Ceartas Nan Abrich

The motto of MacKay of Ardoch is Ceartas nan Abrich, and means‘The justice of the Aberachs’.

The MacKays of Ardoch trace their descent from the Aberach MacKays, the most ancient branch of the family, through John Aberach MacKay of Achness. They occupied Strathnaver in Sutherland. They were always renowned to be the most fearless section of the clan, but they also had a reputation for honesty and fair play.

In 1487 when William Du, son of John Aberach, was returning victorious from the Battle of Aldicharrish, he carried with him a great wealth of the spoils of battle. In the battle the MacKays were assisted by the MacLeods of Assynt and by some of the men of Sutherland. The Assynt men made a proposal that the men of Sutherland should receive none of their share of the spoil – in these days a common abuse of the underdog by the powerful. The MacKays refused to countenance this proposal, and ensured that the men of Sutherland received everything due to them.

This action, and the commitment of the MacKays to honour and justice, made such an impression that hundreds of years later it would still be heard among the Gaelic speaking people of Sutherland, Ceartas nan Abrich – the justice of the Aberachs.

We continue to seek to follow a path of equity and justice, not only in our work in the field of social justice, but in life in general. This goal is perhaps best expressed in the words attributed to John Wesley:

‘Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can’.