Alisdair.com is the personal website of Alisdair MacRae Birch.
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So why the name Alisdair.com ? (More than you probably want to know)
Alisdair is a first name and so the site is called after a first name. (You can also get to the site using the full name AlisdairMacRaeBirch.com - but that is a little too long to remember). In English the name is pronounced either as "Alas-tear" or "Alice-tear". The tear as in "tear this sheet of paper" or rhymes with "dare".
Alisdair is a Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) name meaning "protector or defender of men or mankind" and is Gàidhlig evolution of the Greek name Alexandros; from the Greek alexein "to defend, help" and aner "man" (genitive andros). Scottish Gaelic, by the way, is pronounced like “gal (as in a girl) -ick” as opposed to the Irish, “gail-ick.” There are two main spellings of the name in Gàidhlig Alisdair or Alasdair. The reason for this is that Gàidhlig is written with just 18 letters. The consonants all have more than one pronunciation depending on their position in a word and which vowels precede or follow them. So the writing of the name is open to a degree of interpretation.
In Gàidhlig pronunciation the "d" sounds like an English "t" and hence the name is often found in its Anglicized form as Alister, Alistair, Alastair, Allister or Alistair.
Historically, the name is derived from Alexander and one of the first written accounts of the name is in 1107 when Queen Margaret, wife of King Malcolm III Ceannmore, crowned her son Alexander I. Known for his vigour and impetuosity of his character he received the appellation of The Fierce. His name was then was Gaelicised as Alaxandair which in turn became Alasdair or Alisdair, The Fierce and was king from 1107 to 1124.
This explains a common question as to why on the island of Skye one of the Cuillin Moutain peaks is called Sgùrr Alasdair, ( sgùrr means a sharp peak ) and is named after Sheriff Alexander Nicolson who first climbed this Cuillin peak in 1873.
Scottish last names or in Gaelic Cinnidhean
With the defeat of the Scots and the Highland Clearances, many of the Scottish traditions were suppressed. In particular Scottish last names were standardized to confirm to an English model of last name inheritance.
Traditionally, Gàidhlig (pronounced Gallic) surnames contained the name of the family ancestor, but sometimes they were derived from occupations or positions, or physical or personal characteristics, or from names of places.
The word Mac means Son in Gàidhlig. So Mac Rae means Son of Rae. For a Daughter of Rae in Gàidhlig the name would be Nic Rae. The English preferred that all offspring whether male or female inherit the same family name so consequently the use of Nic fell into disuse, and has no Anglicized equivalent.
In recent years with the revival in interest in traditional Gàidhlig and Highland culture, there has been a push to revive the old traditions of Scotland. The Scottish Registrar General based in Dun Eideann, Edinburgh after much campaigning has now begun accepting the registration of last names based in the traditional Gaelic Highland model.
See: Alisdair Biography Scottish Links