded in these lines is understood literally by some simple Highlanders, who regard the true members of the Clan as invulnerable by serpents. A friend of another Clan has told the writer that often, when traversing thickets infested by adders in his school-boy days, these lines would come to his mind, and call forth an earnest wish that he had been a member of the favoured race.

After much consideration on the subject, the true explanation of the rhyme appears to be that it commemorates an alliance between Clan-Iver and some other race symbolized by the serpent; and there is every probability that the alliance referred to is that which is known to have anciently existed between the MacIvers in Perthshire and the Clan-Dhonnachie or Robertsons, one of whose cognizances was the serpent, which still appears as one of the supporters in the arms of their Chief, Robertson of Strowan.

Note: This is the interpretation of Peter Colin Campbell, in "Account of The Clan-Iver", [published: Aberdeen, Scotland, 1873].

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