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September 22, 2017

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Lismore in Alba by Ian Carmichael

July 26, 2017

Of all the books I've read recently 'Lismore in Alba', is by far the best.  I am sure it is well known to most locally but I have only just discovered it and loved re-acquainting myself with many stories that I heard as a youth growing up in Appin.  My favorite story relates to the day after the Glencoe Massacre and despite the heartless cruelty that surrounds this whole event there was rare acts of humanity. 

The day after the massacre, Campbell soldiers were searching for escapees when they heard the cry's of a child.  It was late in the day and eager to get back to shelter, food and rest, the officer sent only a young soldier to dispatch whatever he finds.   In the lea of a rock he saw a young mother singing softly, desperately trying to stop her young child crying along with their very hungry looking dog.   The soldier's mind flashed back to his own wife and child in Glenlyon and went forward to comfort the young mother and child.  Having reassured her and being mindful of what he was there to do, he drew his sword and ran it through the dog.  When he rejoined the search party, the officer seeing him wiping blood from his sword found it unnecessary to ask questions.

The sequel to this story is set in the Old Inn in Appin, which has been restored as an Inn with a great rustic and wlcoming atmosphere.  Some 50 year after the massacre, the Inn keeper was that of a MacDonald.  On a cold winters night with heavy snow falling, a knock came at the Inn door and an old disheveled looking tramp was usher in to the warmth of an open fire.  MacDonald took pity on him and his wife prepare some food and a toddy.  During the evening of chat the old man of 70 years mentioned that he had been a soldier and served with Glenlyon at the Massacre of Glencoe which he hastened to condemn.   The Inn-keeper went out for a moment and informed his sons of the identity of their visitor telling them to waylay him as he left Portnacroich and kill him.  MacDonald rejoined the company of this unfortunate soldier and made further enquiries about that fatal day in Glencoe.  The old man said he would never forget the memory of a child crying in his mother's arms in the shelter of a great rock with a hungry looking dog.  He said it was with great regret that he had to slay the loyal dog to save the mother and child.  "You and your dog", cried the Inn-keeper as he left to his feet with great excitement and stood over the old man.  "So you are the soldier of Glenlyon that did that".  Do you know that I am the child you saved and had you not identified yourself this moment you would not have left Portnacroich alive this evening.    Until the day of his death, the old soldier of Glenlyon received a warm welcome by the fireside of the Old Inn in Appin.