Daughter’s book about her special mum brings Scottish history to life

Kirsteen and Margaret at Flodigarry Hotel car park on Skye with Quirang in the background
Kirsteen and Margaret at Flodigarry Hotel car park on Skye with Quirang in the background

A Bearsden woman has written a fascinating social history book about her mother’s memories of growing up in Scotland.

Kirsteen Grant’s mum, Margaret, was born in 1912 in Cardross, Dunbartonshire.

Her parents were Margaret MacKinnon of Camuscross, Sleat, Skye, and Donald McInnes of Airor, Knoydart, whose family had gone there from Sleat a couple of generations before.

Margaret’s father was a butler at Kilmahew Castle to the Allan family, of the well-known shipping line.

Kirsteen’s childhood at Kilmahew Cottage with her brother and sister was very happy but their family background in both Knoydart and Skye was always very prominent in their life too.

They were always very excited to travel by train for holidays from Cardross to Mallaig, often stopping off for a visit in Airor.

Kirsteen said: “Our visit usually began with a welcoming, scratchy kiss from one of our bearded uncles.

“Then we’d travel across to Skye, which was usually more interesting for us because we had plenty of young people to keep us company at Camuscross during the summers.”

Kirsteen’s cousin is the eighth generation of her mother’s family to live in Camuscross, which has incredible views across the Sound of Sleat to the small village of Airor.

Margaret lived in Milngavie after marrying Donald Grant, who was also from Camuscross.

They bought a house in Camuscross when Donald retired from teaching in Glasgow, but sadly he died suddenly just one year later.

Margaret remained in Skye for a further 20 years and made a large contribution to the community.

Kirsteen added: “Mum was a lively, energetic and kind character of independent mind but she always put others first.

“Although she was a pensioner her ‘taxi service’ was well-known by her many friends, as well as impromptu picnics and runs all over the island.

“She was also a talented writer which stemmed from her keen observation of people and huge interest in so many areas of life.

“Mum spent many hours working on the ‘slonneadh’ or family history before it became fashionable and traced it back to the 1700’s.

“I think she might have laughed at how easily you can find facts now because she spent hours researching.

“She left an equally interesting account of her memories and her findings of the social side of her history including accounts of her family’s eviction from Airor, Knoydart, during the Highland Clearances.

“It’s fascinating to read because she had such a lively mind and she wasn’t afraid to speak what she thought.

“Her own observations are illuminating and the names on the family tree begin to take on personalities and become ancestors that you can associate with.”

Kirsteen’s book is in four sections - Cardross, Camucross Airor, Knoydart.

Part four is about her aunt and uncle’s experience of leaving Skye in 1904 to settle in the U.S.A - written by her cousin, Carolyn. For a copy of the book email: kirsteen7@btinternet.com