Taken from
Issue Number 6 December 1979


Editor: M.G.Hunter, N.A., B.Sc.

Incredible as it may seem we have now been in existence for three years! A friendly critic wonders what we will do when our stock of material for the "Magazine" runs out. She can be reassured that instead of diminishing our supplies are ever increasing. We have no need to scrape the barrel; our widow's cruise is ever at hand! But we do want more contributors, and in especial from that group coming under the Society's interest in Natural History. We have in this number a thoughtful contribution, and as they read it, some of our readers will feel a little sad at the fluffy kitten which rejected a good home for its freedom in the wild. We need, if it permissible to use the names of our illustrious fellow publications - Observers and Record-ers! A series of pre-history articles has been planned and the editor looks forward to the filling of a very obvious gap in the Magazine's contents.

Telephone messages, letters and personal contacts between the public and the members of the Magazine Committee give us our so-far never ending source of ideas. It is gratifying to hear from overseas Kintyreans that we keep them in touch with, or in some cases, bring them in touch with their homeland. An American subscriber tells us that his copy passes through several hands, while an Australian, revisiting the land of her birth took time to telephone the editorial headquarters (sic!) and promised a future letter. As our readers follow the reasoning in "The Great Pestilence" many may not realise that it came from Australia where the former doctor of Southend now lives. He, an Argyllshire man by birth and upbringing tells that his elder brother was the first child to be born in Campbeltown's Barochan Place, when his father was on the staff of the old Grammar School. Dr. Maiden has now handsomely fulfilled a promise made when the Magazine was first projected.

An American member of our Society on a recent visit made use of our Library, and has given to it a copy of her recently published book "To Make a Home in Pioneer Cass County Illinois." Her "widowed great grandmother left Southend with a grown-up family of eight sons and one daughter and the latter's husband: how different were the family migrations of the 19th century from the 20th century emigrants, who were generally single men, although many of them sent back here for wives, or fetched them, when they had settled down in a new country.

To our subscribers and readers, whether overseas or in our native Kintyre, we give thanks for their kind encouragement, and to all we wish a happy and prosperous New Year.


The annual ploughing match is still an important event in the farming calendar, but that held in February, 1889, was not of the usual type. A challenge had been issued, and the ploughmen of Kintyre were not slow to plough for the honour of their district. Although many of the local farmers are descendents of 'incomers' from Ayrshire and Renfrewshire, there exists some rivalry between the areas. When James Ferguson from Strathbungo declared he could beat the best of Kintyre's ploughmen, there was no lack of men anxious to prove him wrong. "A number of gentlemen," to quote the "Campbeltown Courier" of the day, "subscribed sufficient funds to furnish a tempting prizelist, with the result that twelve good men and true turned out to maintain the honour of our far-famed peninsula."

The challenger, it is said, brought his own plough in a pack! A field at Kilkivan, kindly granted by Mr. Robert Cunningham, was the scene of the conflict: the weather was not too kind, but is that not often the case even at local matches? The crowd of on-lookers lining the public road and the end of the field was estimated at mid day at between 1500 and 2000. (The Courier is inclined to think that the larger number is correct.)

At the beginning the advantage seemed to lie with the defenders, but as the day wore on the contest developed into a struggle between the challenger and James McAulay. The judges after much painstaking scrutiny and many applications of the eye foot and rule, placed Ferguson first, and the local McAulay second. The judges, Lachlan Clerk, Skerbolin, Robert Smith, Rhoin, and Mr. Howie from Inverkip, agreed that they had never seen on a field such an aggregation of good ploughing, and said that if our men had been on equal terms with the champion as regards the implement used, the boot might have been on the other leg. The conformity of Ferguson's plough was such as to 'twine' the fur better, and throw the surface completely over and down. Under these circumstances Kintyre had reason to be proud of her ploughmen and did not grudge Mr. Ferguson the prize and the honour he so hardly had won.

The prize money amounted to £23, of which the challenger received £10 and James McAulay, Killeonan, £6. Other prize winners were Duncan McKay, Drumlemble, Hugh Reid, Auchencorvie, and William McKerral, Brunerican.

Copyright belongs to the authors unless otherwise stated.

The Kintyre Antiquarian & Natural History Society was founded in 1921 and exists to promote the history, archaeology and natural history of the peninsula.
It organises monthly lectures in Campbeltown - from October to April, annually - and has published its journal, 'The Kintyre Magazine', twice a year since 1977, in addition to a range of books on diverse subjects relating to Kintyre.

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