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TITLE
Echoes of the Glen (5)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_COLIN_MACDONALD_05
PLACENAME
Muir of Ord
DISTRICT
Muir of Ord
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS: Urray
DATE OF RECORDING
2009
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Margaret Newton
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
73
KEYWORDS
audios
crofting
crofters
crofter
croft
crofts

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This audio extract is from 'Echoes of the Glen or Mac-Talla Nan Gleann' by Colin MacDonald, first published in 1936. It is read by Colin's daughter, Margaret MacDonald Newton.

'I retain one vivid recollection of this market. It was on a day in June forty-four years ago. The preceding evening I was thrilled to the marrow when my mother told me that it had been decided I should accompany father on the morrow with the stirks to the Muir-of-Ord Market; and that, if the stirks made anything over six pounds apiece I would get a new suit! That night gave me my first experience of insomnia.

At five next morning I was up feeding and grooming the stirks. We were off at six on our eleven-mile drove. By ten o'clock we were duly stanced on the Muir.

Then came the weary waiting for offers. For nearly two hours not one of the scores of drovers gave us more than a passing look. About noon a big man with a blob nose came along.

'Aye, man,' said he to my father; 'what are ye seekin' for the stirks?'

'Six pounds five shillings apiece,' was the reply.

'Ye mean six pounds five shillings for the two,' came the withering retort as Blob-nose walked away.

An hour later a man with a smug, sickly, sanctimonious smile came along.

'How much for the stirks, good man?'

'Six pounds five shillings apiece.'

'You mean five pounds six shillings apiece?'

No reply from my father other than a look of scorn.

Several dealers then came along in quick succession, but the best offer was five pounds ten shillings. Then another dreadful hiatus. We were on the point of starting for home at six o'clock when he of the blob nose reappeared. The nose had by this time acquired somewhat of a carnation colour.

'I'll gie ye six pounds apiece, maister,' said he, 'and that's a pound too much.'

'Off home with them,' was my parent's reply.

Had I been wearing boots my heart would no doubt have dropped into them. As it was, it just seemed to ooze out of me altogether as I headed the stirks for home. I had gone maybe a hundred yards in that direction when Blob-nose bawled, 'Here, maister! I'll gie ye yir price but there'll be a lucks-penny.'

I stopped. My father turned round. The two met.

'Haud oot yir haun,' said the drover. Out went the left palm. Twelve golden sovereigns were deliberately counted into it; then two crowns. One of the crowns was handed back as lucks-penny. The two principals shook hands. Like shot I about-turned the stirks in the direction of their new owner.

We walked the eleven weary miles home. I slept a round and a half of the clock and next week I got my first real new suit.'

Colin MacDonald spent his childhood on the family croft at the Heights of Inchvannie, Strathpeffer, Ross-shire. He left school at thirteen to work the croft and at the age of twenty-six, matriculated at Marischal College, Aberdeen. He later became a member of staff of the Aberdeen and North of Scotland College of Agriculture. He also worked for the Board of Agriculture for Scotland and finally became Gaelic-speaking member of the Scottish Land Court.

In 1914 he married Margaret Stewart Young and spent the following six years in Thurso, where three of the couple's children - Colin, Bill and Margaret - were born. A third son, Lewis, was born after his father's transfer to Board of Agriculture's head office in Edinburgh. Links to the family croft remained, however, and the children were regularly de-camped to Inchvannie for the summer holidays. The author died at the croft in 1957.

According to his daughter, Margaret, Colin MacDonald was a tolerant man who could be nevertheless roused to anger over issues of hypocrisy and inhumanity. He was also a wonderful storyteller with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His first book, 'Echoes of the Glen', was published in 1936, a vivid and faithful portrayal of daily life in the Highlands. Thereafter, publications included 'Highland Journey' (1949), 'Croft and Ceilidh' (1947), 'Highland Memories' (1949), and 'Crofts and Crofters' (1955). 'Life in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland', a combination of 'Echoes' and 'Highland Journey', was published in 1991.

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Echoes of the Glen (5)

ROSS: Urray

2000s

audios; crofting; crofters; crofter; croft; crofts;

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Colin MacDonald

This audio extract is from 'Echoes of the Glen or Mac-Talla Nan Gleann' by Colin MacDonald, first published in 1936. It is read by Colin's daughter, Margaret MacDonald Newton.<br /> <br /> 'I retain one vivid recollection of this market. It was on a day in June forty-four years ago. The preceding evening I was thrilled to the marrow when my mother told me that it had been decided I should accompany father on the morrow with the stirks to the Muir-of-Ord Market; and that, if the stirks made anything over six pounds apiece I would get a new suit! That night gave me my first experience of insomnia. <br /> <br /> At five next morning I was up feeding and grooming the stirks. We were off at six on our eleven-mile drove. By ten o'clock we were duly stanced on the Muir. <br /> <br /> Then came the weary waiting for offers. For nearly two hours not one of the scores of drovers gave us more than a passing look. About noon a big man with a blob nose came along. <br /> <br /> 'Aye, man,' said he to my father; 'what are ye seekin' for the stirks?' <br /> <br /> 'Six pounds five shillings apiece,' was the reply. <br /> <br /> 'Ye mean six pounds five shillings for the two,' came the withering retort as Blob-nose walked away. <br /> <br /> An hour later a man with a smug, sickly, sanctimonious smile came along. <br /> <br /> 'How much for the stirks, good man?' <br /> <br /> 'Six pounds five shillings apiece.' <br /> <br /> 'You mean five pounds six shillings apiece?' <br /> <br /> No reply from my father other than a look of scorn. <br /> <br /> Several dealers then came along in quick succession, but the best offer was five pounds ten shillings. Then another dreadful hiatus. We were on the point of starting for home at six o'clock when he of the blob nose reappeared. The nose had by this time acquired somewhat of a carnation colour. <br /> <br /> 'I'll gie ye six pounds apiece, maister,' said he, 'and that's a pound too much.' <br /> <br /> 'Off home with them,' was my parent's reply. <br /> <br /> Had I been wearing boots my heart would no doubt have dropped into them. As it was, it just seemed to ooze out of me altogether as I headed the stirks for home. I had gone maybe a hundred yards in that direction when Blob-nose bawled, 'Here, maister! I'll gie ye yir price but there'll be a lucks-penny.' <br /> <br /> I stopped. My father turned round. The two met. <br /> <br /> 'Haud oot yir haun,' said the drover. Out went the left palm. Twelve golden sovereigns were deliberately counted into it; then two crowns. One of the crowns was handed back as lucks-penny. The two principals shook hands. Like shot I about-turned the stirks in the direction of their new owner. <br /> <br /> We walked the eleven weary miles home. I slept a round and a half of the clock and next week I got my first real new suit.'<br /> <br /> Colin MacDonald spent his childhood on the family croft at the Heights of Inchvannie, Strathpeffer, Ross-shire. He left school at thirteen to work the croft and at the age of twenty-six, matriculated at Marischal College, Aberdeen. He later became a member of staff of the Aberdeen and North of Scotland College of Agriculture. He also worked for the Board of Agriculture for Scotland and finally became Gaelic-speaking member of the Scottish Land Court. <br /> <br /> In 1914 he married Margaret Stewart Young and spent the following six years in Thurso, where three of the couple's children - Colin, Bill and Margaret - were born. A third son, Lewis, was born after his father's transfer to Board of Agriculture's head office in Edinburgh. Links to the family croft remained, however, and the children were regularly de-camped to Inchvannie for the summer holidays. The author died at the croft in 1957.<br /> <br /> According to his daughter, Margaret, Colin MacDonald was a tolerant man who could be nevertheless roused to anger over issues of hypocrisy and inhumanity. He was also a wonderful storyteller with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His first book, 'Echoes of the Glen', was published in 1936, a vivid and faithful portrayal of daily life in the Highlands. Thereafter, publications included 'Highland Journey' (1949), 'Croft and Ceilidh' (1947), 'Highland Memories' (1949), and 'Crofts and Crofters' (1955). 'Life in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland', a combination of 'Echoes' and 'Highland Journey', was published in 1991.