December 2010


Going to the MacDonald home: Glencoe

As I’ve noted, I grew up in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood.

One of the features of the neighborhood is that the streets were a double alphabet with the first street in each pair being a place and the second a plant. So we had Hudson Street followed by Holly Street. There was also Leyden and Locus.

One of the pairs is Glencoe and Grape. My Father always made a big deal out of the fact that there was a McDonald’s on Glencoe Street at Colfax.


View of GlencoeIt was his greatest disappointment that the owners of that McDonald’s did not take the opportunity to take advantage of the history surrounding Glencoe and the MacDonald clan. Yeah the MacDonald clan have an “a” that McDonald’s does not, but that’s a triviality.

Once I made plans to visit Glasgow for a short Thanksgiving vacation this past weekend, I realized that I would be near Glencoe and this triggered my memory and I decided to, for the first time in my life, look up the story of Glencoe and the MacDonald clan.

My father was right and I had to visit.

MacDonald MemorialGlencoe is a somewhat majestic and sweeping valley between Glasgow and Fort William in Scotland. It’s rather windswept—and it was the home to the MacDonald clan, which in 1692, was massacred by order of the King of England, King William of Orange. John Sadler, in his book Glencoe: The Infamous Massacre 1692, goes so far as to suggest that the massacre meets the modern definition of ethnic cleansing or, perhaps, genocide.

By order of the King, at the early morning hour of 5 o’clock, soldiers being billeted in the homes of the MacDonald clan were ordered to put “all to the sword under seventy.” There was no distinguishing between adults and children or men and women: everybody was to be executed.

MacDonald Memorial

A total of 38 MacDonalds were killed that morning, with many more escaping into the inhospitable climes of the surrounding glen—ultimately dying from exposure.

GlencoeThe MacDonald clan was set for the sword because the clan’s head did not swear an oath of allegiance to the new king in time—although he did swear an oath a few days late, it was disallowed.

My father was right: it is a dramatic and fascinating history—and, that “a” aside, the McDonald’s could have been MacDonald of Glencoe themed. I’m not actually sure that customers would have responded well to blood on the ground, but maybe the walls could have had the MacDonald tartan.

2 comments to Going to the MacDonald home: Glencoe

  • But is there a McDonald’s in Glencoe? That would be cool.

    • Alas, no. The Glencoe Village is pretty small and I doubt it could support a McDonald’s — the nearest one is 10-15 miles away in Fort William.

      Maybe Papa Scott could influence the company and get a location built there — with the understanding it will lose money, but that it’s a loss-leader.