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TITLE
Acquiring Material for 'Am Fasgadh' (the Shelter)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_I_F_GRANT_08
DATE OF RECORDING
1969
PERIOD
1960s
CREATOR
Isabel F. Grant
SOURCE
The School of Scottish Studies Archives
ASSET ID
1359
KEYWORDS
audio
literary landscapes

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In this audio extract, Dr. I. F. Grant talks about how she acquired material for her museum, Am Fasgadh. She is being interviewed by Eric Cregeen, Glasgow University Extra-mural department's first Resident Tutor in Argyll (1954-66).

Audio extract by kind permission of the School of Scottish Studies Archives, University of Edinburgh.

'Well, as you know I had 'Am Fasgadh', and I used to go and try and collect things in the Outer Isles. And I went to Tarbert, in Harris, and one always couldn't sort of just burst into these houses; one always had to get a sort of introduction. And I managed to get an introduction to the district nurse and she said, 'Oh well there's a Mrs - I think it was Morrison - in the village and I think you'll get something from her. She has some old things.' Well, I went there, and there were some nice old things; there was a nice old chair and one or two other things, and there was a daughter lying on a bed in the corner looking desperately ill - I think she had diabetes - and the poor mother was evidently terribly hard up. And she said yes, she'd let me have the things. And she was desperately anxious to get the money. I was extremely hard up; I got things as cheaply as I could, but I couldn't try and get a fair deal with her, I gave what I could possibly afford and she was delighted. And she was most intelligent about doing them up; most of them thought a frail old chair or spinning wheel, you tied a label on and flung it into MacBrayne's Steamer! And one had an awful time getting these things properly guarded, but she was most intelligent. And afterwards I met the District Nurse, and she said, 'Well, you did a good day's work. You - No, she said, 'Well you went to see Mrs Morrison?' I said, 'Yes' and she said, 'Well, you did a good day's work because she was desperate for money. She was on her knees praying that by some marvellous thing, something would come to her, she - and you just walked in and bought what she thought was old rubbish. I said, 'Well, I think there will be a blessing' and when the County Council council tried to commandeer my dwelling, you know, they tried to get the building, I thought well surely that prayer will bare fruit, and it did - we routed them. It's a queer tale.

Interviewer: Yes.'

Although born in Edinburgh and brought up in London, Isabel Frances Grant was 'first and foremost a Highlander, with a strong sense of belonging in the north country and in particular to the Grant country of Strathspey. She was justifiably proud of her family and their long domicile in the Highlands as the Grants of Tullochgorm' (Hugh Cheape, 2007).

Her interest in Highland life and culture shaped her writing and the museum she founded. Originally known as Am Fasgadh, (the Shelter), her collection and vision form the basis of what exists as the Highland Folk Museum today.

Well versed in Scottish history and Highland folk culture, Isabel Grant wrote her first book 'Everyday Life of an Old Highland Farm' in 1924, based upon the eighteenth-century account books of a distant ancestor, William Mackintosh of Balnespick, near Kingussie. Travelling through Europe, she was profoundly influenced by the open air museum movement and in 1934 she determined to follow by establishing a Highland folk museum. She resolved to record as much as she could of the quickly disappearing ways of Highland life as well as preserve many of its associated objects.

In parallel to her collecting activities, Isabel Grant continued writing and publishing. Her seminal work, 'Highland Folk Ways' (1961) detailed the material and non-material culture of the Highlands, primarily illustrating the former using the collections she had established herself. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1948 by The University of Edinburgh and an MBE in 1959 for her contributions to scholarship.

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Acquiring Material for 'Am Fasgadh' (the Shelter)

1960s

audio; literary landscapes

The School of Scottish Studies Archives

Literary Landscapes: Isabel Grant

In this audio extract, Dr. I. F. Grant talks about how she acquired material for her museum, Am Fasgadh. She is being interviewed by Eric Cregeen, Glasgow University Extra-mural department's first Resident Tutor in Argyll (1954-66).<br /> <br /> Audio extract by kind permission of the School of Scottish Studies Archives, University of Edinburgh.<br /> <br /> 'Well, as you know I had 'Am Fasgadh', and I used to go and try and collect things in the Outer Isles. And I went to Tarbert, in Harris, and one always couldn't sort of just burst into these houses; one always had to get a sort of introduction. And I managed to get an introduction to the district nurse and she said, 'Oh well there's a Mrs - I think it was Morrison - in the village and I think you'll get something from her. She has some old things.' Well, I went there, and there were some nice old things; there was a nice old chair and one or two other things, and there was a daughter lying on a bed in the corner looking desperately ill - I think she had diabetes - and the poor mother was evidently terribly hard up. And she said yes, she'd let me have the things. And she was desperately anxious to get the money. I was extremely hard up; I got things as cheaply as I could, but I couldn't try and get a fair deal with her, I gave what I could possibly afford and she was delighted. And she was most intelligent about doing them up; most of them thought a frail old chair or spinning wheel, you tied a label on and flung it into MacBrayne's Steamer! And one had an awful time getting these things properly guarded, but she was most intelligent. And afterwards I met the District Nurse, and she said, 'Well, you did a good day's work. You - No, she said, 'Well you went to see Mrs Morrison?' I said, 'Yes' and she said, 'Well, you did a good day's work because she was desperate for money. She was on her knees praying that by some marvellous thing, something would come to her, she - and you just walked in and bought what she thought was old rubbish. I said, 'Well, I think there will be a blessing' and when the County Council council tried to commandeer my dwelling, you know, they tried to get the building, I thought well surely that prayer will bare fruit, and it did - we routed them. It's a queer tale.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Yes.'<br /> <br /> Although born in Edinburgh and brought up in London, Isabel Frances Grant was 'first and foremost a Highlander, with a strong sense of belonging in the north country and in particular to the Grant country of Strathspey. She was justifiably proud of her family and their long domicile in the Highlands as the Grants of Tullochgorm' (Hugh Cheape, 2007). <br /> <br /> Her interest in Highland life and culture shaped her writing and the museum she founded. Originally known as Am Fasgadh, (the Shelter), her collection and vision form the basis of what exists as the Highland Folk Museum today. <br /> <br /> Well versed in Scottish history and Highland folk culture, Isabel Grant wrote her first book 'Everyday Life of an Old Highland Farm' in 1924, based upon the eighteenth-century account books of a distant ancestor, William Mackintosh of Balnespick, near Kingussie. Travelling through Europe, she was profoundly influenced by the open air museum movement and in 1934 she determined to follow by establishing a Highland folk museum. She resolved to record as much as she could of the quickly disappearing ways of Highland life as well as preserve many of its associated objects.<br /> <br /> In parallel to her collecting activities, Isabel Grant continued writing and publishing. Her seminal work, 'Highland Folk Ways' (1961) detailed the material and non-material culture of the Highlands, primarily illustrating the former using the collections she had established herself. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1948 by The University of Edinburgh and an MBE in 1959 for her contributions to scholarship.