Kipper House Tales A Reminiscence of West Coast Life

FORSYTH HAMILTON - ARDRISHAIG • 1986 Photoset and Printed by The Michael Press, Glasgow G5 9RT To my wife Margaret and our family The Early Days (1) Ardrishaig (4) Fishermen and Kippers (6) Stornoway Stories (7) Men and Memories (7) Never A Dull Day (12) Boats (13) Nicknames (17) Fishing (20) Gardens (23) Lochgilphead Shops of The Past (24) The Distillery (25) Yellow Fever (26) Cattle and The Canal (27) Boat Races (27) David MacBrayne (28) Mid Argyll (29) Surgery Hours, Ardrishaig (30) Minard (30) Mull and Insurance (30) Sunday School (31) Old Friends (32) More Old Friends (34) Forestry and Fishing (36) Milk Carts (37) Ardris Haig (37) The Canal (38) Birthdays (38) The Travelling People (39) Death of A Notable Fisherman (40) The Spanish Tramp (41) Boats and Owners (42) Local People (43) Coronation 1937 at Kilmartin (43) The Ardrishaig Seal 1925 (44) Ron The Seal (44) The Great Swordfish (45) From The Islands (46) Ardrishaig To New York (46) Epilogue (48) Glassary Parish 1828 (49) Local People (49) Doctors Who Have Practised in Lochgilphead (49) Ardrishaig Shops of The Past (50) The Gem (51) John McEwan - "Jonas" (51) PROLOGUE IT would be hard to sav how many people over the years have said to me that I ought to write a bock. It's one thing having a yarn with a customer at the smoking sheds where I've been turning out kippers tor more vears than I care to remember, or telling a storv at a wedding or a ceilidh, but it's a gey bit different looking at a blank sheet of paper and wondering what vou can say that hasn't been said before. My answer always used to be, ''Where am I going to get the time for writing with all you folks wanting kippers?" This time, though, I can't make that my excuse. They tell me that Robert Louis Stevenson only became an author because he was plagued with ill-health, and A. J. Cromn would have staved at the doctoring it he hadn t had a long illness. Well, it ever anyone but myselt reads this they might as well know that I, Forsyth Hamilton, only started putting some ot my stories down on paper because 1 tell off a root and the gutting knife went into my leg. So that's how I now find myself with time on my hands to rake through mv memories. So it you want to come along with me to sliarc them vou arc very welcome. I gratefully acknowledge the help of Allan Henderson, my daughter-in-law Mary Hamilton and Diane Robertson in producing this book—and, indeed, of the people of Ardrishaig. Tarbert, Lochgilphead and the West Coast whose story this is and wliose patience has been the rock on which I have been able to build this reminiscence. The Early Days YESTERDAY, 10th January 1985, there was a picture in the newspaper of a lovely lady, 107 years young. She was born in the year that my grandfather was drowned in Ballantrae, Ayrshire, leaving my grandmother to bring up tour boys and a girl. Whatever hard times they had to endure, it finished up that the Hamiltons were one ot five tannlies invited to move to the village of Ardnshaig. The others being the Laws, Bruces, MacEwans, and MacBravnes. The Cnnan Canal had )ust been opened, providing a welcome sate passage tor seafarers who, prior to this. liad to sail round the notorious "Mull 0' Kmtyre." Ardrishaig was the then small village on the Loch Fyne side, and as there were no houses at that time these families lived in tents on the Fisher Row Park. Now, nearly two hundred years on, their names are still known in the village. The canal was projected in 1793; however, the street plans tor Ardrishaig had been made, two years earlier, in 1791 with the village retaining that early pattern until 1960. The landward side was then demolished and rebuilt, with the shore side buildings giving way to car parks and open spaces in the 1970s. The Parish Church was built in I860 on a prominent site beside the canal in direct line in from the lighthouse. That is just a wee bit ot background intormation, because 1 have no intention ot trying to write a history of Ardrishaig. It is the people that make a place interesting to live in, and it is wee varns about some of the worthies ot bygone days that I will be trying to record here.


School didn't have much attraction tor most of us young lads. How could it ? Our minds were more likely to be occupied with thoughts about splashing for sea-trout and salmon, or catching lobsters, congers or saithe below the pier. Ferreting rabbits on the braes, or trying to catch a hare at the Rocky Riggens seemed more important than lessons to us with our boundless energy. Our old lady teacher in the qualifying class used to be reduced to tears, crying, "Boys, Boys, What is going to happen to you in the years ahead it you will learn nothing in school?" Little did she know how well justifed her tears were to be, for thirty or forty of her former pupils were to go off to the army, navy and airforce, never to return. One visitor to the school that I remember was the Kind's doctor. Sir Clair Thompson, whose grandfather been the rirsi canal manager. He asked the headmaster, Mr A. Blue, who was the worst boy in the school. Mr Blue pointed at me and said. "There you have him, the Duke of Hamilton himself!" The Royal doctor came over to me and confided that he too had earned the same reputation in his day. On one occasion he had made a boat out of three herring boxes, coated it with tar and feathers and launched it at the mouth of the burn. He then paddled out to the flashing buov, whereupon his "boat" started to sink and he had to be rescued by fishermen. When he returned home he was on the receiving end ot a good belting Sir Clair Thompson left 3,000 in his will to the village tor the funds ot the AVIA, the Ardnshaig Village Improvements Association, and the village hall. Mr Blue was a very stern disciplinarian. Once when he had caught of us having a smoke in the toiets he laid into us with the cane The strokes were interspersed with the words : "If – The – Lord – meant – you – to – smoke – he – would – have – put – a – chimney – on – your – head" ! A bi-plane landed at Brackley Farm in 1928 and three quarters of the village population went up to see it and helped to take down a fence so that the pilot, Wing Commander MacBain could take-off. In 1931, some flying boats landed in the sea, out from the pier at Ardrishaig, and the school pupils, not wanting to miss anything so exciting, sat all afternoon waiting tor them to take-ott. This they did just before school closed. We all ran to the school to collect our schoolbags, but on the way out we met Mr Blue, who gave us each six ot the best tor being absent without leave. We were thus remanded in school until six o'clock to make up tor the time we had lost. Another teacher, a Miss Smith from Tarbert (Peter Pochie's sister), was also a great believer in the belt. She once told me I had thirty-two mistakes in my French exercise and since I apparently didn 't look terribly worried about it she said, "What have you to say for yourself, Hamilton?" I said the only thing I could think of, namely that "I better just not bother going to France!" an answer that earned me six ot the belt from her. and a visit to Mr Blue for a follow-up ot six ot the cane. Life, however, wasn't all canings and beltings, and they didn't disturb us all that much anyway. For even as laddies our hands were pretty well protected with callouses from rowing and hauling ropes. It has just struck me that "worst boy in the school" or not, I have followed Mr Blue in many. if not all, of the positions he held in the community— Member of AVIA, Chairman Village Hall Committee, Sunday School Superintendent, Agent for the Shipwrecked Mariner's Society, Royal Benevolent Society, and Boys Brigade—further to this I was a member of the Home Guard before call-up to the RAF, ran the boy's boxing club, and am now with the Ardrishaig Wednesday Club, which consists of fitty locals who gather on Wednesday afternoons tor a community get together. This includes tea, cakes and of course, the odd bit ot local gossip. After all. as one ladv member said to me, "What can vou do with gossip, Forsyth, but spread it". One grand old character was our next-door neighbour, James Jackson, who lived until he was onlv three months from his 100th birthday. I have managed to get a photo ot him with his friend. Andy Grinlaw. together with their guns. In the year 1860, he was on a sailing ship, on his first passage to America when thev were- involved in rescuing the crew ot an American fishing boat. James Jackson was the first to volunteer to man the rescue boat and 12 ot the crew were saved. As a result ot his heroism, he was rewarded with a life pension and at the ripe old age of 99, he received a visit from four American inspectors, who wondered if he could possibly still be alive. I am sure this brave man deserves a place in the Guinness Book of Records, as being the person to have drawn a pension, on both sides ot the Atlantic for the longest time. However, on writing to them, I was informed that it did not tall under their list of published categories. But I will pursue the matter further. He died in 1944. not long after flitting to Lochgilphead to stay with his daughter, and said himself that it was leaving


Ardnshaig that would be the end of him. It was sad to come home trom the war to find this great old man gone. His daughter, Maggie Kinkey, as she was known, also lived near us. Her husband had been called "The Beara," which might have been something to do with his favounte drink' He worked in the local distillery where the wages were paid on Fridays, one golden sovereign. The first time the pay was in pound notes, he is supposed to have gone straight to Dougie Livingstone's Anchor Bar, slapped the note on the counter and said, "I am the Beara. Pay me a pound." You wouldn't see a lot in the newspapers of these days about sex, divorce and so forth, but there were. nevertheless, always a few "goings-on" that rarely found the light of day. One story concern' a certain kind-hearted lady who was a great source of comfort to the under-privileged males ot the village, with whom she would share her bed to dispel their arrows. Word other generosity hdd leaked out to some of the younger boys who decided for a prank ro raid her boudoir when she was engaged in such activities. The plan was to sneak in. pull back the bedclothes and give her companion a skelp across the backside. Sure enough, the plan was carried out, the blow was dealt, and to the horror of the boy who had wielded the stick, the irate man who leapt out of bed was his own father. He chased the boy out ot the house and up the lane, clad only in a pair of pink drawers, ot the kind now known as "Long Johns," but which at that time were called "Leasey Parleys," and were the under garment favoured for wearing at the fishing in cold weather. "Leasey Parleys" somehow sounds much more comfortable than "Long Johns." I was at the fishing with Donald MacDougall from Tarbert who was another memorable character. He once pointed out a man to me saying—"You see that fellow over there, boy. What troubles that man has had. Why, there's only the two afflictions he's never had—childbirth and leprosy—but right enough he has the one serious illness." "Is it cancer ?" "No, not cancer, boy. Just the laziness." Poor Donald was killed in a road accident just outside Ardrishaig, nearly ten years ago. The inhabitants of this part of Kintyre—the men of Tarbert, Carradale, and Campbeltown—were never greatly impressed with degrees or titles. They were more likely to judge a man by his ability to shoot a net or steer a course, or handle a boat. I remember fishing at the prawns, near Jura. alone with Willie MacAffer, or Willie Gorry, as we called him, and old Doods sitting up in the bow shouting—"It will be a hard job getting the price of a pair of nylons out of these 'crawlers!'" And a hard job it was. Herring at that time were selling at £2 a cran for fish meal. There are roughly 750 herring to the cran, which is a measure equal to 37½ gallons, so there was an awful lot of work for all the money that was in it. Once going into Lochboisdale we were greeted by the Harbour-master, standing at the end of the pier shouting, "No Capstan. No Woodbines And the water's off!" Not what you would call a very hearty welcome. Half an hour later three Campbeltown ring-netters—Merrian, Tommy Tit, and Big Dunkie Donald—arrived. When they heard what the Harbour-master had said, they said, "Don't worry, boys. We've a half-bottle of whisky, so rest assured the water will be on in ten minutes!" And it was at that. That same Harbour-master was also the weather reporter. Most days he would arrive down at the boats at about 2 o'clock saying, "No, No, you won't be out tonight, boys. I'll see you all in the pub." "How do you know that, did you hear a forecast?" we would ask. "A forecast! A forecast! And who would be needing a forecast and the cows coming down the hill and the sheep turning their arses to the wind for the last hour!" The thing is that he was always 100% right, and that must have been the only pub in Britain with a queue fifty yards long, rigged out in oilskin coats and W^ellie boots waiting for opening time. The experts in the Minches at that time were the Mansons from Mallaig, they had been taught how to work the ring net by the Campbeltown men—Old John Short, the Hoodies, Mick O'hara and Jock Warham, of whom a book has already been written. There was no such thing as a golden handshake at the end of your career in these days. All you could expect to get would be the skipper giving you the DCM on a Friday. No, not a medal, just—"Don't Come Monday!" Men were old and died at fifty with burst hearts and what they used to call Armstong's Patent, their arms


pulled the length of Ailsa Craig, trying to haul up sole ropes orjust holding the fending-off poles to keep the boats apart in a breeze or swell. I wrote this poem to fishermen twenty years ago. It was published in the Campbeltown Courier in 1966. Being a modest man. and Ardnshaig born and bred, I surrendered it under the name—A. Pointer ! Away in the Highlands, there's the Island of Pladda, Where the rocks are so hard and the tide is so bad, The herring are spanning, for spring 's in the air. 'I'he ringers and trawlers have torn all their gear, But this is the end of the financial year. Many a man is grey-haired and old, With mending and cutting, fasteners galore ! The waterfall stands like a monument bold, "You won't do well here" so I am told. So the struggle goes on between herring and bound, Between what you have caught, and what you have sought. Be it richer or poorer, you'd be better aground. Faint hearted and hoping we shot her away, Hoping she comes in the gayest array. With a net full of spannies that would be better away. BA's, CN's and TT's have watched the Brown Heads for a century now, But herring will come, and herring will go, When men will work the shore no more. At that time The Courier, along with the Oban Times and The Stornoway Gazette were recognized as the "West Coast Men's Bibles." Ardrishaig ARDRISHAIG was never wholly Highland from its earliest as a village. At the making and the opening of the Crinan Canal in the year around 1805 there must have been a large number of Lowland tradesmen such as stone-masons, carpenters etc., settled in the village and district during the years of construction. Names such as Dawson, Lawson, Duff, Chalmers etc. must have come in these years. Another influx into the village was the Ayrshire fishing tolk in the years about 1820 with a big proportion of names such as Bruce, Hamilton, Law, MacAlister among them. Another period of' entry was the basing of H.M.S. Jackal, the fishing protection vessel, for the long periods off Ardnshaig which carried a crew ot about 60 personnel. Many ot the crew married locally and took up residence, with names Wyllie, Heath, Cadwallader, Sloan and Mullin. The successor to H.M.S. Jackal was H.M.S. Daisy which had a crew of six and was stationed here until she went ashore and was scrapped about 1913. In the Second World War Ardnshaig was a Naval Base—H.M.S. Seahawk 1940-44. Again there were Customs and Excise Officers attached to the Distillery who moved in and out as transferred. Generally there were three Officers permanently located in the village, names such as Boyd, Robertson, Davies, Lcanfield, Walker come to mind. Fishery Officers and "Tide Waiters" so called locally. Also stationed here—Murray. Lindsay, Jeffrey, Melville to name some more. The above goes to show the build up ot the people during the past 100 years. The basic industries were herring and small line fishing. The location ot the Crman Canal Workshops and the Glcntyne Distillery with the small trades attached such as boat building, smithy work, jornery and the rest of the crafts. In the early years of the fishing industry the local fishermen who owned their own boats, smacks and skiffs, used to engage men at the local fairs for the fishing season generally from March to December and were paid board/wages. Mainly the crews were made up from the boat owners, own families, some succeeding father and grandfather. The general mode of fishing was with the drift nets (and some ringnets). The Ayrshire fishing folk first came tor bait for their lines such as mussels and cockles which were abundant on the sandbanks around the seashore and took the bait south. Afterwards they took up permanent residence in the village, as Lochfyne was teeming with herring and


whiterish in these early years. This was the beginning of the fishing as a basic industry and it was pursued for more than 100 years, the peak periods being around 1870-1920. The harbours contained from 60-70 boats (skiffs and lineboats) and manned by 200 men and vouths. No finer sight could be seen on a summer evening in the sunset than the boats leaving for the fishing grounds, with their brown sails set, sailing in a tresh freeze of wind. In the early morning thev would return to port having sold their catches to carrier steamers which bought the catches out in the loch and carried them to the Glasgow market, or taking their catch into the Pier where local buvers. many of them Irish who came each season buying for the Glasgow rirms and shipping the herring by steamer lona or luggage boat to market. Icna let: a: 5.45am each morning, and luggage boat at 9.00am. Two of the old Irishmen were Uannv Burnes and Mcuill. In the curing season local buyers, supplemented by firms such as Pirrie and Davidson, Aberdeen, and others, cured upwards of 2,000 barrels in a season. At the close of the season, which lasted from May to December, the boats would haul up, except those who went south to the Girvan fishing on the Ayrshire Banks in fanuarv. Others in the early spring got ready to go North to the Loch Boisdalc fishing in April, returning to prepare for the start in June of the Lochfyne season. These crews fished mostly drift nets, alternately with ring nets. At the close of the herring season when skiffs were drawn up, those who followed the line fishing got their boats ready for the white fishing, which engaged 60 to 70 men. Line fishing was a verv hard job, going to the ebb for bait, shelling the cockles and mussels, digging tor log worm. Most of the family had their particular job to do. Each line boat had a crew of three or tour men and the boats were handled by oars. although each had a small sail. On a still frosty night, with a full moon, it was pleasant to hear the click-clack of the oars as they were rowed in the tholes. The line fishing lasted from January to Mav. There was hardly a silent hour all through the night that one did not hear the tramp of sea-boots moving to and fro. Good catches of Haddock, Whiting and Cod were caught and sold, average 2/6d per stone. In the month of May the Mackerel appeared, and were fished by a few small boats. Young lads and a few older men took part. the chief character being a local cripple called Johnnie McPhail. The fishing grounds were at Brenfield, Creag a Ghual and Craglan. Mackerel sold at 1/- to 2/- per dozen. The most remunerative years of the herring fishing were in the early 1880's called locally the "Shoals" fishing. Large numbers of new boats were built replacing and adding to the fleet, and in these years the fisherman as a whole were prosperous. About 1900 there came a steady decline in the industry. the shoals ot herring becoming scarcer, boats having to be sold, men seeking other occupations, on steamers, putters and Clyde yards. Bv the end ot 1945 not a boat or a fisherman was lett in the village. The ring net rishcrmen worked with pairs ot boats, each boat having its own net. with a crew o; tour men. In the earlv davs the boats were propelled bv sweep oars about 16 tect in length, tour oars to each boat and these were used in calm weather, when there was wind. the sails came into operation, as when a spot of herring came to play on the surface or on the sign ot ganncts diving or seeing the tish in the water. Later the motor engine came into use and made a drastic change in the handling: ot the boats when surrounding the fish with ring net and getting trom one fishing ground to another. Dnft nets were shot and left to dntt with wind and tide for a certain length of time, or were set and held by anchors, in each case they were attached to the skiff. When hauling the nets, the herring were caught by their gills and as they were taken aboard were shaken from the nets into the hold ot the boat. Each year the crews who were not owners or part-owners, made changes of berths. Family crews were constant, also part-owners. Some crews spent almost the whole ot their fishing life together. What about the characteristics ot the fisherman : Physically they were on the whole tall, average 5' 8" to 5' 10", well setup men, intelligent to a high degree with moderation in all things, good church members and a high percentage of total abstainers amongst them. They lived in the hope that next week, or next year would be a better fishing period and made the best ot the situation they found themselves in. They feasted and suffered famine together but famine got them in the end and they had to quit.


Over the years there were many drowning accidents. A boat went down at the Girvan fishing with the loss ot three lives and some were lost in Lochfyne. With reference to H.M.S. Jackal, the fishery cruiser, an incident happened at Otter Ferry in which a fisherman was shot and killed. Trawling for herring by the trawl net was prohibited and a crew was caught in the act of doing so. The cruiser opened fire to warn them when a fisherman Peter McDougall was killed by a bullet. The mariners responsible tor firing were tried but acquitted as doing their duty. In connection with the herring fishing, boat building was long established, the old type of smack being superseded by the Clinker and Caravel type. Overall length 24-26 feet beam and 6-9 feet. Some of the people who were boatbuilders were Walker, jas. McLean, Archibald Munro, Archibald McCallum and Robert Fvte, all first-class tradesmen. McLean's boats were of good design and good sea boats. His yard was taken over by Archibald Munro and Donald Munro who were good at design and crattmanship, these boats were ordered for owners as far as Campbeltown and Loch Broom. History records that when some ot the Ardrishaig fleet were operating out ot Ullapool (all the open boats without decks) the East coast fishermen present who had decked boats watched with admiration the handling and skill as the Lochtvne boats tacked their wav into harbour in the teeth of a gale and heavy sea. They were Munro built. The village has from early times trained boat builders. The old Canal foreman D. McArthur used to tell that he had been an apprentice building vessels at the old dock, now tilled in, in the years around 1840. Archibald McCallum built boats in a yard where the Public Hall now stands. Some or the boats he built were the Lilly Mary and Stiriili and the Cardross Castle. He later became foreman carpenter with the David MacBrayne Steamer Company. Robert Fyfe's yard was beside James Smith's Smiddy—he built very fine skiff boats. Fishermen and Kippers MY teachers in the kipper and salt herring trade and net-making and roping were my father. Uncle Sandv, their uncles—Peter Hamilton, Stuart Hamilton, Old Bosan Dan Hamilton and Stuart MacAllister Toody, there were so many MacAllisters they all had to be given a nickname. My other uncles were Stuart Hamilton and my Uncle John Hamilton. This is the family of people who looked after us in our young life : some body of men—they made sure you did the job given to you correctly. They told me that the herring is the only fish with the net marked clearly on his side. When you take out its gills you have a complete gull with both wings and two legs; on the herring's head if you look at a fresh herring you will see a coffin and inside the coffin is a figure and the body in the coffin is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. You may think about this, and wonder. As the master stood by the sea on the shore of Galilee and he gathered the fishermen round him, he asked them to follow him and he would make them fishers of men. Two thousand years have passed since that meeting on the shore, the herring are still with us and so are the men who go to fish them. Nearly all men who go to sea are God-fearing men and good men to be with. The sea has claimed thousands of these men, and if they returned they would still go back to it. A hundred years at kippers—in that time we must know something about them. What is a good kipper ? First you must have a good fresh herring caught from Lochfyne or Kilbrandon Sound, split, cleaned, washed and salted with rock salt and some dark brown sugar, being immersed in this lovely solution for one hour. They are taken from this pickle and hung on tenterhooks for two hours to dry in a well-ventilated kiln with a good vent on the roof to let the smoke out. Lay a fire with side logs of oak as they will be the mainstay of the fire—use clean wood to light the fire and some oak chips on oak sawdust to contain the heat from the small kindling wood. These fish are so full of fat the first heat will melt them on the hooks. These fish have all the goodness in the world, vitamins trom A to Z, they will do your heart good, never mind your bodv, If we ate more of these great fish we would have the heart rate down by 75%. The kippers in the kiln are like rolls in the bakers oven—the ones nearest the fire are ready first, and after the first tour hours take on a colour of pure gold; this is the acid coming out ot the oak logs going in to the skin ot the herring. They are not only good to look at bur a delight to eat. After a pair of good kippers vou are ready for anything; the goodness will stav with you all day. How often have we gone into a restaurant and come out saving: "I never telt it did me any good." A great deal ot time must be given to making a good kipper, and the main problem is the firing of them.


We are talking about making good smoked kippers—not brown FK-dyed herring. The EEC does not allow this dye to be used but I am atraid it is still largely used and ro make kippers on any large scale commercially, everybody reverts to the red dye. They are taken from the kilns soaking wet so they are getting sold we: tor weight. A good kipper is dry and only its own fat is damp. They call these dyed kippers "Jack the Rippers." Herring being made into kippers should be fresh that morning, not lying overnight in ice or anything else as the fat in the herring goes to a dull colour and this greatly attccts the flavour. An old Lewis man came to the door one day and he said: "Are the kippers good," I said "Yes, " He then said: "Are you sure?" I again said. "Yes." I was trying a pair ot kippers as he came to the door, so I said, "Sit down." Well, he ate a pair ot kippers, three slices of bread and a big mug of tea. When he had finished he said, "They're good." To get any praise from a Lewis man about kippers or herring they have got to be good. He told me a Lewis story tor good measure. One old Lewis man was walking past a house and he saw other Lewis men inside. He said: "What are you doing in there?" "Oh, we are reading a book." He said: "What is it about?" "Oh its about continents." "Well, will you tell me. What does it say?" "Oh it says Lewis and Harris is a continent and we arc drifting away from the mainland by halt a mile a year." "Yea, Yea. You tell me. What about Skye and Mull?" "They are going the same way?" "What, Islay and Jura with the big whisky distilleries?" "Oh, they are going half a mile a year as well." "Well, well. My advice to you is to burn the book today before Caledonian MacBrayne find out ! ! " Stornoway Stories I WAS up in Stornoway at a wedding a few years ago. The old minister started the service with a warning to the congregation, which consisted mainly of unmarried men and women, being told not to tread the road to matrimony lightly and how right he was. At the bride's house outside Stornoway we arrived at 11 o'clock in the evening. On being shown in, we saw two men lying on the floor with two sheep and two lambs running over them. At last I said, "Are these men dead?" and one man said, "Och, no, they are trom Mull !" That seemed to be explanation enough. Another Lewisach died. He arrived up at the Pearly Gates, was met by St Peter, who invited him in , showed him round the place, then let him look over a large wall. He saw about 2,000,000 men playing football. He said, "Who are they?" St Peter said "They're football supporters. Celtic. Rangers, Manchester United and soon. They're very happy playing here, " Then he showed him a big lake with 1,000,000 people. "Who are they?" "Oh, these are the Baptists, thev love dipping one another, and splashing about. They're quite happy." Then he showed him a wall. He looked over and saw a large crowd of people. "Who are they?" "These are the 'Wee Frees.' With that wall they think they are the only people up here and they're quite happy!" I often wonder what the Stornoway minister would have had to say if he had been officiating at a wedding which took place in Kilberry many years ago. This tale was told to me by an old lady who lived in Inverneill and had been a guest at the wedding celebrations which went on all night, finally breaking up at 7am. At ten minutes past eight the girl bride, who had danced till the end, gave birth to a lovely baby boy. My friend, who acted as midwile, later said that if we had waited another hour we could have been at the christening! Before the introduction ot radio and television, people used to appreciate the varners and storv-tellers. and there was one old crotter locally who must have been a prince at the trade. He had spent some ot his younger days in windjammers, and one ot his stones was about a terrible gale that struck them and they were three weeks on the top ot the one wave. Another ot his yarns was that when he had been attached to the occupation forces in Turkey after the '14-'18 war, in which he had served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He was going with this Serf girl. "Surely you mean Serb," we would say. "No, no, a Serf girl. She had serfed her time in a shop in Glasgow." Anyway, this girl had a brother who was the champion jockey out there, and they had this big donkey derby coming along with the prize of 10,000 drach for the supreme champion. This gave Donald the notion to try his hand at the big prize because he had been quite good with donkeys betore the war. The donkeys lined up for the start of the big race, and Donald, of course, was heavily backed by all the Argylls, after


him telling them all how good he was. But when the starter's gun went off, Donald was left at the post. By the time he got the beast going the rest of the field were about two turlongs ahead and it was obvioushe was well beaten. The pipe band, thinking how their money was gone, and them waiting at the winning post to cheer on their man, struck up a lament. To everybody's surprise, all the donkeys turned about and ran back down the course alarmed by the wailing of the pipes. All except Donald's donkey which eventually plodded up to win the race. Donald, of course, became the hero of the hour, but the judges of the racing committee had him up before them to explain how he had made such a bad start and still managed to win. "Well," said Donald, "it was fair enough. I made a bad start because my donkey didn't hear the starter's gun and I made a good finish because he neffer heard the pipes because the bliddy animal is stone deaf!" Another of Donald's interests was gardening and he used to tell about the night he was wakened up with someone shouting in his garden, and when he got up to investigate he tound it was only some drunk man who had wandered through the hedge and got lost in the parsley. He used to say that he planted his parsley in kapok and when he pulled up the roots at the end of the season he would get a pillow at the bottom ot every plant . . . He had a cat with one brown eye and one blue one, the former tor seeing at night and the latter tor seeing in daylight. He always kept a telescope at the end ot the house, and he would be looking through it across at Kilfinan, five miles away, and would turn to anyone who stopped near him and say, "There's the farmer's wife at K-ilfinan feeding the hens. She's not in great tettle today and they are only getting the household scraps." This was bait for someone in the audience to say, "Surely you aren't trying to tell us your telescope is so good that you can see what she's giving the hens five miles away." Donald would repiv with an innocent expression, "No, no, I canna see the hen's meat, but I ken trom the look on the wine's race." It was a recognised torm ot entertainment tor people to tell stories, adding arms and legs to everything; and exaggeration to the extent that all credibility was gone. There is still a wee bit ot it about vet. too, only now most of the best yarners are in Parliament and getting paid for it. In my young davs a big annual event was a trip to Glasgow on the steamer for five shillings, or the afternoon boat the same day to Rothesay for two-and-six. One old lady on the outing with her son had bought a new hat for the occasion and on the way back it started to rain. As the first few drops fell, the son saw his mother haul up her skirt over her head. "Mother! Your're showing off you backside!" he whispered to her. "This new bonnet cost me 7/lld and I'm not getting it wet. My backside is 78 years old and I'm past caring about it'" was her reply. One night when there was hard frost, a car ran ott the road near the house. Atter we had got it back on the road and were giving the old gentleman who was driving and his wife, who was accompanying him. a cup ot tea, the old tellow told us he had served in the first war with the 8th Argylls, and that they had included a number trom Ardnshaig. One time when the rations hadn't been getting through too well thev had "rescued" a cargo of sacks of foodstuffs trom a wagon going somewhere else. Next dav when the officer came to inspect the mess, the cooks had a big sign out. Today's Menu—Sago. When he had a look at the meal he said, "But that isn't sago!" "I ken it isny," said the cook, "It's semolina and we got eight bags of it last night. I can cook it. but I canny spell it!" Another time he saw two men carrying a stretcher with a green tarpaulin over it. He thought it was a bit peculiar the way they were going so he stopped them and asked what they had on the stretcher. "It's an infant, sir, just a poor infant." said the front man. So the officer called over a sergeant and asked him to uncover the infant, which turned out to be a small barrel of rum "liberated" trom the rations, to be dished out before the men went over the top the next morning. He didn't say they were Ardnshaig men, and I'm sure they weren't, but there's a tew notverv tar down the coast that would find an unguarded cask of rum a great temptation. Old Dan, the grocer, was standing at his shop door one morning with an awful woebegone expression on his face, when the local lawyer, Mr Macdougall came along. "You're looking gev sad the day, Dan." said the lawyer. "Aye, indeed," said Dan, "and wouldn't yourself be looking sad if a dog came into your shop and went off with a 6lb ham?"


"Do vou know whose dog it was, because if you do there's no problem, all you have to do is send him the bill and it he doesn't pay for the ham, you can sue him." "Well, well," said Dan "that's fine, Mr Macdougall, because it was your dog that did it." "That's alright, Dan, just you put in the account to me at my office in the morning." Next morning, the account was delivered to the lawyer's office by the grocer's delivery boy, who had to wait for a minute or two before being handed an envelope addressed to his employer. When Dan opened the envelope, instead of 12/6 payment tor the ham he found it contained a bill for 18/6 for legal advice. The same Mr Macdougall was factor for a number of estates in the area, and one of his sayings was,"Aye, man, the rent is having to go up, it's not like the rain, forever coming down." One time when he was chasing up a farmer on Loch Aweside for arrears of rent he said to the farmer, "Man, ye don't know when your're well off. If I had a house like this in Glasgow or Edinburgh, or even Dunoon, I would be getting three times the rent you are paying." "Aye," said the farmer, "I don't for a minute misdoubt you, Mr Macdougall, but if you just look down there at the Loch. Do you know that if I had that in Hell I could get a £1 a glass for it, but you know fine that I can't get Loch Awe down there anymore than you can get this house down to Glasgow or Edinburgh." In these days of my youth the only people in the village who were regarded as clever were the lawyers, the bankers, the doctors and the district nurse and, of course, the school teacher, minister and canal managers, and they were apt to exert their authority much more than they do now. For example, one man had about £12 in the bank and went to see the banker wanting to withdraw £8 of it. The banker asked him what he was planning to do with it, and when he heard it was to buy a motorbike he told him he couldn 't withdraw that amount of money to spend on such an inessential thing. Years later the man said to me that the banker had probably saved his life, but can you imagine the bank manager of today laying down the law to any of the young ones about what they can or cannot do with their own money? The people in authority ruled the village and there was little hope for any rebels who tried to buck the system. If your father or mother died you had to make an appointment with the canal manager or whoever your boss was, to get permission to go to the funeral, and you lost a day's pay for going. Nostalgic memories there may be, but there was an awful lot about "the Good Old Days" that wasn't all that good. Men and Memories OLD Archie Ferguson. the butcher, was passing along the front green one night and a crowd had gathered to hear a man giving his testimony. He was busy proclaiming that his name was in the Lamb's book, and that he was saved by the Blood. Old Archie said, "It's in my book as well, and it is also for lamb!" Most of the local tradesmen such as Mr MacGregor, the stonemason, Mr Leckie, slater and plasterer (who took over Peter White's father's yard), Bob McKirdv and Red lock his assistant, were all Lodge members. I'm sure the help they gave to the Mid-Argyll community is to this day unknown. Bob and Red Jock, along with Mr Sinclair, the Burgh Offiicer, knew every pipe bend and twist up the brae or along the back street. The main contractors in Lochgilphead were the Carmichaels, a household name through Argyll and the Isles. Over the years they must have employed thousands of people. Jimmy Carmichael once said he had an Irishman as his ganger when wages were 10½d an hour. He said to Mr Carmichael, "Never mind the money just give me the authority." One ot the football greats was Neil Dewar who played for Scotland. On one occasion before the war he plaved in front of Adolf Hitler. The British Ambassador, Mr Henderson, promised the team a bottle of whisky if they would give the Nazi salute to Hitler. Nell and his mate from Third Lanark said they would consider it for five bottles! I don't think they got them. The French team called Neil Dewar 'De War' and he was certainly our hero in these days of the small wireless set. Up in the old attic where my uncle Sandy stayed,' the wireless was tuned in to Daventry and everytime it squealed he said, "That's the Germans at it again!" My Uncle Sandy and my father lost about £20,000 on the supply of salt herring to the German commission, along wdth the other herring curers in Ardrishaig, Tarbert and Campbeltown. No compensation or commission was ever given to these people, therefore I'm quite sure the German Government is due me two Mercedes cars at the present exchange rate.


I was working with the atorementioned Ncil Dewar on Crinan boats slip in 1962 when the Bloodhound came through the canal. The papers got hold of the story and the pressmen arrived over to ask us about the kipper gift to the Royal Family. Three ot us were standing together when the Daily Express reporter asked which one of us was Forsyth Hamilton. Mv neighbour said he was, but would only talk if given a five-gill bottle ot whisky, as he claimed the reporter was well paid by his editor to get a good story. Then Neil said he was Forsyth and would be willing to talk tor a half-bottle. Just then a door opened and Mr Wilson who owned the yard appeared and told the reporter who he was. The reporter asked him it he could verity which one of us was Forsyth Hamilton. He immediately pointed to me and put the poor man out of his misery. Neil's last great trip was sponsored by Crinan Hotel where he worked in the last days ot his life. They paid his tare to the World Cup. This was a marvellous gesture on their behalf and it was the last great talking point with Neil how much he enjoyed it. All his life he showed a great interest in young people and helped all the young clubs. Lochgilphead had many good players and I'm sure even today they would be able to have taken on any club. Jimmy Shankland played centre-half and was almost unbeatable. It you passed him you were likely to meet Mr Cameron and all the good forwards i.e. the Fletchers—they could field a team ot their own. Most of these men had nicknames otherwise you would not know who they were. There was always a great rivalry between Ardrishaig and Lochgilphead whenever the teams met, but even greater was when Lochgilphead met Tarbert. Tarbert is one of the most beautiful villages in Argyll. As one old Tarbert man said, "If you want to see flowers, come to Tarbert when the whins are in bloom!" And another old fisherman said, "I like to see all the gardens covered in snow, then they are all equal." Something in that. Ardrishaig being the centre with the pier and canal, had two daily boats going to Glasgow and two cargo boats. So you can see the amount of traffic that was going through the village. Many a person standing in the street has looked up and seen a large pole or mast of a big yacht sailing up or down the canal. It looked as though you were seeing things. Horses and carts, also lorry carts trundled up and down to Lochgilphead everyday, carting all the goods. One story concerns a lorry cart arriving from a firm in Glasgow to go and collect an organ a Lochgilphead lady had got for her daughter at two shillings a week. She had fallen down on the payments and they wanted it back, so the carter called on the lady and told her about the letter from Glasgow. She said, "It is a dreadful pity as the lassie has just learned to play When He Cometh. "Well," he replied, "she will need to practise When He Goeth for 7o'clock in the morning!" The Columba, the great Clyde paddle steamer, ran from the Clyde to Ardrishaig every day for 58 years. Some first-class machinery to keep going all that time. Many people must have travelled on the Columha and the lona in all these years of service. The locals could go to the pier with a can or bowl and get it filled with the best roast beef fat for 3d, and they used it as a spread instead of butter. In these far-off days nobody had faulty hearts, and everybody in the village would be eating salt herring or salt meat, peuchtie or saithe. All the new diseases have come with modern living. Anyway, the arrival of the Columba was a great event and it connected up with a little steam boat at the fourth lock that took you to Crinan at the other end of the canal. In the summer, you connected up with the Grenadier which took you to Oban, then from Oban to Fort William, then on through the Caledonian Canal to Inverness, cutting Scotland in half. Young men carried the passengers' luggage from the pier to the fourth lock, about a third of a mile. If you were lucky you got 2d or a wealthy man might have given 6d. The boys used to run along the bank following the Linnet as she steamed along the canal to catch the pennies that the passengers threw on their way to Millers Bridge at Lochgilphead. The canal people did not like this and they tried to discourage it, as they were afraid somebody might fall in the water. They also tried to discourage the sale of milk straight from the cow at Cairnbaan locks and even brought out a poster to the effect that it was wrong to sell milk to passengers. A photograph taken at the time of this poster has two ladies on it, mother and daughter. The daughter's son, grandson and great-grandsons and great-granddaughters are still living in the village and all the canal managers who were God in their time have all passed away. Many people have come to the village and think they are going to change everybody, it is the same everywhere, but I think in the end they go their way and we go ours. One old lady in the village said to me many years ago, "When you get to my age the years go by in fives." One boat built in Ardrishaig about 100 years ago was built of good old pitch pine. We bought it 14 years ago and it is moored at Crinan Bridge, sleeps six, has two cabins, galley and salon. She was built by the carpenters of the canal and is as sound in body as if she was built yesterday. We give the use of it to Guides, the Sunday School and the Youth


Fellowship, they all seem to enjoy a day on this fine old boat. All sorts of crafts have used the canal including Alan Villiers of sail-ship fame and two-man submarines used during the war to help sink the Tirpitz in the Norwegian fjords. English tourists coming to Argyll love to visit Inveraray Castle, not least for the great beauty of the setting of the castle and all the lovely rocky peaks surrounding it. If you are coming from Glasgow, you see the village before you see this lovely castle building; if you are coming from Oban or Fort William side you come through a large archway and immediately you are in Inveraray. My cousin, John Hamilton, was Secretary to the Duke of Argyll, the present Duke's father. The first time I met the present Duke was down at the kippering shed garden. I said, "Good afternoon. Sir, "then he told me he was the young Duke, so I said, "I'm pleased to meet you, your Grace." He had been down at the shed and lett two large salmon to be smoked. Mv father-in-law, Jock MacArthur, asked him who he was and he said, "I'm Argyll." Jock looked at him and was going to say. "I am Lord Lampton." I just arrived in time to stop him tor Jock thought he was )ust having him on. The Duke had a very bad fire in the castle and he asked everbodv to help, so I sent him up 50 pairs ot kippers to help with the sale thev ran in the grounds. Maybe only a small contribution, but it everybody helps and gives something, a little becomes a muckle, or a lot. The castle gives a lot to Argyll and so do the Duke and Duchess, long mav thev live in the castle. The Queen sent Margaret and myselt an invitation to the garden party at Holyrood House in Edinburgh. As mv oldest bov was ill at the time we were unable to attend, so we sent a note to apologise. The following year we received another invitation and this time we were able to go to Holyrood House. What a beautiful dav it was with all the ladies decked out in their finery and the men sporting new suits, many with their bowler hats. I think about 3,000 people were there that very memorable day. Looking at a large crowd like this is like looking at a sea of races. Suddenly out of the crowd came a man and his wife walking over to Margaret and myself. Who was this but Archie Paterson and his lady wife from Carradale, Argyll. He greeted us with, "My, it's good to see a kent face in a large crowd like this!" We carried on walking to the marquee to try the strawberry tarts and cream horns. The Queen looked radiant and seemed to be in great form as she went round all the people who were in wheelchairs and had a word with them all. Her bodyguards looked resplendent in the Archers uniform. If you have not been to this great gala you have really missed something in this life. However, I know you cannot buy a ticket to get in, you have to be invited. The aforementioned Archie Paterson is a nephew ot Dennis Macintosh whom I have known all my life. He was a fisherman, writer and plavnght and produced a play called Spindrift. Duncan MacRae was the main actor in this finishing story about the West Coast which I saw in the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow. Dennis's friend in the writing world was the lady who lives in Carradale House, Naomi Mitchison, or to give her full title. Lady Mitchison. Her husband was Lord Kettering, a great Labour MP, and a great help to the people of the West Coast. She called on me one day for kippers and it was Election Day. She said, "I hope you are not voting Tory today, Forsyth." So I said, "I'm voting Liberal," She said, "You are a damn site worse than all the Tories put together!" But we are still good friends and she sent me two lovely plants last October, with her daughter who had been up on holiday with her. Jim Callaghan and most of the Labour cabinet have been staying at Carradale House over the years. I wonder how many plots or plans have been started frorn these quiet parts of Argyll. I don't know what she will say when she hears I am writing all this story about Argyll and the fishing villages, but I feel if we do not get it down now it will all be lost. We lived with a man who was a century old; his father and grandfather were also born in the village. When Queen Victoria landed at the slip steps in Ardrishaig holding her infant son, they called to her to lift up the boy so that they could have a look at him. A century later we saw her great-granddaughter and great-grandson going through the canal to sail on the West Coast in the yacht Bloodhound. Neil MacEwan was born in the village about 92 years ago. His first job on leaving the school was building Scotnish House, with Carmichael's of Lochgilphead, where Stewart Hamilton, my uncle, was foreman. Neil and three others were staying in lodgings with an old lady in Tayvallich, and they all shared one bed. Neil slept in the middle and if you


wanted to turn you had to get out of bed and go back in again. The lodgings were at that time 6/6d a week and as they ate rabbit every day, by the end of the week they were looking for a ferret or a weasel to chase them out of them. After three weeks building this house, Neil cycled back to Ardrishaig where my father got him a job on one of the Clyde Carriers or screws as they were called. He was in charge of the pigeons which were released at daylight, telling the buyers in Greenock how many herring boxes they were carrying, so that transport could be arranged to take them from seaport to markets in Glasgow, Fairlie and Ayr. The pigeons had small canisters on their legs carrying the little message. Nowadays a lot of people overhear telephone messages and repeat news, but it must have been difficult to catch one of these pigeons. The great war came and Neil went into the Merchant Navy where he saw some action, being torpedoed and landed in Queenstown, Ireland. The boats he was on sailed from London to Cork and up the west side of Ireland, collecting cattle as they went and taking them back to the English markets. The west side is a stormy place, but Neil was glad when it was blowing because the Germans could not fire the torpedos with the terrible swell. After the war Neil came home and started again in the floating market, up and down the Clyde and over to the Isle of Man for a cargo of salt. When this finished he went as a fish buyer to Ayr where he worked for about 35 years. He came home from this and came to our small kippering shed for the last 13 years of his life. He enjoyed this period as he could come and go as he wished and we relished the stories he told. He had stood on Ardrishaig Pier and watched the men go away to the Boer War. He told me about these men and in the school they collected cigarette cards of the South African Generals Crongie de Wett. Neil MacEwan, although advanced in years was always willing to help. We painted the Sunday School Hall with the help of John McAulay and we also painted the Public Hall and the Library. On one occasion we went to the National Mod in Stirling and he enjoyed that day out. He also liked a flutter on the horses, and that dav he had a winner. My friend said to Neil that he was wasting his time putting money on horses and said that he would be better off drinking—you get full value for vour money with drink. Then he said he had been at the races at Ayr and the horse expert went over to this big horse, looked at its teeth then put his money on it. Well, it came in last. Neil said they would have been better offifthev had looked at its teet.'A clear case of foot and mouth ! Neil MacGregor was our local policeman at this time. Old Neil told him that his granny had made his first shirt. Neil's brother was Alex MacEwan, a fine man; he was an elder in the Parish Church and was the holder of the MM from the First War. His good lady is still alive and his daughter and son come to the village for the holidays. Some of the grandchildren are doctors—he would be proud of them today. My little verse would be : Most of us have reason to be thankful When people in our lives take time to share and let us know By special acts of kindness That we are in their thoughts and that they care. Never a Dull Day AN old crofter in Skve had an ill cow and atter 20 days the cow died. This was a terrible loss. almost like an uncle or aunt passing awav. The vet had been attending the cow, and every day he called, he carried a gallon tin of liquid with him. The dav the cow passed awav the crotter asked him what he had been treating the animal with up till it died. The vet said it was a gallon ot liquid paraffin to make its bowels move. He then said he would return the next day with the Sanitary Inspector to burv the cow in case ot any infection to the other animals. So the next day they duly arrived to bury the cow. They went to the byre but the beast had disappeared. Eventually they got a hold ot the crofter and asked him where the cow was. He told them he had dragged it up to the kitchen with the tractor and had put a good new wick in its backside, and as soon as he had burned the twenty gallons ot liquid parratin they could have it for burial ! Crossing a cow with a tortoise would be a marvellous thing as the cows would sleep all winter long and into the spring and we would not need to clean the byres. Nobody has been successful yet with this experiment. It you don't


get a tew laughs each day, life must be rather dull. Well. here is one ladv who never had a dull day, Mrs MacGlvnn, Union Street, Lochgilphead. She spent her life working to help others in every way possible. From hospitals. Red Cross, Erskine, Cancer, Eye Infirmary—you name it, she did something tor it. She was in the Wednesday Club at Ardrishaig tor years and was our dumpling maker. A fane tribute to her was paid when thev named the house at Kilmartin tor less gifted people after her—the Kate MacGlynn Holiday House. I think the prime person in this would be big John Maclean, as he was involved in this wonderful project which must be a great boon to the people who come trom all over the country. I said Big John; yes, big in every way, and a gentleman to the last. Argyll is rich in people who wish to help others and seek no glory for themselves. They have done to those, the least my brethren, you have done it to me. Alister Tear has been with me since 1932. They used to be called Mac Tear, but changed it to Tear so that they would confuse the folk who would be looking for them. Well that is their story and they are sticking to it. You will need to travel the country, and I don 'tknow what country, to find a more loyal friend and helpful fellow than Alister. If it's mechanical, he will spend all day trying to get it right; he never says die, even it it will not work. Isa, his wife, has made more pancakes than anybody I know. The house has been bursting at the seams. He even asked the Council for a house with an expanding end to let it out in the summertime. Alister and his brother Davie were at the fishing out ofMinard, where you 'd find some of the best men who ever stood in leather boots, Willie Cameron and his boat, the Britainia, the clan MacNabs, Crawfords, Campbells and Monroes. At Silver Craigs, the Campbells, MacEwans and Grahams were all men who could smell herring. One of the Grahams was so good at it that he was called the whale. This was before the wire for feeling it had a 4lb weight on the bottom and you could feel the herring hitting the wire. This was pre-echo days. All these men are now gone but all relatives are still with us. Neil Campbell is the harbour master at Montrose. I see him once a year. For many years we went with his mother to the National Mod and each year she said, "Forsyth, have you made the dumpling?" I used to say, "Can you not see the list on the bus with the weight of it !" Having made a dumpling for the show in Ardrishaig to compete against the real experts, Mina Hamilton, Mrs MacLarty, Mrs MacKechnie, I had the luck to come third. Going to the hall at night to collect the dumpling, the ticket was there, but no dumpling. Billy Jackson, my cousin's boy, along with four others had taken it over to Lawson's old lemonade works and boiled a pail of tea and sat and ate it ! We had taken over the old works to make it into a curing shed and kippering shed. Billy said that I only got third prize and should have got first as it was the best dumpling in the show. If I told you the other members of the tea party, who also agreed it was well worth eating, you would be surprised. One is a sea captain, one a local shop-keeper, another a painter, and the last I am sure will one day not far away be Prime Minister, so you see where you may land if you eat good Clootie Dumpling. Boats HAVING been a boy in Ardrishaig, my first love has been boats, be it sailing boats, punts, fishing boats or anything else that floats. One old man in the village had an old black tarred punt, which was held together with cement and cement tar in the bow, and it always had a new tea chest lid on the stern. We used to go out in it at night as he was an early bedder and we knew it would be sate to take his old boat. One day we were all down the lighthouse and a gentleman said to him, "Your old boat's done," Old John replied. "They last a long tune atrer they are done." It lasted out his lifetime, and that was all that was required. My first sail-boat was an old doublc-ender that had been carrying scrap round the islands and was based in Tobermory, Mull. Places and boats always crop up. She was owned by a Mr MacAllister at that time, who sold her to Mr H. Rodgers, of Ellarv, whom I bought her from. We had some repairs to do on her before we set sail. so old John Law, brother ot Barbara Law, who was a household name in the village, came over. He had been a carpenter in the old ships, and gave me a hand to get her ready. My old friend Colin Mitchell heard I had bought this boat and said he would sail her up to Cnnan with me. So thinking


this was a good plan, we set off on the Saturday morning trom Ellary. We caught the tide up the Sound of Jura and arrived sate in Cnnan Basin. On the Monday, I went to Cnnan with my father and he sat in the stern, and I pulled the 24-foot boat all the nine miles to Ardrishaig. He enjoyed this as he had not been down the canal for years. As this boat had no engine we fitted an oak bed in it and had the hole bored for the shaft. The engine was a 7/9 Kelvin—7/9 means the HP—seven on your paraffin or TVO tuel and nine on petrol, which at this time was 1/- a gallon. Colin Mitchell was our adviser and well he knew his boatbuilding and Angus and Tommy Campbell were engineers in Bergius Engines Co. in Dobbies Loan, Glasgow. Atter fitting the engine and putting the boat in the canal basin, we got it started up okav but in putting the engine in gear, we found it would only go in reverse, so what was the matter now ? Colin said that he thought we had the wrong propeller on the shatt but he knew a man in Tobermory, Mull, who had a right hand prop. Well we phoned him and he sold us the correct one for 30/-. When it arrived we beached the boat and put on the new one. When the tide came we tried her out and she went ahead, but only at half speed. Again problems. Angus Campbell came and had a look at it, pulled a hose off and away the old boat went with a bone in her teeth. We had fitted a ¾ inch hose instead of an 1 inch one and this was giving us back pressure on the engine. We never looked back after this. She went so good we went down to the Tarbert Regatta and out of 40 boats, we came third. My father enjoyed that day as he had a good dram with Willie Lang, another Tarbert worthy. He used to go into the jail in Tarbert just to keep the peace, fonfhe got any drink he went "dolally." So we left Tarbert and sailed back up the loch to Ardrishaig, thinking we had the best boat afloat; well, to us she was the best old hooker. I saw a fishing boat advertised in the Glasgow Herald that had been on tire in the Clyde. It was towed into Fairlie and put on MacMillan's slip where the insurance people cut three planks out to see the extent of the burn damage. She required three planks, at least, right in the middle of the bilge. I telephoned the insurance people and asked them how much they wanted for the boat. but they were very cagey about this. Like all sellers they tell you to read the small print and you would need a Philadelphia lawyer to understand it. I offered £300 for the boat as it sat at Fairlie—the engine was in some garage up in Glasgow and was in a reasonable state of repair. Closing date for the offers was the Friday. So that afternoon I phoned them up and asked how my offer stood. They said I had got the boat so my next problem was to get it repaired and towed to Ardnshaig. My good neighbour Duncan Ferguson. or Doddie as he was called, and my youngest brother John went down to Fairlie and had a good look at the damage. First we went to see the MacMillans who owned the yard and they told us anything we wanted or required to repair the boat, they would give us. This they duly did and inside 24 hours thev had the three planks cut from Scotch larch back in place. At the weekend two car loads of the local boys motored down to paint the boat's bottom and top sides from bow to stern. She just looked like new. Ronnie Johnston and Ewan Smith from Tarbert had a boat about the same size, 39-feet which is as near as you can get to a 40-footer, so they came down to Fairlie on the Monday and towed Quiet Waters up to Ardrishaig, where we put her in the canal basin and had the engine—66 h.p. Kelvin—installed. Big Jim McGeachy, or Rockall as he was called, was along with Ronnie and as he wanted to take over his own boat, Big Jim came with me as skipper of the boat, along with Jack McManus, a Belfast man, and Sweeney Johnston, who was also related to Big Jim. They had been everywhere and seen everything, and what they did not know about the fishing was not worth knowing. They had been travelling round Ireland and Big Jim had been mate aboard the new, or first Fairtray, which was the first experimental factory ship. We were working at the seine net, six coils a side, sometimes in the deep water seven coils, if we were trying for hake. These nets were at that time £26 from Stewart of Musselburgh, now they are £750-£800, so you need to be making money to pay for this gear. We were towing at this time with Duncan MacDougall who had the Charlotte A nne. He was very witty and had some great sayings, such as, "That 66 you have would not pull a herring off a plate!" Duncan did well at the fishing and had a new boat built at Dickies yard in Tarbert. He called her the Nancy Glen. It is sad to write that Duncan died several years ago still a young man. My own son Forsyth is married to his niece, Mary MacDougall. Mary's father was Archie MacDougall and his boat was the Boy Lorne. Archie was in the Kyles of Bute and got a full bag of cod, about 120 boxes. This must have been the biggest tow for a small boat around the Clyde. Men are towing now and if they get a lift of five to seven boxes they are looking at one another thinking, this isn't bad.


Archie was one of the happiest men, full of fun and great company. I remember him playing and singing at the first fishermen's dinner dance in the Tarbert Hall. It was a marvellous night, reported at the time to be £300 for the food and £600 for the liquid. Old Archie Kerr was the chairman, A. B. Stewart was sitting next to him as he was Secretary of the Clyde Fishermen's Association. His son Patrick is now the Chairman. I have been involved with Patrick on two or three legal occasions. My tug, the William White, was run down and damaged by the French, they did not want to know anything about me or the boat till I got fed up with six months waiting on the French Embassy in London. I then wrote directly to the President of France, M. Giscard D'Estang at his personal address and received a reply within a week. He was sorry the French seamen had torpedoed the Auld Alliance. The French Ambassador in London telephoned me to say I couldn't write to the President. So I told him I had already received a reply from him within one week, while he had been sitting in the Embassy in London for six months. The old boat, the Ark, was sunk in the canal by Caly BacBrayne's big steel boat, the Canna, while pushing the ice ahead of herself, and into the side of the Ark at Crinan Bridge. He damaged two locks that day going through and told one lock-keeper not to tell anybody. One problem was to lift the old Ark out of the canal by jacking her up out of the mud, which had not been disturbed in the 180 years it had lain there. The salvage inspector came and looked at it and said, "How on earth did you get that boat out of there ?" Well, Willie McCallum, the forestry engineer, helped us with the big simplex jack and Don Crawford, my cousin, also gave us assistance. I told the inspector, "The old way." He said, "What is that, Armstrong's Patent?" We borrowed two Simplex jacks that were sent over from the USA during the war. They are ratchet-jacks that lift 15 tons. They were used during the war on bombed buildings to lift floors that had collapsed on people during the bombings. Well, happy to say his report was good and we got settled up by Cal MacBrayne. I am sure if it had not been for the good work done by Patrick Stewart in this case, we would not have been so luckv. Patrick's father said to him: "Why does Forsyth not pick on somebody his own size for a change?" I bought a boat over in Ireland, Port Avogie to be exact, the Bluebell, owned at that time by Francis Beckett. I telephoned him and asked him about the boat. "Oh, it is the most beautiful boat in Ireland." Well, Francis, vou remind me of Robert Burns, our great national poet, who said he was married to the most beautiful woman in Scotland. Three Englishmen came to Ayr to look at her and they said to Burns, "We don't think she is the most beautiful woman in Scotland." Burns said, "You do not see her with my eyes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder !" Anyway, to get back to the Bluebell, My brother Dan and I went away to get the boat at Stranraer. We arrived over in Larne about 9am. On asking the way outside the pier, we were told the first bus was at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, so I asked which direction is Port Avogie. This postman pointed the way so we started walking. A blue van appeared in the distance so I put up my arm and the driver stopped. He was an Irish farmer and when we told him where we were headed, he said that he could take us about six miles. The old van was in such a bad way, you could see the road through the wings, that I asked him how she was going. Well, he set off at the clappers doing about 50 to 55 and said, "She is going like a bird." The next corner we came round, the road was full of sheep and how he got it stopped I don't know. Dan got the fright of his life and said that he had been in Greece with the Elas and the Elam, but this had beaten the lot. I was then told not to bloody well ask the farmer again how she was going, because she had already proved what she could do. Well, after six hair-raising miles we had to say goodbye to our first Irish friend. After Dan got out the back of the van, all covered in sheep wool and dust, he said, "No more lifts for me, we will walk to Port Avogie." We thanked our friend and asked him how far it was to our destination. He told us 18 miles, so off we set. Along came a lovely blue car which also stopped. I asked the driver if he was going our way. "Yes," he said, "Are you the boys that are coming over to see Francis Beckett's boat ?" I said, "Yes, how did you know that?" "Oh," he replied, "I am Mr Donavan, the fish salesman in Port Avogie and have been handling all Francis' fish landings and the wee Bluebell is a very good boat." So here was the best lift getting all the news about the fishing and all the boats in the Port. He took us to the harbour where Francis was waiting for us and we had a good look at the boat and a good trip outside


the harbour. We bought the boat in the afternoon, then we went up to Francis' sister's for our tea and met his people. I am sure vou could not have met better people anywhere and after all the years that have passed we still write to his sister. The Port Avogie men we met were all fishing people and were just starting the herring, so wanted all the news ot the Clyde and the Civde fishermen. A good number of them had been over at the Ballatrae Banks fishing the spent herring the year before. Well we caught the tide trom Port Avogie at 1 o 'clock on the Saturday and we sailed up the Coplands and way across for the Kintyre Coast, landing in Ardrishaig at 1.30am—12½ hours, not bad going for a wee six cylinder 86 h.p. Gardner. Any boat that arrives in a village is looked at and criticised, for good or bad. Too full in the shoulder, or too lean att, but you have just got to listen and go your own wav. Nobody has written a book on how a boat tows through the tide or how she will tow with the tide. If you are towing through mud with the first three coils, a 66 h.p. engine is sticking its tongue out, and we found the 86 h.p. Gardner was not any better than the old Kelvin, but it ran a lot quieter and was a great boon on fuel consumption. These beautitui engines are known as the Rolls Royce of the sea. We now have Volvos and Cats and thev seem to be very reliable engines. A journey ot a thousand miles starts with a single step; the fishing is just the same, from a small beginning things start to grow. Nobody ever went to the fishing and became a millionaire, but it is a way of life and a way of life nobody else ever seems to understand. Women think at times you are glad to get away from them and children only seeing you once a week, think you are a stranger who gives them money on a Saturday. What effect this fishing life has on the youth and young people left at home, I'm not sure, but it puts a terrible strain on the mother, who has to be mother and father to the family. "Success is marvellous, failure is an orphan." The old saving is, success has a thousand parents for everybody wants to say they helped you on your way. It is very similar to passing an exam, people are proud and pleased with your achievements. The fishing is the most humiliating job one man can have, one boat can be full of herring and the other boats beside have nothing. Lochgilphead had a number of fishing boats moored downside the Clock Lodge, but most of these boats were sold off about 1928 to 1930. One boat, the Peril, was owned by Mr MacKellar, who in his day was a very successful fisherman. The Sinclairs also had boats up to 1940. On one occasion they lost all their gear and my tather's uncles gave them some of their drift nets and trawl. or ring nets. These men were Kings of the Clyde for about five years with the borrowed gear. They were so successful that they made a song or poem about them. It went something like this : "For I've a boat, and I've a trawl, and I'm as good as Jimmer and Coll". I suppose Jimmer and Coll would be the top dogs about Ardrishaig at that time. Followed by Angus Law, Mr Bruce, Big Archie McFarlane, Red Bob, Black Bob and Jock-a-Tar who was Mr MacVicar, a very happy big man. The MacGregors, Mitchells, MacAllisters, MacEwans and MacBraynes were all the other families that were connected with the fishing. All these men wore leather knee boots and in the early hours of the morning you could hear these men walking to the fisher-row or going up the big lane on their wav home. They usually carried a cran basket with tow or three dozen herring for all the people beside them. It was share all at that time. Once people get on a little in this life the sharing stops and greed creeps in, everything they have is theirs. Having spent 5½ years in the services and seeing how lads share all they have with you and then arriving back in Civvy Street, when you see the meanies it makes you think. Christ started his ministry with the fishermen. How wise he was and at this late date people will find out that thev are still the people who will share with you. The Royal Wedding was a marvellous event so I decided to build a stone boat in the garden. It was a model of the fishing boats that were built here in Ardnshaig by the firm of Donald and Archie Munro. The boat is 19 ft long by 7 ft wide. They were called line boats because when the men finished with the herring, they took up line fishing in the spring. Hope springs eternal, every spring we are always hoping we shall have a good season, everybody says, behold next year. I suppose the gardeners and farmers say the same thing. Anvway, I asked around how to build a stone boat. As nobody here had ever built one I just made it my way. The Princess's mother has been to see this boat which weighs 10 tons. It is now filled with flowers and makes a great splash of colour all summer, so it commemorates the Royal Wedding and is a stone monument to the old Ardrishaig boatbuilders, a craft that is almost forgotten. We still have a boat-building yard in the village which is situated on the self-same slip where Queen Victoria landed all these years ago. The boat- builder is Gordon MacNair, a relative of my own and a first-class craftsman. People still


come to get repairs at his small yard. It would be sad to see all the old crafts disappear. He has one apprentice who is a great-grandson of old Angus Law, who in his day was the King of the Clyde, or Cork Catcher-in- Chief, a great fisherman. His brother is over in Canada where he went betore the First World War and returned in 1917 with the Canadian Artillery. He was feeling ill one night up at the front, and the doctor called up the line and asked him what was wrong. He said he thought he had a heavy chill or the 'flu, and was ordered to drink stuff which he had never tried before. An hour later he could have fought the entire German Army himself. Good stuff the old Army Rum! Neil still comes over from Canada every second year and is now about 97. Good stuff in the old soldiers. He spent his life working on the Canadian Railway, his wife was a Miss Duff from Ardrishaig and the family are still here in the village. Another local family had an old smack which was leaking so badly they decided to put her on fire. They sailed her over to the big harbour and duly set her alight. I heard she burned for three to four days and one lad said to his father, "She's a chuckle junk." So they became known as the chuckle junks in the village. Nicknames MOST people had nicknames otherwise nobody would ever know who they were. My own father was called Burke, because they were talking about Burke and Hare, the Edinburgh grave robbers. Neil, who stayed beside us, picked a needle ott the floor at school and said to the teacher, "Please Miss, I have found a niddle." As a result he was called Big Niddle all the days of his life. Red Bob was red-haired, Black Bob was very dark, Red Bob's son George is now one or the Police Superintendents in Melbourne. He was over here this year and hi' brother Archie has a good job in Canada. Black Bob's boy is down in Ayrshire and his sister Jean is up in Luing, Argyll. I see her when she is down visiting her mother who comes to the Club every week. Although well up in years she attends each Wednesday, come hail, rain or shine. Her friend is Mrs Russell whose husband gave a most marvellous service to the village, driving the mail van from Glasgow for about 43 years in all types of weather. Old Archie Campbell was the blacksmith, at his forge for 50 years. He trained a number of lads in the art of the blacksmith. Archie MacVicar, who was the County Yard Blacksmith tor many years, is now retired. Old Duggie Livingstone had the local Anchor Hotel and in his time was a favourite story teller. Mrs Gillies owned the Argyll Hotel for over 50 years. Harry Donald owned the Lome Hotel and Mrs Donald belonged to Tain. The Royal Hotel was owned by Bob Findlay who was a great horseman and founder member of the bowling green and tennis club. Old Willie MacCracken was the shoemaker and a great man with ponies and horses and all kinds ot birds, taking most of the prizes at the local show each year. Mr Strang was the local draper and JP, a fine figure of a man; his daughter Trissy was the teacher in the Junior School. All these people contributed in their way to the make up of the village. Old Heb King was another marvellous story teller. For instance, he had been sent by his boss in Edinburgh to the local asylum to repair a choked drain. When he put his head under the sink, a big woman in the asylum pulled his breeks down and skelped his backside. He never went back near the place again. One day in Edinburgh, he was carrying lead on his shoulder when the police stopped him and asked him where he worked, and how he came to be in possession of the lead. He told them who he was and where he worked. The police then contacted his boss who took a good drink. He said, "King, I've never heard of him, it's Queen Victoria who is on the throne! "His mates had to go to the police station and get him out. On his arrival at Ardrishaig, he came to work with Mr George Stewart, who was the local plumber—his son Saunders has followed in his footsteps. George was also a well-kent figure in the village. He played the organ in the Parish Church for over 40 years. On one occasion he played twice a day for 12 years without a single day off. His aunt was old Loll Bruce who had a wee shop at the end of the Fisher Row. She told me she had love letters tied in pink ribbon from my uncle Sandy who died a bachelor at 76. She married John Bruce and she told us they went to Tayvillich for their honeymoon. All was going well, but it was a stable door on this old place so they opened it to let in some air. Suddenly a horse put its head through the top of the door and let out a large neigh, or snort, nearly killing them with fright. Some people had parties even in those days, but one party was salt herring and potatoes followed by a dumpling. What better fare can you get then that ? On the pier at Ardrishaig, we had a number of local worthies. A lady asked one, "What time does the boat sail today?" "Oh," he said, "a quarter to two, but if you are here by 1.45 you will be in plenty of time !"


The Maids of Bute are rocks in the Kyles and when you sail through you will see the maids all white washed and spick and span. They are painted each spring. They were tormenting one of the workers about the Maids, saying that they had a letter from one of them the other week. He also said about death; "We will all be there if we are spared !" At this time the cargo boats brought bricks in boxes that were slung ashore and had to be emptied by hand. Old Walter MacEwan would put four or five pennies in one or an odd sixpence in others. Then they went away for lunch. On their return all the boxes would be emptied and ready for the cargo boat coming back at 9 o'clock in the evening. My father's shop was on the south side of the village and next door was a small shop owned by Mrs Jessie MacVicar. This was a small sweet shop, but the quality was the best in the country. She opened about 9.15 each morning and would still be in the shop at 9.15 at night. Saturday nights she even stayed open until 11.30; this was a service second to none. Everybody missed this shop as it was a landmark, or a beacon in the darkness to many. We shall not see her likes again. The Parish Church in Ardrishaig is 125 years old. In 1900 the Elders and the Minister decided to put two new wings on it. At that time the paddle-steamers were calling daily at Ardrishaig, so they called the two new wings the "Paddle Boxes." When vou get a name like this tagged on to you, it is difficult to forget it. This new generation doesn't seem to know about it, at least, I have never heard them speak about it. Yes, the church is a lovely old building, so if you are ever here come and see it as it is open daily and is well worth a visit, even if it is only to see the terrazzo floor. The white ensign on the wall was presented to the then minister of the Parish, Rev Stanley White, trom the trigate, Lochfyne that saw service in the Battle ot the Atlantic, 1945. Another Ardnshaig man, well worth a mention, was Mr Coll Jackson, who served in the marines in the last war. He was the local coal merchant, as was his father before him. He was on the hall committee, AVIA, and Masonic Lodge secretary for 30 vears. I went through as an Elder in the church the same day as Coll, who was married to my cousin, Jeannie, and kept open house. Being a local man, he was a very affable and kindly host and was educated at Fette? College, Edinburgh. I remember him in the local drama group and how he ad-libbed, saying things that were not in the script. He saw a wedding on television and said, "I never saw a smile on anybody's face. Just the opposite to me the day I got married, I laughed all dav. Just as well because I haven't had many laughs since. I paid the Registrar 2/6d but he felt sorry tor me—he gave me 1/6 back !' He was with us in the Wednesday Club and we had "What does the Team Think." One question on the paper was: "Is it true that a baby born with a moustache, tickled the mother to death ?" He said, "No my brother was born with a full beard and my mother wasn't tickled at all." He was a well-known Oban Times local correspondent and a member of Argyll Countv Council. We miss this local character as he was also a leading light at all the political meetings. He said a woman in the village said to Mr MacQuiston, who had been talking in the village, "If I was married to a man like you I would poison you." To which he replied, "If I was married to a thine like you, I would gladly take it !" Coll, at a Hall Committee meeting, applied for a late night licence. As this had been going on tor some years, I asked him why they needed a licence tili 2.00am. He replied, "It is in the interest of education !" The farmer above the village was a Mr Duncan MacKechnie. He ran the farm and the local ash cart, which in my youth was a cart. His wife, Maggie ran the dairy and the local WRI. She was chairwoman, for many, many years. On arriving a little late, she would say the bull ran away or the cockerel chased the hens down to the midden and there was never a hen born but it died in debt. She was also a leading baker and collected cups and medals every year at the local shows. Her likes will not be seen again. One lady asked if the Rural could have a demonstration on the "Purification of the Skin" by Yardleys,instead of the usual dumpling demonstration. Maggie said, "I've never heard the likes of it, wc'lljust settle for a demonstration from Singers Machines of Clydebank." Needless to say she won the day. On the passing of these great people, the villages are saddened and the world is a much poorer place without them. Old Bell Douglas lived in the Holy Land. This was a building next to Dawson's Land and a burn ran between them which they called the River Jordan. Bell said, "It might be the Holy Land, but it is the Cursed People." She was at the herring gutting for many years and the local lads packed them for her.


Another lady who did similar work was Mrs Hatton from Lochgilphead, She had a big family other own and they used to arrive down the back bank of the canal on bikes to help this lady pack the herring. She belonged to good old Campbeltown, Argyll. I read these days of bits of boys attacking old ladies. No boy would have tried this on Mrs Hatton. Her family are still here in Lochgilphead and are all well-respected folk, she made a goodjob of bringing them up. The big families of the Fletchers are also well-respected in both villages and are footballers and nurses. What would the villages have done without these good folk ? I have not mentioned the MacLauchlans, which is an old Mid Argyll name, both in fishing and farming. Their family seat is at Strathlachlan where resides MacLauchlan of MacLauchlan of Castle Lauchlan of Lauchlan, Strachur, Argyll. Now if you can say that you are doing well. I was at a Burns Supper the other night run by the ladies of the Church, the good old Women's Guild. What a marvellous night! The main speakers were Mr Smith, followed by our own Mrs Burns. Mr Smith said Burns' people left Argyll and went to Ayr and I see by the Oban Times today this was so; whereas we left Ayr and came to Argyll. It seems they had been farmer up at Taynuilt. What a marvellous man and gifted poet, "To err is only human. To forgive is divine." These words must be the most marvellous words ever written. His love songs and poems have even got through to the Russians. One Burns story I liked was when he was invited over to Ireland to see the great Irish poet, the great Barney Magee. On the deck of the boat stood Robert Burns, on the quayside stood Barney Magee. Barney said to Burns, "I know by the style of your hair and the cur of your coat you're Robert Burns from the old town of Ayr." Burns replied; You're on the land and I'm on the sea, and by the size of your gubb you're the bold Barney Magee. The story goes about an old priest who was out walking in the forest, he had walked away from the Fort Augustus Monastery and got lost in the dark. Seeing a light in a house he knocked on the door which was opened by an old man. Explaining his plight and the weather worsening, he was welcomed in to rest. He hoped the others at the Abbey would miss him and come and find him. As he sat at the fire in the old folks' cottage nobody came to get him so he was offered a bed up in the loft. He duly went up to bed with his small candle, said his prayers before going to bed and looked up and saw a beautiful painting of his Holiness the Pope hanging on the wall. He had a good look at it and could not believe it, the old couple were not rich by anv means and it must have cos' them many pounds to buv it. He was so impressed he could not sleep. In the morning, when he came down to get his breakfast, he mentioned to the old ladv and her husband about the lovely painting of His Holiness the Pope hanging in the loft, saying it must have cost them nearly a life savings to buy it. The old man was so taken aback with what he told them that he asked him if he would repeat what he had said. "I've never seen such a beautiful piece of work. You must have spent your whole savings on this beautiful painting of the Pope hanging up in the attic". The old man said: "Wait till I get the rotten little Jew-boy who sold me that painting, as he said it was Robbie Burns in his full Masonic Rig !" Dull November's surly blast Lays fields and Forest bare As I wander forth along the hanks of Ayr. How apt and expressive these words are. People of all nations have been talking about Burns and will go on talking into the next century. Looking at all his marvellous work, it seems so long ago, it is like looking into a very dark pool or trying to fathom the great depths of Loch Fyne, 1,000 feet deep, where men have sailed and fished but have never seen the bottom, no' never will. We are like small specks on an ocean of time, looking back when it is all over seems more like a dream. Two patients who spent 25 years in a mental institution were going up before the parole board. They were wondering what they would be asked and if they could answer the questions correctly. So the great day of the Board arrived. The first tellow was called in and they asked him a lot of general questions. Then they said : "Everybody outside is very different from when you came in. Cars, lorries and buses are on the roads and you have to be very careful you do not get knocked down. especially if you are trying to cross the road. What would happen to you if you lost an eye ?" "Oh, I would be partly blind" "What if you lost the other eye ?" "Oh," he said, "I would be totally blind."


He came out and told the other patient what they asked him. "Oh, the asked about the nurses and the food and my relationship with the staff, then they told me about cars, lorries and buses, and how difficult it was to get across the road. Then they asked me about losing an eye, then the other eye." "So what did you tell them ?" "I told them I would be totally blind." "Do you think we will get out ?" "Well it all depends on us getting across the roads without getting knocked down." The second patient was then called in and they asked him nearly all the same questions. They told him they had his interests at heart and wanted to make sure he was in a reasonable state of mind to face the traffic on the roads and to be able to look after himself. The panel said, "If you were involved in an accident and you lost an ear, what would happen to you ?" "Oh," he said, "I would be partly blind." "If you lost the other ear, what would happen to you ?" "Oh, " said the patient, "I would be totally blind." "How do you make that out?" asked the panel. "Well," he said, "I would have nothing to hold my bunnet up." A minister was sitting outside a mental hospital with a wheel off his car. He had put the four nuts from the car inside the wheel cap and when he tipped it over all the nuts fell down the drain so he didn't know what to do. Two patients were looking at him and he told them of his plight. They said, "Don't worry. Take one nut off each wheel and you will be able to go to the nearest garage which is only a mile from the hospital. The minister did as they told him and he expressed his thanks to the two patients, saying he would never have thought of that. They replied: "We might be in here for being daft, but we are certainly not silly." My neighbour has just come in and told me he awakened at 4.00am. As it was so cold he thought he was in a mortuary, but he looked round and couldn't see any bodies so he decided to make a cup of tea to bring his body back to normal. He thought where he is going, there would have been a fire and a shovel. Fishing FINDING a small article in the local paper today, the local archivist is asking, "Did men go to fish herring at Loch Caolisport up Inverneill hill and down the other side to Achahoish?" Yes, thev went to fish there and when they did they camped on the shore beside the Lodge Cottage, where Aggie Galbraith and her brother stayed for over 55 years. The small line boats were taken over in horse lorries and the herrings were taken back in carts. Thev also gathered whelks while they were over there. Peter Hamilton, Stewart Hamilton and Stuart MacAllister were some of my people who were over at this fishing at Loch Caolisport. The people over there supplied them with scones, milk, eggs and vegetables. I heard this 60 years ago. If my father was living he would be 115 years, so we lived with a man who could remember a century back from now, and they knew all the history of the fishing and where the men went to work. In the 1930s the famous fishermen, Willie and Tommy Jackson, would go round from Tarbert in a hired car to look at the Loch Caolisport for appearance, meaning gulls or Solan Geese diving on the herring. They would telephone on the Sunday night and say, "The appearance is good, Dan, how many baskets will you take?" They would leave Tarbert at 4 o'clock for the canal opening. At 6 o'clock they sailed straight through and by 5 o'clock they had the two boats full of herring. They were a small class of herring, about 650 to the basket. I remember we had 650 baskets in the old gutting shed, and it was three days before they were gutted. They came down the canal with the herring and unloaded them on the canal. Another man who did this fishing was a famous Tarbert man in his day, Archie Kerr. When no herring were about, Archie and his crew (Jackie Sinclair was with him) worked at the lines, and the cod nets. When this finished they had a large punt which they pulled behind the fishing boat, called the Jessie. They went down to near Skipness and loaded the punt with gravel then returned to the Jessie to discharge. After they had loaded 35 tons of gravel they went to the Clyde and put it ashore. Not many people would ever try to do this hard, back-breaking job. Archie and his sons worked hard, not a lazy inch in them. Another famous fishing family were the Johnsons. They were the "King-Pins," as people here say when you are successful at the fishing. They knew the seasons and the herring well as they belonged to Tarbert. The ring net started about 1840-1850 in Ardrishaig and Tarbert. In these two places men were trying to get a better method of fishing, or a quicker method of catching herring legally in 1866. Five policemen were stationed at Tarbert to control the ring net trade. The government of the day built a barracks at Tarbert for the military to prosecute the fishing community, as the ring net was thought to be the death of the herring. Well, it was fished for 100 years and did not kill all the herring.


An inquiry held at Tarbert in 1850 decided that the ring net was illegal after Mr McDougall from Ardrishaig was shot dead by the fishing patrol boat Jackall at Otter Ferry, at the entrance to Loch Fyne. As I have said before, if this had been a miner they would have sunk the boat. Things got so bad at this time that they were looked on as the "Gestapo." In 1853 the then Duke of Argyll arranged for a government commission which was held three years later in 1856, and this time the fishermen won the day and the ring net was made legal. These nets were improved and so were the boats and the catching powers. However, the drift nets were also continued. All the curers were keen on the drift net herring as in this method the fish are caught by the gills. As they struggle in the nets they get red noses, or, as they called them, red nebs, and having lost their blood the flesh is clean and white and they are easier cured. If the herring are continuously towed the blood is all through the body. The flesh is then soft and very difficult to cure. In this deep freeze age, nobody would dream of putting a chicken in the freezer without cleaning it, and fish are just the same; the cleaner you get them the better. Before the herring are sold, the men produce a sample, which is kept on the sample board. All the herring come ashore for the buyer who has bought them and if the herring are not up to the sample you can complain to the fish salesman, or whoever is appointed arbitrator, and he will decide if the sample is representative of the herring coming ashore. Many arguments have taken place over the years about the samples. The saying is, "He has thrown them up." Some buyers try to say they are not up to standard in the hope they go back to the sale (or the bell as they call it), in order to get them for 5/-, 10/- a cran less. All the tricks have been tried to get the herring at a cheaper rate. Donald MacDougall used to say, "That team wrote the book of tricks!" During the last war the herring were sold at a controlled price and everybody got a share of what was landed. In the earlier days of the fishing it was not only the catching of the herring that was the problem, it was the selling of the catch. They would be sold only at the local market which had a very restricted outlet. As the 1850s arrived, trains were starting to transport all goods, but the Duke of Argyll at that time did not let the railway come along Loch Fyne side or Loch Awe side, and if you have goods you must be able to sell them. The men at the fishing worked hard, at a cold, wet, smelly job and even when they came home little comfort awaited. Not even a hot bath. Some hadn't even water in the houses, as the great Industrial Revolution did not reach these parts. Men had been known to send herring away from Ardrishaig and Tarbert, on the steamers that started in the 1860s and 70s, only to get a blue ticket back, even though the herring had made £1.00 a box in the Glasgow market. This ticket meant the herring were condemned unfit to eat. Curers have known of men going to the market and having seen their own herring sold at a £1.00 a box and still getting a blue ticket. Men, women and children who were depending on a small money return often went without. At least men selling locally knew what they were getting as they stood at the bell till their herring were sold, but ifyou sent them away it was as the old saying goes, "Ta, ta, Bella." It is hard to tell how long this period lasted that men were conned by buyers. One Glasgow merchant told my father, when he was here on holiday, the best day he ever had was sitting at the telephone in Glasgow selling herring to people in Manchester. He made £3,000 that day. Men did not know what they had made as there were no telephones in Tarbert or Ardrishaig. However, things improved and they soon got telegrams informing them of the market price. At the beginning of the first war, 1914, prices improved but they fell away again after the war was over. The markets were again depleted up to the 1930s when the Daily Record took up the fishing story and they called the situation at that time "The Daily Record Herring!" They got Harry Lauder, who had himself been to the fishing port of Tarbert and had been talking to the men about the situation, to take it up. I saw pictures of him on the pier at Greenock and Rothesay asking people to support the sale of herring. These were pre-TV days and I'm sure the Daily Record did a power of good to help the fishermen's case. A little bit of advertising does no one any harm. The paper has always been a supporting influence to the people in Scotland. "Help the Underdog.' The old story goes about a big yacht coming up alongside Dan, in the Kyles, and as it was very foggy they called him up and asked for a compass course for Rothesay. Dan replied that he was very sorry, but his compass was away at the blacksmiths for new shoes that week. On another occasion he was up fishing in Loch Long and everybody had been put off the Loch by a torpedo boat. Dan sailed past just as a torpedo shot past him. He said: "The shape of alarm is on these damn things !"


In 1959 I was in the running with the Sunday Mail as the perfect husband ! Well, you can guess the amount ot bother I got into with this title. Down at Tarbert, Scattan, as he was called, said: "My God. Forsyth, you've no idea the trouble we have got into since vou got this title. We have to take out the dog for a walk, wash dishes, clean the brass etc. What kind of life is this to lead !" I never won the title but the folks at the fishing never let it die, and in fact I still hear some ot them say, "There he is, the Perfect Husband." Well, I suppose being married for 36 years and still together is a compliment these days. I'm blind in one eye, having been shot in the face, so I don't see all that is going on. My wife is deaf in one ear, so she is not hearing all that is going on. So we have a good relationship. We wear coloured glasses and I'm sure this helps to let us see each other, and other things in a better light. Rose-coloured spectacles should be worn by all and never taken off; as Burns said, "To see ourselves as others see us." Would we not get a shock? As you get older, people say to you: how you have changed, little thinking they have changed themselves. W^hen women are voung they put on the powder to hide their blushes, later on they put it on to fill in the cracks! Good looks and youth fade as you get older, but a happy smile and cheery disposition never fade. I visit people in hospital—some in their middle 80s some over 90—and their good natures still make them look great, as does the help the happy dedicated nurses give them. Ardfenaig, where the elderly stay, was owned by the King of the Coco Islands. My father bought his piano at the sale. The house was then taken over by Colonel Lamont, and he had it tor many years. His housekeeper was Miss Moir, who was very kind to all the village boys. When the Hydro Board were putting up the electricity poles, one had to go in his ground. He didn't want a pole or lines in his ground, so he said, " If you must put it on my ground, I will select the place on one condition. You will not be able to blast." He showed the men where the pole was to go, and it was right in the middle of a large shelf of rock. The men were 10 days cutting the rock to get the pole into the ground. Mr MacKellar told me this story 35 years ago, when we were putting a road in to my house at Brenfield. Everybody called him Kelly. He was a great footballer in his day and his wife was a great little woman, we called her Wee Polly—she papered houses, looked after the sick, dug gardens, gutted herring and was a great church-goer—she was a real powerhouse. The next man to be in the house was Commander Dundas—one of the survivors of the ill-fated, H.M.S. Hood, sunk by the mighty Bismark. He and two other lads were the only three survivors from this mighty ship, that showed the flag all over the world for this country. It was said that when the Hood was sunk, Churchill turned white, and I'm sure "Winnie" was not the only man that went that colour. Commander Dundas kept minks on his small estate and we supplied him with all the fish offal, herring roes and smelts. He was one of the nicest men you could meet. When the Hood was struck, he was up on one of the top turrets at the moment of impact when the big shell landed in the magazine. You can just imagine the blast when this happened and the great ship disappeared in two minutes. He landed in the water along with the other men, and they were lucky to be picked up as the suction from a boat this size going down is enough to pull men and lifeboats to the bottom. Nobody who has ever experienced anything like this is ever the same again. This fine gentleman was left a farm and other property by an uncle in Perthshire and he left Ardrishaig with a great reluctance to go and take over this property. He was up there a number of years when he was killed in his Landrover up at the Glencoe-Tyndrum road end. Gardens WELL, here we have a great bunch of men, the gardeners. Starting with old Jimmy Scott, who was Archie Kenneth's mother's gardener. He was a great tellow and was our neighbour for years. Donald Cameron was gardener in the canal gardens after having served his time in the beautiful grounds of Skipness Castle. I attended the opening of the Scottish Competitions in the Kelvin Hall with him. This was a great day out and Donald loved it as he could see the best of vegetables and dahlias and chrysanthemums. All things that belonged to the country, such as honey, were on display there. He was in need of a house and as luck would have it one came my way. An old man died in the village and left his house to a lady. She telephoned me and said that if I paid his debts I could have the house. Well, these amounted to £150, so Donald was able to get the house for this money plus lawyer's expenses. Davie Hannah was the gardener at Poltalloch before moving to Stonefield Castle where he worked for 30 years. He was awarded the highest honours from the Royal Horticultural Society for his work in the field of rhododendrons. We


have lost these good friends but their memory still lingers on. Donald MacFarlane and Peter Campbell were the Sweet-pea champions. You would need to be good to beat these dedicated men—not only as gardeners, for they were also the bowling green champions for years. Andy MacMillan and his brother-in-law from Tayinloan were the leek and onion champs at Tarbert show, year in, year out. The man who held the title of professional and amateur champion of Scotland for 23 years was James Shilady, who was gardener to Colonel Stirling over at Gargunnock, and also to his daughter. This man must have been best vegetable gardener this century. My friends Donald Cameron and Davie Hannah met him at Gargunnock and were greatly impressed with all he showed them. All these men with their years of experience were a delight to know. Big Duncan MacFarlane was gardener to Miss Una and Miss Olive Campbell at Achnacraig. Neil Graham was gardener at Inverneill for 50 years, as was his father and grandfather before him. This garden is 3½ acres and as most of this was dug every Spring, Neil had his work cut out for him. Dugald MacKellar also worked there and cycled up and down to the gardens every day. Mr Kenneth's gardens at Oakfield were worked by Duncan Harvey and his father. The last time I saw Duncan was in the breakfast queue at the RAF at Hoylake in March 1942. He was heading for India and I was off to Burma. I still keep in touch with his nephew. Duncan and John MacGregor were in the same Oakfield garden; Duncan's wife was a Morrison and her father was gardener at Colonel Greenfield's big garden. Big Ted Hatton was gardener in Tigh Ruda. He had been in the Coldstream Guards during the First World War. He was a great gardener and producer some marvellous stuff up at Tigh Ruda. He planted the garden with rhododendrons and they are still a wonderful sight today, 36 years on. The gardens at the Royal Hotel were worked by Calum Weir, who had them in beautiful condition. His son Donald and I were in the same class and his other son Alex has followed in his father's footsteps and has won all sorts of prizes here at Ardrishaig. Mrs Weir competed at the Hallowe'en parades for years and was a great lady. Bobby Summers was also in Oakfield Gardens. I am sad to hear that world-famous Crarae Glen Gardens on the shores of our beautiful Loch Fyne are in financial trouble. They were created by Sir George Campbell over the last 60 years. These gardens with their "Himalayan setting, magnificent rhododendrons and azaleas, are a sight to behold. One of the head gardeners was my friend big John MacArthur who belonged to Kilmartin. He and his brother Archie were sent by Sir lan Malcolm of Poltalloch to train in Buckingham Palace Gardens, the Royal Gardens. Big John was a lovely man and had been a friend of my father before me; I just grew up with him. He was a quiet gentleman who loved the gardens and all that was created by his boss. He married the local nurse and they lived happily by the loch-side. His brother worked at the gardens in the big house at Poltalloch and they both died within a short time of each other. I asked his widow if I could help clear the house and the furniture for her. So, we duly did this and gave all the goods away with the exception of two things: a letter from the King who welcomed them home from the 1914-18 war and their war medals. I took them along to the Sunday School and let the boys and girls see these old papers and medals from the past. Argyll is the poorer for the loss of these great men who worked the gardens and the soil, for what they have planted is now our heritage, and our lives have been brightened with the blossom of their flowers. Crarae Glen has been handed over to the National Trust. This year I am going to the Chelsea Flower Show, the great English show in the south. I am sure as I look at the cascade of brilliant blooms I shall think of all my old pals here at Ardrishaig. Lochgilphead Shops of the Past Butchers—Jock Todd, Willie Todd. The kids in Lochgilphead used to sing, "Jock Todd, Jock Todd, the rabbits are running accross the road." A. Ferguson along Lochnell Street, along with Hugh Ferguson, another old worthy, around Lochgilphead. A. Ferguson's grandson is now the butcher in Ardrishaig while Hugh's grandson is in Lochgilphead. Tom Adair and Alex Fleming are two well-known names around these parts for the last 65 years. Alex's butcher shop is being carried on by Sandy Cameron, his grandson, and I'm sure he would be proud of this boy. Ironmongers—Coultart and MacBrayne were in the square. MacBrayne's business is still being carried on in the same shop by some of his relations. Dishes and Chinaware—The Newtons. Fruit and Vegetables—Annie MacGregor and her aunt. Mrs Duffy and her son Duncan. Bakers—MacDonald's, tamous for their bread and fruit cake. Grocer—Smith's, also Mr McCallum, where Spar was taken over by John Mitchell. Chemist—Govan, who emigrated to Australia. Jack the chemist near MacBrayne's the draper. Tailor—Sandy Crawford: when he moved, I bought two of his windows.


Tearoom—Mr Kemp and his wite, before he retired to the Free Church Manse in Tayvallich. Tearoom—The Lavender Tearoom with Miss Howett. Cycles and Wireless—Willie Holden. Draper—Eddie McCallum who sold gent's caps at 2/6d. You won't get much of a bunnet these days for 12½p McFarland ! Also Stirling who travelled about Argyll selling clothes of all kinds. Squeak Office—Mr Harvey, where the top Spar is today. Jeweller—Mr Wilkinson, Argyll Street beside the Stag Hotel Crawford, where the chemist shop now is in the square. Mr P. Fary, Shoe shop—McCracken's now run by Mr Crawtord and his good lady. Mr and Mrs McLevin, shoes and dressing, a lovely old shop. Mr McGregor, agent for good footwear. Plumbers—Mr Bob McKirdy; his sons are still working as plumbers and know every tap and water stand pipe in Lochgilphead. Tombstones—Gray's; he said, "Buv one, they will last forever!" Mr MacGregor sold tombstones. Ladies' Wear—Nan MacTavish ot Castleton. Miss Crawford and Maggie Crawtord in the front street. Tobacconist—Crawford MacAlpme, in choirs all his life. His wife was a Miss Beaton, teacher in Ardrishaig school before she married. Saddler—Mr Donald McLean, who was also sanitary inspector and 'whipper-in' for the school; also latterly ran the employment exchange. Painter—Lambert. These coats of paint would last for years. Sweets—Phemie Lang. Gasworks—Mr Downie where you could get five gallons of tar for 2/6d, What would the planners say to this in the middle of Lochgilphead today. I wonder ? Coalyard—Bella McLauchlan could be seen any day hurling a barra-load. Allan Thompson and his father were in the square. Willie Bell beside the Bank of Scotland; he was taken over by Jimmy MacWhirter, but it is now Harry Ross's yard. Donnie MacLullich was in the middle of Union Street and it is still there now. Pictures—Mr McLulloch, After the 1938 Empire Exhibition Mr John Brodie had the new cinema but it was operated by his daughter Mrs Watson until recently. This cinema was a great success at the Glasgow Empire Exhibition. Where the TSB is in the back street was the chapel and that was run by Father Collins. At the top of the street is the big Church of Scotland where Mr R. C. Robertson was the minister for 50 years. He said to Father Collins one day, "It is dreadful, this oath of celibacy. You do not have a wife. "The Father replied, "You go home to your Judy and I go home to my Punch." Annie Tate looked after the RCR. MacBrayne the draper was a brother ot MacBrayne the ironmonger. I believe both belonged to Ardrishaig. They had a brother who ran MacKinney and Rafferty, fish and game business in the Glasgow fish market. Another shoe and repair shop was Duncan Johnstone's; he was a great Rangers supporter. He wanted to know what team I supported, so I told him Queen of the South. He told me I must be taking leave of my senses. I said, "Duncan, did you hear about the old lady who went to watch a football match. When she saw them all running about chasing the ball she said, 'Would it not be better to give the boys a ball each !" The family of these good people are all gone but one sister, whom I see on Friday night up in the rest home at Duncan. She is being well cared for by these good lassies who are employed as nurses. There were, by the records, more Bruce families in Ardrishaig than any other name. When I was a boy, a man called King Robert Bruce, stayed in a small house up at Colonel Henderson's. He could be seen everyday fishing with his small boat out at the Black Buoy. Everybody said at that time we have three Kings: the King on the throne. King Robert Bruce and Heb King, the plumber. We also had five Dukes: the Duke of Argyll; old Dan Duke; Robbie Duke; Angus Duke and young Dan Duke. So Ardrishaig was a notable place at that nine. The roadmen were old Dan Keller (I am now staying in his old house), big Dochy Carmichael and Jimmy MacSporran. When old Dan would be cleaning up after the horses had passed he used to say, "It's a God's blessing these cars just have exhausts !" Old James Jackson and Dan MacLauchlan were the pier porters and, sometimes Alex Milne, known to us as the grinder. He had been an engineer in the old steam boats that were the floating market and he always wore a sweat rag round his neck. Annie Ginty stayed in the bottom flat of Dickson's land. Next door was Aggie Burnett, who had the biggest clothes mangle I have ever seen. Old Vorack Dawson also stayed there, in the place I was born, and she belonged to Loch Boisdale. On the day she died she had £180 stuffed in her stocking. My mother helped the nurse to dress her before she went to Achnabreck Cemetery.


Donnie MacMillan had a butcher's shop in the middle of the village. It was the Poltalloch Produce Society. Many a night we played cards in the back of his old Ford van, parked beside Peter MacGregor's garage. Jim MacGregor was one of the postmen. He also played in the local band during and after the First World War. He played the fiddle, George Stuart, the plumber, played the piano and Freddie Boni, the Italian, played the accordion, while Sandy MacNab played the drums. These bandsmen were followed by Archie MacGilp, Donnie Munro, Ian Mitchell and Hughie Mitchell who was in the Argylls and disappeared at Dunkirk. Jean Mitchell was a real star on the piano and she played with these lads. Jean is still with us and was playing last Wednesday at the Club. The Distillery MANY a good dram was brewed in the Glenfyne Distillery on the banks of the Canal. At the time of the greatest activity there were more sore heads in this little village than anywhere else at the time. Each man who worked at the distillery was given a bottle at New Year. The teetotallers who hated drink as much as the others liked it, were given fourpence, as that was what it cost to produce it at that time. The distillery started in Ardrishaig in 1815. Mr Peter McPherson was the manager in the distillery in 1948. The house I lived in was the ATS cookhouse at Inverarav Camp. We dismantled it in October 1948 and Peter stored it in the distillery till we were ready to build it in March 1949. Many managers and officials trom the customs were in this place from time to time. One manager who was sampling a lot ot the water of life was confused. At that time the distillery sold coal to the men who worked in the place. It was 10/- a ton. He sent them a second account for coal that had already been paid. He told them he would score it from the books when he saw the receipt. Only one lady had kept the receipt, a Mrs Heath. The men waited till the Friday afternoon when the manager was well shot. They gathered at the foot of the stairs and tripped up one at a time with the same receipt, and his clerk scored off each name as thev came in. He did not get any better and one day he took all his clothes off and was seen tor the last time as manager running up and down the canal bank in his birthday suit. It must have been a great asset to the village with the number of people employed in the whisky industry. The nearest stills would be in Oban and Campbeltown. It is a great wonder that this place was not created in Lochgilphead or Inveraray but I think the good water supply and the large loch up with the three lochs above Ardrishaig ensured that it came here, and of course the convenience of the canal for transport. For the period I lived in Ardrishaig I remember only Mr Drummond who was tlie Customs otficer. He was a very tall man, maybe 6ft 6ins and was very thin. He said to somebody that he had a brother who was taller than him, but not as stout ! I'm sure he knew all that was going on in and around the distillery. One day two local men filled a gallon can ot whisky and took it outside and put it in the lifebelt box on the distillery wall, hoping to collect it at night. Night duly arrived and when they went to get it there was no gallon can. It had been stolen by some other drouth. One said to the other, "My, you can't trust anybody these days." The story is told that when the distillery closed and no more grain was brought in, rats came down the canal bank in droves. This must have been a very frightening time in the village. I heard a story about a rat that fell into a big vat of whisky. He was shouting tor help, and along came the big black distillery cat who shouted at the rat, "What's all the noise ?" The rat said, "I'm drowning in the whisky. It you pull me out you can have me for supper tomorrow night." So the cat pulled the rat out and off he shot down into a hole in the wall. The next night the cat was shouting down the hole, "Come up rat, I want you for •tiv supper !" After a while the rat appeared and looked at him and said, "What's all this rubbish you are talking?" So the cat repeated about saving the rat's life from the night before and said, "You promised I could have you for supper tonight." So the rat said, "Look, mate, last night I was drunk and didn't know what I was saying." The distillery burn or the main supply was not put in to the canal. They built a tunnel under it and the burn comes out beside the power station. I suppose the rush of water taking sticks, leaves and stones during the heavy rain would have been a perpetual hazard to the canal people. As this goes to Carnbaan they would have a big job to get the mud and other debris shifted. Nevertheless, the supply of water would have been a great asset during the summer months. In this day and age they could still use this valuable supply in this five-mile reach. All sorts of things have been flung in the canal. Our herring curing shed was beside the Lome Hotel. One day my cousin and myself let a half-barrel of herring roll in. We asked our old uncle Sandy: "Is a thing lost if you know


where it is?" He said, "How can it be lost if you know where it is?" So we then told him what we had done! We chased it all day before we got it out. The bowling green and tennis courts are just across the canal on the shore side of Lochgilphead and are well attended and supported by the local people. Each year they have an annual sale and greenkeeper's day. This year they have a big project planned to make a new club-house and big renovations, so if you are coming to Ardrishaig bring your bowls and try and beat the locals. When you come to Ardrishaig they usually ask you when you are going away! When we came home from leave from the forces somebody would always say, "You're home again ! When are you going away ?" Some plans have been afoot for years to make Lochgilphead ebb, which is about one mile square, into a marina. This no doubt would be a great boon to yachtsmen and would employ a number of people. Anything that brings work would be a good thing. However it doesn't matter what vou do, here on the West Coast or the middle of London, it will bring dissenting voices and people who do not want it. Progress is opposed by tolk who usually know least about it. The oldest saying in the book is, "If Moses had had a committee he would be in the wilderness yet." When the natives in New Guinea ate the missionary David Chalmers, two or three of them were said to complain that these men from Ardrishaig are very tough. Just fancy anybody going out to help them and showing Christian humanity, love and affection, to finish up in their soup pot. The toughest thing to eat here in Ardrishaig is spout fish. They develop very strong muscles going up and down the Loch. Their biggest enemies are the gulls, oyster catchers, curlews and crows, and the travelling people who hunt them at low tide. Yellow Fever George Bruce was born in the village and was a fisherman, as were most of the other Bruces, whose name was the most common in Ardrishaig. He was latterly working on the pier when two men arrived in the village. It was confirmed that these two men had yellow tever and were not even allowed in to the old poor house in Lochgilphead. Mr G. Bruce, along with other men in the village cared for these poor sick men. the fishermen turned out and built a hut with herring boxes on the pier. They lined it with blankets, sheets and an old sail as a tarpaulin to cover the roof and made them as comfortable as possible. The village blacksmith at the time made an iron fireplace that was kept filled with wood to keep them warm. Soup and stew were provided by the local women but George Bruce was their main attendant. The men must have looked on him as a Florence Nightingale or an angel of mercy. Here in this small fishing village people still cared for the ill and dying even though they were strangers. Sad to say all the efforts of these poor, but kindly people was to no avail, for both these poor men died. Many people would be saddened that this effort should finish in death, but all the effort put in was not for monetary gain but an act of kindness to our fellow men. George Bruce for all his work was given the Queen's Medal and £100 from the medical board, a well-earned honour bestowed by Queen Victoria. His daughter is still living in Ardrishaig with her family and was a founder member Wednesday Club, where we care and share for all. Cattle and the Canal BEFORE 1931 the old bridge was in operation across the canal and the cattle from down Kintyre were herded along the roads to the market in Lochgilphead. It was not unusual to see up to 200 cattle coming up the road for the spring and September sales. When they got to the old bridge they could see the water in the canal and if the first ones stopped it was a terrible job to get them across. To us boys, as spectators, it was better than being at Ibrox or Parkhead. We just loved this. Most of these were Highland cattle, the ones with the big horns, and several had young calves with them. Woe on anybody that tried to separate them. Some went in the canal and others over the shore, with a few even going over the pier into the harbour. The difficulty then was to get a big canvas sling round their bellies to lift them out, or to try to get them round the pier to land them on the slip at half tide. These were exciting days and nights in the village. One of the people who had a big drove of cattle was Miss Turner, Kilmachie Farm. down the West Loch. In 1932 a new bridge with high sides was in operation, therefore this spectacle did not draw the same crowds. As the 1930s advanced, the cattle were starting to be transported in big lorries so another exciting event was lost to the


village. With today's traffic increase, the roads would be blocked and many dead cattle and crumpled cars would be the result. Looking out our windowr at Southside we had a grandstand view. One bull got separated from the main bunch, turned and ran back dowm the road. Our next-door neighbour was out on the road trying to turn the bull, but the beast looked a fearsome sight as he put his head down and charged. Our friend was the hero of the day as he just sidestepped and the bull ran past him. I can see Colin Dawson yet. he must have ben in Spam at the bull fights to have acquired this agility ! He had been in the putters, the coal boats, and had maybe been in Spain in the coasters. Anyway, he was well cheered for this fine performance. Andrew Grinlaw was watching this incident and told us that the beast was Miss Turner's first-prize stock breeder and was only going back to see that none of his harem was being left behind. Well we watched and sure enough when the rest of the herd came up he was in the middle of them with a grin on his face, as much as to say, "They're still with me !" Sheep also came up the road and were kept overnight in the small park at Robertson's park near Brackley, ready for the sale in the morning. Sheep were transported in lorries before the cattle so this other event also disappeared. Most of the villagers could hear the animals making a noise all night and must have been glad when the Ardyne and the Bute took all these beasts away. The next day, dogs barking and running after sheep and cattle made a fair old din in the village and the biggest job was for old Dan Keller and Big Dochy Carmichael to sweep up after them. You know what follows the Lord Mayor's Show in The City of London ? Well it is the ash cart, and the same could be said here ! Boat Races MANY years ago, about 1900, they had sailing and rowing races in Ardnshaig, as they do today, and even the fishing boats took part. One great day an Oxford don was here in the village and thought he would teach all the locals a thing or two. Six boats took part. One fine lad at that time was Captain Tate, and the Oxford don only came second to Tate in the race round the Black Buoy. When they got back to the pier he said that Captain Tate only beat him because he had a better boat. Well. Tate, being a great rower and sportsman said, "Take my boat and I will take vours." So the Oxford don, sure that he could beat this country lad, agreed. The race started and great excitement prevailed as the boats were neck and neck to the Black Buoy. However, as they rounded it, Tate took the lead and left the don behind. When he arrived at the pier the Oxford rower shook Tate's hand and thetwo men became great tnends. This storv was told to me by my father. Dan Hamilton, who saw the race, and by Captain Tate's own daughter who staved next door to me tor 24 years. It is surprising what strength, talent and skill you will meet up with in a small sailing community. Other vacht races took place at Inverneill, with the local gentry sailing boats and dinghies down at Inverneill Island but as the war approached they ceased and were never revived. A local sailing club called the Ardnshaig Regatta was formed and ran for ten years, then the Ardnshaig Sailing Club started. The main contenders in this were Sandy Rankin, Bobby Holden, Dr MacKenzie, Duncan McCallum and others. They gave a very good account ot themselves and competed all over the country, but as they all get older and not able to cope with wet backsides it has cooled down again. The big thing now is having to pay tor an anchor drop, on any bit of shore. People's rights are being impaired each day by a crowd of "paper tigers," who have verv little to do. The West Coast is wide open coast line and to have to pay tor moorings is bureaucracy gone mad. It seems right to charge tor a car in a car park, but to pay for a small boat's mooring on a sea bottom is terrible. No wonder men take to drink. Up with the lark and to bed with the bottle. Small boats are only good tor two things—a wet erse and a good appetite. nobody should expect to go in a boat without getting feet, hands and bottom In small boats you need a life Jacket, three oars, and make sure you have a rope on them in case one floats away ! Never ever push your luck against the sea. It has claimed two of my people and they knew it all their lives. Even my good neighbour Duncan Ferguson lost his life in one great tragedy that has affected us all. The day of Doddie's funeral, I am sure 500 people stood outside the house singing the old psalms. He was Duncan Ferguson JP, a happy-go-lucky crofter who had no bad name for anybody. When voices are stilled and death takes the place of someone so vital, you sit and wonder what this life is all about. Death is the last enemy and the last river to cross. I am convinced they crossed the river and are safe on the other side united with all who went ahead them. They launched away without fear, their trust in our Amighty Redeemer who can save anyone who believes in Him. Whatever you believe, may your God go with you. It is now coming up for Easter. This is the great Christian time because our Lord has risen and confounded death. This I believe as a little child believes and I have no fear. I have no problems that He cannot solve. I say : over to You, Lord. We do not know the plan because it has not been revealed to us, and what right have we to question what has been


mapped out as our course, here on this planet. Ten thousand people lie in the Mid-Argyll cemeteries. They were fishermen, joiners, bakers, teachers, good housewives, children, tramps, ministers and a few saints must be among them. We look into a glass ball, but do not worry or fret. All will be made plain to you and when it is revealed it will be clear what our purpose is. "Be of good cheer, I am with you till the end of time." Something mighty great and good has allowed us to live while millions die each year. We are so small and insignificant, our little brains cannot comprehend it all. A thousand years in His sight are as a day of our time, life is short. We flourish and wither away. Our allotted span is three score years and ten. Are you on His wavelength? Are you tuned in and receiving Him well ? God bless you. In His Loving Memory He will look after you. We live by faith. Sometimes it gets dented, but the dents come out and you will become straight I am a spiritual being, bearing love and kindness to all my fellow men and women of all classes, colours and creeds. David MacBrayne DAVID MacBRAYNE was at Ardrishaig one evening and he went down to the pier because a number of articles were being stolen or removed from the boats. The company had previously decided to appoint a night watchman. The job was given to an old fisherman and the wages were £1.10/-. He stood at the end of the gangway so there was no way past him. As the men had long hours on these boats it gave them a rest to lie down as they would be away again at 5.30. The old man, not knowing who David MacBrayne was spoke to him and told him he could not go aboard the boat. David said he owned the boat, but the old man would have nothing to do with this story. He told MacBrayne he was not to let anybody on the boat as there were too many "skemps" about. The end result was David MacBrayne came back up the pier and recommended his agent to give the old man a 10/- rise in his pay. David MacBrayne's wife took a house each year down at Largs. On the way down he sat in the train beside another lady, got in to conversation with her and told her she was going to get a house for two months in Largs. The other lady told her she was going to do the same thing and told her the house she was going to rent for four months. As this was a very large house Mrs MacBrayne said, "My, that is a beautiful house you are going to rent. Your husband must have a very good job." The lady said, "Yes, my husband is a Purser on MacBrayne's boats". MacBrayne's today don't have a Mr MacBrayne. Only managers and counter-managers administering the £4 million subsidies that are given to them each year by the government. You and I have a share in all the MacBrayne fleet as we are the tax-payers. Most people don't realise we are the most important and influentially powerful body in the land. Everybody depends on the tax-payers. Goverments don't have money; it's our money they are spending. If it was their own they would be more careful with it. A Chief Constable in the past in Lochgilphead came to the Post Office corner and told the men to move along. One old man said, "And who are you?" He told them he was the new Chief Constable, so the old man said, "You have got yourself a good job and you are taking care of it." One of the last Chief Constables was Mr MacKinnon. He said to me one "I am jealous of you, Forsyth." I said, "Why Mr MacKinnon ?" "Because you have that lovely old car." It was an Armstrong Sidley self-change gears, that I bought from George Tedcastle Colquhoun who lived in Inverneill House. He sold it to me for £25 and we ran it for two years and then sold it to the MacKinnon brothers in Islay. The day they came to collect it I painted it a lovely shade of blue. It was a tin of liquid lino I used. The gloss on it was great and the boys were so impressed with it they gave me £2.00 for painting it. They ran it over in Islay for a number of years. She was built in 1933 and first registered in 1934 and was running for over 40 years. Registration - BPH 282. I wrote to the Esso company and sent them a photograph saying this car had run on their oil and petrol for 40 years. They sent me a very nice letter back "We hope it runs on our good products for another 40 years!" A firm the size of Esso might have made more of this as a good advert for their goods and the excellence of the Armstrong Sidley engineers. Old Jimmy Leitch was in his young days foreman blacksmith in Fairfields, or Govan Shipyard, now British Shipbuilders. He was a great punter on horses. The local name for him was Garry Owen (he was the main horse-racing corrspondent in the good old Daily Record). He stayed in the end house with his three or four cats. His nickname was Tricky. At the advanced age of 80 he was gathering whelks on the shore. Some smart body reported the old man and -.; official came down from Oban to see him. He called on my father and asked him where Jimmy stayed, telling my father he had to come and see Jimmy as he had been reported as working at the whelks. My father said to him, "It's a


medal you would need to give to any man at his age, gathering whelks. "As old Jimmy was deaf the man from Oban could not get through to him ! Mid Argyll I HAVE often wondered if the people who came here from Ayrshire ever wished to go back to the old town of Ayr, or were they quite happy here making a living from the sea and land. If the large meteorite that landed above Dunoon road end had landed at Blackpool or even in the Lake District the rock hounds and visitors from all over the country would have helped to keep the Western buses running. This must have been the most talked-of thing at the time as you look up and see the thousands of tons of stones that spewed down the mountain side after the impact. The palm trees that are planted three miles past Inveraray on the Glasgow road, are called the Victoria Gardens;they were put there to commemorate Queen Victoria's visit to the town and how well these trees have grown since she was here. These make interesting talking points for people who come to our beautiful Argyll. Just come and look at lovely Loch Awe, going up through Inveraray to the top of the hill on the Dalmally road and looking across at Ben Cruachan, and the loch going through the big tunnel to the Hydro Station and away out to Connel. This is indeed magnificent scenery. Going up to Kilmartin and seeing all the old stone-age remains of the people who landed here thousands of years ago. We as local residents appreciate all that we have going for us. The wonder of seeing beautiful Oban Bay from Pulpit Hill and looking across to Mull with the high bens and lovely lochs is surely something not to be missed or quickly forgotten. Mid-Argyll is a marvellous place for people to come and have a holiday and you can go in any direction and have aweinspiring views. You can drink the water in any burn. The Spanish couriers are over here now trying to attract Scots back to Spam, after the muggings and murders of last year, and there you cannot drink the water. If they read this they will say put a contract out on that man Hamilton, he is destroying our advertising campaign. Well, some of their kinsmen were here already and lie at the bottom of the Sound of Mull that has concealed the secret of the Spanish Galleon since shortly after the Armada. Yes, you can walk up the streets in Lochgilphead and the road from Ardrishaig to Lochgilphead in complete safety. I am sure the people themselves look after one another. The pavements laid by our engineer John Smith are a lasting monument and will be there for ever and for all to use as you walk this path from Lochgilphead to Ardrishaig. When you look down the loch, summer or wiinter, you get the view as far as the eye can see to the Arran shore. Its mountains 3,000 feet high—Solachaig, and Laggan. The big Island at Stonefield, Mull Dhu and Inverneill. What a beautiful place to stay ! Up at Minard we have the Crarae Gardens nurtured by Sir G. Campbell and now his son Sir llay Campbell. April, May and June they have the most dazzling display of flowers, then again in September and October you get the changing colours of the leaves. Come and spend autumn in lovely Argyll. There is an arboretum too, containing exotic trees from all over the world. It was a fishing village as well, the old net stances were there for 100 years. Mr Middleton keeps his boat in the burn and gets an odd fish in the season but does pilot work for any boats going to the Quarry. The Minister at Furnace wrote in his book all about the fishing and I have a copy of it here. I sat for some years at Presbytery with him and found him a chatty, humorous man. Surgery Hours, Ardrishaig AS no surgery hours were held in Ardrishaig, Dr MacKenzie advised what would be the best thing to do. I thought it would be a good idea if we could get some signatures to back up the request for such a medical service. Hector Walker who was in the AVIA Committee said this would be a good back-up to get it going. It would be proof that the people wanted it. Well, I went round the village and most of the people thought it a great idea, except one woman who did not sign the petition. Well, she was entitled to her own opinion even if she was wrong. A number of sheets were filled and 430 people agreed we needed this service. I let powers that be see we had a case. Jimmy Shankland said: "Some Lord will be coming to Ardrishaig to have a look at this." Well, he did arrive at Ardrishaig. Hector Walker met him at the village hall and he had a talk with him and Mr Shankland let him see our petition. He agreed it was a good case. The AVIA tried to get Hugh MacDonald's old shop for this project but it was turned down, so Dr MacKenzie got Archie Cunningham's old butcher's shop up in Bay View. He was responsible himself for the payment of this and what a boon that has been to our village. So this is how we have a surgery hour in Ardrishaig.


I went along to the surgery the first day it opened; lo and behold, the first person in the surgery was Mrs White, the lady who refused to sign the petition to bring it in to being. Dr MacKenzie was the Session Clerk in the Ardrishaig Parish Church for 25 years and his wife Pat leader of the Junior Sunday School for 15 years. They have both played their part in the life of the village and happily they are still with us. Mrs Pat MacKenzie is Secretary of the RNLI and her committee is one of the best in Argyll. We in the Shipwrecked Mariners Society are the after-care people—like the midwives of the County. We follow up after the lifeboatmen have done their part. Minard A site at Brendon Point at Minard is reputed to be the oldest and the most ancient neolithic site in Great Britain. It is hard to imagine how these early human beings managed to live and survive. Their ancient culture and way of life seems to us today to be something to be wondered at. It is all very well to live in various parts of Africa but up here with the cold, rain, frost and snow, even just to stay alive must have been difficult. Food must have been very scarce and what we eat in a day must have been their rations for a week. Maybe our modern food is killing us. When we go out for a meal we start with soup, then fish, followed by the main course, usually bull's arse. After this is ice cream straight from the freezer, followed by chocolate mints and coffee with cream. You would think that would be enough to turn our stomachs, but we carry on this ritual year in, year out. The doctors are sick to death listening to complaints following this binge, and I'm sure most doctors are lip readers and wear ear plugs because there is no way they can listen to it ! They say that doctors are the highest risk group for alcoholism in the country. Can you wonder at it ? Apart from listening, it's the form-filling that's driving them round the bend ! Well, the people of Brendon Point, just along from the Castle at Minard, had a way of life and could tell the time and seasons of the year. They had set days and fast days, and I'm sure more fast days than anything else. Fish have been in . world from the beginning and this must have been their mainstay. We understand tides because we have tide tables and the wind because we have aneroid barometers. We have had the wireless for the last 60 years and the TV with the large maps of the British Isles showing us the daily weather forecast. Today we have everything done for us; food, transport and shelter is all everybody needs. These people had none of these, only what they could improvise themselves. Mull and Insurance AT the moment it is the yachtsmen who bring the most trade to the canal; 2,000 went through last year and thev enjoy a verv busy and happy time in the race which takes place each year on the first Saturday ot Glasgow Fair. The first leg of the race is from Hunters Quay at Dunoon. Argyll, over on the Clyde to Ardrishaig Lighthouse, then through the canal on Saturday night and Sunday. The boats sail with the first tide on Monday morning from Crinan to Tobermory on the Island of Mull. Tobermory is a lovely little place with a very good harbour, an excellent watering place. I am sure the yachtsmen will agree you can get something to go with the water in Tobermory, it being such a good place and the warm fire in the "Mishnish." After being at the fishing in the Minch, one old fisherman said, looking at the water coming out the pump: "There will be bananas growing here before I come back." Well, I have not heard any crop of bananas yet in Tobermory. I am sure old Bob never made it back. The story goes about the old Mull fisherman in the bar. A Yank was laying off about the marvellous space programme the Yanks had accomplished and we British were so far behind. The old man could stick it no longer and said: "We are not bothering about going to the moon, we are going up to the sun !" The Yank turned on him and said, "You will never get up near it, vou will burn up like a moth in a candle flame. The old fisherman said, "We are not worrying about that. We are going up at night !" I went to the National Mod for 20 years with a very fine man who belonged to Mull, Big Johnnie Russell, he died a number of years ago and he is still sadly missed. At the National Mod in Inverness someone asked the Chief Constable if the Gaels were behaving themselves. He said "There are no Gaels in the jails." The three days at the Mod is just an endurance test, it is the only meeting of Highland people that is left. Nothing else in the country is like the National Mod, it has a spirit all of its own, not only the one in the bottle, but the general air and friendly atmosphere generated by all who attend it. Even if it is only


once a year the the moth-balls come out of the kilts and jackets the ladies' sashes and dresses are given an airing, it is definitely a great gala of the tartan of past glories, against present trends of all the jean setters and tight trousers. My old friend up in Tongue, Sutherland, said: "This new jean-wearing generation are neither eating the salt herring nor chewing the tobacco." On the road up to Skye in 1950 I encountered 12 cars and lorries in the ditch. Only one man was standing beside his car as the snow was coming on heavy '. said, "Are you going to Portree ?" "Yes" he said. "Well, jump in, "I said to him, "You are a lucky man to have escaped out of that car with your life." He said : "I am not worried about my life, you see my life is fully insured. I had bought that car in Inverness to make a large profit in it. Now it is damaged and it is not insured, so if you insure one thing you are better off insuring the other !" One man who insured his life was lying dying. His wife and ten children were at his bed and the priest was giving him the last rites. He said: "Father, do you believe in reincarnation ?" "Yes, but you might not come back in the same form, if you did come back John, what would you like to be in another life ?" "Oh now, Father, I think I would like to come back as a cockerel." The wife who was listening to him at the end of the bed said, "John, my dear, you cannot come back as the same thing twice !" Sunday School I WAS appointed the Sunday School Superintendent just as the new minister, Mr John Ross, arrived from Gigha. I told Mr Ross I was not fit for this job. He said: "I am not fit to be in the pulpit either and, Forsyth, we will just carry on till the two good men who are going to fill our shoes arrive. Then we will both be on the buroo." Well, we had a very good relationship and the years I served with him in the church were very happy ones. Taking the class one Sunday I said to the boys, "Why should the Shepherd go looking for lost sheep? He has 99 safely in the fold. Why bother to look for one single sheep that is lost ?" One boy put up his hand and said: "Mr Hamilton, it was not a lost sheep he was looking for he was looking for a tup." Mr Ross took a heart attack and had to retire from the church. He went down to stay in Isle of Whithom. Margaret and I went down to stay a week-end with him and his good lady; what a beautiful place to retire to. Some years later John died at his daughter and son-in-law's home near Doune. I went along with three other elders to his funeral service at Muchart Church about three miles from Dollar. The minister from Muchart Church and John's minister friend from down Galloway sat and talked about him in the church service just as if John had left them for a short visit somewhere. The Muchart minister said John would be proud that day to know his four elders came hundreds of miles today to carry him to his last resting place. Old Mr Black, the farmer up above the village, worked the farm for many years and it looked like a model place. We remember him as he chased us more than anybody else. I sent him some parcels from South Africa during the war and he used to say to his family, "I misjudged that boy." Peter Gilchrist and Archie Gilchrist DCM were of another old family in the village and the family are still here. I have a picture taken during the war of the march-past of the Ardnshaig Home Guard led by Captain Bob Gargan, next Archie Kenneth and Archie Gilchrist DCM, followed by big Tom Johnstone and Donald MacBrayne. It was said they sent a copy to Hitler and when he saw the might of the Home Guard he decided to forget about invading Scotland. Archie MacVicar was Chief Engineer in MacBrayne's boats and knew everybody in MacBrayne's fleet. When he was in Greenock, he often stayed with my old friend Alec Paton who was blind for the last 26 years of his life. His wife Jessie spent all her years looking after him and we lost a great friend when he died. He was a great sportsman in his youth and told me one day he stood on top of three Munros in one day. As you know, they are all hills over 3,000. I have taken his advice. He said, "Dictatorship is the best form of government !" Sara McBrayne looked after the village hall where all things happened. She looked on the hall as if it was her own. The village is the poorer when these people pass on, nobody is left to take after them. Willie Holden, cycle and wireless shop, and David Craig who ran the West Coast buses, worked all week and ran the Shiloh Hall and gave a gospel message along their own lines every Sunday. The Good Lord said to Mrs Holden: "Come on in, you have been down there long enough." Yes these are the people who set an example to us in our young lives.


How can anybody write about a village and miss out the Bakers, the MacDonalds, and Tarry Jocks. A notice in the close at Duggie McGilps said, Anybody passing here will be roasted." Archie Arnold was the head baker with Hugh MacDonald, Sandy McNab, Ian Campbell, Tommy Tyson. In Lochgilphead the McGilps had a bakehouse beside the Stag Hotel. This was run by Findlay McGilp and his sister served in the shop. Some years ago a large company suggested building 50 new houses in the next village, so I went to the meeting to see what they were going to decide about this very important matter. These meetings were only held once a year or every second year. After a long discussion they still were not clear how they could be sure that everybody in the village would know about this project. As they say in these parts, "all the high head ones" were still undecided on the right way to inform all the people, whether to put it in the Squeak, the local paper, or the Oban Times, the West Coast man's bible, but as everybody does not buy a local paper that was no use. So up stood a local Councillor and he told them to call an extraordinary meeting, inviting all to it; and once you have got them in the hall lock the doors, explain about the 50 houses then tell them it is a secret. Open up the doors, let them out and in 10 minutes all the village will know ! Old Friends WELL, we must say a few words about our friends Alister Carmichael of Ford, Sheena his wife, and her young son who is with the Forestry Commission. Alister was a writer and correspondent, as well as an elder, preacher and teacher for many years in the Church of Scotland. I miss him calling at our house by the shore where we had many happy days. He was on his way to the National Mod when he passed away. The grief and pain you have when you lose a friend is unbearable, but I try to think Alister has only caught an earlier train than us. Mr and Mrs Jimmy Currie, at the bridge at Cairnbaan, were kindness itself. If any woman deserves to walk in to heaven it is Mrs Currie—and she will be carrying a tea-pot to help somebody ! They had a large family—four boys and two girls. They are all still with us and are a credit to this lovely old couple. Old Sandy Fleming, the gamekeeper, arrived with his mother and father in Tayvallich when he was only three months old. They came from Luing. He looked after his mother in later years. I think she was 98 when she died. His great friends were Lord Gainford and all the shooting fraternity up and down Argyll. He was gamekeeper in Inverneill to Colonel Campbell for about 20 years. As boys we used to cycle down to see him on a Sunday. We called him "Sandy Also." he was said to ask for a fish, and a chip also ! General Sir Fredrick Campbell stayed in Tigh Rudha. He had been in India for many years. Mary Currie was a local shopkeeper along the front street. Her shop is now the tourist agency. Mrs Buchanan had the fruit and veg. shop along beside the police station. She had a large hand which she told me she got from knocking the doors to collect "tick," nowadays they call it credit. William Smith was the local painter. They lived along the front street beside Jamieson's paper shop. Ponfrey was the local watchmaker and had been in business about 100 years, another old household name. Mrs MacDonald was in the Argyll Hotel for over 40 years and was noted for her hospitality and the marvellous Argyll trifles she made. One day I was in and she said, "Forsyth, are you wanting a cup of tea?" So I sat down and she made a cup of tea and gave me two pancakes from a large basin filled with pancakes she had just made. A bus party was arriving for tea at 11 o'clock. She said, "How are the pancakes?" and I said, "If you made them for me I would throw them at you !" "How is that ?" I said, "You have made them with salt instead of sugar !" "Oh, my God !" Somebody had filled the sugar crock with salt. She had to start a new batch at once. Later I saw Findlay Maclver going round the back of the hotel to collect the batch of salt pancakes. They always said Findlay's pigs when they cut them up for ham were always salty. Maybe this is one of the reasons for the salt bacon ! Mr Kemp and his wife ran the tearoom in Argyll Street and next door was Mr Crawford, the tailor, who made many fine clothes for all round Mid-Argyll. The gent's and ladies' clothes were run by Mr MacCallum, followed by Mr Brown and it is now his daughter's shop, so Nan Brown keeps one of the old names still with us. Along the street was MacCallum's, the grocers, followed by John Mitchell, which is now the Spar grocers. The Mac Vicars were making kippers along the back street. The Institute was also the billiard room and the main hub of activity in the middle of the town. In the old days, billiards was looked down on. Now it is the centre stage of the television. I wonder how many champions we have missed !


Davis has some money invested up here, growing good wood for billiard cues. Some of the old stars in Mid-Argyll will be looking down at them growing, including old Duggie who was in the Billiard room for many years. He had an old clock with no hands up on the wall. He said, "No tick here," anybody asked for credit, and pointed at the clock. The coal yards were run by Mr Bell, a local man from an old family, Mr McClullich, also from an old, respected family and Thompson's coal yard. These men all did hard work filling coal into sacks and delivering round the town. The boats with the coal discharged up at Miller's Bridge. At one time a miller was over there making meal and coarse flour. It also was MacBrayne's store for Lochgilphead as the boats going through the canal with cargo. The Handa and the Brenda were the smaller boats of MacBrayne's fleet, made to make the passage through the canal, calling at Cairnbaan Store, Bellanoch, Crinan, Ardfern, Ardunie and Easdale. The last boat calling in here was the St Just with a load of cannabis on board. She is just through the canal today with a customs boat towing her down to the Clyde. Mr Adair and Mr Fleming were good friends and had a good share of the town's butcher business. The two garages were run by John Brodie, Mr Crawford and I. M. Fleming. John McLarty had a garage at the back of the post building until the local council had it taken over for offices, and the site is even now being developed. The Drim Laundry was run by Mr Cuthbertson for many years and this is a facility we miss in Mid-Argyll today. Donald MacFarlane or Purley as he was well known, ran the Jersey Dairy along with his sisters. Mrs Manson was in the Victoria Hotel; she was a McGilp from Minard and ran a happy friendly hotel packed on market days. Miss Cathie MacCall was a grocer in Lochgilphead, with her wee shop next door to MacBrayne the Ironmonger. You could always get a friendly smile and a wee chat from these folk, something we rarely get in this world of high finance, supermarkets with huge performance charts on the wall urging the staff to beat last year's records till they send the managers through the roof or round the bend. Willie Livingstone had the farm above Lochgilphead or the A and B Farm. Mrs MacLeod and Mary Fletcher were in charge of the Cottage Hospital. If you happened to have scarlet fever they came and took you away at night with a candle on each side of the horse carriage. If you had measles, mumps or crabs they just left you at home ! I think next in charge of the wee hospital was Matron Gillies, sister of Jim Gillies at Lochgair. They had been brought up as children in Cairnbaan Hotel and knew all the local people and all the puffer-men and boat people going through the canal. A tree along from the hotel was known as the hanging tree. People who had been at sheep stealing or murder were reputedly hung on it. In the old days one old Lochgilphead Councillor attended all the local functions and always enjoyed a good dram. A big event was taking place up at Kilmory Castle and he had not been invited but that did not deter him and he arrived up at the Castle. Just before the dinner was due to start he was met by a footman who said, "You have not been invited," but the old Councillor walked in and sat down at the table. He was told again by another footman. "Well," he said, "when I left Lochgilphead I had not received any official notice to stay away !" He was a great character and he said if you walk in backwards and anybody accosts you, you just say you are on the way out ! It is just like going to a wake when anybody asks who you are, you say, "I am a friend of the corpse" and nobody would dream of turning you away. A wedding is much the same in that it would bring bad luck on everybody at the event. Most folk at a wedding are half-drunk anyway and it is only the next day or week they say, "I saw you at the wedding, did you enjoy it?" If people were not fighting at weddings, there would be something wrong with them. At every wedding the ladies are kitted from the skin out. Most men go in the same suit, year in, year out, and if you have a kilt it lasts all your lifetime, with the men getting a new shirt and new tie occasionally. This is general all over Scotland. The bride's father still pays for the wedding but this old custom seems to be dying out all over the country. More Old Friends Another general merchant and fruit seller was Willie Brodie and his good lady who looked after his shop up Argyll Street. He came to Ardrishaig twice a week selling fruit and veg. and sometimes penny packets of sticks. His pony always in good condition and I remember my mother always kept bread for the pony. Hugh- and Duncan Campbell from Castleton, who were slaters and plasterers, cycled each day from Silvercraigs to work either in Ardrishaig or Lochgilphead. Their store was below Dickson's Landjust beside our stair. They had their lunch with us most days they were in the village. Both of these men had been badly wounded in the 1914 war. We have lost these good men, and high quality tradesmen they were. The West Coast of Scotland suffered in the big gale of 1968


when slaters could not be found to repair the houses damaged in Glasgow, Ayrshire and all over Argyll and the West Highlands. If people are not going to be apprenticed to these old trades—joiners, plumbers, boat-builders—nobody will be left to repair anything. One great man in mid-Argyll in the building trade was Mungo Sinclair. He was an expert at his job, and could not stand to be idle a moment in his life. He employed many people and he himself was the foremen. Somebody once said to him, "Rome was not built in a day, Mungo." "No," he said, "that maybe, but I was not the foreman then ! "This good old business is carried on by his son and grandsons still up at Furnace and they are still a household name in Mid-Argyll. Furnace employed a large number of people in the quarry. Mr MacArthur had a shop and bakehouse not very far from the quarry. My father's cousin's husband, Mr Ferguson, worked for many years up at the bakehouse. He cycled to Furnace on the Sunday evening and stayed up at MacArthur's till the Friday then cycled back, a distance of about 18miles. I cannot see anybody today, even if we have 3,500,000 unemployed, doing or taking this job. Two men who traded in Ardrishaig were Jimmy and Briney Hughes who collected sheepskins and sold dishes and crockery, also rabbit skins, and delivered rabbit hampers even as far up country as Craignish. One old lady at Craignish said to Jimmy one day, "I recognise your face by seeing your name in the Squeak. At that time they kept Airedales, very large dogs and very good watchdogs. Their business was taken over by Carl Menzel, who was married to my cousin Betty; they are both now in Australia with their family. Mary's brother Johnnie, who was affectionately known as Johnnie Day, is also out there. Betty's father was the Mr Ferguson, the baker, who cycled up to work at Furnace and I hear from them at Christmas. Neilie McCallum was the lock-keeper at the entrance to the canal at Ardrishaig. He was known all over the Clyde by yachtsmen and puffermen. Big Neil was liked by all and he lived to the ripe old age of 90 years. His grandson is now the manager of the canal. He served his time in the blacksmith's shop by the canal and learned all the other jobs that blacksmiths do in their trade. Being a local boy, he is in the right place. The majority of people who have had the job before have been Indian civil servants, far removed from the workings of this local canal. Some of the whisky that came ashore on the SS Politician on Barra's rocky shore (which incident inspired Compton Mackenzie to write Whisky Galore) came down the canal and a good number of the Pointers, that is the Ardrishaig men, tried it. Export quality as smooth as silk, do your heart good to get a dram of it, was the verdict. The teetotallers who did not drink it washed their corns and chilblains with it. Another nature cure ! Neilie MacCallum also, like my father, had two nick-names. A Glasgow visitor had heard these names and not knowing he was Mr N. MacCallum, called him Mr Cope. He said: "I am not Mr Cope." "I am sorry, Mister Joper." "Well," said Neil, "I am not that either, I am Mr Neil MacCallum." The old pub in Lochgilphead was called the Comm and was run for many years by Mr MacGregor or "Wee MacGregor." Many a tale was told in the Comm on market days and any other occasion that drouthy neighbours chanced to meet, while many a women was left at home to nurse her wrath, as Burns put it 200 years ago. His place was taken over by a Mr and Mrs MacKenzie. Mr MacKenzie passed away many years ago but Mrs MacKenzie has just retired last year after giving years and years of service to the public, and her family are still here with her. MacBrayne's agent in Ardrishaig was Mr Ellard and he was followed by Mr Colin Wilson, a Tarbert gentleman. Colin and John MacEwan, with Malcolm Galbraith and Duncan MacBrayne, ran the cargo steamer from the office on the pier, a good team of men who gave a great service to the whole community. The pier master at this time was Mr MacNair, followed by Mr William Bruce, who was also secretary of the AVIA and a staunchmemberofthe Free Church. His nickname was Big Willie the Lion. Funny thing is, his father was also a big man and he was called the Lamb ! Harry Campbell, Johnnie McKellar, John Hamilton, Bunny Bruce and Coney or Walter MacEwan were employed on the pier. Every bag of sugar and bag of salt passed through their hands, cycles and perambulators, crates and everything delivered by sea. Ardrishaig's missionary son was David Chalmers, born in what was known maker's lane. After being in Ardrishaig till he was eight, he went to Inveraray with his father and mother and the rest of the family. His father was a stone-mason and was employed by the Duke of Argyll. David joined the missionary service and gave a lifetime of service in the mission field. He was killed by the natives out in New Guinea which was a sad end to a man who gave so much in Christian service to others.


Mr Thompson was the old Auchendarroch estate manager. He had a big family and four of the girls were Queen Alexandra Nurses during the first world war. Captain Robert Gargan was along with a party of troops when they arrived in Archangel in Russia where Miss Thompson was the matron of the British Military Hospital and gave them a great welcome. I am sure she would be the last person they would have expected to meet in that place. In the last 20 years they stayed next door to one another in Ardrishaig. Mrs R. Gargan was a Miller, brought up in Kilmichael Glen, the farm now occupied by Gilbert Black. Her uncle went to South Africa and was employed by De Beers, the great diamond people. He left a sum of money so that Kilmichael village could build a hall. It is called the Lachlan Miller Memorial Hall. People want to come back to their roots and give something to their homes or villages. The village of Kilmichael had a blacksmith they called Jumpy. He was another character of the village. He was 60 inches round the chest and 85 inches at the waist. How he ever managed to bend down and shoe the horses I do not know. He spent many hours looking at the River Add and its pools where some of the best salmon you have ever seen have come up from the sea at Crinan. They are still coming but in lesser numbers. The owner of this fine river in those days was Sir Ian Malcolm of Poltalloch Eitate, which was one of the best estates in Mid-Argyll. His son was Lt-Col George Malcolm. He was one of the first men to be running the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. When we were running the Boys' Boxing Club in Ardrishaig he gave us great support for the young lads and both he and his lady wife supplied prizes for the boys who were competing. He telephoned me one day to ask could I make him a net "that will be strong enough to pull out clods of earth or pull stobs out of the river along with the salmon." We made the net and he telephoned to say that one day he had pulled out of the river 900 salmon. Not many people can say they caught a lorry load of salmon in one day. One old man on the river said he steeped his worms in good whisky the day before he set out to fish. When he put them on the hooks and dropped them in the pool by the river and a big fish came up to them they had so much courage with the whisky they caught the salmon by throat ! Some worms, or very good whisky ! The estate is now run by Robin Malcolm who is also one of the local councillors and lives in Duntrune Castle. If you are at Crinan you look across to this very old castle on me shores of Loch Crinan. I think he is still using that net I made for him out of red Courylene so it has given them some service. Kilmartin is one of the old villages in Argyll. One stone in the churchyard has a date 1027 and other stones maybe older, as the dates have faded over the years as rain, frost and snow have eroded the stone. The Kilmartin Hotel has always been a popular place. Neil Vernal, a Paisley man, was landlord for about 40 years and was a great source of knowledge on horses. He bred them and was horse judge all over country. The Hotel is now run by Mrs Jean Blanford; she is a dog breeder and has competed at the great dog shows at Crufts. She runs the hotel in a very friendly way and has a great trade in both bar and food. This old hotel has kept its 19th century atmosphere, as the bar is still the same as it was all these years ago. One thing that always puzzles me is why bars and public houses have dart teams. These things are deadly weapons and they are thrown freely when most people who throw them must be near the limit ! The Cairn Restaurant in Kilmartin is famous for good food. Mrs Thompson is the cook and she is a real expert at the cooking. Mr Thompson attends to all that come to the Cairn. His father-in-law is Mr Willie Leitch who, with his good lady, ran Cairnbaan Hotel for many years. He is now retired. His father was Mr Leitch of Tarbert who was the tamous sailmaker in Tarbert and his grandson is carrying on the sailmaking in Tarbert, Lochfyne. A Tarbert man said to the old sailmaker: "Although you are 60 years in Tarbert you are still not a Tarbert man !" He said: "How grateful I am !" The Garage at Kilmartin was run by Mr Craigie who was there for 40 years. He told me he had installed an air pump to blow up tyres: "6d a time, or I will toss you double or nothing," he would say—but would always win the toss. Forestry and Fishing IN 1959 I was asked to go to Lochgair hotel to represent the forestry and fishing at a meeting with MP Michael Noble. At that time forestry men were getting £5 a week and fishermen were getting £2 a cran for herring or roughly 10/(50p) a box of seven stone. We talked with him for two hours and were successful with the forestry men but not the fishermen. I am sure the £2 a cran was a disgrace and the fish meal fishing was another reason for the large fall-off in the herring fishing in the Clyde and North Sea. The heavy landing in Mallaig, Gairloch, Ullapool and Stornoway depleted the south and north Minch. The big catches—or the herring massacre, as that is all it was—maybe helped Fisons or other large firms employed in fish meal and fertilisers.


I remember asking Michael Noble about the state of the Loch Lomond road. "Is it not time you got a government grant to get it sorted ?" He told me it was in the pipeline, but it looks to me in 1985 it was more like amackerel in the net ! It still needs to be sorted and when we see the waste of government money on other projects, it makes us wonder why we have to pay the same taxes as the folk in the South. This road is in Dunbartonshire but need I remind anybody it is the Argyll people who use it in these days. Petrol is £2 a gallon and if the road was sorted it would save time and petrol. Loch Lomond is beautiful but we would see the scenery better if we weren 't trying to get round the bends on it that are real circular tour. Thank goodness work has started on a new road, and it is hoped to be ready by summer '87. An old saying in Mid-Argyll was "MacBrayne's for the Highlands and MacLarty for the cemetery." One brother was the undertaker and the other had a motor hearse. Once the hearse was polished they said people were dying to get in to it ! On one occasion an old man died over at Tayvallich but he wanted buried at Kilberry. As the weather was bad when he died they just buried him at the old graveyard at Carsaig Bay, Tayvallich. After the minister had said the last prayer and they lifted the coffin, the bottom fell out. One old man ran up to the grave and said, "You better hold him down, or he will make off for Kilberry!" Kilberry is nearly 30 miles away. The old graveyard over there is now closed and as one old fellow said, "They are not burying a living soul in it these days !" Nobody wants to be first in the new graveyard. Everybody believes we are going to a better place but nobody wants to die so this wicked old world cannot be so bad atter all, with all its trials and frustrations and disappointments. It is quite clear to me, as I have already written about birthdays, and we seem to be pre-desrined to arrive, our departure will be arranged in the same way. We do not know the secret of the Master Plan and in given time all will be revealed. The future is not ours to see, as the old song goes, Que Sera, Sera. Gold is one precious metal that has been responsible for more man's greed than anything else. My near neighbour here is Mr Archie Kenneth who has a gold mine on his estate. I believe the reef runs from the bay below his house to Kilfinan. Known as the gold reef, it runs across the loch for about 4½ miles. Both these mines, Stronachullin and Kilfinan were being worked about the same time and a considerable amount of gold was produced during the time they were being worked, and a good number of men from Ardrishaig were employed on this project. This job would be hard work with the pick and shovel with no JCB or mechanical diggers in these far-off days. Neil MacEwan, who worked with me here at the kippering shed, told me his father was employed at these diggings. Mr Kenneth has some of the gold that was produced here. We are sitting on a gold mine, minus the gold-diggers. Everybody who has met him must be charmed by this unassuming man with the strong handshake and great knowledge of nature. He is a piping expert and judge, rhododendron grower and collector—I believe he has 3,000 varieties growing on his hillside garden and they are a delight to see in the early spring; the rich reds, yellows, pinks and all the beauty to be seen here, makes life worth living. He is also a botanist of international renown and an expert on the flora of Argyll. My car was in for repair last week and Archie picked me up and took me back to the wee croft house I am now living in. He said, "How are you getting on in there, Forsyth ?" "Oh," I said, "We have two fires going so it is easy heated." "You are lucky. I am living in a freezer !" He has a large house and like all big houses it is hard to heat. Donald Robertson is one of Archie Kenneth's shepherds, being 43 years in his service. Mr A. Shaw is the other shepherd; Angus Graham is the farm manager, a job he took over from his father and will have been on the estate since he left the school. Milk Carts As a young boy I was milk boy with Mr Neil MacNeil, Dunamuck Farm. Also at that time my cousin Willie Hamilton was another boy employed, as was Donald MacSwan. Every time I think of him I am remembering the great old writers in the People's Friend. Annie S. Swan kept the women-folk of this country thrilled each week with her very human stories. I went to deliver milk to an old man and his wife. Donald McSwan said, ask him if he is Mr so-and-so, this being the man's nickname. I knocked the door about 8 o'clock and this old man opened the door, standing in his pink drawers. I asked him if he was by his nickname, needless to say he jumped out the door at and I made off as fast as I could. Neil's lorry had not very good brakes and one morning it was in the big lane three-quarters way up and as I got in it started to move. I pulled the wheel round to save it going all the way down the brae and going over the shore. It landed


in a shop window in the lane, Mary Bheag's shop, as Wee Mary was called in Gaelic. My hand went through the windscreen and gave me a bad cut on the thumb. They took me along to the local chemist who put three stitches in it. Neill said: "I will need to get these braes sorted." After Neil finished, I was milk-boy with Taylor of Nether Largie Farm. The other boy who was with me was Farquar MacKinnon. Mr Taylor was very good to us as boys. He was judge at most of the sheep-dog trials all over the country and was also a very good competitor and was very fair in his judgements. Two of his milk-boys in Lochgilphead were Willie MacCallum, who .came the foreman mechanic at the forestry engineer shop at Cairnbaan and who tragically died at the age of 59, and Peter Ciarella who owns Burgh Electrics in the Square. Peter's daughter lives in Ardrishaig and one day, as she as teaching in Ardrishaig School, she told the class that 60 years ago her father was in this same class-room. One boy said, "My goodness, he must be as old as Methuselah !" Peter MacArthur was another milkman in Lochgilphead and was well known as he was one of the old MacArthur family that had been around Lochgilphead for many years. Maggie Sinclair, or Maggie Toss as they called her, sold milk around Ardrishaig. She was always on foot and maybe sold about a couple of gallons a day as I am sure that would be all she would be able to carry on her rounds. Many people took the milk but did not drink it as Maggie was not too clean, but everybody regarded her as a witch and if they stopped the milk she might put a spell on you. She is buried over at Kilmory beside her mother at the small graveyard beside the Red Lodge gate. Ardris Haig The minister, Mr Ross, telephoned me one day to say he was sending a man down to see me as "you are the local encyclopaedia." Well, when this man arrived he had an unusual story to tell us. His father had been born and brought in Ardrishaig, then went away to Glasgow to serve his time as an engineer. He married a lady from Rothesay, Isle of Bute, and they emigrated to America where they had one son, and this was the son. As the man's name was Haig, he called the boy Ardris—Ardris Haig after the village Ardrishaig. The boy was wondering what sort of place Ardrishaig was and had a life-long ambition to come and have a look and see what sort of people lived in it. When he called at the kipper shed we were as surprised as he was to hear his story. Neil MacEwan would be about 77 at this time and he had been born in the village himself and could not remember anybody of this name, and to this day there is nobody with this name that we know of. Well, Ardris Haig and his wife stayed with us. He enjoyed meeting all the people that called that day and seeing our way of life in the village. Before he went away we gave him a green float that the men used on the cod nets. He told us that he was an engineer up in Alaska and they flew along the beaches and sometimes landed and collected smaller glass floats of the Japanese fishing fleet and he would send us a few when he went back. Four months passed and I had forgotten all about the floats, but lo and behold, the postman Ian Hamilton (another cousin of mine) arrived saying, "Here's a parcel with glass in it." (Most folk would ask, is it drinkable ?) The parcel had five small dark green floats in it sent as he had said. He had kept his promise. We used this story for the Sunday School, telling the children about keeping promises and the promise made to us in the good book or the Code for the Good of Life. Captain Willie Inkister, who was the harbour master up in Lerwick, Shetland, was in one day and saw the glass floats so we gave him one as he had been in Alaska and in the whaling fleets with Salvesen's. We kept up with the Ardris Haig's for these last 15 years. Ardris has now passed on, but his good lady is still alive and her card and Christmas gift have arrived here again this vear. Margaret asked then it they had anv family and she said one boy and he had passed over. So tather and son have passed over and have caught up with the man from Ardnshaig who gave them this village name. When you keep an open house as we have done, and all the people betore us, you may be entertaining angels. The Canal The canal managers who held all the power ot hiring and firing, were Mr '.ompson, John Groves. Mr Ely, Mr Tatten, Mr Davidson and Mr Walker. In their day and generation they occupied the big houses above the canal basin from which they could see anybody going out and in the canal yard and if you left the yard a minute betore 5.30pm you would be on the carpet the next morning. Some men worked on the canal for 20 years and never were put on the staff. My Uncle John was 20 years as the canal diver before Mr Bly put him on the canal staff and many other men were similarly treated.


The canal men themselves were a great help to everybody. Mr Neil Gillies was foreman before big Jimmy Campbell who was foreman for about 35 years. He was also Session Clerk ot the Church of Scotland and knew everybody in the village and every boat and crew member. He was also secretary of the Rechabites and Foresters Insurance Organisations. He was followed in the foreman's job by a Tarbert man, Jimmy Bain who I am glad to say is still with us. Jimrny lived in a more modern age. He and Peter Campbell went over to Crinan each day delivering papers, milk and messages to all the lock-keepers en route to Cnnan. During the years 1930 to 1932 the new sea-locks were put on the canal. I remember seeing 9-inch brass screws taken out ot the lock gates at Crinan that had been in the sea locks for nearly a hundred years. They were so beautifully made, when cleaned up they looked just like new. The old steam dredger on the canal did a power of work on the canal, changing lock gates and keeping the canal dredged from one end to the other. The other old boat of a special design was the steam boat, the Conway. She was designed with a bow like a landing craft and her job with the busy puffer trade was to keep the canal clear of ice. Her design let her run up on top of the ice and her weight went through. Today we don't have an ice breaker. They depend on any of the steel boats or Caly MacBrayne boats coming down to break it. Ice is very bad on a wooden boat. The thin stuff is the worst and will cut you in half along the waterline if you are going at any speed. Nobody here ever catches a salmon—it catches itself. The salmon subject is very similar to the lobsters. Nobody ever catches a lobster. When you ask, "Are you getting any?" they say they are not on yet and ifvou ask a little later they say they are past. Again a similarity is the smoking of salmon. I remember telling two men about salmon smoking. As they walked away my wife was behind the hedge and heard them say, "That man talked for a quarter of an hour and he still has told us nothing." One young man was conducting the buses up here. He jumped off the bus at lunch-time and asked me if I could tell him in one hour how to smoke and make kippers. I told him I could tell him in five minutes all I knew about kippering. Well, he left me after an hour and went up to Skye to start the kippering, five miles outside of Kyleakin. He was going to get his supplies of herring from Mallaig. I told him not to try it but that did not deter him. Well, the kippering shed is still there but after a year he packed it in. He told me he enjoyed the experience and was very grateful for all the data I gave him. Birthdays It seems a very strange thing to me that birthdays seem to coincide in families; father, grandfather or uncle are all on the same day and the same goes for cousins, their births tall on the same day. In one year there are 365 days, you would almost think it impossible for the birthday to be the same as a near relative. Out of the woman's cycle she should have a baby on any of the 365 that are available. This is something that nobody has been able to explain or even has any reasonable theory to its explanation. It seems to me to be a million-to-one chance not just one in 365. Is there higher hand or a great predestined plan that we can not get together and understand ? Maybe on the day this is explained to us we shall see a simple solution but in the meantime the mystery remains. The Travelling People SOME of these people have been in the village about 200 years, working on farms, gardens and doing general work for anybody. One story about them was during the last war. One party arrived down from Oban. They called at one local doctor's and as he was not in the wife had to attend them. They were asking a wee bit of butter so she said, "You know that butter is on ration?" Well, the woman traveller said, "We need a wee bit butter, you see my dear Jock has rid the pony all the way from ban and he has skinned his erse and its all red raw." This tale reminds me ot the TV advertisement: "It's got to be butter !" My father gave them a dog many years ago and they were walking him up and down the promenade at Ardrishaig. He told them to "get going or these boys of mine will be out the school in ten minutes and they will know you have the dog." "Dan, what do you call the dog ?" "Oh we call him Tuteach" [which means fart in Gaelic]. "He is well named. He looks full ot wind but we will soon knock that out of him." The next time my father saw them they told him he was the best dog they ever got and they caught 14 couple ot rabbits with him up at Furnace that first night. Mr Charlie Blair, the butcher, in Inveraray gave them 1/6 a couple so they did well. Everybody knew these people and in the same way everybody helped them. One summer they went up to Inverness. You could call it the summer migration, the two great resorts being Perth and


Inverness of which they would tell you, "It's the Hielan' capital!" They were always trying the piping competitions and in one competition the auld wife said she knew Jock would win. She saw it all in a dream. The tent had a wee leak and the water came in "before the bloody dream finished," she said, but she kent Jock would win the competition. "On the day," she went on "there were fourteen judges at the big table— nine on either side! Men came trom all over tor this event, the pipe-tuners from the Black Isle, Wick and as far awav as Skye, but Jock knew nobody could tune the pipes better than his guid friend Pipe-Major Ronnie MacCallum, for he was the Piper to the Duke ot Argyll. He had tuned the pipes that had made the Germans tremble in the trenches. None better than him. I even prayed for Jock, and I am sure it providence is on your side that will influence the judges or bring a bad judgement down on them. When Jock came on to plav the judges were thunderstruck with the great clarity ot the music. "Jock's great win was in all the papers, Oban Times, the Squeak, Stornoway Gazette and even the Daily Record. Jock put his tull effort in and it paid off. Just as well he did not play a long tune as his big drone was choked! I told him to stop the smoking a month before, but we were short of fags and he was rolling cigarettes with horse's dung and mint— you could smell it all the way in to Inverness! We lett Inverness with the piping medal and made our way back to Furnace and on arriving home Jock said: 'Get on the salt herring and potatoes.' "Well, I hadna time to steep the herring to reduce the salt so we just boiled [hem as they were and in halt an hour they were ready and we had a braw teed. If Rabbie Burns was eating this doon in Ayr no wonder he was full of poetry. I put in a terrible night as the herring were so salty everyone wanted to drink and I was up and doon all night from the tent to the burn, tent to the bum till I was really exhausted! That was the last day I boiled the herring without steeping them. "We are looking forward to the spring so that we can get a good feed of the 'spout fish'—that's the fellows like wee dogs wetting on your leg !" The last saga in the travelling people took place this year in May 1985. One of the worthies called at the kippering shed and said, "Hoo are ye, Hamilton ?" I said, "Not too bad." "Ony chance o' a fry of kippers fur ma tea ?" "Sorry, no herring can be fished till the 13th May," I replied. "How is that ?" "Well it's the EEC, they make the rules for the Clyde." My travelling friend looked puzzled. "EEC ? Who ur they and whit dae they dae ?" I explained it was the European Council who were stationed at Brussels. "Brussels yae tell me. My Goad, it would be fit them better to eat the damned Brussel sprouts than interfere wi'oor herring. Ah don't know whit the world is comin' tae." Needless to say he has called a number of times since May and has had his usual fry of herring and told me he was making wine for our New Year. I said, "What is it made from ?" "Oh just potatoes, sultanas, yeast, sloes and they have been very late this year, meaning the sloes, due to the bad wet weather—they call it acid rain, it spoils the trees; the sloes are very plump full and acid." Here is big John's recipe for home brew. Full-bodied and worthy laying down: if you take two glasses, you will be lying down for a month. "We add a ½ bottle of whisky, ½ bottle rum, ½ bottle vodka—its all ½ bottles you use, and we drink the other half to see that it's alright. It must be good stuff with all those ingredients in it. Yes, it you take it going to bed you will never have worms, piles, colostomy or flu." Sounds like a new medical breakthrough. He produced a bottle from his bag and I said, "It's some colour." "It's the sloes knocking hell out of the blackcurrants that does the trick. Its electric blue, more like an electric shock, Hamilton, you canna buy that stuff." Another day, a well-known regular travelling woman came in with a wee boy in a pram. I looked at him, and he had his forehead all stitched up. "What's the matter with the boy ?" I asked. "He's that nosey, he wants tae see a' that's going on. Heleanedootower the pram and tell oot and split his heid. The doctor up at the hospital sewed him up." I looked at the line of black stitches on his head and asked her, "Did they sew him up with bootlace ?" "Na, na, they sewed him up with catgut. He'll always be lucky, that boy, for that's the guts o' a black cat and he'll never want all his days as lang's he has the black cat gut marks on his heid. "Forsyth, you've aye been good tae us," she said, "and I've got a problem—a big problem and I wonder can you help me." "Well, wifie, if it's something I can help you with I'll do what I can." "It's ma man. I've got eight bairns already and he's coming home at the weekend and I'm no wanting any more bairns. He's been at the neep thinning and they turnips send him sex mad. He'save the same efter the neeps. He never liked them." "I don't really see that I can help you with that problem," I said, "Have you not been to see the doctor about that ?" "Oh aye, I saw the doctor and he wanted to gie me a thing ca'ed a coil but I didna fancy that in case ma man got


strangled in it like a rabbit in a snare, so he gave me a thing ca'ed a Dutch cap but it's got a hole in it. If you have a bicycle puncture outfit maybe I could stick a patch on it." Well, I had a puncture outfit and she did stick a patch on it, and when it was done she looked at it and said, "If I cover it with vaseline he'll never know." It must have worked all right because she is still around the place from time to time and she never had any more ot a family ! When you are curing herring, kippering and also preparing smoked salmon your products are truly universal. You are catering for the palates of the prosperous with the salmon and the humble salt herring was the main diet of many Highland families in the not so distant past, when salting was about the only way of preserving perishable food. I called it the humble herring, but it is not so humble nowadays and indeed it is getting very difficult to pursue the curing trade, with quotas and fishing restrictions that mean that the fish are not being caught at the right times for the treatment needed to change them to kippers or for salting. I could go on at some length about the disruption to the curing industry that is caused by the stop/go fishing policies imposed by the authorities, but I will spare you that. What I really wanted to indicate is that because of my trade I have customers covering the whole social structure of Argyll, and indeed Scotland. So it is that I may be talking about dukes and lairds at one moment and travelling people the next, because they are all people I know and have met. Mind you, it is only fair to say that I probably know the travelling people a wee bit more intimately than the lairds. After all, I have never been asked by any of the latter to write letters on their behalf to their spouses in Barlinnie, and to read them the replies ! Death of A Notable Fisherman "ON Wednesday 5th inst. William Bruce died at his son-in-law's house. Some years ago [wrote a correspondent to a newspaper some time before the turn of the century] we called attention to 'Willie' through vour columns as a sturdy old warrior who still earned his living. "William Bruce was born in the town ot Newton-in-Ayr in the year 1801. He remembered perfectly and could describe with accuracy and vividness the proceedings that took place in Ayr on the occasion of the jubilee of George the Third in 1809. He also attended school in Avr along with the family of Sgt. Ewart who captured the French Eagle on the field of Waterloo. Willie followed the calling ot a seaman and fisherman and numerous were the stories he was in the habit of relating when going in the skiff with his father to sell herrings. He frequently waded across the River Clyde below the Glasgow bridge. There was no idea then that any person would ever see sailing on its waters such vessels as the Campania, Lucania, and the Ramilles. "The writer recollects Willie telling how he and some others started on a Sunday morning to walk barefoot from Glasgow to Ayr, a distance of some 60 miles. It brought out his powers ot endurance which characterised his long life of 92 years. The luxurious mode ot living the present generation adopted was not known in the day of Willie; frugality and economy were the virtues to which thev were trained and made the Scottish peasants the admiration of the world. Willie and his companions started on their journey without scrip or money, and did that 60 miles, and all the food or refreshment they had on the journey was a little meal mixed with water they got in a wayside house. "In the mid-1820s he, along with his brother-in-law, William Hamilton and his relative James Law arrived at Ardrishaig with their families on board the skiff Sportsman to prosecute the herring fishing. His brother George arrived sometime afterwards and they, and their descendants, who are numerous, form now part of the small community in the village. "Willie was a great favourite in the village. Who will ever forget who saw him dressed in his blue bonnet with his snowy hair waving below, that manly countenance on which were strongly marked honesty and stern integrity of purpose ? Many of the historical events which took place in the early part of the century he discussed with his valued friend, Provost Reid, who took the warmest interest in him. Mrs MacDougall the hotel-keeper, (said to be in her 96th year) was a great favourite of his and, until his eyesight tailed him, paid regular visits and talked of the good old times. Till the frailty of declining years overtook him, he was a prominent figure on the pier transferring the Columba's baggage to the conveyances that carried it North. "Alas ! He is gone and his remains were interred on Saturday the 8th in the churchyard of Inverneill beside his wife who was a near relative of Alan Ramsay the poet. His funeral was large, representing all classes ot the community. The day was fine. The burying ground is on an undulating slope skirting the road to Ormsary and Lochead; the contour of the hills in the background is traced, raising their heads to the sky. The vale below is beautiful. Spruce, pine, and oak intermingle and wave their luxuriant branches the passing breeze while the moaning of the waves is heard in dying echoes in the distance. Such is a fitting place to rest when 'life's fretful fever is over'."


The Spanish Tramp ONCE, while looking through the family album of photographs, I came across a picture of a policeman, obviously done in a studio. On enquiring of my mother who he was, she told me his name was Hugh McLellan and he had been a friend of my grandfather. She further informed me that he had been the man who was stabbed by the Spaniard. This Spaniard, she told me, had been a tramp who wandered the countryside, and when she was a girl at school in Kilmartin the children sometimes met him when going to or coming from school. He was, as she described him, "very droll" and the children were afraid of him as he always carried a long hazel stick with a cloth wrapped round the top. When this man, Lucerio Gonzalez by name, passed them, he always muttered and grunted at them. The course of a complaint made to the police in Lochgilphead by Sir Thomas Glen Coats of Achnamara House about Gonzalaz frightening people, he requested that they make an effort to rid the district of this repulsive character. Constable McLellan was sent to find the man and tell him to leave the area. At Barnluasgan near the junction he found Gonzalez and quietly asked him to leave the area. He appeared to agree but then uncovered the top of the hazel stick to which was attached half a sheep shear and attacked the constable, stabbing him several times. A fierce struggle took place and the policeman was seriously wounded and rendered semi-concious. Hearing the shouting, Neil McColl, son of the farmer at Barnluasgan, and the postman Neil Blue, who happened to be there at the time, ran to the scene and, seeing what was happening, McColl ran back to the farm for a gun and fired a shot over their heads. Gonzalez thought that he was being fired at and ran off into the woods. Word was sent to Lochgilphead and more police and a doctor came to the scene. The wounded constable was taken to the farm and then to hospital. As darkness had come down by then it was decided that the other two constables, McRae and McKenzie, would remain overnight at the farm and begin the search at daybreak. Gonzalez was located in the morning and after a fierce struggle in which he attacked both constables with the spear, he was eventually overpowered and arrested. He was taken to Lochgilphead and then to Dunoon. Gonzalez was tried in Dunoon and sentenced to be detained during His Majesty's pleasure as he was certified insane. Constable McLellan had received about 20 stab wounds and although several of them were very serious he eventually recovered and was able to resume duty as a member of Argyllshire Constabulary until his retirement. There is a sequel to this story. After regionalisation and the amalgamation of the police torces there was a big clear-out of old records and disposal of old guns and weapons surrendered to or confiscated by the police. I was assisting the sergeant with this when, in a corner of the strongroom, the hazel stick with the halt sheep shear was tound with the original production label still attached. They were going to destroy it when the sergeant decided to send it to the Police Museum at Dumbarton. The Chief Superintendent, Community Involvement Branch, came to see me and asked me if I would write down the story to have it along with the exhibit. After much research through old records I found Constable McLellan's old personal record with the information about his injuries and absence from duty. This I photocopied and sent to Dumbarton together with the photo from our album which my mother gave to me. These items are there now for the public to see. Some time after this, when doing more research through old papers which were to be incinerated, I came across a typed copy of the report of the assault and trial as reported in the Argyllshire Advertiser, 4th October 1905. This also was sent to complete the record. About four years ago Bill Knox, of STV's Crime Desk programme, was in the museum and saw the spear and the story behind it. He made a short five minute "filler programme" which was shown on STV one afternoon. Quite a number of local people here saw it but I'm afraid I didn't as nobody told me anything about it. It's ironic that, but for me, there wouldn't have been any story to make a programme about. (This story was told to me by a good friend, Alan Begg.) Boats and Owners THE boats I have listed here include some which were at the fishing with drift nets. Some were buying and curing herring themselves and selling and trading around the coast from 1840 to 1900, taking cargoes of coal up the West Coast; about 50 tons they carried, and on the way back were taking slates and any general cargo back to the Clyde. The canal must have been a God-sent ditch for them to come back to the safe trading on Loch Fyne and Clyde Coast. The quarries at Crarae and Furnace did a lot of trade in stone setts, as they paved the streets of Glasgow with them.


Flora - Neil MacCallum, Neil MacEwan, Donald Crawford, Norman Sinclair, Dasher - Sloop - John MacEwan, Donald MacDougall, Duncan MacEwan. Kitty - Duncan MacDougall, Duncan Gillies, Duncan MacCallum. Hope - 20 tons - John Mitchell, Peter Thomson, Malcolm Angus. Jessie - 22 tons - John Morrison, Duncan MacColl, Archie Sinclair. Jessie 23T - 22 tons - Donald Dewar, Alex Crawford, Archie Dewar. Flora - Malcolm Sinclair, Dougal Maclntyre. Marianna - 30 tons - Hulett McCallum, Malcolm Fletcher, Donald MacCal-lum, Angus Fletcher, Charles MacMillan, John MacFarlane. Mary and Catherine - 27 tons - John Campbell, Malcolm Campbell, Donald MacTavish. Janet - 38 Reg. Tons - Alex Harper, Peter Sinclair, Janet MacNab owner, James MacGilp, Donald MacVicar. Smack - 42 Reg. Tons - Owner A. MacNab, Glasgow - Alex MacKellar. Mary Sinclair - (1) Malcolm Sinclair. Duncan Campbell. (2) Smack 30 Reg. tons— Dugald Maclntyre, John Sinclair; (3) 50 tons cargo - Hugh MacEwan, John Sinclair, John Cummings, Mal Maclntyre, Mal MacColl. Catherine and Isabella - 31 Reg. Tons - John Kerr, D. MacVicar, Duncan Kerr. Mary - 38 Reg. Tons - John Leitch. Archie Nicol, Hugh McCallum. Mary Scott - 27 Reg. Tons - John Mitchell, Peter Mitchell, John Mitchell. Margaret Dewar - 38 Reg. Tons - John Dewar, Archie Dewar, Archie MacTavish. Owner—A. Dewar, Silvercraigs, Lochgilphead. Elizabeth - Schooner, 50 Reg. Tons - Duncan Blue. Jennie S.Jean - Smack. 42 Reg. Tons - Duncan Leitch, Colin Leitch, Donald MacGilp. Bought by Duncan Blue, Gem: Schooner/Ketch 50 Reg. Tons - Duncan Sinclair, Lachlan MacGregor, Duncan Muir, John Fletcher, Colin MacLaughlan. Pultewey - Schooner, 50 Reg. Tons - James Carmichael, Archie McEwan, lames Millar. Alma - Schooner, 45 Reg. Tons - Archie Campbell. Mary - Sloop, 34 Reg. Tons - John Dewar, Donald Crawford, Donald Dewar. Grace - Smack, 34 Reg. Tons - Donald Sinclair, James MacDougall, Donald McLean, Donald Muir. Ann S.Jean - Sloop, 25 Reg. Tons - Neil Campbell, Hugh MacKinnon, Neil Campbell, John Duncan, Hugh McCallum. Margaret - Smack, 37 Reg. Tons - James MacGilp, Ardrishaig, John Crawford, John Leitch, Archie McLellan, John Fletcher, Hugh McLellan. The Sisters - Lighter. 42 Reg. Tons - James MacGilp, Lochgilphead. John MacKellar, John Leitch. Bought by Alex Leitch, John MacGregor, John Wilkie. Janet - 34 Reg. Tons - Peter MacCallum, John MacCallum, John Fletcher, Archie MacEwan, Neil MacPherson, Peter Clark, Neil Campbell. Bought by Hugh Gillies. Ann MacCormick - Schooner, 50 Reg. Tons - Robert Morrison, John Morrison, Donald MacCorkindale. Owner Angus MacTavish, Ardrishaig. Ann MacTavish - Schooner, 76 Reg. Tons - Angus MacTavish of Ardrishaig. Fishing Boats and Their Owners Sarah and Mary - Owned by Lachlan Campbell. Crew - Sons Dugald Campbell, Peter and Lachlan Campbell and Archie Torne. Brothers - Owned by Dan Hamilton, Peter Hamilton and Stuart Hamilton (Hotty), Dan Hamilton (nephew). Archie McAllister (Buck), Stewart McAllister (Toodie). Brittania - Angus Law (Petty). Dugald Law, Neil McEwan (Moiler), Dugald Bruce (Poof). Elizabeth - Owned by Alex Duff, lohn Duff, Hugh Duff (brothers), Archie McAllister (Fluck). Lillie - Owned by Duncan MacCalium, Will MacCallum, Neil McKinnon, G. Bruce (Ackkan) Mary Jane - Owned bv Peter Dewar. John Dewar, Stewart Dewar, Neil Dewar. Terror - Owned by Neil Galbraith, Sandy Galbraith, Duncan Galbraith, Archie Galbraith and Allan (brothers). Welcome Home - Colin Mitchell, Duncan Mitchell and Sandy Mitchell (brothers) (Cailien). Annie - Alex Mitchell and sons (above). Annabella - Colin Mitchell, Duncan Mitchell and Peter Mitchell, sons. May - William Campbell. Charlie Campbell, Peter Campbell (ParaMosh), Archie McVicar. Jasper - Jock Elliot, Tom Elliot (son) John Dawson, Dan McGregor (Duke). Annie - Owner Jock McTavish, Peter McTavish, Rob McTavish, sons Robert Gilchrist, D. McVicar-Livingstone, sonin-law. Friendship and Eliza - Family-owned. Archie McVicar, John and Neil McVicar (brothers), Neilly McVicar, Duncan (Dochan) and John McVicar, sons. Morning Star - Archie McMillan, Archie McLachlan, Dan (wee Dan), Sandy McLachlan (Rigger).


Sarah and Jane - Coll Dawson, Ruary McLellan, Rob Morrison. Olive - Colin Ferguson, Angus Ferguson, Duncan Ferguson, John Ferguson, (The Hole, Inverneill). Gleniffer - George Jackson, James Jackson (son). Mary and Flora - Duncan Campbell, James Campbell, Jock Campbell, Duncan Campbell. Jessie - Alan Campbell (Swankie), Robert McGregor (Marquis). Kitty - Owner William Heath, George Wvllie, John Campbell (Yankee John). Cardross Castle - Owner George Bruce, John Bruce, Robert Bruce, Willie Bruce, (all brothers), Robert Bruce (nephew). Later Gilchrist. Condor - George McGregor, Rob McGregor (brothers). Alex and James McGregor (sons). Peril - Sandy McKellar, Duncan MacKellar. Renown - The MacLarty brothers. Dragon - Walter McEwan, Archie MacFarlane. Clan MacTavish - Archie MacTavish (Shaver), Rab MacTavish. Bonnie Jean - Robert Bruce, Red Bob, John Bruce the Doss. Meta AG 200 - Stewart Hamilton (Hotty), Peter Hamilton (Chew), John Hamilton, Stewart MacAllister (Toody). Scotia - Robert Law, Walter Law. Clan McGreron Brittania - Angus Law, Neil Bruce, Dugald Bruce, Robert Law. Marshlia - Dan McLauchlan, Wee Dan Booty, Archie McLauchlan, (Rigger). The Nellie - Alan Campbell (Swanky), lan Campbell (the Baisht). Local People A FRIEND of mine had been up to the loch-side and had a few drams with an old pal. As they came down the loch they were followed by the police patrol who stopped them and suggested they call in at the police station, which they dulv did. The police accused them of being drunk and as this was before the breathalyser, it was somewhat difficult to prove without a blood test. The day they stood in the court their lawyer asked the police how they knew they were drunk. The police said they saw them coming out the Lochside Hotel with their arms around one another's necks. The lawyer said, "Next you will be telling us they were kissing one another ! What other tests did you give them ?" Police: "We tried to make them walk a straight line." Lawyer: "Did you examine their feet ?" Police: "No." "These men have bunions and calluses and could not walk a straight line anyway. What other test ?" "We made them write their names." "Your Honour, the police version is phantasmagorical." "Well, I see the two names very clearly your Honour." "What is the last name ?" "Oh that is the doctor's signature your Honour." "Have a look at the doctor's signature - I suggest he was drunk." Both got off. Coronation 1937 at Kilmartin ALTHOUGH it was a holiday, the schoolchildren all gathered at Kilmartin School where we were briefed on the dav's proceedings. We were all given a Union Jack and we then all marched to the field at the rear of the hall. Flags and bunting were everywhere. Trestle tables, scats and a platform for Highland dancing were all set up and part ot the field set aside for a full programme of sports, races and so torch tor both adults and children. As tar as I can recall the Coronation service was relayed to the crowd bv loudspeakers erected in the field. The principal attraction of the day were the tour huge Coronation cakes. They were the most magnificent cakes I ever saw and I have never ever seen anything like them since. They were baked and iced and decorated bv McVitie's of Edinburgh and delivered to the hall in four large wooden boxes. One was done with red roses, one with white and one with blue and the centre of each cake was inscribed "Coronation, Mav 1937." I recall seeing one being cut and all present on the field got a piece ot it with their tea. What these huge cakes weighed is anyone's guess, but I have never ever again seen their like. At the conclusion ot the celebrations, each child received a souvenir Coro- nation mug which we still have. The day ended with a dance in the hall for the adults and a great firework display when darkness came. In conclusion I might add that the whole day's events, gifts, cakes, tea dance and fireworks also the great cakes were all given by the late Sir Ian Malcolm, grandfather of Robin Malcolm. The following vear, 1938, was his 70th birthday and he again gave a fine treat to everybody, and a gift to everyone. He was really quite a kind old soul.


The Ardrishaig Seal 1925 A LITTLE seal for the past month had been haunting the pier ot Ardnshaig and making tnends with the people. The following story based on the incident was written and read to the children ot the Parish Church by the minister, Rev. J. P. Glen. RON THE SEAL "It is so long since we have had a holiday," said Father Seal to Mother Seal, as they lay basking in the sun on a rocky islet in the Western Ocean. "What say you to a change this summer ?" "Yes," said Mother Seal, "and what say you to a visit to our old haunts in Loch Fvne? I should like to see them once again—the Bay of lnverneill where the shingle sparkles in the sun, and the quiet resting place on the sands of Kilfinan, and the haunts of the fish round Eilean Mor where we spent so many happy hunting days so long ago. I should like to show them all to Ron, our son." "Ron," called Father Seal to his son, who was swimming in the Fairy Pool among the rocks loved of all young seals, "Come here. We are going a long, long way to a loch you have never seen, dear to your mother and me." And Ron was in great glee, for he longed to swim in the ocean and visit the hunting ground ot the seals far away. So splash off the rocks they dived. They were not humans, so they had no suitcase to pack, no provisions to order, no ticket to take for their journey. Down came the rain in torrents, but not being humans they loved it—ideal seal weather. So splash through the ocean they swam until they came to Inverneill, where the shingle sparkles, to the resting place on the sands of Kilfinan, and to the happy hunting ground round Eilean Mor; and Ron was happy as the day was long. But often, wistfully, he looked across from Eilean Mor in the quiet of the night and watched the green light and the white light—blink, blink, blink in the darkness—and wondered what they were. And in the daytime his eyes opened wide at a great vessel, tar larger then anv seal, moving through the water. They watched it far away but when it came near thev dived to the depth, for they teared the humans. "Father," said Ron. as thev were swimming together one day in the sea. "What are these strange things clustered on the shore ?" "These are the homes ot the humans, and thev call them Ardnshaig, the Hill of the Briar." "May I go over to the Hill of the Briar ?" asked Ron. "No, no, you may not ! You would never come back. The humans kill the seals." "That is not true," screamed a voice that made them nearly jump out of the water. It was Faolin. the seagull, wheeling round and round them. "Every day" said Faolin "I go a-fishing with one ot the humans. Robinangh. I sit on his boat and I light on his shoulder and he gives me ot the fish he catches. There is no kindlier spirit on all the waters than Robinangh. He loves the seals and the seagulls, and so do all the humans I know.'' "Oh, let me go," pleaded Ron the seal, "with Faolin the seagull, to the Hill of the Briar." And at last, in much tear, they let him. So splash through the water went Ron the seal, and wheeling round and round him, Faolin the seagull, both in great glee. But when they drew near to the hill of the Briar, the home of the humans, Ron all at once stopped, and the wash of the waves gently flowed over him. "Why have you stopped ?" asked Faolin the seagull, lighting down on the water beside him. "I fear the humans, I think I'll go home," answered Ron the seal. Just at this moment a boat floated past them and on it the letters "T. T." were written. "Away out on the ocean, I've seen these boats and these letters on them," said Ron the seal. "But what mean the letters I know not. Do you ?" "I've often wondered," said Faolin the seagull, "but I think they stand tor 'tender and true.' Tender and true are the men who sail them. So I've always found them. "Let us draw near, don't be afraid." said Faolin the seagull. Just then something thrown from the boat flashed in the air—a fish, and another, and still another. And nearer and nearer came Ron to the boat and took from the kindly hand ot the fisherman. "Faolin was right," said Ron. "The men


are tender and true. "And when he went back to his home in the gloaming, there was a joy in the haunts of the seals round Eilean Mor. And so the days passed; and with every new morn came Ron to the Hill of the Briar, the home of the humans. And very day came the children to greet him and called him bv name—their own little Ron, little Ron the seal who trusted and loved them. And from him they learned to be tender and true. But one morning neither children nor fishermen came, and Ron wondered. And that morning the sound ot bells came floating far over the waters. "Faolin," said Ron, "all is so quiet. The day is one of rest and peace. What meant these pleasant sounds ? Why come not my little friends and the fishermen to greet me ?" "They will come on the morrow," said Faolin the seagull. "This is the day when the humans worship the Father, Creator of all things." And sweet music fell on their ear. In the church the children were singing "All things bright and beautiful; All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful; The Lord God made them all". And as they sang their hearts became more kindly and tender and true, for they were thinking of Ron the seal, their little friend who trusted and loved them and of Faolin the seagull too. The Great Swordfish IN August 1972 a great fish washed ashore on the beach at Loch Killiesport, South Knapdale, Argyll, was a mighty swordfish. It was found by some young people on holiday from Bradford. They did not know what a valuable find they had come across, as this was only the third of these mighty fish to be recorded in this country this century. One was got on the beach in Ayrshire and another came ashore below Dunderrave Castle above Inveraray in Argyll in 1904. The swordfish was in a decomposed state and it these young people did not take the action they did this great fish would have been lost. They brought the head complete with the sword attached and we cured it with a strong salt mixture. After three days it started to take the salt. so in this way we were able to arrest the decay; we were glad that we had been able to save it. The position is, any fish of a strange nature like the swordfish is supposed to be reported to the Fishery Officer at Campbeltown, Argyll. Well that's fine if he is available. He may be on holiday; or in this case the swordfish was 140 miles away from the fishery office. Nobody from that department made any enquiries about this great fish. Well the day arrived for the young people to depart for Bradford. They tied the large head and sword on the iront of the Volkswagen van and it seemed secure for the journey. I'm glad to report it arrived safe atter the motorway journey and was taken to Bradford Museum where it has a good position for people to see it. The young girl for whom we cured it got first prize for the summer school project. The swordfish on leaving his warm waters chasing shoals of mackerel never thought he would land on a museum wall. The swordfish is called the "bully of the seas." It will attack anything, boat or fish; it has put the sword through 10 inches of wood, cut into whales, seals and any other moving thing. Some 12 years have passed since we were involved in this curing project, four weeks ago a young woman arrived at the kipper shed and told me she was the girl we cured the big fish for. I said, "You tied it on the front of an old olkswagen van." She replied: "It's still going strong and we'll always remember that journey home !" From the Islands IN one small Island shop a man called in to get some cigarettes. The old lady said, "We don't sell them." The man said, "That's funny, you used to sell them." "Oh yes," said the old shopkeeper. "We stopped it a while ago. It was too much bother as we kept running out of them." * * *

On one West Coast Island, when the Priest was taking confession one morning Mary came in. Father said: "And what are you in to confess, Mary ?" "Oh Father, I slept with Donald John last Thursday night." "Well, Mary, you will have to pay £,10 towards the repairs to the roof of the chapel."


A little while later another lady called. Father said: "And what are you here to confess, Jenny ?" "Oh Father, I slept last Friday night with Donald John." "Well, well, Jenny, that will cost you £20 for the repairs to the Chapel roof." Not long after, another ladyv called to confess. She was a local worthy called June in Bloom; she also had been sleeping with Donald John so the father told her to pay £20 to the chapel roof. Another tap at the door well. "Well, surely not another !" He shouted, "Come in," when who appeared but Donald John himself. "Well, Donald, are vou here to confess ?" "Oh no Father, I am here to collect the commission." * * *

Three young bulls were heard talking one day. One said he would like to go to Spain and deal with the Spaniards with his horns. The second young bull said he would like to go to South America and enjoy himself among the large herds on the open. The third young bull said he would like to stay here in Argyll, in and he would like to live here for Sir William Lithgow's herd at Ormsary, heifer and heifer and heifer. He was sure Archie MacArthur would look atter him in his old age when he was not fit for his work ! * * *

One member of an old Mid-Argyll family was in Iran in the oil business. At a meeting one day he was sitting next to an elderly gentleman who turned out to be an old German submariner. He had been in the U-boats during the First World War and had been around the Scottish Coast. He asked my friend where he came from and when he received the reply "Argyll, "he then asked him if he knew a place called Island Reigh, a large island in Loch Craignish. The German told him that he and another German officer had landed on the island and killed three sheep but they had a difficult job getting the sheep back up over to the submarine and down the conning tower. My friend told him that the island they had taken the sheep from was farmed by his uncle from 1914 to 1925. So he then added, "You owe me £30 for these sheep !" The old German was surprised to hear this and said that it had been the best mutton he had ever tasted. They had tied the tripe bags around the conning tower to give them a good wash. However, when standing watch at night they could still smell the stench of a farm yard. On returning to the shipyard in Hamburg, they told their mates the story and were known as "the farmers" after that. The strangers you meet today will be your triends of tomorrow. Ardrishaig to New York QUITE a number ot the lairds and landed gentry of the neighbourhood, and much further afield, I am proud to say, have made it their habit to bring their salmon to me tor smoking. My recipe involves the use of liberal quantities of rum. On one occasion when I had been left three salmon tor smoking, everything had gone exceptionally well until the gentleman came to collect his fish. It was only then that I discovered that my black cat had taken a liking to rum and in satisfying its desire for the drink it had made inroads into one side of one of the fish. We both looked at the damaged side and he ran his finger over it. "What is the meaning of this, Forsyth?" "It's that black cat, and I would say it means it canna read the labels and doesn't know the difference between Lithgow and Hamilton." We are still friends, but maybe that is only because the black cat is away to the happy hunting grounds. On another occasion I had cured and smoked a large salmon for the laird at Carradale and let him know it was ready tor collection. A while later a car drew up at the gate and a man came in and told me he was to take half of the salmon, so I duly gave him a side, and off he went. Half an hour later another fellow cam in and said he was to collect the other halt, so I gave him the second side and he too went away. Two hours later another fellow came in, who told me his cousin had left half a salmon with me tor him to collect. I asked him if he knew how many sides there are on a salmon and when he said two I told him about the previous two men. Naturally enough he was astounded at the story. It turned out that the owner ot the salmon had told the first man to collect the side of salmon while they were on the pier at Carradale, and the second man must have overheard the arrangments and had just followed up to the kippering shed. Anyway the owner took its loss well, just shaking his head. "You can't win them all, Forsyth." The fourth man to call the same day was an Irishman who asked it I would like to buy a sideboard. "What is it like?" I


asked. "Ah, sure, it's in beautiful condition, and it's in three halves." "I don't think I want your sideboard, but I only wish you had been here a day or two ago to cut up a salmon for me !" One salmon that I received in a batch ot twelve tor smoking trom Mr Hopperton had a tag on it saying it had been released in the River Foyle in Northern Ireland. I wrote to the Foyle River salmon fishing station and they told me that three fish had been returned, one trom Loch Fyne, one from Cork and the third from Stavanger in Norway. Some spread from twelve fish released on the same day ! In July 1983 we caught two fish that had been released in the River Esk and one from the River Tummel, both of which are on the East Coast of Scotland. The tags were sent to the Pitlochry Salmon Station where their numbers were verified and the £2.00 rewards were received, but I had great difficulty in convincing the Tay salmon board that the fish had been caught here on the West coast. Mavbe they got the taste of oil to the east of Shetland when they were on their way back from Greenland and decided to come down the west coast where the water is still fresh and clean. Another time, a man came into the kippering shed to tell me there was a seal eating a salmon in my net. By the time I got out to it there was only about two pounds of fish left on the tail and the rest had been ripped off. Taking what was left up to the shed I had no sooner arrived than I was called to the telephone. I was away about 10 minutes and came back in time to see two cats finishing the last of the salmon, so that was one day when I was frustrated on sea and on land. Coming down from the bowling green one night after nine o'clock to find the local pub shut, but a little drop of liquid coming down the side of the door, old Donald put his finger to it on the pavement. Archie said to him, "Is that White Horse ?" "No," he said, "blooming Fox Terrier !" These same men were in the Cosmo Club at the swing bridge south side Ardrishaig when we put in two home-made stink bombs made from old herring guts. In two minutes they were all outside putting the blame on one another. Celtic and Rangers would be played all week till the following Saturday. Them were the days. Donald stayed with an old lady who looked after him very well. At Glasgow Fair he asked her if he could bring a tnend up for his tea. She said alright. He and the friend had been in the pub till late. On arrival at the digs the landlady produced two large plates with a cod head on each, filled with meal and onions. The wee Glasgow lad said, "Good God, what is that one ?" Donald said, "That's a cod head." The wee Glasgow fellow said, "It looks more like its erse !" New York is so commercialised it will be a marvellous place to have money in, but a real dreadful place to be broke in. To be over in New York for l½ days, I only had time to see the toilets at the coastguard station and they looked like Carlisle Station with all the troops going through during the war ! I was stationed at Carlisle in 1941 up at Crosby on Eden. I used to hear the lads say they stayed at the Station Hotel if they missed the last bus. So I missed the last bus myselt, stayed at the Station Hotel—slept on the floor under a table, one slice of toast and beans, cup ot char cost me nmepence; glad to get back to camp on the 7 o'clock bus. Last time I'll stav at the Station Hotel. Having travelled back on the QE2 in the best Atlantic crossing for 16 years, it really was a most memorable occasion. Having met people who had been on the trip 40 times and people who had only been on it once, I would recommend it to anybody for the best holiday of a lifetime. Cunard have not paid me any cash for saying this but it is the truth. Why don't you try it sometime ? Don't leave all your money to relations who will rattle through it in a month or spend it on a good stone with beautiful gold letters that nobody is going to read. I can tell you, I met eight men on the QE2 and they were all undertakers enjoying themselves ! An old Irish lady's husband died and she went to the local draper to buy a shroud. She asked him the price and he said 19/6. "Well, well, I am sure if I was in Belfast I would be able to buy one for 12/6." "Yes, I am sure you would, but it would be such poor quality material that your good departed husband would have his knees through it in a week !" One old man in the village called for a pint of best beer each day, cost sixpence. One day he called, said the usual and the barman gave him his pint. He handed over the sixpence in coppers. By this time, he had consumed half the beer. The barman counted the money and said, "You are a penny short." The old man finished the beer, then he said: "If you count the money, barman, it's you who's short !" The QE2 is the most marvellous ship and the crew from the captain to the cabin boys and girls are absolutely marvellous. Mr Wilson, the chief security officer, had been in our part of the country for years and we met up with him, from the folk who run the tearoom in Tarbert, Argyll. He made our trip most memorable.


On arrival in New York I asked two New York police if the water was good to drink. They said, "Jock, it comes trom the Caspian Mountains but it is not as good as the Scotch from Islay in your country." They had both been over there during the war and had also sampled the free canteen in Tarbert, Loch Fyne. Waldorf Astoria in Lexington Avenue is the main hotel in New York for the QE2 passengers. It is something to see Mackays which looks like Lewis's or Frasers in Buchanan Street. Everybody is in a hurry but where they are going I do not know; the only time they are still is when they are sitting eating pancakes and maple syrup. I saw one man's wallet being snatched on the underground. The trains are all covered in graffiti and they shake you like you had a fit of Saint Vitus' Dance. When you get off at your destination they sell small lapel badges to say, "I have travelled on the NY underground and I am a survivor." I had lunch on the 55th floor of the Trade Fair Building with my wife, cousin and her husband. who has a million social security people under him. He used to be an FBI agent before he got this job. How do you keep tabs on all that gang, I don't know. I also visited Wall Street and saw all The World's business being conducted at a rate of knots. I was very impressed with The Statue of Liberty which was such a marvellous sight as we sailed under that huge budge on our way into the city. We arrived after 5½ days of luxury travel and it was hard to believe we had been sitting in the Cunard main office at Southampton days earlier. There were 1,800 passengers waiting to go aboard this great ship and another 1,000 wantng to see us off. The lady sitting next to me said, "Where are you from ?" When I told her Ardrishaig. she couldn't believe it, as she was from Arrochar. Well, we sailed with Mrs White and her husband. This just goes to show that there is no place to hide, you will he found no matter where you go—and what people don't know about you, they will invent. During that memorable trip on the QE2, I frequently wore my kilt. As you can imagine I was followed by eager USA residents with their Minolta and Canon cameras. One Yank told me that they had a singer in the USA who had the most wondertul voice. When she sang there wasn't a dry eye in the hall. It was something to behold. I rold him we had a singer in Scotland, and when he sang it was the most marvellous voice vou ever heard. It sounded like running water and the result was not a dry .seat in the hall ! EPILOGUE THE voyage has been longer than I thought it would be. Eighteen months have passed since I started off my early memories of a makeshift boat held together with tar and twine on the waters of Loch Fyne and here I am finishing off on an Atlantic cruise on what has to be one of the finest ships of all time, the QE2. It you have stayed with me you have met some of The Kings of The Road, The Queens of The Seas and a whole host of ordinary people going about their business in their individual ways. I hope you have enjoyed meeting them, as I have enjoyed knowing them, each and every one. Glassary Parish 1828 THE Rev. Dougald Campbell, the Minister in Parish ot Glassary, in his studies of the Parish after he had been inducted on 9th September 1828 states : "In 1828 a Government Church was erected in a corner of Parish where the village of Lochgilphead had arisen. In 1841 a church was built by the Committee of General Assembly for Church Extension aided by the Duke of Argyll and Sir Archibald Campbell Bart at Cumlodden. "The trade in Lochgilphead depends on the surrounding district and it has great facilities alike for its imports and exports bv steamboats which arrive daily and depart from Ardnshaig. They convey sheep, cattle and all manner of goods at small expense of time and labour and money. There are daily posts to Inveraray, Glasgow, Campbeltown and three davs a week to Kilmartin The number ot people in the Parish of Glassary is over 5,000." Here one must point out that Ardnshaig was not in the Parish of Glassary. Lochgilphead at that time had 90 houses— 32 of them were pubs. Wages at this time was two and sixpence to three shillings a week. Mr Brothwick was the man in charge of the Excise and Customs and his figures show 19,000 gallons per quarter from the Distillery. These figures were given to him bv the Fishery Officer at Ardnshaig, a Mr Sutherland, and Neil Malcolm of Poltalloch along with Sir John Orde, Bt., of Kilmory.


Alexander Campbell Esq of Achendarroch did everything in his power to bring education to Lochgilphead. He gave a free house and schoolhouse to the teacher. Lochgilphead has now advanced to a beautitui new High School and the pupils now do not need to go to Dunoon or Oban. Local People MRS Crawford and Belle Campbell were two local people who in their time held the public eye. Mrs Crawfordwasthe conductor of the Lochgilphead Gaelic Choir and won many awards. Belle Campbell was a good singer and was in great demand at all functions. James Chalmers' was born in Ardnshaig in 1841 and killed by natives in New Guinea in 1901. Dr Archie Campbell, born in Ardnshaig, featured in the BBC Brains Trust. Pipe Major Neil Crawford and Pipe Major MacCallum taught the boys to play the pipes. That is the reason we have a Pipe Band in Mid-Argyll today. We must also mention Pipe Major Hendry MacGuinness who over the last number of years kept the boys together and was a marvellous piper himself, winning many major awards all over the country. Among today's young band members are the Campbell twins, Craig and lan, of Badden Farm. They have been given a wealth of knowledge by their predecessors and are putting it to good use. We wish them, and all the young boys in the Mid-Argyll Band, every success, and success will come because of their dedication. A special mention must be made here of Mr Greenshield and his family for teaching singing and dancing and also for creating the Junior Mod in Lochgilphead. This would have been a poor place without these people. Meg Dewar was a well-known face in the district as she sold fish from her two-handed barrow between Ardrishaig and Lochgilphead. Another Meg whom we will never forget is Meg Frew, who kept the Seaside boarding house up beside the tennis courts. She was a household name in these parts. During the war the navy had 36 sailors billeted with her. Ardrishaig was known as HMS Seahawk, the navy had all the Asdic training establishments down on the Channel Coast and as they were being badly hit up by the Jerries, thev decided to come to Ardrishaig. If anybody showed a peep of a light, one officer was going to have Harry Campbell and Duncan Hamilton in irons. Takes a while for men like these to cool down or to go the West Coast or Ardrishaig way. They have all gone now and the village has returned to normal. Miss Barbara Law was the lady who ran dances, sales and organised teas, raffles etc to get the Jock's boxes sent to the troops in the 1914-1918 war. She also ran the football clubs and got the black and gold strips tor the Ardrishaig team. Bill Manson was team manager. For a small village, Ardrishaig lost a lot of men. Barbara Law collected money for a number ot years to get a war memorial built. This will stand in her memory as well as the lads who died. This lady was one of the village's benetactors, never was she seeking any glory or benefit for herself. Doctors who have practised in Lochgilphead - Dr MacArthur - Dr James Hunter - Dr G. Lean - Dr MacIntyre - Dr William Dougan - Dr McCall-Smith - Dr Dugald Campbell - Dr John MacNaughton - Dr J. A. Matheson Dr John Hunter - Dr Carmichael - Dr A. I. MacCallum - Dr John MacKellar - Dr ]. C. MacDiarmid - Dr S. D. MacKenzie - Dr John Wnght - Dr J. D. McCullum - Dr J. C. S. Jeffrey - Dr Hugh Jackson - Dr J. A. Andrews Ardrishaig Shops of The Past OLD Mr Fletcher was the ironmonger and next to his shop was Agnes MacGregor's ladies' dress shop. Mrs Mitchell'.s sweet shop is now the cafe. Then there was the Lorne Hotel, Nessic MacCracken's shoe shop and the old Broom Hotel. The old shoemaker's shop belonged to Mr MacCracken senior. Strang's drapers was taken over by Alex MacEwan and ran for many years. His good lady is still with us. Mary MacVicar's is the fish shop, which she and her brother John ran for 30years. John's wife May is an expert baker and jam and and marmalade maker. Belle MacVicar had a grocery shop and wool store. What can anybody say other than she was a lovely lady. Bob MacInnes, the painter, served his time with Aulds the painters. He papered my living room and large bedroom as a wedding gift. People don't do these things today. At the Argyll Hotel. Mrs Gillies was host for 50 years, followed by the Kinghorns. Next to that, was Duncan Livingstone's garage, Lawson's lemonade works and the bakehouse next door was Hugh MacDonald's. The wee chip shop in front of Hermione Terrace was where Mrs Bom served for many years, then up to Tom


Hamilton's wite's wee shop. She sold fizzy lemonade drinks tor a penny. The shop at the end was the British Legion Whist Club. Jim and Katie Johnson sold lamps and electric fittings. Going back down the street we had Bayview Black, the butcher, followed by Mr Lament, Archie Cunningham; Jake Arman, bakers shop and grocer supplies. Sandv Crawtord, the tailor followed by Miss Livingston's hair and beauty salon. Next was the garage and church hall. Bob Gillies the tailor, Johnnie Barr, Robert Hamilton, hairdresser, Donnie Robertson, the ironmonger, then the post othce and Phillip Hugh's house, below the telephone exchange (Neil Hamilton's house for 30 years). Morrison had a shop and store at the back for 60 years; he had two vans on the road and his nephews helped him in the shop. Donald Makey was one driver and big Kenny MacPherson was the other. Jessie Munro's shop was MacKay's store before. A lady who had some money to pay him had her cow and calf removed and he had them down at the back of the shop till she paid the bill. There's no flies on the MacKay's ! MacGilp, the bakers, next. The Union Bank, run by Mr Roy, then by Mr Bulloch. Maggie Thompson's shop was followed by Donnie Sinclair, then Donnie MacMillan. Phebie Carmichael had the wool shop, which was taken over by Mary MacArthur ("Mary-All-Things") who sold everything from book-lending to kmcker elastic. Mrs MacFarlane's, Bennie Duff, the fruit shop, then Jim MacLachlan, Angus MacVicar, the butcher, followed by Andy Campbell's grocer's shop. He had one of the most beautiful displays of fruit and sweets you could ever hope to see. Next was Jimmy Mitchell, the plumber, Ian Mitchell's father. The chemist shop run by Mr Stevenson, the druggist, was taken over by Mr Tommy Menzies and his good wife. They are both still with us. Mrs Menzies was the lady who ran the Ardrishaig Drama Club and took most of the cups in the Argyll competitions. The garage next to their shop was where Josie McCrackcn sold his Sunday papers. The Anchor Hotel was run by Duncan Livingstone whose wife and son stay next door to me here at Attichuan Croft. Bannatyne the draper, then J. Carmichael's stores, followed by the Co-operative. Paterson, the chemist, then Willie MacCracken. nephew of old Willie at the shoe shop. Then A. Ferguson, the butcher, the Co-op butcher, Angus MacGregor's cycle shop, Cathie Mitchell had a shop opposite, where she sold kippers. The last shop was Barbara Law's fruits and sweets. On the south side we had Loll Jackson in the Fisher Row. The old shop was owned by the MacTavishes. Mary Campbell's, or "Wee Mary's" as she was known, was the shop where Andy Campbell started his grocer business before he went up the street. After him. we had Miss MacGeachy and Miss MacFarlane. Morrison's shop was followed by Davy and Mary Sinclair. Next we had Dan Hamilton's shop and the sweet shop next door was run by ]essie MacVicar and her son Archie. Dan's shop used to be Dan MacLachlan the butcher's before the first world war and at one time the house or landing was called the "Carriers' Inn". That is the reason the stable up the big lane went with the house. The horses came with the mail from Clachan to Ardrishaig and changed and then went on to Inveraray. The Gem THE Gem was a top sail schooner sailing from Ardnshaig in the west coast trade tor 40 years and during this time was altered to a ketch rig. Built of iron, the register tonnage was 511 net and carrying 100 tons cargo (slate, coal, wood etc). She sailed from April to the end of December, after which she was laid tip for the winter at Miller's Bridge, Oakfield. MacDonald, the bakers in Lochgliphead, supplied the Gem with a large order of hard-baked sea biscuits, referred to as "crumpers. They were the best baked biscuits in the trade and the main item in the dry stores of the local sailing boats. When navigating through the Crinan Canal, the Gem was towed by horses hauling on the front bank and Hugh MacTavish was probably the last of the local contractors in this trade. Sailing in all kinds of weather this fine boat came through many a stormy passage running through The Minch for Crinan and Ardrishaig. The master of the Gem was Duncan Sinclair and although most of the crew came from The Western Isles, there were quite a few local mariners who sailed on her, including the following - Hugh MacEwan,


Archie MacEwan, Archie MacTavish, Malcolm MacArthur, Archie Murray, Neil MacEwan, Lachlan MacTavish, Peter MacFarlane, Duncan MacLellan, John Shaw, Andrew Grinlaw and Donald Leitch. The aforementioned Duncan Sinclair started as a boy crewing on his father's (Malcolm Sinclair's) smack, Mary Sinclair, in the Loch Fyne herring and coastal trade. Her registered tonnage was 29 tons net and carrying 50 tons of cargo, mainly coal. The crews were all Lochgilphead men and they sailed as far as Skye in the coastal trade all year round. What a fine boat she looked in 1920, tied up in the canal at Ardrishaig, with all the boys up in the rigging wires, before she was sold and went to Ireland in 1931. These details were given to me by Duncan Sinclair, son of the owner of the Gem who lives in the old home in Lochgilphead. John McEwan - "Jonas" JOHN McEWAN, joiner, acquired fame in 1832 when the first cholera epidemic broke out in this area. He fearlessly attended the victims of this disease as they lay dying, often with no one else to help him. Being a joiner he was skilled in coffin-making but he also performed the rest of the funeral rites, even to digging and filling the graves. This was a task he often carried out alone as even near relatives of the deceased were too terrified to attend the burial. Even after this, when faced with smallpox and fevers, "Jonas" was requested to help. Despite facing these outbreaks, he lived to over 60. Not very many people on Mid-Argyll will be aware of the service "Jonas" rendered to one and all in this community. We are not too late to have a plaque erected in the Church of Scotland in Lochgilphead in this man's memory. I propose this, will some good citizens second it ?