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Diciadain, 01/Dec/2010

The Mackays of Islay in The Celtic Monthly

Islay Links in stencil

Some Islay history today, a quite old magazine with all kinds of things to discover. I think it was when I was working on the An old Islay Poem entry when I came across an old magazine from 1900, The Celtic Monthly (1900), volume 8. There are several mentions for Islay in there in some form, some I'd like to point out here, in particular the Mackays of Islay:

The first and I found most interesting one begins on page 11 (or page n22 of the online reader, which seems best to study it) and is titled The Mackays of Islay, with some of the predictions of Mackay of the Rhinns. It starts with the story of two Mackays, Brian Mackay who was given land on The Oa in 1408 and then more importantly the Mackay of Rhinns (I'm not sure when he lived), who was a seer. Here's a quote from him (first paragraph) and how it was interpreted to have come true (second paragraph):

A language will come to the island which the natives will not understand ; the soil will then become as slabs of ice under their feet and they cannot remain in Islay. Strangers will grow (flourish) in Islay, and Islaymen in foreign lands. The natives will leave Islay when they fail to make a living there.
When the natives thee forsake. The peace of Scotland is at stake.

Natives of Islay realise how much of the above has already been fulfilled. The English language is fast making way in Islay. In 1891 the population of Islay was 7,375, of these 1,164 spoke Gaelic only, while 5,217 spoke Gaelic and English. The proportion of Lowland farmers in Islay is considerable, while flourishing colonies of Islay men are to be found in Canada. It is stated for a fact that of the eleven Campbells who are represented in the Valuation Roll of 1751 — proprietors and land settlers — there is hardly one to the good to-day in Islay. In 1833 the population of Islay was 15,500, so that emigration and other causes have reduced it to about one-half in little over half a century. There are more Islay men in Ontario, in Nottawasaga, Oro, Owensound, Cannigton, &c., than in all Islay.

There's more on the following page, further predictions by the Mackay of Rhinns. I'll leave you to discover them yourself.

The second interesting area has the title ‘The Argyle Colony in New York State.’, which becomes interesting once you read the subtitle, ‘The Islay Emigrations of 1738-40’. It comes in several sections and tells the story of Laughlin Campbell and the settlers he brought:

Those were the interesting things I spotted in this issue, if you find anything else please point it out. There are also other volumes available on, which I hope to investigate some other time. I hope for now you found some of these interesting.

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