OT: 12 August 1933 – Memorial Cairn to the MacCrimmon’s of Borreraig (Part 2)

The Oban Times, 12 August, 1933


by Fred. T. MacLeod

Those who were privileged to be members of the house-party in Dunvegan Castle prior to and during the time of the unveiling of the MacCrimmon Memorials at Borreraig will ever retain a happy recollection not only of MacLeod’s traditional hospitality and Mrs. Walter’s sweetness and charm, but also of the incidents that occurred in the old banqueting room, now the drawing room, in close proximity to the historical dungeon. It was pleasant in the morning to be wakened out of slumber by the tuneful playing of MacLeod’s piper to look out of one’s bedroom window, high above the Castle rock, upon a scene of matchless beauty, the dazzling blueness of the loch below contrasting strongly with the purple heather of the many islets studding its surface.

After dinner on Wednesday there arrived at the Castle Pipe-Major John MacDonald, Pipe-Major Robert Reid and Mr. Angus Macpherson. Again the past lived in the present. The Fairy Flag, unfurled to its full extent, in close proximity to the famous Dunvegan Cup and Sir Rory Mor’s Horn, caught the eyes of the pipers as with graceful carriage and perfect step they reproduced with unerring accuracy and tunefulness the MacCrimmon pibrochs centuries old. As they turned slowly in their steps it appeared as if, facing them on the wall, the portrait of Dr. Samuel Johnson and the original letter he wrote to MacLeod from Ullinish when leaving Skye, assumed a new significance. We sat spellbound as with wonderful restraint the beautiful notes of the old-world music welled forth.

Earlier in the evening there sailed down Loch Dunvegan, her white sails shimmering in the sunlight, Mr. Norman Heathcote’s yacht “The Ketch.” It was a thoughtful action on his part to lend the services of his yacht to convey his kinsman MacLeod and his party to Borreraig on the following day, and he spared no efforts to bring the vessel to anchor before the Castle in good time. Those of us responsible for the arrangements connected with the unveiling ceremony at Borreraig wish to be allowed to express our sense of deep appreciation to Mr. and Miss Heathcote, not only for their personal kindness and courtesy, but for providing a means by which the official party could reach their destination by the waterway so familiar to the MacCrimmons, across which 307 year ago Patrick Mor brought the sad news of his Chief’s death, far from home, to his pupils in Borreraig.

Those of the guests interested in the contents of the muniment room spent an interesting hour or two among historic papers dating from the 13th century, marvellously arranged and easily accessible because of their perfect indexing, the result of the indefatigable labours of Canon R. C. MacLeod of MacLeod, the family historian. Estate rentals of the 17th century were examined in the hope of being able to link ourselves with the estate tenants of those days, sometimes with fruitful results; while those to whom the musty old documents did not appeal passed the door of the muniment room, a narrow stair built in the thickness of the wall, and thus gained access to the Castle roof, from which an unrivaled panoramic view of Skye and the adjacent isles was obtainable.

On the Thursday afternoon MacLeod and Mrs. Walter were At Home to a large number of invited guests from far and near. The day was beautifully fine, and upwards of 200 persons enjoyed themselves in the Castle and in the grounds.

In conclusion I should like to refer to the two concerts, held on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, successfully organized by Mrs. Walter with her customary enthusiasm. Two of the Castle guests, Miss Heloise Russell-Ferguson and Mr. Hugh Campbell of Strathcathro, both well-known and highly accomplished artistes, carried through the entire musical programme.

These functions, together with the ceremonies at Borreraig and Kilmuir, Dunvegan, comprised a series of events which will long be remembered throughout the length and breadth of Piping Scotland.