THE preparation of the following
account of Gairloch has been prompted by regard—almost affection—for this
beautiful and interesting Highland parish. It is published in the hope
that it may not only assist the tourist, but also be found to constitute a
volume worthy of a nook in the great library of local history. Here and
there some few general remarks on the subjects dealt with have necessarily
been introduced by way of explanation or illustration, but in the main
this book relates solely to Gairloch. I have tried to make short chapters,
and to dispense with footnotes.
Without much assistance the work
could not have been satisfactorily completed. The necessary help has been
given with the greatest freedom and kindness. Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie,
Bart. of Gairloch, has himself furnished much valuable and accurate
information, and Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch has kindly assisted. From Mr
Osgood H. Mackenzie of Inverewe, youngest son of the late Sir Francis
Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, I have received a large amount of personal
aid. Much of the information about the Mackenzies has been culled from the
works of Mr Alexander Mackenzie (a native of Gairloch) with his consent.
He is the able author of a copious history of the Mackenzies and other
important books, and the editor of the Celtic Magazine, from which last
the memoir of John Mackenzie of the "Beauties" and several of the
traditions have been mainly taken. From the MS. "Odd and End Stories" of
Dr Mackenzie, Eileanach, only surviving son of Sir Hector Mackenzie,
Bart., eleventh laird of Gairloch, numerous quotations will be found.
These extracts are published with the consent of Dr Mackenzie, as well as
of Mr O. H. Mackenzie to whom he has given his MS. volumes. With one
exception, wherever Dr Mackenzie is quoted the extract is taken from his
"Odd and End Stories." The Dowager Lady Mackenzie of
Gairloch has been so good as to prepare a short statement, from which
extracts are made. Dr Arthur Mitchell, C.B., Senior Commissioner in Lunacy
for Scotland, has permitted the use of his paper on the Isle Maree
superstitions. Mr Jolly has contributed three valuable chapters, and the
Rev. J. M'Murtrie and Professor W. Ivison Macadam have each given a
chapter. To Mr William Mackay of Craigmonie, Inverness, I am indebted for
full notes on ecclesiastical matters, and for extracts from the old
records of the Presbytery of Dingwall. The Rev. Alexander Matheson,
minister of Glenshiel, has supplied extracts from the records of the
Presbytery of Loch-carron. I have to thank Messrs Maclachlan & Stewart, of
Edinburgh, who in 1882 brought out a sumptuous edition of the "Beauties of
Gaelic Poetry," by the late John Mackenzie, a Gairloch man, for permission
to use the accounts of John Mackay (the blind piper), William Ross,
William Mackenzie, and Malcolm Maclean, contained in the "Beauties." James
Mackenzie, of Kirkton (brother of John Mackenzie of the "Beauties"), has
furnished a large chapter of Gairloch stories, besides a number of facts,
traditions, and anecdotes; wherever the name of James Mackenzie occurs in
these pages, it is this worthy Highlander who is referred to. Other
Gairloch traditions, stories, and information have been furnished by
Kenneth Fraser, Leac nan Saighead (through the medium of the Celtic
Magazine); Alexander Maclennan, Mossbank; Roderick Mackenzie (Ruaridh an
Torra), Lonmor; George and Kenneth Maclennan, Tollie Croft; John Maclean
(Iain Buidhe Taillear), Strath; Simon Chisholm, Flowerdale; Roderick
Campbell, Tollie; Donald Ross, Kenlochewe; Alexander Mackenzie (Ali' Iain
Ghlass), piper, Pool-ewe ; George Maclennan, Londubh; and Alexander
Maclennan (Alie Uistean), Inveran, who especially has given me
considerable assistance. The legend of Ewan Mac Gabhar is mainly in the
form given in the works of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, supported to
some extent by several of the old people now living in Gairloch. That
enthusiastic friend of the Highlander, Professor Blackie, has kindly
contributed two English versions of Gaelic songs; and Mr William Clements
Good, of Aberdeen, has given similar aid. Professor W. Ivison Macadam has
communicated the results of his analyses of ores and slags, and has
assisted in examining the remains
of the old ironworks. Mr D. William
Kemp, of Trinity, Edinburgh, has generously done a very great deal to
unravel the history of the ironworks, and in other ways. Lieutenant
Lamont, of Achtercairn, has procured the traditions given on the authority
of Ruaridh an Torra, Mr Mackintosh, postmaster, Poolewe, has supplied some
anecdotes and facts. The Glossary has been prepared with the aid of Mr O.
H. Mackenzie; the Rev. Ronald Dingwall, Free Church minister, Aultbea; Mr
Alexander Cameron, the Tournaig bard ; and Mr Alexander Maclennan, Inveran.
The names of some others who have rendered valuable help are stated where
their information is utilised. To all these ungrudging helpers, and to
many others not mentioned by name, I beg to offer my sincere thanks.
To render the
natural history of Gairloch complete, lists are still needed of the
insects, sea-anemones, grasses, mosses, lichens, fungi, sea-weeds, and
fresh-water weeds. Any information on these and other branches of natural
history will be heartily welcomed, with a view to insertion in a possible
The process of
zincography, by which nearly all the illustrations have been reproduced,
has not in many cases realised my expectations, but it has been thought
best to issue the book at once rather than wait until the illustrations
could be rendered in a superior manner.
if any, from the sale of this book will be applied in aid of the Poolewe
JOHN H. DIXON.
Inveran, Gairloch, 1st September 1886.
Gaelic Names and Words
Gairloch parish—Name—Curious muddle about "the Gairloch"— Name used in
four senses—Attractions of Gairloch—Loch Maree—Superficial observation of
tourists—A party declare they have "seen Loch Maree"— Inducements to
longer visits—Credibility of old traditions—Gaelic names—
Pronunciation—Interference with sportsmen and deer forests
deprecated—Mountain ascents—Drawbacks to them—Shorter climbs
recommended—Mania for exterminating plants—Instances.
I.—Records and Traditions of Gairloch
Chapter I. —Early History
ancient records—Giants in those days—Fingalian legends— Condition of
Pictish aborigines—Their houses and implements—Druids—Roman invasion —
Pictish monarchy — Introduction of Christianity — St Maelrubha — Hermits
of Isle Maree — Norse vikings — Norwegians and Danes — End of Norwegian
rule in 1263 — The earls of Ross — Donald of the Isles — The Mackenzies.
Chapter II.—The Tragedy of Isle Maree
Scene laid in
Isle Maree—The hermit saint—Prince Olaf—His fiery temper- -Falls in
love—Brings his bride to Isle Maree—Is compelled to leave her on an
expedition—The white and black flags—Return of the prince—Jealousy of the
princess—Her scheme to test Olaf s affection—His madness on seeing the
black flag—Thinking her dead he kills himself—The princess stabs herself
and dies— Their graves on Isle Maree.
Chapter III.—The Mackenzies of Kintail
Two origins of
the family of Mackenzie—The Cabar Feidh—Angus Mac Mhathain—Kenneth, first
lord of Kintail—John, second lord, shelters Robert Bruce—Kenneth of the
Nose—Kenlochewe ravaged—Leod Mac Gilleandreis— Black Murdo of the
Cave—Joined by Gille Riabhach—Comes to Kenlochewe— Slays Leod Mac
Gilleandreis and his followers—Ath nan Ceann—Fe Leoid— Black Murdo of the
Cave recovers Kintail—Murdo of the Bridge, fifth lord of Kintail—Alexander
the Upright, father of Hector Roy, first laird of Gairloch— Skirmish of
Beallach nam Brog—Residences of lords of Kintail.
Chapter IV.—Ewan Mac Gabhar, the Son of the Goat
cave of the king's son—Old Oighrig and her son Kenneth The goat Earba
nourishes Ewan in the cave—Flora and Ewan come to Letterewe —Ewan's sword
and mantle of state—The lord of Kintail comes to hunt—Flora and Ewan
suspected—Kenneth and Flora carried off to Eileandonain—Oighrig and Ewan
conveyed to Colin Mor Gillespie—Colin Mor brings up Ewan—Great war against
the queen widow of Olamh Mor—Ewan gets a command—His slender page—Mull
plundered—The invaders surprised at night and captured—The queen condemns
the chiefs to death—Ewan led forth to die—The execution arrested—Ewan
identified and proclaimed king—Prophecy fulfilled .
Chapter V.—The Macraes of Kintail and Gairloch
settle in Kintail—Become Mackenzie's "shirt of mail"—The sons of
Fortune—Assist in conquest of Gairloch—List of Macraes who fought for
Gairloch—Effigy of Donald Odhair—Macraes renowned archers—Compared with
Turkish archers—The Macraes bore the dead bodies of their chiefs to
burial— The last occasion of this—Curious statement.
Chapter VI.—The MacBeaths
Assynt—Some still in Gairloch—Had several strongholds— Lochan nan
Airm—Kintail men come to Loch Tollie—Shoot MacBeath's servant on the
island—MacBeatb flies—Is struck by an arrow—Kintail men stay a night on
the island—Come through Gairloch—Report to their chief.
Chapter VII.—The M'Leods of Gairloch
Torquil—Claim to Gairloch—Legal title commenced 1430—MacBeaths
expelled—The Tigh Dige—Strongholds of the M'Leods—Eilean Ruaridh —Allan
M'Leod, laird of Gairloch—Murdered by his brothers at the "Hill of evil
counsel"—They also murder his two boys—The widow takes their bloody shirts
to her father—Hector Roy takes the shirts to the king—Who gives Hector
commission of fire and sword against the M'Leods—The M'Leods confined to
one-third of Gairloch.
Chapter VIII.—The Macdonalds in Gairloch
clansmen of Donald of the Isles—Probably some settled in Gairloch—Still in
Gairloch and Alligin—Mac Gille Riabhaich—His cave—Story of his oak
cudgel—The soubriquet Darach—His descendant, Darroch of Torridon —Donald
Dubh Mac Gillechriosd Mhic Gille Riabhaich—Threatens Hector Roy—Slays
Buchanan after Flodden Field.
Chapter IX.—Hector Roy Mackenzie, first Laird of Gairloch
Vision of the
great chief and his bodyguard—His appearance and valour— Obtains charter
to Gairloch—Slays three M'Leods at "the Gairloch "—The battle of
Park—Hector Roy and Big Duncan of the Axe—Hector Roy at Sauchie-burn—He
claims Kintail—Battle of Drum a Chait—Big Duncan again assists— Hector Roy
outlawed—Assists Mac Cailean—Kneels before the king—Grasps his hand—Is
pardoned—Abandons his claim to Kintail—Fight with M'Leods at Beallach
Glasleathaid—Big Duncan and his son Dugal—Hector Roy conquers part of
Gairloch—Battle of Flodden—Clan Eachainn.
Chapter X.—John Glassich Mackenzie and his Sons
brought up in Strathglass—Claims Kintail—Refuses to join the royal
standard—Apprehended by Kenneth of Kintail—Iain Gearr's pluck— Death of
John Glassich—Donald Gorme invades Kenlochewe—Hector and Alexander, sons
of John Glassich, both slain.
Chapter XL—John Roy Mackenzie
resembled his grandfather Hector—His youth—Visits his mother, wife of
Mackay—Goes with a bodyguard to Iain Liath at Glas Leitire—Lord Kintail
abandons his hunt on the Glas Leitire hills—John Roy and Iain Liath go to
Gairloch—Iain Dubh Mac Ruaridh M'Leod abandons the Gairloch dun —Struggles
with the M'Leods—John Roy's family—His bodyguard composed of his twelve
sons—Dealings with the tithes of Gairloch—The Talladale ironworks—John
Roy's residence—Visits Mackay—Mackay's piper becomes John Roy's piper—Lord
Mackenzie summons John Roy to Torridon— He stays the night with his
lordship—Proposed assassination deferred—John Roy's sons arrive and take
him away—Allies of Glengarry Macdonalds make an incursion to Kenlochewe—Lord
Mackenzie visits John Roy—John Roy granted a remission by the crown.
Chapter XII.—Expulsion of the M'Leods from Gairloch
Riabhach na Cuirce—Slays Mac Iain Dhuibh M 'Leod—Ruaridh Mac Allan M'Leod
assassinates Iain Mac Ghille Challum M'Leod and his sons by Janet
Mackenzie—John Roy revenges the murder—Expels the M'Leods from Gairloch—The
Cnoc a Chrochadair—The affair at Leac nan Saighead—Mor Ban persuades the
M'Leods to invade Gairloch—They come to Fraoch Eilean— Donald Odhar and
his brother shoot them from Leac nan Saighead—Only two M'Leods escape in
the birlinn—Donald Odhar's long shot from Craig a Chait— Young M'Leod of
Assynt asks John Roy's daughter for his wife—Is refused— Fionnla Dubh na
Saighead insults him—The M'Leods return to take vengeance on Finlay—He and
Chisholm shoot many of them—Finlay pursues Neil M'Leod to the Bac an
Leth-choin and shoots him at the Druim Cam Neill—Fight at Lochan an Fheidh—Affair
at Raasay—Murdo Mackenzie in his .ship driven into Kirkton—Young M'Leod of
Raasay and his companions visit him—All the party get drunk except four
Gairloch men—A fight ensues—Murdo drowned—All on board slain except three
of the abstainers—They escape.
Chapter XIII.—Alastair Breac, and his Son and Grandson
a renowned warrior—Raids of cattle lifters—Iain Geal Donn proposes a raid
on Gairloch—Alastair Buidhe Mackay intercepts him at Scardroy —Slays him
and all his men except one—Alastair Breac sends the news to Lord
Mackenzie—Cameron of Lochiel plans a raid on Gairloch in revenge— Alastair
Breac sends eighty men to oppose him, but he has retired—Song composed to
the Guard of the Black Corrie—Colla Ban—In default of black-mail threatens
raid on Gairloch—His spies are frightened by four Gairloch men at Luibmhor—Kenneth,
sixth laird of Gairloch, fined as a "malignant"—Alexander, seventh laird
Chapter XIV.—The Baronets of Gairloch and some other Gairloch Mackenzies
eighth laird of Gairloch—M. P. for Ross-shire—Sir Alexander, ninth laird
of Gairloch—Builds Flowerdale—The "Forty-five"—Murder of the Gille Buidhe,
valet to Prince Charlie—Duncan Macrae conveys a keg of gold for Prince
Charlie's use—The " sian "—r-English man-of-war fires at Flowerdale—Sir
Alexander, tenth laird of Gairloch—Builds Gonan House—His son called "
Fighting Jack," the father of the British army—Sir Hector Mackenzie—Lives
at home—Lord-Lieutenant of Ross-shire—His beloved lady—Sir Francis
Mackenzie—Publishes his "Hints" in 1838-—Sir Kenneth, present baronet—Mackenzies
of Letterewe—Mackenzies of Lochend—Mackenzies of Gruinard—Large family—Mackenzies
of Kernsary—Summary of Mackenzie History—Crest, Badge, Slogan, and Pipe
Chapter XV.—Gairloch Estates, and Old Names of Places
in protocol of 1494—Description in retour of 1566—Description in
1638—Names in Dutch map of 1662—Second half of the water of Ewe bought in
1671—Strip on north of River Ewe acquired in 1844— Letterewe originally
Kin tail property—Acquired by Charles Mackenzie in 1696— Sold to Mr Bankes
in 1835—Northern parts of Gairloch belonging to Gruinard Mackenzies before
1655—Sold to Davidson of Tulloch in 1795—Afterwards acquired by Mr Bankes—Mr
O. H. Mackenzie's estate of Inverewe.
Chapter XVI.—-Ecclesiastical History of Gairloch
in Gairloch—Other early ecclesiastical buildings—Rector of Gairloch at
date of Reformation—Presbyterianism—Tulchan bishops—Changes from
Episcopalianism to Presbyterianism—Rev. Alexander Mackenzie—Rev. Farquhar
Macrae—Rev. Roderick Mackenzie—Rev. Kenneth Mackenzie of Kernsary—Rev.
John Morrison—Persecuted by Episcopalians—Anecdotes—His turf-built church
in Tollie Bay—Christmas story—Rev. James Smith—First school in Gairloch—
Anecdote of Rev. Mr Sage—Rev. AEneas McAulay—Rev. John Dounie—Rev. James
Russell—His imperfect Gaelic—Poolewe made a separate parish—The
Disruption—Presbyteries of Dingwall, Kenlochewe, Chanonry, Gairloch, and
Loch Carron—Churches in Gairloch—Manse and glebe at Achdistall, Cliff and
Strath— Free churches and their ministers.
Chapter XVII.—Ancient Gairloch Ironworks
Two classes of
remains of ironworks—Rev. Donald M'Nicol's statement— Coin found near old
Yorkshire ironworks—Iron implements used by ancient
inhabitants—Disappearance of them accounted for—Other ancient remains in
Sutherlandshire, Ross-shire, and Inverness-shire—Bog iron was the ore used
of old in Gairloch—Processes of the ancient ironworkers—Wasteful richness
of their slags accounted for—Charcoal was their fuel—The ancient forests
of timber— Their disappearance—Water power anciently employed for working
Chapter XVIII.—The Historic Ironworks of Loch Maree
series of Scottish ironworks commenced on Loch Maree—The licence to
Archibald Primrose for making iron ratified in 1612—Spread of the iron
industry in the eighteenth century—Iron furnaces in Glengarry—Abernethy
furnaces of the York Buildings Company—The Bonawe furnace—The Argyle
Furnace Company—The Lorn Company—The Carron ironworks—The Wilsonton
works—Furnace at Goatfield—Pennant's notice of the furnace near Poolewe—The
Fife Adventurers and the Lews—The Rev. Farquhar Macrae, vicar of Gairloch
—The Letterewe furnace established in 1607 by Sir George Hay—Previous
history of Sir George—His residence at Letterewe—His ironworks—The timber
consumed—The goods produced—The improvements he effected—Act prohibiting
the making of iron with wood—Monopoly of iron manufacture granted to Sir
George—Ratified by Parliament—Proclamation restraining the export of iron
ore —Licence to Sir George to sell iron in royal burghs—Sir George's
probable acquaintance with John Roy Mackenzie, laird of Gairloch—Sir
George's friendship with the Rev. Farquhar Macrae—The minister's stone—Sir
George leaves Letterewe—His distinguished after-career—Created first Earl
of Kinnoull—Continuance of the ironworks—Tombstone of John Hay—His
probable relationship to Sir George—Discontinuance of the ironworks—The
artisans employed— Whence they came—The Kemps—The Cladh nan Sasunnach—Condition
of the ironworkers in the then state of the Highlands—The Big Englishman.
Chapter XIX.—The Iron Ores used in Gairloch
local iron ore—Local bog iron used at ancient bloomeries— Ferruginous
rocks and shales—Traditional quarries—Richness of bog iron— Places where
it is still found in Gairloch—Bog iron originally used by Sir George
Hay—He afterwards imported red hematite and clayband ironstone—Mr Marr's
description of these ores—They were landed at Poolewe—Remains of them
there— Mr Macadam's analyses—Mixture with local ore—Classification of the
Chapter XX.—Remains of Ironworks in the Parish of Gairloch
description of two classes of slag—List of six localities of
ironworks—Glen Dochartie—Fasagh—Analyses—Lochan Cul na Cathrach— Furnace,
Letterewe—Talladale—Garavaig, on Slatadale farm—Red Smiddy, near Poolewe—Iron
articles found—The borings at Cuil an Scardain—Chronological order of the
ironworks—Other supposed furnaces—Notices of ironworks or mines in old
Dutch map, and in "Present State of Great Britain and Ireland "—
Want of interesting remains of
ancient buildings—Supposed Druidical remains in Tollie wood—Druidical
enclosure on Isle Maree—The Island of Justice— Pictish round
houses—Vitrified fort—Ancient duns, strongholds, or crannogs— Remains of
churches—Gairloch church—Culinellan church—Turf-built church in Tollie
Bay—Church at Tollie Croft, or Cruive End—Chapel of Inverewe—Chapel of
Sand of Udrigil—Old burial-grounds—Remains of other old buildings—Remains
on Isle Maree—On Eilean Ruaridh Beag—On Eilean Suthainn—The Tigh Dige —The
Sabhal-Geal—The Temple house—Old houses—Ancient weapons and implements—The
Part II.—Inhabitants of Gairloch
Chapter I.—Ancestry and Names
Highlanders different to Scotch—Gairloch
people originally Celtic—Admixture of blood—Mackenzies
predominant—Surnames little used—Mode of constructing Gaelic
names—Examples—Bynames—Curious names of girls.
Chapter II.—Warfare and Weapons
Gairloch a bone of
contention—Broadsword and targe—Bows and arrows— Battle-axe—Dirk—Guns—Clan
fights no more—Seaforth Highlanders—A Gairloch company—The
press-gang—Donald M'Lean returns "from hell"—Volunteer corps—Story of
Finlay Fraser and his guns.
Chapter III.—Polity and Customs
Improvement after the
"Forty-five"—Increase of schools—Report on educational position of the
people by Rev. James Russell—Education under the School Boards —Relief of
the poor—Beggars almost unknown—Tramps—Tinkers—Old man seeking America—Her
Majesty's note about him—Old marriage customs—Funeral customs—Whisky at
funerals—Heaps of stones at halting-places—New Year's day, old
style—Administration of justice at the Island of Justice—Mode of
procedure— The Cnoc a Chroich, or Gallows Hill—Some old Gairloch men
acquainted with folk-lore.
Chapter IV.—Religion and Religious Observances
No records of Episcopal
times—Sunday services—Baptism—The Lord's supper dispensed in the Leabaidh
na Ba Baine—Dr Mackenzie's account of churchgoing and the
communions—Johnnie at ,church for the first time—Five days' services—
Large crowd ; few communicants—Preparation for Gairloch communion—The
scene in the Leabaidh—Aunt Sally—Characteristics of Free Church services
Chapter V.—Character and Characteristics
people have a good character—Fidelity, courtesy, and hospitality—Sir G. S.
Mackenzie's opinion—Sir Francis Mackenzie's tribute to his Gairloch
people—Attachment to home—Caution and keenness in money
matters—Anecdote—Captain Burt's charge of want of cleanliness not
generally applicable now—Morality—Indolence—Always behind time—Clinging to
old ways —Old Highland esprit dying out—Annual competition recommended.
Chapter VI.—Language and Dress
Gaelic called Irish—Gairloch
dialect—Not dying out—Knowledge of English increasing—Old people still
unable to speak English—Gaelic phrases in English— Gaelic literature in
Gairloch—Should Gaelic be discouraged?—Ancient dress in Gairloch—Belted
plaid or truis—Separate form of the kilt—Antiquity of the kilt —Highland
dress' proscribed—Subterfuges—Discouraged homespun fabrics—Kilt common in
Gairloch in early part of nineteenth century—Sir Francis Mackenzie on the
kilt—Now fallen into disuse—Present dress of men—Gairloch hose —Dress of
women—The mutch—Maiden's headdress—Dr Mackenzie on maiden's hair and on
Chapter VII.—Ways and Means
Sources of livelihood—Industry of
women—Dwellings—Byres adjoining—No chimneys—Gradual improvement—Gardens
rare«r-Fevers and consumption—Food —Absence of pigs—Whisky—Illicit
distillation—Fuel—Torasgian—-Cabar lar— Peat creel—Carts—Sledges before
roads were made.
Chapter VIII.—Agriculture and Stock
Little agriculture in ancient
days—Black cattle—Blood taken from living cattle m —The bowmen—Hill
shielings miserable places—Introduction of sheep farming— Sheep farms
forested—Sheep deteriorate pasture—Ancient breed of sheep—Present
farms—Run-rig—Crofts established in Gairloch—Crofters' crops—The cas-chrom
—Sir G. S. Mackenzie on imperfect agriculture—On indolence—The Highland
husbandman—His negligence—Sir Francis Mackenzie on imperfect cultivation—
On manures—On the cas-chrom—On lack of industry—On absence of gardens—
Introduction of the potato.
Gairloch fishermen and
fish—Herring fisheries—Lobsters and crabs—Oysters —Gairloch cod
fishery—Under Sir Alexander Mackenzie, 1721 to 1766—In 1792 —Sir G. S.
Mackenzie's account of it under Sir Hector—Lines and hooks formerly
home-made—First foreign hooks in 1823—Cod fishery in 1884 and 1885—Salmon
fishery—Bag-nets—Diminution in stock of salmon.
Chapter X.—Posts and Road-making
Post-runners to Gairloch—Dr
Mackenzie's account—Donald Charles—Roderick M'Lennan—William Cross—M*Leay—Iain
Mor am Post—General Wade's road —Bridges in Gairloch—Road from Gairloch to
Poolewe—The Dowager Lady Mackenzie's account of road-making—Destitution
Committee contribute to road-making—Road to Fionn loch.
of Isle Maree
Isle Maree conspicuous—The
wishing-tree—Her Majesty's offering—St Mael-rubha permitted sacrifices of
bulls—Continued to 1678—Latterly associated with cure of
insanity—Treatment of lunatics—Still continued—Dr Mitchell's description
—Circular enclosure supposed to be Druidical—Graves of the prince and
princess —The well—Description of the wishing-tree—Trees of Isle Maree—Probability
of the legend of Isle Maree—Name of island derived from St Maelrubha—St
Chapter XII.—Superstitions of Isle Maree—continued
Druidical sacrifices engrafted on
Christianity—Resort to Isle Maree for cure of lunacy probably
ancient—Parallel superstitions—Bull sacrifice at Kirkcudbright— Sacrifices
of bulls not confined to the saint's day—Descriptions of proceedings for
cure of lunatics—Mac Culloch's description—No form of words—Recent
cases—St Maelrubha and St Ruffus identical—Mad dog dipped in the well—Sad
consequences—Quotations as to Pagan practices engrafted on Christianity.
Chapter XIII.—Superstitions generally
Highlanders' surroundings suggest
superstition—Gradual diminution of it— Older superstitions—Loch Maree
water cure—The Fox Point—Coins found —The Cathair mor and Sitheanan
Dubha—Gairloch fairy tale—The Shiant Isles' fairy—Eilean Suthainn—Fairies
seen on Isle Ewe in 1883—Lights and music of fairies noticed at Mellon
Charles—William M'Lean gets a bagpipe chanter from the fairies—The Gille
Dubh of Loch a Druing—Superstitious fancies—The Loch of the Beast—Evidence
of the appearance of the beast—Proceedings for its suppression—Rorie and
Chapter XIV.—Witchcraft and Magic
Chailleach—Witchcraft and magic still believed in—Jessie the cripple, a
witch—Depriving milk of its fruit—Kenlochewe case in presbytery records—
Kenneth Mackenzie, the maighstair sgoil, punishes the witch at Strath—His
cows recover—Recent cases—The sian—Description of it—Duncan M'Rae—His
song—Entrusted with a keg of gold for Prince Charlie—Hides the keg in the
Fedan Mor—Renders it invisible by the sian—The wife of the Cibear Mor sees
the keg—The cave at Meallan a Ghamhna—The cave and weapons concealed by
the sian—Seen by several women recently—Another similar case on Loch Maree
—Alastair Mor an V Sealgair— Runs the blockade by means of the sian—His
variations of the sian—Other examples of Alastair's and his father's
powers--The wind made favourable by magic.
Chapter XV.—Visions and Second-sight
between visions and second-sight—Old Alastair's vision of Hector Roy and
his bodyguard—A young man sees a ghost—Two men see a woman in a
house—Spectre seen before a shoot—Two kinds of second-sight—Jessie the
cripple—Ducked as a witch—Her vision of a shepherd, his dog and sheep,
fulfilled —The smith's son sees a crowd on Poolewe bridge—His vision
fulfilled—The great storm on Loch Ewe—Great sight at Mellon Udrigil—Fleet
of ships and boats filled with red coats—Visions of soldiers in red
uniforms near Inveran— These visions compared with similar sights
Chapter XVI.—Bards and Pipers
an illustrious class—Ossian's poems—Office of bard or seannachie —Bards of
recent date—Ceilidh—Antiquity of bagpipes—Office of piper in old days—In
the present day—Love of pipe music in Gairloch—Some old Gairloch bards—Ruaridh
Breac—The English bard—Duncan M'Rae—Roderick Campbell, piper and
fiddler—The Piobaire Ban—List of living Gairloch pipers.
Chapter XVII.—Hereditary Pipers of the Gairloch Family
Mackays—Rorie Mackay, piper to John Roy Mackenzie—Alastair Breac, and his
son and grandson—His brother Donald—John Mackay, the blind piper— Taught
by the M'Crimmons—Piper to the two first baronets of Gairloch—His
compositions—Anecdotes of his life with the M'Criminous—His songs and
poems —Angus Mackay—Piper to Sir Alexander, third baronet—Moladh Mairi—John
Mackay, piper to Sir Hector—Emigrates to America—A splendid piper—His
Chapter XVIII.—William Mackenzie and Malcolm Maclean
Mackenzie a catechist—His song to Balone's sister—His song lampooning a
wedding party—His consequent dismissal—Malcolm Maclean a Notorious
bacchanalian—His beautiful daughter—His wife's resignation illustrated by
an anecdote—Translation by Professor Blackie of his song to his daughter.
Chapter XIX.—William Ross, the Gairloch Bard
a grandson of the "Blind piper"—His youth—His travels— Appointed
schoolmaster of Gairloch—Dies young—Monument over his grave— Estimate of
Chapter XX.—Alexander Campbell, Bard to Sir Hector
Buidhe's ancestry and youth—Appointed ground-officer and bard to Sir
Hector—Instructed to remove the roof from a defaulting tenant's house—His
prudent artifice approved by Sir Hector—Dr Mackenzie's recollections of
Alastair as bard—His bad health, and death—His character—His friendship
with William Ross—His descendants—His poetry highly appreciated.
Chapter XXI.—Alexander Grant, the Great Bard of Slaggan
ancestry—His enormous stature and strength—His appearance, portrait, and
poetry—Reputed to have second-sight—Anecdote—Sandy Grant discovers cheeses
stolen in Loch Carron—His descendants.
Chapter XXII.—John Mackenzie of the "Beauties."
ancestry and youth—His mechanical skill—An accident disables him— Collects
Gaelic poems—Devotes himself to literary work—List of beoks he
translated—Known as a poet and piper—Anecdote of his humour—Buys a ship
and her cargo—Gives up the bargain—Monument to his memory.
Chapter XXIII.—Living Gairloch Bards
Mackenzie, of Oban—Duncan Mackenzie, the Kenlochewe bard— Short memoir—His
poetry—His epithalmium on the marriage of Sir Kenneth
Mackenzie—Translation of it by Professor Blackie—Alexander Cameron, the
Tournaig bard—His song in praise of Tournaig—English translation by Mr W.
C. Good—Alexander Bain—His elegy on the late Dr Kennedy—English
Chapter XXIV.—The Poolewe Artist
Paucity of art
in Gairloch—Finlay Mackinnon—His characteristics—His yearning for art as a
young boy—Assisted by Mr Davis, R.A., and others—His watercolour sketches.
Chapter XXV.—James Mackenzie's Gairloch Stories
of James Mackenzie—William Roy Mackenzie and the exciseman—Kenneth and
John Mackenzie of Rona and the press-gang—John M'Gregor of Londubh escapes
from the press-gang, but is killed by a fall over a rock—Murdo Mackenzie,
or Murdo's son, marries Lord Breadalbane's daughter and takes possession
of a lugger full of smuggled spirit—Anecdote of Sir Hector Mackenzie and
M'Leod of Raasay's boat—Mackenzie of Kernsary and James Mackenzie's
grandfather—The whale in Loch Ewe drowns three men—A story of Rob Donn—The
Loch Broom herring fishery—The other Rob Roy Macgregor and the Dundonnell
estates—Cases of drowning in Loch Maree—Hector Mackenzie, William Urquhart
and his son, and Kenneth Mackenzie—A Kenlochewe man rolls
overboard—Kenneth Mackenzie and Gregor Macgregor carried down by the
Talladale river—John M'Ryrie—Kenneth Urquhart—Sandy Mackenzie—The
Stornoway packet and the whale—Wreck of M'Callum's schooner at Melvaig—A
sea captain buried in Isle Ewe—The loss of the " Glenelg "—Wreck of the "
Helen Marianne " of Campbeltown—Wreck of the "Lord Molyneux" of
Liverpool—John Macdonald, the drover of Loch Maree—The murder of Grant,
the peddler, by M'Leod, who is at length hung—Death of the Shieldaig
shoemaker and his companions at Lochinver.
III.—Natural History of Gairloch
Chapter I.—Physical Features
boundaries of Gairloch—Sea-board—Long valley bisecting the parish —Ranges
and groups of mountains—Islands in the sea—Fresh-water lochs—Rivers
—Woods—Caves—Waterfalls—The Steall a Mhuinidh—Victoria Falls—Letterewe
waterfall—Kerry falls—Flowerdale waterfalls—Scenic beauties.
Chapter II.—Climate and Weather
climate of north-west Highlands—Changeable weather—Sir G. S. Mackenzie on
the climate—Dr Mackenzie on the old-fashioned summers—Former abundance of
nuts—Strawberries on 4th June, also cherries—Short summer nights—Aurora
borealis—Rarity of intense frosts—Spring mist presages snow—A hard
winter—Sunsets from the Gairloch Hotel—Cloudscapes—Colouring of
Chapter III.—Anecdotes and Notes
formerly rare in Gairloch, now plentiful, and vice versd—Dr Mackenzie's
remarks on this point—Eagles in Gairloch—Anecdote of Craig-Tollie eagle
and roe deer—Confirmation from Martin's book—Also from story of Kirghiz
eagles, &c.— Anecdote of Kenlochewe eagle and the cat—Subject of a
well-known Gaelic riddle —Eagle at Talladale—Two-and-a-half brace of
eagles killed in Gairloch before breakfast—Sea-gulls—How they were driven
from Eilean Ruaridh—Sounds of various birds at Inveran—Insects—Midges and
wasps—Her Majesty's remarks on them—Rhyme on midges—Preventive
measures—Other insects—Animals in general—Vermin—Marten's fur—Wild
cats—Wild cat in Loch Tollie island— Highland cattle—Goats—Ponies.
Chapter IV.—Lower Forms of Life
life—Luminosity of footprints on boggy ground—Reptiles—Freshwater
fish—Shells—Molluscs—The spout fish—How to take it—Sea anemones— Love of
flowers — Localities recommended to botanists—Grasses—Mosses— Lichens—List
of a few—Seaweeds—Fungi—Conclusion.
Chapter V.—Mammals of Gairloch
Gairloch mammals, with notes—Notes on Arctic fox in Gairloch and
Chapter VI.—Birds of Gairloch
Gairloch birds, with notes.
Chapter VII.—Flowering Plants of Gairloch
imperfect—A word to visitors—Destruction of plants by sheep—Bouquets of
wild flowers—Seasons for them—Rarer plants—List of flowering plants.
Chapter VIII.—Shells of Gairloch, by Rev. John M'Murtrie, M.A.
Paper by Rev.
John M'Murtrie, M.A., on "Springtide at Gairloch, a Study of small Shells
"—Appendix, with list of shells.
Chapter IX.—The Geology of Loch Maree and Neighbourhood, by William Jolly,
controversy—Attack by eminent geologists—Others enter the lists— Prospect
of early peace—Conditions of the problem well exhibited round Loch Maree —
Succession of rocks—Hebridean gneiss—Torridon red sandstone— Quartzite—Its
annelid borings—Its fucoid remains—Limestone—The "Logan" rock—The eastern
gneiss—The controversy—Other noteworthy geological phenomena—Faults—Glaciation—Denudation—Rock
junctions—The valley of the hundred hills—Curious impressions on Torridon
sandstone near Talladale— The Fionn and Dubh loch—The Trias at Loch
Chapter X.—Minerals of Gairloch, by Professor W. Ivison Macadam, F.C.S.,
F.I.C., M.M.S., &c, Edinburgh.
minerals and localities.
IV.—Guide to Gairloch and Loch Maree.
Chapter I.—Gairloch of the Present Day
No town in
Gairloch—List of townships or hamlets—Ministers and services-Free churches
and ministers—Schools—School Board—Table of Schools, with average
attendance—List of school teachers—Side schools—School rate—Obstacles to
regular attendance—Annual inspections—Registrar of Births, Deaths, and
Marriages—Pauperism—Poor-rates—Pauper lunatics—Medical officer—The county
road—Private roads—Policemen—Justices of the Peace—Licensed houses —Postal
—Steamers—Rifle corps—Its three sections—Principal houses in Gairloch—
Poolewe Public Hall.
Chapter II.—Approaches and Roads
Achnasheen—From Loch Carron—From Loch Torridon—From Gruinard—By steamer—By
boat from Ullapool—On foot—Main road maintained by the county—Private
roads—Loch Maree a highway.
Chapter III.—Achnasheen to Kenlochewe
Skye railway—The Gairloch mail-car—Natural terraces like railway
embankments—Loch Rosque—Remains of ancient ironworks—The Clach an t'
Shagart at Bad a Mhanaich—Luibmhor in Gairloch—View of Scuir Mhullin—Persistent
inquirer—Hill resembling a profile—Glen Dochartie—View of Loch Maree—Trysting-place—More
old ironworks—View of Beinn Eay— Kenlochewe—Hugh Miller on this name—Kenlochewe
village and hotel—Cul-inellan churchyard—The Cnoc a Chrochadair—Ath nan
ceann—Two routes to Gairloch.
Chapter IV.—Kenlochewe to Talladale
Leitire woods—Ru Nohar—Umbrella-like firs—Her Majesty's description of the
road—Glen Grudidh—Old fir trees—Eilean Grudidh—Wild stretch of road
described by Her Majesty—Hamlet of Talladale—The Loch Maree
Hotel—Accommodation—Angling—Visit of Her Majesty—Commemorative Gaelic
inscription on a boulder—English translation.
Chapter V.—Talladale to the Gairloch Hotel
woods—The Victoria Falls—Garavaig ironworks—Slatadale farm—Old road to
west of Craig Tollie—View of the islands of Loch Maree— Feur loch—Loch Bad
na Sgalaig—Kerry falls—Kerry bridge—Her Majesty's interview with Lews'
people here—Kerrysdale House—Resort of fairies—Charleston—Flowerdale
House—Port na heile—The Gairloch—Established church— The Leabaidh na Ba
Baine—Gairloch churchyard—Old ironworks—Monument to John Mackenzie of the
" Beauties"—The Crasg—The Cnoc a Croiche—The Gairloch Hotel —
Accommodation and arrangement—Sea-bathing—Boating-Angling—Fine view.
Chapter VI.—The Gairloch Hotel to Poolewe
of Strath and the hills of Skye—Deep gorge—Geikie on geology of a curious
hill—The Shoe-stone—Funeral heaps—Lochan nan Airm— The Glen—Craig Bhadain
an Aisc—Blar na Fala—Loch Tollie—Its crannog— Surroundirfg hills—Distant
views—Old road—View of Loch Maree—Beinn Aridh Charr—Spidean Moirich—Croft
Brae—Hamlet of Croft—Ceann a Chro, or Cruive End—The Still—The Hill of
evil counsel—The Trossachs of Loch Maree—Poolewe village—The church—The
inn—Pool House—Other houses—Londubh—The Inverewe burial-ground.
Chapter VII.—Poolewe to Aultbea
House and gardens—Description from the limes— Loch nan Dailthean—Tournaig—The
Dowager Lady Mackenzie's residence—Description of the garden from the
Times—Coile Aigeascaig—Mac Gille Riabhaich s cave—Bleeding living cattle—Tournaig
farm—Loch Toumaig— Dunan—The road ascends—Views—Drumchork—Aultbea—Townships—Houses
Chapter VIII.—Excursions from Kenlochewe
Drives—Expedition to Loch Torridon—Cromasaig—Fe Leoid—Loch Clair—'Maelrubha's
seat—Cam Anthony—Coire Cheud Cnoc—Precipices of Liathgach —Her Majesty's
remarks—Sguir Dubh—Lochan an Fheidh—Loch Torridon— Village—Mr Darroch and
Torridon House—Ploc of Torridon—The heights of Kenlochewe—Glen Cruaidh
Choillie—Glen na Muic—Excursions on foot by the path on the east side of
Loch Maree—Excursions on Loch Maree.
Chapter IX.—Excursions from Talladale
walks—Expeditions on Loch Maree—The steamer—Boats.
Chapter X.—Excursions from Gairloch
The south side
of Gairloch—Shieldaig—Leac nan Saighead—Badachro—Loch Bad na h* Achlais—Port
Henderson—Opinan—Cave—South Erradale—Ancient ironworks—Point—Views—North
side of Gairloch—Achtercairn—Strath—Cam Dearg—Little Sand farm—Big
Sand—Iron furnace—North Erradale—Wonderful cave—Peterburn—Altgreshan—Melvaig—The
Leac—Rudha Reidh—Stac Buidhe —Other drives—Tour of Loch Maree—Boating
expeditions—Walks—Geikie on geological features.
Chapter XI.—Excursions from Poolewe
West side of
Loch Ewe—Cliff House—Cuil an Scardain—Boor—Views—Naast —Inverasdale—Brae—Midtown—Coast—Board
school—Firemore —Telegraph to Stornoway—Meallan na Ghamhna—Caves—Loch a
Druing woods—Cove—The village—The cave—Natural arch—Fionn Loch
excursion—Craig an Fhithich— Inveran wood and farm—Inveran river—Loch
Kernsary—Innis a Bhaird—Kern-sary farm—Fionn Loch—Fine view—Other
excursions by road—Walks—Craig Bhan.
Chapter XII.—Excursions from Aultbea
Charles—Cuilchonich—Bual na luib—Mellon Charles—Mellon Ud-rigil—Laide—The
Loch of the Beast—Second Coast—Old church of Sand—Sandy beach—Curious
rocks—First Coast and Second Coast—Mill Bay—Cadha Beag— Little Gruinard—Fisherfield—Meikle
Gruinard river—Excursions by water.
Chapter XIII.—Excursion by Steamer on Loch Maree
Road to north
end of Loch Maree—Opinions of the scenery—Leading characteristics—Tollie
pier—Fox Point—Clearness of water—Sweetheart's stepping-stones—Fhridh
Dhorch—Ardlair—Cave of the king's son—The minister's stone —Clach a
Mhail—Uamh a Mhail—Rudha Chailleach—The white horse—The Bull rock—The cave
of gold—Gold mining in Scotland—Mountains—Letterewe— Limestone
quarry—Waterfall—Furnace —Innis Ghlas—Coppachy—Regoilachy— Slioch—Cladh
nan Sasunnach—Fasagh—Tagan—Ru Nohar—Undercliffs of Meall a Ghiubhais—Woods
of Glas Leitire—View of Glen Grudidh —Aid na h' Eigheamh —Isle Maree—Whittier's
verses—Eilean Suthainn—Eilean Dubh na Sroine— Garbh Eilean—Eilean Ruaridh—The
planted island—Wild fowl—Talladale— Slatadale—Doire—Craig Tollie—Bay of
Corree—Rudha Aird an Anail—Cave— Heather burning.
Chapter XIV.—The Fionn Loch and its Dubh Loch, by William Jolly
Name—Approaches—Loch Kernsary—View of Fionn Loch—Mountains
described—Visits to the loch—Lochanan Beannoch—Beinn Aridh Charr—Black-throated
divers—Beinn Lair—Narrow glen—Old hill fort—Craig an Dubh Loch— Pegmatite—Dubh
Loch—Thunder shower—Islands—Birds—Marten cats.
Chapter XV.—Loch Gruinard, by William Jolly
Ewe—Mountain view—Aultbea—Moraines—Summer Isles—Distant views—Old
Chapel—Caves—Modern Cave-dweller—Gruinard House—Gruinard river—Mountains
of Loch na Sheallag.
Chapter XVI.—Angling in Sea Lochs
classes of anglers—Outfit recommended--Two usual modes of sea
fishing—Trolling for lythe—Artificial sand-eels—Handline fishing—Scalps—
Fishes captured—Conger eels—Large halibut—Large skate.
Chapter XVII.—Angling in Loch Maree
fishing—Reserved water—Species of fish—Char—Salmon—Sea-trout —Bull-trout—Finnocks—Property
in salmon and sea-trout—Large brown trout— Ferox not a separate
species—Variations in trout—So-called ferox not worth eating —Gizzard
Chapter XVIII.—Angling in Fresh-water Lochs
required—Trout scarcer than formerly—Dr Mackenzie accounts for this—The
tarry sheep—Fionn Loch—Angling deteriorated—Good day's angling— The Dubh
loch—Three trout at a cast—Bait fishing for trout—Loch Kernsary— Char—Char
and trout, and pink and white-fleshed trout, indistinguishable to the
taste—Burn fishing—Best time for trout fishing—Eels—Pike—Their
introduction described by Dr Mackenzie—Re-introduced in Sir Kenneth's
Chapter XIX.—Salmon Angling
rivers—The Ewe—Cruives—The old cruive used for crossing the river—Roderick
Campbell and an American merchant drowned—The new cruive —Gradual
diminution of stock of salmon—Length of the Ewe—Pools on the east
side—Pools on the other side—Runs of salmon and grilse—Kelts—Bulltrout—Sea-trout—Large
salmon—Best flies—Dr Mackenzie's anecdote of Sir Humphrey Davy—John
Bright—Odd incidents—Damaged fly—Successful fishing after a friend—Hooking
a fish after losing another—Was it a rise?—Fish taking when line slack —Kelt
caught twice—Holding on for five hours—Angler compared to the evil
one—Water-bailiffs—John Glas—Sandy Urquhart—His loquacity—Fishing on the
Ewe—Tailing salmon—Spiked gloves—Bags of salmon now and formerly—Singular
mode of fishing by Sir Hector—Charms of the Ewe —Other salmon rivers in
Chapter XX.—Deer Forests and Grouse Shooting
deer—Free to roam—Antiquity of—Formerly scarce—Meaning of "forested"—List
of deer forests—Estimated yield and stock—Stag season—A "royal"—Best
heads—Hinds—Deer-stalking—Great caution required—Stag hounds not much used
now—Quotation from John Taylor, the " Water-Poet "—Present system of
letting deer forests—Colonel Inge in Gairloch—Misconceptions with regard
to deer forests—Opinions of the Crofters Commission—Depopulation not due
to deer forests—Deer forests not suitable for occupation by crofters— Loss
of mutton and wool insignificant—Depredations by deer on crofters' crops
easily remedied—Deterioration of pasture by deer not proved—Demoralization
of gillies not due to forests—Summary of opinions—Substantial benefits
conferred by deer forests—Afford employment to a greater extent than sheep
farms—Recommendation by Commissioners—Grouse shooting—Grouse not abundant—
Disease infrequent—Late birds—Mixed bags—Separate grouse shootings.
of Books and MSS. Quoted or Referred to
Authorities for Traditions, &c, embodied in this Book.
III. Population of Gairloch
Ministers of the parish of Gairloch
V. Lairds of Gairloch
Genealogical Account of the MacRas, by Rev. John Macrae, who died 1704.
B. Tour in Scotland by Thomas Pennant in 1772.
Account of Scotland, 1792.
D. Dr MacCulloch's
Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland, 181 to 1821
New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1836
Records of the Presbytery of Dingwall
Extracts relating to Sir George Hay and the Manufacture of Iron
Addenda on St Maelrubha, and Ecclesiastical History