The MacDonald crest (shown above) shows a hand grasping a crosslet that is intended to show descent from the Dalriadic Prince Conal who reigned 560 to 574 A.D. and under whose protection St. Columbia introduced Christianity into Scotland. The MacDhomhnuills believed they were descended from ancient rulers of Ireland called the Conn. We now know that the founder of the clan, Somerled, was descended from Norwegian Vikings. The belt on the crest has in Latin the motto of the clan-- "By Sea and By Land," referring to the MacDonald's rule over many islands of Scotland, the Western coast and County Antrim in Ireland. They had a lot in common with the Vikings they were descended from. They used light ships like the Vikings to control their territory and they were warlike so they often worked as mercenaries (sometimes called gallowglasses) in Ireland and other countries.
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