This name refers to 'Son of Columba', the most revered Christian missionary, who converted King Brude in about 564 AD, and is credited with being responsible for the conversion of the entire Albann empire to Christianity.
He is revered by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church and the Anglican Church as a saint. For more information on Saint Columba, click here.
The MacColls were long associated with the area around Loch Fyne from very early times. Their early history is 'sketchy', as is often the case with Pict-descended clans. Being a relatively small group, they forged protective relationships with first the MacDonalds, then with the MacGregors, and may even have been full members of the Clan Gregor.
This arrangement was not unique, as each Glen (or valley) controlled (or protected) by Clan Gregor kept their own names, which became associated with those particular geographical areas. i.e. the MacNeishes and Fletchers were associated with GlenOrchy.
In 1602, the MacPhersons ambushed a MacGregor raiding party at Drum Nachder, while returning home. The results were disastrous for the MacColls, as they lost most of their men and their chief. The next year, in 1603, the MacGregors were proscribed, leaving the MacColl group without a protector.
This near extinction forced them into a close protective relationship with the Stewarts of Appin, who had grabbed Glen Lyon from another MacGregor sept, the MacIvers and MacIvors.
They sustained further losses during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, when they fought again for the Stewarts of Appin, and lost 18 killed and 15 wounded.
More recently, the name has acquired artistic associations. Evan MacColl (1808 - 1898) was a noted Gaelic poet and author. Ewan MacColl (1915 - 1989) made his mark as a folk-singer.