Old Cullipool

Old Cullipool

Monday, 17 April 2017


"There was a Mackenzie of an old Gairloch stock living in Ullapool, Loch Broom. He was called in Gaelic 'Murchadh mac Mhur-chaidh,' or, 'Murdo the son of Murdo;' I will call him 'Murdo's son.' He was a very fine, good-looking man, and very brave. He had a small smack, and he was always going with her round the Mull of Kintyre to Greenock with herrings from Loch Broom. Returning with the vessel empty, he put into a place called Duncan's Well, (Toberonochy), in the Island of Luing, on the other side of Oban. This island belongs to Lord Breadalbane to this day. Murdo's son went ashore at night.. There was a ball going on in a house, and Lord Breadalbane's daughter was there. She fell in love at once with the good-looking Murdo's son, and he fell in love with her. He took her away with him that very night, and before daybreak they set sail for Ullapool. When they got to Ullapool they were married, and he took her to his house at the place now called Moorfield, where the banker lives in the present day.
"There was no name on Murdo's son's smack at that time; there were no roads nor newspapers then; and no one knew where the smack had gone with Lord Breadalbane's daughter, only that she had left with Murdo's son. Lord Breadalbane could find out nothing more. He went to the king and got a law made that from that time every vessel should have a name on it; there were no names on vessels before then in Scotland. Lord Breadalbane offered a reward of three hundred pounds to any one who would find where his daughter had gone. When Murdo's son got the report of this reward he started off at once, dressed in his best kilt and plaid, with his dirk in his belt, and walked all the way to Lord Breadalbane's castle at Taymouth. He knocked at the door, and a man came and asked what he was wanting; he told him he wanted to see the lord. So the man went in, and soon the lord came in his slippers to the door. He asked Murdo's son what was he wanting there. He told him he came to tell him where his daughter was, that he might get the reward. Says the lord, 'You will get the money if you tell me where, she is;' asked him, 'Where is she?' 'Wel!! says Murdo's son, ' I'll tell that when I get the money.' 'There's your money for you then.'

When he got the money, he said, 'She's at Ullapool, at Loch Broom, and if you will give me other three hundred pounds I will put the hand of the man that stole her into your hand.' The lord gave him other three hundred pounds. Says he, ' Keep out your hand.'; 'There,' says he, putting his hand in the lord's hand, 'is the hand that took your daughter from the Island of Luing;' and Lord Breadalbane was so pleased with his pluck and appearance, that he accepted him as his son-in-law, and gave him the full tocher (or dowry) of his daughter. I remember seeing their son and daughter; the daughter married John Morrison, who was the farmer at Drumchork, about 1850.

"Murdo's son was going in the same smack with herrings from Loch Broom to sell them. After coming round the Mull of Kintyre he anchored at Crinan for the night. There was lying there a lugger full of gin and brandy;" she had been captured near Cape Wrath by a government cutter; the crew had been put ashore at Cape Wrath. Six men of the cutter's crew were bringing the lugger to deliver her at Greenock. She came alongside Murdo's son at Crinan, as she was going south and he coming north. Murdo's son asked them, 'What craft is that?' They told him it was a smuggler they had caught at Cape Wrath. ' Surely you have plenty drink on board,' says he. 'Oh, yes,' they said, ' she is choke full.' Says he, ' You had better all of you come over and see if the stuff I have is better than what you have got.' So they came over, all hands, to his smack. He tried the jar he had, and made them all drunk. They could not leave his cabin. When they were in this state he and his .crew went to the lugger, took possession of her, and set sail, leaving her drunken crew in his own smack. Murdo's son came to Ullapool with the lugger, and when he had taken the cargo out of her he set fire to her and destroyed her. A son of Murdo's son was married to Mrs Mackenzie of Kernsary before Mr Mackenzie married her, and had two sons, both now dead, and buried in Cil-lean, in Strath Garve.

"Donald Morrison, of Drumchork, was a grandson of Murdo's son and Lord Breadalbane's daughter. He went to see the Lord Breadalbane of his day, a descendant of the lord whose daughter was married to Murdo's son. Lord Breadalbane gave Donald Morrison three hundred pounds when he went to the castle. Rorie Morrison also went to see Lord Breadalbane, but he did not get anything. Donald was a very fine, tall, handsome man, and looked grand in his kilt and plaid; there was no one like him in the country, so good-looking and so well shaped for the kilt!"

Extracted from James Mackenzie's Gairloch Stories