No thread on Roads to the Isles would be complete without a mention of the Reverend Kenneth MacLeod (1871-1955), best known as the author of the well known 'Road to the Isles',
I first learned about Kenneth MacLeod in Alasdair Alpin Macgregor's Skye and the Inner Hebrides. Chapter 17 of the book is about Cara, and in it Alasdair visits the island in the company of Kenneth, and together they explore the ruin of Cara House and sit on the Brownie's Stone. This wonderful tale inspired me to get to Cara back in the 90s to do the same.
Macleod was born on Eigg in 1871. After being ordained in 1917, he was the Church of Scotland parish minister of Colonsay and Oronsay until 1923, and then moved on to Gigha, where he was minister until 1947. Macleod passed away in 1955. He was buried in Taynuilt, and on a weekday about 10 years ago, I wandered around the Taynuilt cemetery in an unsuccessful search for his grave. A few years later I returned on a Sunday and asked to look at the burial records. Surprisingly, they had no idea who Kenneth MacLeod was, but they were able to find his grave for me. It is easily located by standing under the Sheela-na-gig on the south wall of the church, and then walking across the cemetery towards the highway. Just where the ground starts to slope downwards you will find the grave (see photos below). You can read his obituary here, and be sure to see this link for a photo of him on Gigha in the 1940s.
I'd like to end this series of 'On Roads to the Isles' posts with this dedication to Kenneth Macleod from T. Ratcliffe Barnett's The Road to Rannoch and the Summer Isles (1924):
TO KENNETH MACLEOD
Bard of the isles: Gleaner of Gaelic Legendry: and high priest of the great mysteries - in memory of a day in Mull when he made us see, with Columba's eyes, the vision at the white table - these papers are dedicated by a wayfaring man who has seen something of God's beauty in the bens, the glens, and the islands, and has found many a fortune in the heart of his fellow-travellers.
|Muckairn Church - Taynauilt|
|Muckairn Church with the ruin of the older church in the foreground|
|Carved stone from the original church (possibly a Sheela-na-gig)|
|Grave of Kenneth Macleod|
|Macleod tombstone - Kenneth's memorial is at the bottom|