For several centuries the story of Invergarry was the story of the MacDonnell family. They were the lairds here when, after raids by the Mackenzies in 1602, they decided to fortify the Rock of the Raven, a rocky outcrop on the west bank of Loch Oich. The result was an imposing five storey L-plan tower house, Invergarry Castle.
Invergarry Castle had an eventful 150 years. It first saw action when Cromwell's troops under General Monck burned it down in 1654. Repaired, it was held for James VII/II from 1688 until its surrender to the forces of William and Mary in 1692 (see our Historical Timeline). It was then held by the Jacobites during the 1715 uprising, but taken for the government in 1716. And during the 1745 uprising it was again held by Jacobites and visited twice by Bonnie Prince Charlie. In the aftermath of Culloden it was sacked and partially blown up by troops under "Butcher Cumberland" as part of his systematic suppression of the Highlands.
In 1754, Alestair Ruadh MacDonnell became laird and the confiscated family estates were returned to him, probably in return for services he had rendered as a spy in the Jacobite camp on the continent. He became the first of a series of MacDonnell lairds who worked hard to exploit their estates to their maximum.
They stripped much of the area of its forests, passing the wood through a sawmill they built in Invergarry. The last of the woodland was shipped out as logs via the newly built Caledonian Canal in the decade up to 1830. The area has regained much of its previous woodland since.
During the 1780s the MacDonnells also cleared their land of much of its population, on the basis that there was more money to be made by grazing sheep on the land than by allowing it to be used by the existing tenants for their cattle.
The MacDonnells lost the estate at about the time the woodland ran out. Between 1866 and 1869 the new lairds of the estate, the Ellice family, built the imposing Invergarry House a little to the north of the ruins of Invergarry Castle.
The last of the Ellices to live in Invergarry House as laird of Glengarry and Glenquoich was Edward Ellice. Ellice, who could speak Gaelic speaker, aimed to encourage the people of the glens to maintain local traditions: at least, presumably, those local traditions which had not been wholly obliterated during the MacDonnells' tenure.
Edward Ellice died in 1934 and in 1960 Invergarry House was reborn as the Glengarry Castle Hotel. It enjoys an enviable position overlooking Loch Oich, with the added attraction of the ruins of Invergarry Castle in the grounds.
Invergarry itself lies a couple of hundred yards to the west of Glengarry Castle. Its focus is the junction between the A82 as it crosses the River Garry over a high concrete bridge built in the 1930s, and the A87 as it heads west along the north side of Glen Garry en route to Kyle of Lochalsh. A little to the south is the new Community Hall, which since 2006 has been the home of the Information Centre.
Most of the village is strung out along the A87 to the west of the junction. The most striking of the buildings here is the Invergarry Hotel.
Glengarry Parish Church is placed above the road and a little back from it. The core of this was built in 1864, though the tower and other extensions came along in 1896. When viewed as part of a run of buildings including some very attractive cottages with superbly cared-for gardens, the church adds much to an already very attractive village.
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