I willingly comply with the wish of
the youthful author that I should write a Foreword to his sketches. I have
read them with keen interest and with high appreciation of their worth.
His subject is a fascinating one. The glamour, the mystery, the romance of
the Hebrides have been the theme of many a song and many a story. Mr
MacGregor has treated his text with a freshness and understanding which
must compel attention and excite admiration. His youthful and vivid
imagination: his love of Nature in all her manifestations: the distinction
of his phrasing: the intimacy with which he bids his readers wander hand
in hand with him by the hills and lochs and seas which he loves so well,
must make a strong appeal, at any rate to Highlanders, whether they dwell
at home or across the seas. To the exile in particular this little volume
cannot fail to recall early and sacred memories of the homeland, and will
make them live again. It is well that, in a prosaic age, an author should
be found who combines the fire and enthusiasm of youth with the maturity
begotten by war service and all it stands for, whose eye for romance is
not dimmed by the materialism of to-day, and who devotes his talents to
visualising those simple and primitive joys which are to many of us a
cherished and a holy possession. I wish Mr MacGregor well in his literary
adventure. I hope that his evangel may reach a wide and widening
congregation. If I may vary the metaphor, the listeners-in will not
begrudge the time and attention which they expend on their task; nay, they
cannot fail to be grateful to the youthful broadcaster.
During the long and bitter
persecutions of Clan Alpin, which, after the unhappy incident in Gleann
Bhraoin, the Glen of Sorrow, culminated in the suppression, under pain of
death, of all who bore the name of MacGregor, a certain lain MacGregor of
Glengyle, rather than abandon his royal name and surrender those claims,
which from time immemorial his ancestors in unbroken succession had
maintained by the ancient right of the sword, fled to the lsland of Lewis,
and sought refuge there among the wild, inaccessible creeks of Loch
Carloway, where the Islesfolk, though they knew little of his history and
of the desperate circumstances that had driven him thitherward, at all
events spoke his language and understood his tradition.
As a descendant of this refugee, it
is my peculiar privilege to have inherited through him something of the
wildness and mysticism of a race, whose skill and valour by land and sea
are as a tale that is told.
Incidentally, I acknowledge my
indebtedness to the Editors of the Scotsman, Weekly Scotsman, Glasgow
Herald, Glasgow Weekly Herald, Edinburgh Evening News, Edinburgh Evening
Dispatch, Scottish Country Life, Oban Times and Chamberss Journal
for permission to republish these sketches; and I express my gratitude
to A. D. Y., I. I., the Rev. Canon R. C. MacLeod of MacLeod, Dr. A. B.
Flett, Percy Donald, B.Sc., and W. Wilson for having assisted me so
admirably with the illustrations.
Further, I am obliged to Mr William
Grant, Editor of the Stornoway Gazette, and to William Cook
MacKenzie, Esq., for the courtesy and consideration that they have shown
me at all times, and for the kind advice they have given me on innumerable
Alasdair Alpin MacGregor,
EDINBURGH, July 1925.
Callinish Standing Stones at Lewis
Hebrides: Islands on the Edge -
Episode 3 BBC full documentary 2013
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