Eilean Donan is a small tidal island where three lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh, in the western Highlands of Scotland; since the castle's restoration in the early 20th Century, a footbridge has connected the island to the mainland. A picturesque castle that frequently appears in photographs, film and television dominates the island, which lies about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) from the village of Dornie.
Eilean Donan is part of the Kintail National Scenic Area, one of 40 in Scotland. In 2001, the island had a recorded population of just one person, but there were no "usual residents" at the time of the 2011 census.
Eilean Donan, which means simply "island of Donnán", is named after Donnán of Eigg, a Celtic saint martyred in 617. Donnán is said to have established a church on the island, though no trace of this remains.
The castle was founded in the thirteenth century, and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan Macrae. In the early eighteenth century the Mackenzies' involvement in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle's destruction by government ships. Lieutenant-Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap's twentieth-century reconstruction of the ruins produced the present buildings.
The Modern Castle :
The present castle buildings are entirely the result of 20th-century reconstruction and, although the rebuilding followed the extant ground plan, the details of the present castle differ from its original appearance. The survey drawings by Lewis Petit were not rediscovered until the restoration was almost complete, and the restorers therefore were forced to rely on less accurate interpretations such as the work of MacGibbon and Ross, who attempted a plan of the remains in the late 19th century.
The castle is today entered from the south, via a modern portal complete with a portcullis. Above the door is a Gaelic inscription which in translation reads: "As long as there is a Macrae inside, there will never be a Fraser outside", referring to a bond of kinship between the two clans, and a similar inscription which once adorned the Fraser's home at Beaufort Castle.