This is a transcript from a 2001 interview with Eoghann Grant when he was around 70.
Eoghann grew up on the Ceannacroc Estate as the son of a gamekeeper and is maybe the last speaker of Glenmoriston gaelic living in the glen.
Eoghann: Sir George and Lady Cooper had the estate. They were up for two months of the year. Old Cooper used to say to my father, "You must have the best job in Britain. You're monarch of all you survey up there". The house was up on the hill. Far better place than the lodge. He could see any of them coming.
Old Captain George, he was the black sheep of the family. Captain Alasdair was the young fella. Captain George was the older. Captain Alasdair actually had one son. Captain George had no family at all. But he was a boozer. He used to tank up. He used to come up to the larder at night. "Johnny!!" he would shout. My father would have to go down. He'd hated being in the drawing room with all the rest. He liked to be out ???. My father would give him stories about the hill and all that. My father used to say he was a real embarrassment. But this night he bawled. There were eggs on the table, he must have been having supper or something. The nights were bright. And my father rubbed egg all over his face. He went down like this. "Oh we're sorry Johnny, we've disturbed you at your meal!" The egg all over his face! That stopped it for a while.
Another day he decided he'd make an ash-pit with corrugated iron and posts. This was for the ashes and rubbish because the gillies put it into a cart and took it away to the dump away on the other side of the Ceannaroc Bridge in the wood. In fact I could show you the dump. You can see it all green between MacKenzie's Cairn and the bridge. Oh I remember the dump well. In fact there's some of the old tiles off the old lodge. They reslated the lodge at some period. There were red tiles on it which I thought were perfectly good tiles. I mean money was no object then. But maybe some contractor said you should turn over to Ballachulish slate.
Anyway the father must have said to him and he went in with the car to Inverness and got the corrugated iron sheets. This is the sort of thing he did, this Captain Alasdair. He wanted to be away from the guests and the family. You see there was old Sir George and Lady Cooper living there and his brother and all their wives and guests by the bagful. He wanted to be away. You see there would be three stalkers going out with different parties, ponies, maybe riding ponies as well. They didn't walk out to the hill. They'd go so far with the ponies.
But anyway, this young Michael Cooper must have been with the father. And of course he'd be awkward. He was putting nails and, 'Bang', the thumb, all swollen up. He'd burst the nail to bits with the hammer. Young Mrs Captain Alasdair came out and said, "Michael, did you learn anything". You know, swears! Oh I think he finished the thing. Oh, he was proud about this. Just sheets of corrugated iron making a square box more or less.
And the other thing was I remember, in the springtime the one season before it started my father had this huge old cart, a huge thing. It was actually what my grand-uncle Duncan used for hauling things about the place. A huge cart. And it had the wooden wheels and the steel band around them. The sort of thing Willuck used to do, put on, do up the wheels again. My father and Cooper went off to Inverness to Jameson. They got this back end with rubber wheels on and valves and tyres. I remember the chassis. Must have been a really old car. But they flattened one end, bolted it to the trams of the cart. Course it was this rubber-tyred cart now. A new axle. But old Sir George saw it coming with the ashes. "Good God Johnny! The best damn thing in the place!" You see the noise used to waken him when the gillies were going around with the old cart. My father got a real pat. "Where did you manage to do this Johnny". You know he was quite interested. But he was a funny old boy.
The trouble in the season time - the worst trouble my father had when they were advertising for a slaughter-man that could pipe. The advertisement that my father put in the paper there unless the previous fellow was coming for another year coming for another dose, for the two months. Well, you'd maybe get a wee while longer, but I mean, you got as long as the rest of the gillies were working there.
The slaughterman skinned the stags when they came off the hill. The stalker that was with the sportsmen, they shot the stag, the stalker bled him. And he had rifleman with him to carry the rifles as well. The rifleman went with the gillies to get the horses to take the stag. But once the stalker bled the stag and gralloched him, he's away home with the sportsmen. He didn't wait to do any work. The rifleman, he had a fairly easy job too, but he went and got the horses and maybe gave a wee hand to the ponies and the gillies with the Strathfarrar saddles on them for the stags. Not the ponies for riding, the ones with the Strathfarrar. Oh I mean they did the whole bit, no expense spared. The Strathfarrar saddles on them designed to carry stags. There was another one, the Glen Quoich saddle, that was for very steep ground, it was a different style. I mean a Strath Farrar saddle would cost you a thousand pound if you could get one today. Glen Quoich was very steep ground of course and they had this saddle which was known as the Glen Quoich saddle. Designed for that area. The Strath Farrar saddle was quite general, all the country, because they put the panniers on them for the grouse as well. There was another saddle, a Highland saddle. I think if I remember rightly it had stirrups like the western stirrups you know.
Donald: How many folk would you have altogether?
Eoghann: I remember there used to be a string. As kids we used to go out in front of the house. There was a flat area there facing the hill road and we were two hundred yards away. And we'd watch this string going up. First there was the guests and the stalker on riding saddles. The ponies for the stags came behind. A string of gillies helped the rifleman, some of them walking. There were horses there for them. The most uncomfortable thing, the Strath Farrar saddle. A rough dirty saddle to sit in! But it was better probably than walking if you were tired. But eh, they were nice riding saddles for the sportsmen and the stalker. So the thing is, the gillies had to look after that riding ponies. You know they came home at night. There were gillies for that too you see to look after them. Of course the other glllies had the horses with the Strath Farrar saddle. And it was sometimes pitch dark when they would reach home to the larder. And of course during the early part of the year there were cairns put at appropriate points they could find at night with just lighting a match. They didn't have lamps, just find your way home. But that was quite general. I'm sure you've found out yourself. If you were out on the hill when the dark came in, you'll find your way home no bother. It's a different story going out in the dark, you know if you've been inside all day. I've come through the most horrendous places, pitch black. That's because when you're out, you're coming slowly home with the dark, dark coming down. To me it's just a thing that comes normally to you, quite naturally to you.
But oh, when I think of the ritual. There'd be two stalkers sometimes, two sportsmen and the appropriate amount of gillies to each expedition as it were.
But I mean there was nowhere else in the area but Sir John Ramsay's place up at Laggan there, you know, Kingussie direction, that was the only place that was comparable to Ceannacroc. There was nobody else could afford it. Lady Cooper gave a million, and that was in the days when a million was a million was a million, to the First World War free of interest. And her husband, George Cooper, got "Sir George Cooper Bart". And of course, she was an American. That was her into English aristocracy, "Lady Cooper". She won the title. She was American, he was Scottish. She was an heiress. They said she was Chicago Smith the meat packer's daughter. "They eat what they can and they can what they can't". I'm sure you've heard it before.
They acquired Hersley Park, Winchester and the mansion. They had a townhouse in Grosvenor Square. A few months ago it was sold for 18.5 million. Twenty years ago maybe - I'm losing the timescale - it was sold for nine million when the Coopers still had it. They bought the estate near 1930, because I remember, as I told your father often enough, they came to Ceannacroc, and old Hugh MacKenzie was still there. That was my father's great uncle. He was head stalker. And an elder of the Free Church, and the funny thing, this Ronald Dean was in Tomachrasky, he was just farm manager there. He was an elder of the church too but Hugh was the head elder so Hugh had the thumb on Dean in the estate, and in the church he had the thumb on him there too! He was his boss in two directions. Dean was a flamboyant type whereas Hugh MacKenzie, he was a very mild man. He got his way by being mild. And Hughie Portclair there is called after him - Hugh MacKenzie MacDonald. And I was at his wedding, I remember, I was a wee tot like that, I was at the wedding too, Hugh's second wedding. He went off to live at Ness-side in Inverness after his retirement and he decided to get married again, and he shaved off his beard so that he would look younger. He must have been about seventy. He married this cratur from Banff, she was in her forties. I don't think she was a high flyer. We met her in Inverness back in the 70s. But I remember I went as a courtesy to her funeral. There were some of the Drum people - the Frasers.
That was Hugh's second wife. His first wife was about forty and he was 23, and he took flu or something and she was looking after him. And when he got better he had to - he didn't have to in the normal sense of things - I think she was too old! But the thing was that he married the bird. She must have persuaded him to marry her.
There was another incident, there was this cratur Eoghannaidh Fraser, Inverwick. In fact he's a relation of your father's, Lizzie Black's son, she was in school with my mother. Oh, a real warrior. Eoghannaidh Fraser was in attendance when old Sir George ran the horse in. He slipped and fell. He nearly killed Alasdair Dean, old Dean's son. Emptying a rifle coming home one night. That was the end of him handling rifles. He was emptying the magazine - bang! Whizz past Alasdair's ear! He ducked with the fright of the pressure of the bullet.
But they were down about the larder somewhere. That was the time he must have got too disabled to ride eventually. Old Sir George on the horses and he slipped and fell. Oh it was an awful kafuffle. Old Hugh MacKenzie's wife she was very old. I mean we used to call her auntie. I mean Hugh himself must have been up in his sixties then. But anyway she came running with her hands up. "What happened? The master, the master!" Hughie, oh he was a rough character this Eoghann Fraser. "He'll be alright, just went off the snack(?) of the arse!" Hands in the air: "A' chainnt! A' chainnt!" in Gaelic you know what I mean "The language, the language!"
I men to compare modern times with the old days is ridiculous. I mean the gillies, you never heard a swear. "Dash it". I mean if somebody heard anything worse - you know, the new gillies - they were ostracized.
Donald: Was Tomachrasky part of the estate then?
Eoghann: It was then. That was the farm and Achlain of course. There was 45000 acres.
Donald: So what was the extent of Ceannacroc estate at that time?
Eoghann: Torgoyle Lodge, Lagan Bàn that side right through up to near Cluanie Hotel. And Inchmore from the other side of the river right up. And it included Achlain, Tomachrasky and all the crofts. In fact it's not long since Sheila MacTavish was telling me when their father got Balintombuie transferred from his mother's name. She got this letter. You know about the croft being transferred. You see the thing was in those days there was no factor on Ceannacroc estate. My father used to get cheques and everything from JF Anderson in Edinburgh, an old old firm who dealt with estates since time immemorial.
We used to have fun as kids. You see there was an old gardener at Ceannacroc, old Greerson. And he used to wear this colonial hat on the back of his head. A felt hat, colonial style. And he had a habit of walking, his head backward, with eyes looking upwards to the skies. And he had a habit of, any answer he gave, 'Oh aye, oh aye'. Well the gillies couldn't touch anything mechanical, just lost. And Duncan the Counter, Becca's brother. His father was known as Eoghann the Counter because he was employed at the bobbin mill to count the bobbins, to record them as they were going out you know and keep stock. He'd be like a stock-keeper. He was related to my grandfather who was actually a turner in the bobbin mill and they had to be trained for this if you were supposed to use a lathe.
But anyway his son Duncan, Becca's brother was employed gilieing in Ceannacroc. And now I'll tell you something about Duncan. We were with Duncan and they kept this moraine road, not tarmac, not even chips, it was moraine, and it was raked every day religiously. It was from the lodge up to the larder, policies where the aristocracy might walk. And the edges of the road, they were edged with a shovel. But this road was immaculate. And for goodness sake, what did they decide to do but take the Highland cows, so the guests could view them, from Tomachrasky through the Luibs, the meadows beside the hill, beside the river, known as the Luibs. It was just a path, a pony path on the riverside. It was a short cut from Tomachrasky to Ceannacroc besides going along Torgoyle Bridge, which entailed a journey of at least seven miles. But anyway the cows were brought up, and they were kept going along this road for a very sensible reason. They weren't allowed to stand. And of course we were with Duncan and we thought we'd keep the cows in motion. They sort of scattered a bit and Jean and I were with Duncan. And the comical bit, it was the first time we heard the word shit! The cows dispersed a wee bit, and Duncan was pushing this lot along and this one went a wee bit to the side and lifted her tail up and I remember Duncan in Gaelic shouting, "Run a' ghraidh! Run, before she'll shit!" And to us this was hilarious! Absolutely hilarious! He was shouting at me and Jean to shove her away. We got her out on the grass, that was what he wanted. We knew that's what it was and we helped him but I don't know if we were in time because I remember something, he had to walk away back down to the gardener's policies to get a shovel. I can hear him now! "Run a' ghraidh!" in panic. "Run a'ghraidh get her before she shits on the road!" And we told our mother about the whole story. And we were told, "No, no, that's not nice." I tell you honestly, we never heard it before. We never heard the epithet before. It was really something.
And I might as well tell you about Duncan's sister. My father must have got her up to help as still room maid. That's where they made all the baking. I think there was a baker there, a woman who baked. But I remember this mantelpiece in the still room. That's what they called it. Still room usually has connotations of booze doesn't it.
But this is really comical. And here was Becca. Jean and I must have been six or seven and Becca was initiating us into the facts of life, because you know Becca yourself! "Oh a' Thighearna, I heard a coorse, coorse one last night! I shouldn't be telling it". And she's dying to tell you! That was Becca! Everyone said the same thing about Becca, that was usually the approach. "Oh a Thighearna, I heard an awful coorse one last night! I shouldn't be telling it!" And of course it comes out whether you like it or not!
But anyway, this is Jean and I. I mean that's no yesterday. We were about six or seven at the time. And of course we would be down at the lodge every moment we could do. I think that's when we got out of the side school down to see Becca. And of course, naturally kids would be interested in that sort of thing. Becca's revelations. But I remember yet that this mantelpiece. I mean you must have had to stand on a chair to get anything off it, it was about eight feet high. Of course, being still room for the bakery, a high ceiling anyway. And Becca said to us - you understand the era it was in the thirties. The question was - why did Mrs Simpson when she married Edward the eighth, why did she put a chanty on the mantelpiece? Well when she was over in America she heard that all kings were high peers! I had in my minds eye, Jean and I looking at the mantelpiece! We must have been saying to ourselves, if thon's were the mantelpieces they were dealing with!
And I remember we were visiting the Girvans. I was telling Margaret Girvan about it. And of course they knew about Becca. I mean they knew the way everybody said how Becca started off when she'd tell a joke. "A Thighearna I heard a coorse one last night. I shouldn't be telling you!"
Donald: What was Becca doing there at the time?
Eoghann: Well she must have been helping housemaid. General housemaid, that's what it would be. But I mean it was very reduced then at that time. She had her joke out of context, because it was long past the abdication. It must have been a well worn joke. But this was to get us, you know, it was for our benefit, this was. Talk about the initiation we had.
Donald: So what happened for the other 10 months of the year when there was no...
Eoghann: Oh well, they shot the hinds, shooting the hinds, that was a great thing.
Donald: So there were no guests or toffs along with that?
Eoghann: No, no. I remember my father nearly every fortnight he would send the lorry round the glen. The Glenmoriston Estates got part of it too, with the haunches of venison and the lorry driver got instructions. The house you go to this week, give them a quarter, and the next fortnight you'd give them a hind haunch. And of course things used to get mixed up. My father used to have all the irate people contacting him who got a forequarters, it was degrading you see. Two fortnights running we missed the... probably because the lorry driver, Domhnall..... his favourites you know.
Pat: We had plenty venison then. And if you got a forequarters, it was an insult.
Eoghann: But the forequarters was just about as good.
Pat: But if you got a shot one,
Eoghann: that was below the belt.
Donald: What kind of people would be putting in an order for venison?
Eoghann: There was no order. The lorry just went round giving it out at every house you came to. I think the policeman at Invermoriston got a haunch sent to him. People like that in the public eye, the policeman.
Donald: So it was just to keep the numbers down, they weren't actually selling it.
Eoghann: No, no, no such thing as selling then, no, no. I remember this Austin, he used to go up the loch-side with it, when heavy snow came. And of course there'd be hinds up on the hill. And they had two behind a convenient knoll so the hinds wouldn't see them getting out of the car. And sometimes they shot them out of the car.
And I remember your grandfather coming down from Cluanie with the car. He would stop and see if there were any livers and probably poca buidhes too he was looking for. Because I'm sure your grandfather was into that, using the poca buidhes, the tripe. Beautiful tripe. As long as you gralloched the beast, a good fat beast, it was golden. It was a delicacy.
Pat: We never bothered with the poca buidhes. Once I remember washing one in the loch. It took an awful lot of cooking. And we had any God's amount. We had more than we could eat.
Eoghann: But some people liked it, it was an old Highland delicacy. But the thing was you got a really fat stag in August. And the quickest way to a good burn and you washed it instantly. A wee falls in the burn and you cleaned it. And when you turned the rough side out, a beautiful gold, almost shiny like gold, beautiful.
And there was a certain amount of fat taken off it. You could boil down the fat you know, strain it. I remember Guthrie Aberdeen used to get the skins, that was my father's perk. The gillies nailed them up and stretched them. And the tallow, the slaughterman used to boil the good heads so you could get all the fat off them before you'd send them to the taxidermist. But inferior heads went off to Guthrie's in Aberdeen. And the bales of skins, I remember there'd be two or three bales of skins, and they used to tie them with baling wire off the hay, which came for the stags anyway, the bales of hay. But I remember the tallow which was poured into the metal basins that they had in the dairies for milk. And when it was hard you could turn it out, and this was all sent away to Guthrie's in Aberdeen. That's the sort of trade they were in, supplying tanneries. They must have had some outlets for horns and for this tallow.
Donald: So how many beasts would they get in a year?
Eoghann: Oh, maybe about 150. Or less, 100. It depended, you know, how things were. That was the stalker, the head stalker, actually he said how many were to be shot.
Donald: How many would there be on the entire hill?
Eoghann: Hard to say, I mean, 45000 acres. That included Tomachrasky right down to Torgoyle Bridge, Lagan Ban on that side and of course Achlain. When you think of it there from the Black Bridge right up, top of the Loyne..
Donald: Which is the Black Bridge?
Eoghann: That's the march between the fish farm and Achlain. You can see it where the arable stops at Achlain, where it merges into the wood up there. It was the march in between the Glenmoriston and the Ceannacroc estates.
Pat: Was that the High Bridge?
Eoghann: That's right. The last time I really remember was Peter Mitchell with the Ford V8 your Dad bought off the Mitchell. Remember when you did it up. Him taking us to church this day in the V8. There must have been something wrong with the Austin at Ceannacroc. Maybe there wasn't enough petrol. It must have been during the war then. Mitchell had three sons. There was Peter and Jimmy and there was two younger ones if not three. There was one in school. But the halcyon days were in the 30s.
Donald: So who did they buy it off in the first place?
Eoghann: Glenmoriston estate. You see what happened was they must have came one year to Ceannacroc, a year's lease. Well, it would have been for the stalking season. And the next year they asked my father if he would go to Glenfeshie with them. They must have had Glenfeshie booked for the next year, and he wouldn't go. Hugh says, "Don't move from where you are". Like I said, he was my father's great mentor. "Because I'm just retiring. You'll just move in where I am now". And next year, they went to Glenfeshie, the Coopers. I don't know who was in Ceannacroc.
Pat: The Maharajah maybe.
Eoghann: No, the Maharajah was 1923. But the next year after they were in Glenfeshie, they had Ceannacroc. The estate had been bought. Sir Victor Wallender, sometime MP, I forget what constituency, was negotiating for 40000, and Lady Cooper just came in over his head like that; 80000. And old Glenmoriston bought an annuity with it. And by jove, they backed a loser because he lived till he was 96 or so. He was the oldest reigning laird in Great Britain. From 68 when his father predeceased his son and he came to the throne as it were in 1868 and he was still on the throne in the early 50s. And then they moved to Merlewood in Inverness, because, well, Levishie went to the Hydro, well Logans. The bargain was when Logan finished at Levishie, demolished it and built the present mansion down the bottom.
Donald: Who was Logan?
Eoghann: Willie Logan, the great entrepreneur. Civil engineer and entrepreneur and of Loganair. He was killed on the hill above Clachnaharry in Inverness. The plane crashed. He was piloting it himself.
He had Levishie lodge for the workmen. You know, as a camp for them. I mean it had deteriorated an awful lot. But it was good enough for the workmen. And the condition was that when he was finished with it he would flatten it, demolish it, and build a new mansion for... well probably with reservations. Well, you could say it was a mansion the present one. James Ewen Grant who was coming home from Canada to take over the lairdship.
Donald: So where were they in between times then?
Eoghann: In Merlewood in Inverness , a house up Stratherrick Road way. But I think it's probably turned into a nursing home now. They moved away because they were so old. You see the laird was probably on his own then. I don't know did she pre-decease him or not. She did. And of course Mrs Stuart would be still with him. I mean she lasted almost into this century. That was his adopted daughter-in-law as it were. His wife's daughter by a previous marriage.
As my father used to say, he met her out in the Rockies. She was the second Mrs Grant. She was of French descent. She had an eating-house in the Rockies and he was with his brother Colonel Eoghann from Kilmore. Shooting and sport out in the Rockies. That's where he met her. But his first wife, I was told by my own parents, she went off with somebody. I don't know if it was somebody in the regiment or not. But he went to France and he put the revolver to his head. And he says "You'll swear on your honour that you won't desert her. If you're taking her now, you'll keep her. And keep her the way she's supposed to be kept". As a lady, you know. I mean in those days things were different I suppose. They say he actually took a revolver to his head and said, "You should swear on your honour". That was it. I forget who she was. She was of the aristocracy too. But then he must have gone away. To recover from a traumatic situation, you would say that. Away with Colonel Eoghann to shoot in the Rockies He then moved up into the Oginagin Valley, where my uncle was.
And that's where James Ewen, the last laird, Hamish as they called him, came from. Came over from Canada to fill the
Laird's shoes. He came in the early 50s and became an elder in the Reverend Peter's church. And of course when I visited
my uncle he asked me about him. He asked me about him. He says, "How is Hamish getting on?" Well you know what the
Americans and Canadians are. They just treat them like ordinary people. "How's Hamish getting on?"
"Oh well", I says, "he has the most awful mania for hens. He's actually producing eggs."
"Oh well, that's just him", he says. "He was hen boy up in the Coldstream manse(?) for a long time when he was here!"
And the other brother was driving the school-car. He didn't own the thing. It must have been for the British Columbian government.
Donald: So why did they wind up there in the first place? Why did they go to Canada?
Eoghann: Well you know this, remittance men probably. That's where the remittance men landed in British Columbia, a lot of them. You know, the hangers-on of an aristocratic family who were running short of money. And I mean the seniors stayed here and the others had to skedaddle. That's what they're known as, remittance men. I mean the mounted police was full of them.
And then of course he went to Portpatrick to finish off in fruit. And off course he went out to Canada, he made for the Okanagan. It's in the interior of British Columbia. And I mean, the climate's more like Italy. Colonel Eoghann was married twice. I think he had two families. I think he was you know. He had two families. You see the fellow that should have inherited the estate, he was killed. The handle of a boat hit off the side of his head, you know. Must have been after the war, or during the war. You know these things, you had to swing them, must have caught in the cog. And of course there's poor Hamish has inherited. But anyway the thing was that he'd bought a pig in a poke. he'd went and bought a place he couldn't get irrigation into. And without irrigation there in the higher reaches of the Okinagan Valley you can't grow anything. It's just pure ranch country. Down there in the US border; the same conditions. Believe it or not, it's most incongruous really. The same conditions prevail that you get in Arizona. The very same. Lower down in the Okanagan valley; fruit and dairy. Well now it's wine growing. There used to be the Macintosh apples.
I don't know what Colonel Eoghann went eventually. But I remember my uncle saying, during the winter, Colonel Eoghann came down to my uincle's place from Irish Creek to borrow a sledge for the snow. And Hamish was with him. And my uncle put out a drink for him you see, for Colonel Eoghann. He put out something for Hamish, well, his wife did. And Hamish was that bloody hungry, he was wolfing the lot. And Colonel Eoghann, my uncle said, he turned round while he was having his drink with Angus: "Steady on, steady on Hamish! We're not here for a meal!" You see, it was just an informal drink you know. But he was just wolfing everything that was put out for him.
That's the old slaughterhouse at Dundreggan, I think. I'll not swear but it's sort of like it. It was demolished with Leonard's and my JCB in the Bianci era. Demolished to the ground. That's it, could be that one. Look at this octagenarian or nonagenarian, the grandfather of all. And this one would have been a butler or something. The rest would be stalkers. Stalkers and gillies. You see, people like that in normal, ordinary clothes, not hill-gear, they would have been footmen or butlers or something. But that's all stalkers here, the heavy hill-shoes. They're all stalkers or gillies. But the policeman is your cue. That's the best cue you can get. Who would that have been? I mean they've had policemen since time immemorial in Invermoriston. But this must be a right old chap here. You can see by the style of beard he's got.
But that's typical of the 1900 era. The top button closed and the rest of the thing loose. In the 20s and 30s it was the middle button. It's just the way the cut was made. I mean that would be suits made by Hamish Cluanie's uncle. Johnny the Tailor from Lagan Ban. And Willuc's father was beside him, blacksmith. And Willuc told me himself that they flitted down to Invermoriston. And not a horse and cart, a handcart to take their gear down. When, that must have been before the turn of the century. That's possibly what it was. Because maybe a blacksmith got somebody else to do his ploughing if he was a busy blacksmith. Very often they couldn't afford a horse.
I remember Donnie MacNeill driving that bus when I was in school in Drum. That's before he did his national service. He must have got deferment because he was much older than the average boy when he did his national service. He'd be 78 if he was alive today. Jessie's 70.
Angie, Peter Stoddart and Daniel's father. I remember I was down for petrol at the pier. And they were sitting on the bank having their forestry lunch. And Kenny MacLennan was there. And they must have been poking the bank up. This pyrites came out. And Kenny says, "All is not gold that glitters!" You see he was Arisaig spoken. And I can see Peter and Daniel's father sitting down with the pipe. And Hamish the Post was getting married in Fort Augustus. "Ah well", Angie says, "there's an awful lot in Fort Augustus sorry for Hamish today!" He married Molly the diver's daughter. This was the opinion! It was as dry as could be, dry humour. "There's an awful lot sorry for poor Hamish today!"
When Kate Sinclair was in school with my mother, she nearly killed my mother. Did you ever see the privvies at Dulchreichard school? There was a man built them and he was ever known afterward as "The Privvy". But anyway, there's a connection from one trap to the other. But my mother saw Kate Sinclair going into trap number two. So she went into trap number one. They sat on a board with a hole in it. My mother got into the other trap. She got a bunch of nettles and stuck them through! And there was a yell! I think it was actually Peter Fraser Inverwick's, Eoghannaidh Fraser's mother. What did they call her. Lizzie Black. And she's there saving my mother from retribution. She was red-haired. She was going round in circles with rage!
Pat: Lizzie Black; who's she exactly?
Eoghann: Peter Fullarton's niece. And she married this Sgitheanach, Cumming. She had Peter before then. And they went off to the Black Isle. And they prospered very well indeed. It was like Alec Hamish. Look where he went from Achnaconeran about the beginning of the war there. And really prospered. You know, besides the crofts. Selling caddies(?) and grain on the Black Isle. They did well on it. You'd hardly believe it.
Well I can remember Campbell the minister. He was preaching in Dulchreichard school and we were bairns. Duncan the Drover and Charlotte his wife. Oh, she was an awful harridan. She was famous throughout Glenmoriston and many other glens besides. But anyway, they were sitting in one of these tip-up seats in Dulchreichard at a prayer meeting. And he saw Charlotte munching the pandrops you know. And he went like this, nudging her. She didn't pass them to him. She threw a bunch of them at him like that. Oh she was a bad bitch! But anyway, they were sitting in the seat here and they scattered all over the floor. And the drover, it'd be difficult for the old drover. You see he broke his leg once at Ceannacroc going down the steps once to the generator to light the lamp in the winter-time. He got forty pound when he broke his leg. But anyway he'd be lazy getting up and he had a long stick. And he was raking the sweeties with it and you'd hear RRRRRR! Middle of the preaching! And we were looking at Campbell the minister and looking at the Drover! And Campbell, a look of belligerence in the direction of the Drover and Charlotte. The Drover had a beard and you would see very predominantly the mechanical chewing of the sweet - the beard going like that! He wasn't sucking but munching them, he must've had good teeth. There must have been a dozen on the floor. You would see him using the stick and RRRRR! Campbell, he never said a thing, baleful glances were coming over. And then the Drover, we were watching the beard. Mother would be pushing us, glancing back and fore, keep our heads bent. But the whole meeting there'd be this raking with the stick. I can remember it just like that and that must've been well back in the 30s. Well it would be on the stone when the drover died.
Campbell was the Free Church Minister, he lived in Fort Augustus. They had services in the church mainly, but this was an extra. They have them yet, you know on Wednesday night.
But anyway, the poor Drover. Sandy Dot there, at the interment of his wife, had to go over and take the pipe off him. When the minister was doing the service at the graveside. And the Drover - making this sooking noise on the pipe - sook, sook, sook! And Sandy Dot went over and quietly took the pipe off him. What was the other thing? Oh aye. He was supposed to have said to a friend at the interment, "The great question is: is it up or down she went?" Charlotte, you know. Oh, she was horrific. She used to throw clods at him when he was ????, because she wasn't getting her own way.
There's Robbie Sinclair, Bill Fraser's uncle. Kate Sinclair's brother. He married old Mary MacRae from Gairloch, the teacher. Well that's Warren, Dulchreichard. Och aye, that's Warren right enough. He was the crofter at Dulchreichard where MacLeod's were. That's Achlain house. And that's as like Danny as can be. And that's Robbie Sinclair. There's no question about it, that's him.
Jimmy Garrow worked at Tomachrasky. He was a lorry driver. He used to wear a big colonial hat in my day. Felt hat. He had no teeth when I remember him. How I remember him, there was a man MacBeth. At the end of the season he got drunk. And he must have gone to Fort Augustus in the lorry with Garrow. And Garrow was brining coal for us and he was putting it off for us at the cart-shed. And MacBeth was becoming obstreperous; must have had a half-bottle. And suddenly I heard Garrow remonstrating with him. And then, he must have biffed him two or three times! The next thing, MacBeth came into the field, and Garrow deposited the coal and away. Us bairns running out. My father must have been away on estate business. It was the end of the season. And the arrangement had been a wind-up do, a big do, he was getting whisky in and all this. And Garrow had hammered MacBeth. He got belligerent you see. It would have been the drink you see. Garrow would have some himself, probably not enough. MacBeth had been over the score. He was slaughter-man. And he must have been having a go at the pipes. He was from Applecross. But anyway, I remember he came plootering into the field and flopped behind a haystack. And he was there and my mother went over to him. And him being drunk, she was a wee bit frightened of him, a drunk man, he might want to come into the house. What happened but our pig out, or one of them. We used to have a couple of pigs to eat the swill from the lodge. The pig got out, and of course, this was added to my mother's troubles you see. Nobody on the place and most of them well shot. The pig went all over the field and suddenly he came round about the haystack. And suddenly we saw MacBeth lurch to life and running for dear life for the bothy. The pig had got round the haystack - snort! snort! - and he was lying there blootered! And he got ot his feet and took leg for the bothy. By heck, what a turn of speed. We were telling Dad how fast he could run. But anyway, that was MacBeth and Garrow's story. I'm sure we had to try and get the pig in with a pail.
The thing was I remember next morning, the gillies must have been filling pot-holes from the lodge out to the bridge. You see your grandfather (Danny the Pier) used to come in in the afternoon to the court in the back of the lodge and then made for Cluanie. But when he was returning we had to go out, anything wanting delivered, to the bridge. And Jean used to say that Danny when he was getting the money for the letters he would catch her hand like this, and hold on to her, you know, playfully. But anyway, the next morning, the gillies, they were filling pot-holes. Of course my father must have had some strategy to fill the pot-holes before they would vanish for the season, they wouldn't be back anymore. The whole estate could revert to winter conditions. So this was the last job before they said cheerio. And who started coming up the road with his case to catch a lift for the west coast but MacBeth. And he had a hat on and a lounge suit which he didn't wear every day. And he had this case. And there was nothing but sticking plaster across his nose! "Nach eil sin searbh!" - the gaelic Free Church gilles, the disgrace it was. The state he had going away from the lodge. That they would see the type of people they had to associate with! They were more or less hiding out of his way. "Nach eil sin pein grannda". Isn't that itself nasty. I mean we remember it so well in retrospect. Jean would even tell you more. But then that was the end of MacBeth there. That was him away for the year.