Ruaidhrí Dall Ó Catháin was born in the late 16th century in North Antrim (possibly at Dún Sobhairche), the son of an Ó Catháin chief (possibly An Giolla Dubh, d.1653). He seems to have spent most of his life in the Scottish Highlands, especially around the Atholl area of Perthshire.
Very little is known of his life. He played before James I & VI in 1617, perhaps in Glasgow. He also visited Lude house in Perthshire in about 1649. He died at some time after that, possibly in the house of MacDonald of Sleat.
There are a few anecdotes about him, describing visits to Eglinton in Ayrshire and Lude in Perthshire, but really most of what we know of him is his music.
Ruaidhri Dall Mac Mhuirich
was born c.1656 in Bragar, Lewis, Scotland, the son of a wealthy farmer and poet. He was sent to school in Inverness to train to be a church minister but he caught smallpox there and became blind and scarred. Unable to finish his education he studied music instead, and was sent to Ireland to study the Gaelic harp tradition.
He next seems to have become an itinerant, part of a band of low-status entertainers, which he did not much enjoy. In 1681 he was in Edinburgh, where he met Iain Breac MacLeod, chief of the MacLeods of Dunvegan. Rory was soon securely engaged as harper at Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye, living at Claggan three miles from the castle. It seems that Rory may have unusually held both posts of harper and poet.
However at some point, and for reasons unknown, he was sent away by Iain Breac to live in Glenelg, a kind of exile from the household. When Iain died his son Roderick spent little time at Dunvegan. Rory Dall in Glenelg instead spent time with John MacLeod of Talisker. After John's death Rory Dall went and lived with his father-in-law in Lochaber. From there he made occasional excursions to the houses of chieftains in the Highlands and Islands. At the end of his life he returned to Dunvegan where he died in 1713-4 and was buried there.