Sunday, 12 May 2019

My Ties to Tiree

I am a child of the Barley. My paternal great grandfather, Hugh Macdonald was born on Tiree. In Balemartin on the south western side of the island. Hugh's parents were Archibald Macdonald and Catherine Lamond. 

The family moved to Glasgow when Hugh was about 10. Hugh met and married Mary Neil, of Denny. Hugh was a railway journeyman, as was Mary's father. Hugh and Mary married in Glasgow and then moved to Edinburgh, where my grandfather, Archie was born. The family eventually moved through to Rosewell where my dad and all of his siblings were born and raised. 

I have enjoyed my time on Tiree. It is far more rural than I had anticipated and at times, I get the sense that I am driving through one big farm. Archie was an agricultural labourer as were most men on Tiree. It has very fertile soil and was known for its barley crop. In more recent years, the residents took on farming Kelp. 

In the mid 1800s, the population of Tiree was just over 5,000. That seems unimaginable, really, given that the island is only 30 square miles in size. Between 1847 and 1852, many residents left Tiree for the Canada. They boarded ships called The Barlow, The Charlotte, The Birman, The Conrad and the Onyx and made their way to Montreal. In 1849 alone, 600 people emigrated from Tiree to Canada. In the latter part of the 19th century, several young men headed for greener pastures in Patagonia. Most of these young men later returned to Tiree. Those emigrating to Canada remained in Canada. 

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