History from the bards (folk tellers) of Scotland first recall Clan MacIntyre being on the Isle of Skye about 800 A.D.
They lived on lands held by the Donalds of Sleat, a part of the Clan Donald (MacDonald). Clan MacIntyre is a sept of Clan Donald.
About 1100 A.D. the MacIntyres left the Isle of Skye and made a home in Glen Noe on the shores of Loch Etive in Argyleshire. These were the lands of the Clan Campbell where they paid rent until around 1806 when the Clan Chief and most of the clans people left Scotland for America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
In Gaelic, the name MacIntyre is rendered "Mac-anTsaoir", meaning son of the carpenter. A traditional account dates the origins of the name to the early twelfth century, when Somerled was establishing his lordship in the Western Isles. After Olav the Red, Norse King of Man and the Isles, resisted Somerled's ambitions, he then resorted to diplomacy, and sought the hand of the kings daughter, Ragnhild, in marriage. Somerled's nephew, Macarill or Maurice, assured his uncle that he could devise a scheme to win the bride. It is said that Macarill sabotaged Olav's galley by boring holes in the hull, which he then plugged with tallow. He contrived to be a passenger on the kings galley, and went well supplied with wooden plugs. Heavy seas washed out the tallow and the galley began to flounder, at which point Macarill promised to save the kings life if he would promise his daughters hand to Somerled. The pact was sealed, and the plugs used to stop the leaks. Macarill was thereafter known as the "wright or carpenter", and found high favour with his uncle.
Macarill's descendants later established themselves on the mainland where, according to legend, they were warned by a spirit only to settle where a white cow in their herd came to rest. The land they settled was the rich and fertile Glen Noe by Ben Cruachan on Loch Etive. By the end of the thirteenth century the MacIntyres were foresters to the Lord of Lorn, an office they held through the passing of the lordship from the MacDougalls to the Stewarts and finally the Campbells.
As the family records have been lost, the MacIntyre chiefs cannot be listed with any accuracy, but the first chief of record was Duncan, who married a daughter of Campbell of Barcaldine. Duncan died in 1695 and was buried in Ardchattan Priory in a tomb worthy of his rank. Through the Barcaldine connection, the MacIntyre chiefs claim descent from Robert the Bruce. The civil war in Scotland provided a convenient excuse for many clans to settle old scores. The Earl of Argyll was not only leader of the Covenanter faction in Scottish Parliament, but he was also the implacable foe of many clans whose fortunes had been eclipsed by the rise of the Campbells. The earl's lands were ravaged, but royalist forces commanded by Alasdair MacDonald, "Colkitto", spared Glen Noe on the grounds that the MacIntyres were kinsmen. Many MacIntyres subsequently joined Colkitto's army, including the chief's piper. The chief, however, was with Argyll at Inverlochy in February 1645 when the Campbells were surprised by Montrose and routed.
James, the third chief, was born around 1727. He was sponsored by the Campbell Earl of Breadabane and studied law, being regarded as a good scholar and poet. On his father's death he returned to Glen Noe. When Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his father's standard at Glenfinnan in 1745, James would have joined him but for the influence of his Campbell wife and neighbours. Many clansmen, however, slipped away and fought under Stewart of Appin at Culloden. The great MacIntyre bard, Duncan Ban, fought for the house of Hanover at the Battle of Falkirk in 1746. A monument to the poet's memory was erected in 1859 near Loch Awe.
The MacIntyres originally held their lands by right of the sword, but they had acquired feudal obligations to the Campbells. The payments were purely symbolic until the early eighteenth century, when Campbell of Breadabane persuaded the MacIntyre chief to pay a cash rent. The rent was then progressively raised to a point where Donald, the fourth recorded chief, was unable to pay, and he emigrated to America in 1783, leaving his brother, Duncan, to manage the estate. Duncan struggled until 1806, when he, too, left the glen. The chiefly line continued to honour their Scottish origins in America, preserving the armorial great seal, signet ring and quaffing cup. In 1955 Alasdair MacIntyre of Camus-na-h-erie recorded arms in the Lyon Court as cadet of the chiefly house of MacIntyre. The shield was quite different from that which clan historians believed to be correct. This unhappy state of affairs was corrected in 1991, when James Wallace MacIntyre of Glenoe, ninth of recorded chiefs, matriculated the correct undifferenced arms. The MacIntyres once more take their seat on the Council of Clan Chiefs, and even Duncan Ban's lonely monument is more accessible, with a Forestry Commission stopping place from which it may be viewed.
Collins Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia
ęClan MacIntyre Society