The Clan McGrath Society


Following a recommendation of the Ceann Fine and the example of other Irish Clans and historic families, the McGrath Clan Council has endorsed the wearing of a traditional Clan dress consisting of:

  • A saffron kilt (The traditional modern Gaelic dress of the Irish), or a kilt of the Ulster Red tartan (see below).
  • Kilt to be worn with or without sporran (personal choice).
  • A kilt jacket as appropriate (tweed for daytime events, Kilkenny, Boru or Balmoral for more formal occasions).
  • A suitable kilt pin featuring the McGrath battleaxe (example pictured below).
  • An Irish Caubeen (Irish Bonnet) or Tam O Shanter when appropriate.
  • For ladies a sash of the Ulster Red Tartan.

We encourage all our Clan members to consider wearing our traditional dress at Clan gatherings, cultural events and celebrations.

Pictured left is a member of the Irish Defence Forces in the saffron kilt and traditional dress. He wears the kilt without the sporran. He also wears a tunic with saffron plaid from the shoulder. Wearing of the kilt can be adopted to suit the individuality of the wearer, including the change of colour of hose, the wearing or not wearing of the sporran and the wearing of alternative neckwear including, ties, bow ties and cravats. 

There is a number of recommended links for purchasing saffron kilts and Ulster Red tartan on or links page, you will find the tab above. We will feature an article on the saffron kilt in our next newsletter.


Although a Scottish tradition, in Ireland there are various tartans which are used to represent one's identity as Irish, Gaelic, Celtic or Scots.  Traditionally the Irish produced many forms of woven cloth and of a type that could be classed as tartan, however the 19th century revival of tartan as a particular Scottish cultural icon cemented the idea that tartan and the wearing of the kilt was particular to the Scots. However the late 19th Century Gaelic Revival in Ireland saw a resurgence of interest in the kilt and the development of particularly Irish variations including, as mentioned above, the saffron kilt. The Clan McGrath would encourage its kinsmen to wear the kilt when the opportunity arises. With the popularity of the kilt, many  Irish tartans have been developed to meet the growing demand and there are many tartans now found including County tartans and Irish national tartans. 

To express our heritage the Clan McGrath Sept of Ulster have adopted the oldest existing tartan found anywhere, the Ulster tartan. Having lain in an Ulster bog for between 400 and 500 years, this tartan was recovered in the 1950s just outside the town of Dungiven, Co. Derry / Londonderry with a number of other items of clothing. There were no human remains found. At the time the clothing was deposited in the bog the area was under the Gaelic Chieftainship of the O'Cahan Clan. After detailed excavations and forensic analysis the tartan was shown to have been woven in County Donegal, the ancestral home of the Clan McGrath Sept of Ulster. After careful reconstruction of the cloth there are now two official tartans. Modern Ulster Red and Ulster Ancient Tartan. 

The tartan and the clothing found with it are historically important as they reflect the various cultural influence in Ulster at the time they were deposited. The dublet (jacket) is in an English style, the great Irish brat or mantle is a traditional Irish Gaelic item of clothing and the tartan trews, although woven in Donegal show the influence of our Scottish kin on Gaelic Ireland.

The Ulster Modern Red tartan, pictured above, is best suited to all occasions and is worn by the Ceann Fine of Ulster at official events. He encourages members of the Clan McGrath Sept of Ulster or any other McGrath who feels a connection with our Ulster heritage and who wish to wear a tartan to consider adopting and wearing proudly this ancient symbol of our cultural diversity. 

            ULSTER MODERN RED                                ULSTER MUSEUM ON THE DUNGIVEN FIND                               BATTLEAXE KILT PIN