36362: John Macdonald

John Macdonald, or the Cochull Glas (Grey Cowl) as he was known, was a man who was renowned for his skills as a fighting man. He was an able wrestler, beating his ally Domhnall Cam in many bouts, and his marksmanship with a bow was legendary. In one instance a boat belonging to the brieve from Ness came near to the shore in Bernera and one of the crew called across to the Cochull, who was standing on the shore, where it was safe to lay anchor. The Cochull, holding his hand to his ear, told him to stand in the shelter of the mainmast so that he could hear what he was saying. As soon as the crew-man did this the Cochull shot an arrow through him, fixing him to the mast. That spot on the shore is known as Laimhrig na Saighde (landing place of the arrow).

He lived at a settlement on Cnoc-an-Ruagain above Grimersta bay. As the Cochull was a great friend of Donald Macaulay, Domhnall Cam, and the Morrisons of Ness were always trying to steal their cattle, the settlement may have been strategically placed there so that any movement of cattle from Uig could be detected before they could traverse the Grimersta river. Also from the hilltop one had a clear view all the way across to Callanish and any approaching Morrisons could be seen in good time.

Another of the Cochull’s compatriots was Neil Macleod, Niall Odhar Bheireasaidh, who was besieged on Berisay for three years. Neil would be forewarned of any events by signal fires lit on a certain hill by the Cochull. The Cochull was said to have been with Domhnall Cam and Neil Macleod when they captured the Manx ship Priam at Kirkibost.

Many Macdonalds in Uig and Bernera claim that the Cochull was the first of their clan to set foot in Lewis.

Stories of an Cochull Glas appear in Donald Macdonald’s Tales and Traditions of the Lews.

Record Type:
Also Known As:
an Cochull Glas
Brothers Keeper Reference:
CEBL 2363
Record Maintained by: