Taken from
Issue Number 46 Autumn 1999


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Jo Currie

My mother, Janetta Hood, nee MacKechnie, died on 5 March 1999 at the age of ninety-one. She had lived in Campbeltown for about ten years as a child, as her father, Angus MacKechnie, was captain of the Davaar, plying between the Clyde and Campbeltown, from about 1914, when the family lived at Narrowfield. She attended Campbeltown Grammar School, and went back and forward by train. She used to describe and imitate her teachers there, especially the French master, who had a small pointed beard, and used to say she had a good French accent because she had a 'Gaelic throat'.

Indeed she came of Kintyre Gaelic-speaking stock, for her mother, Janet MacCorkindale, had been born in 1865, the daughter of Duncan MacCorkindale and Catherine Mathieson. My grandmother, Janet MacCorkindale, was a tremendous personality, who also lived into her nineties, and when I was a child she used to tell me tales of Kintyre, a place she always spoke of as a kind of lost paradise. She talked about her own grandmother, who was known in the family as 'the baroness McShannock'. I used to think this was simply one of those jokes beloved of Gaelic speakers in particular, who like to call people 'the duchess' or 'lady so-and-so', however humble they might be. She also told me that she had a great-grandfather called Adam MacCorkindale who had ten sons and one daughter, but didn't know any more about this patriarch, except the names of some of the sons, Malcolm, Hugh, Neil, Donald and Duncan.

It wasn't until twenty years after my grandmother's death that I began to be interested in genealogy. I was living in Drummond Place in Edinburgh, only half a mile from Register House, and so it was possible to do a blitz on the Kintyre Old Parish Registers and try to nail down this Adam, and even, with luck, the baroness McShannock, in spite of her mythic sound.

Tracing back from Janet, I found her father, Duncan MacCorkindale (who, I knew from my grandmother's stories of her youth, was a strict Free Churchman) as a colporteur in Campbeltown, as well as a jail-warden and a teacher. He was also an enumerator in the 1871 census. He had married at Margmonagach in 1864 Catherine Mathieson, daughter of Dugald Mathieson and Elizabeth Taylor. Duncan himself was the son of Donald MacCorkindale and Janet McGill of Upper Barr, and latterly of Beachmenach, that striking house known to every traveller on the road from Tayinloan to Campbeltown. As I investigated the MacCorkindales I suddenly remembered a story of my grandmother's which had been totally buried somewhere in my mind. She had, in her twinkly humorous way, related (or invented) a terrible tale of how her father had wanted to go to university, but first he had to delay it because his mother was dying, and then his father had remarried, and his wicked stepmother refused to allow Donald MacCorkindale to contribute to his son's education. Now the stepmother was materialising as Mysie MacMillan who came from Gigha, and who married Donald MacCorkindale in 1859. How many more of the stories were based on a certain amount of truth? I turned to the Mathieson line, and hunted over and over and over again for Dugald Mathieson's death to get his parents' names. You never expect a man to live to more than ninety, let alone a hundred, so I kept turning back and beginning again, until almost by accident I found the death at Oatfield in 1889. It said in the record that he was ninety-five, but he was baptised in 1788, son of John McMath and Helen McShenoig in Largybaan, and so was actually a hundred and one years old.

But, more exciting than this venerable age was the name Helen McShenoig! Presumably pronounced 'McShannock', of course. The baroness herself? Or a daughter of the baroness? At this point I wrote off to an aunt in Vancouver, nee Kitty MacCorkindale, who had inherited the family Bible, for a transcript of the entries, and was answered in a trice. Helen McShenoig, Lephenstrath, married John McMath, Glenadle, in 1774. Then followed all the children's dates. I checked the OPR, and they were all there, Helen referred to sometimes as 'Helen Shannon'. And mostly they were in Largybaan.

As most historians of Kintyre probably know, the McShenoigs of Lephenstrath were heritors of that estate until 1819, when Captain Charles Macallister Shannon, son of Neil McShenoig or Shannon, sold it to Donald McMillan. Lephenstrath or Lepenstraw was a barony, and so, although the title of baron was not used generally, the wife of a baron might be jocularly, or even affectionately, referred to as a baroness. I have not succeeded in establishing Helen's relationship with the barons of Lepenstraw, but my grandmother has been vindicated as being not entirely a fabricator of tales.

The ancestor who remained to be linked in was the patriarch Adam. He too was found, born about 1760. He married Rose MacNeill. Rose! My childhood rings with mysterious references to a great-aunt Rose, whom I never met, and here was how she had got her name. Rose McNeill and Adam MacCorkindale did not seem to have ten sons and one daughter, as my grandmother had said. They had six. sons and two daughters, but there are spaces between those Killean and Ki1chenzie baptisms for five other births, so perhaps the family tradition is in this case more reliable than the parish records. The second daughter was born in 1801 and bore the name of Neps. When I told my mother about finding this strange name, something stirred her memory. 'Oh, yes, I remember my mother talking about her visits in Campbeltown to 'Oud Neps'. Neps, daughter of Adam and Rose, married a Donald McKinlay in 1824 in Upper Barr, and any observations on the name would be interesting. Most of the other descendants of Adam went to New Zealand in the 1860s, and I now have transcripts of letters describing their early experiences there, which have come back to me by a very circuitous route.

As my grandmother, Janet MacCorkindale, left Campbeltown with her family in 1874, when her father was offered the post of factor to Mr. Stewart of Coll (a Kintyre man), and returned for a mere ten years, 1914-1923, you could say that her Kintyre connections were kept alive for over eighty years, as she corresponded with New Zealand MacCorkindales until she died. Now all the links are gone, but my late mother, who was a drama addict, was quite convinced that Simon MacCorkindale the actor is descended from Adam!

DISCOVERY OF WHISKY. On Wednesday last, whilst a little boy was amusing himself by digging the ground on the green at Lochend, opposite the Free Church, he came upon some bottles sealed and filled with a liquid. The boy called the attention of his mother (who was spreading out clothes on the green) to the discovery, who along with others had the ground carefully examined, when six bottles were excavated. On being opened the bottles were found to contain strong whisky. How or why [it] was put where it was found is yet unknown, but we suspect that it was buried there for another object than that of improving its quality by age. Argyllshire Herald, 29 Feb 1868.
LIFE SAVING AT THE MULL OF KINTYRE. The new lifeboat for the Dunaverty station of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution arrived this week, and was tried in the loch on Monday in a very stiff gale, giving entire satisfaction. She is named the John R Ker, and is of the most modern type. She appears a very fast sailer, and has been chosen with a view to suitability to the station. Her dimensions are - Length, 38 ft; beam, 9 ft 4 ins; these measurements showing her to be three feet longer than the Campbeltown boat, with eight inches less of beam. She is of the non-self-righting type. Campbeltown Courier, 17 Sept 1904
Ian Forshaw

Some years ago I came to the realisation - although that's not to say that others had not already made this judgement upon me - that I was a techno-freak. Whenever a switch or a button or a screen confronts me, I just have to have a fiddle. I am one of those sad people who, upon opening the box of their new VCR or television, don't bother reading the enclosed instructions, but head straight for the kriobs and wing it from there. So it was that, when I opened my first Internet account and received with it my free webspace, I just had to fill it.

My first thought was that I had to come up with something original to publish on the Internet - it's big, it's very, very big, and one can find information on just about anything. I got an idea pretty quickly - why not publish something about Campbeltown? After all, there are quite a lot of Kintyreans spread over the globe! To this end I approached The Canipbeltown Courier through its head office in Oban. Oh dear. The editor didn't have time to talk to me, except through a secretary, via whom he advised me that, as the Courier was just about to launch its own website, my request was out of the question. That was a shame, particularly as this took place more than two years ago and the Courier still doesn't have a website!

I let it lie for a while and, anyway, the holidays were upon us, and my wife Helen and I were heading back for Campbeltown on our bi-annual pilgrimage. One damp day, whilst picking up a daily paper from George McMillan's, I came across a little publication grandly titled The Kintyre Antiquarian and Natural History Society Magazine. I bought it, read it from cover to cover and, the next day, scoured Campbeltown for back issues! I was fortunate enough to find most of them in Martin's Bookshop - and so my collection grew. Already my plan had formed, although, of course, it depended upon permission from the Society. I asked and Mrs. Frances Hood wrote back advising me that it would be in order, and even supplied me with two or three back issues which I had been unable to find.

The first online edition of the Magazine was posted in January, 1997, and was an immediate success. I began to receive e-mails from all over the world congratulating me upon an 'excellent Magazine page'. This was music to my ears. Along with the congratulatory e-mail came requests and queries, some of which I could answer, being a Campbeltown man myself, and some of which I had to refer to the Society members, who, with great magnanimity, were quick to reply.

I remember writing to the late AIB Stewart on more than one occasion and, given the gentleman that he was, always received a reply addressed to 'Mr. Forshaw', When, filially, I wrote to him and advised him that it would be in order for him to use my Christian name, he wrote back thus:

"Dear Ian, You see that despite the reluctance of one of my generation to become further Americanised, I have succumbed to your blandishments and have used your given name ... Yours sincerely, Ian Stewart".
Such was the man.


Since that first fumbling beginning, the online edition of the Magazine has gone from strength to strength. I regularly receive communications from such diverse places on the globe as America, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and, even, Tierra del Fuego! Each and everyone of my correspondents has links to Kintyre, and is keen to seek out more information about their ancestors. I have some firm friends across the Atlantic, some of whom intend to visit Campbeltown in 1999, and many of whom have submitted stories, observations and family trees to me for inclusion in the monthly online issue of the Magazine - and I will not let them down.

They will be seeking links between themselves and the people of Kintyre and I believe - and have said as much in my replies to their e-mails-that they will receive a heartwarming, friendly, open-hearted welcome in Campbeltown. I have even gone as far as to say to them that, if they stop any person on a Campbeltown street and ask of that person a question, it is likely that, not only will they receive an answer, but an offer of assistance in their quest. That's Campbeltown.

Through the good grace of the Society, I have been able to bring to our far-flung friends and family, reminiscences of the old days, but the Society's Magazine is a bi-annual production whereas the WebEdition is produced monthly, so logic dictates that I will soon run out of material and, therefore, the demise of the online Magazine will be at hand. This is, of course, unless the online Magazine can evolve and, instead of being only a reflection of the hard copy, be a sister to it. I am working to that goal which, I believe, can only benefit Campbeltown and, of course, its many friends world-wide. As they say - watch this space!

And so, we move inexorably to the year 2000 and the final year of the 20th century. Three hundred years and more have passed since Kintyreans moved out to the - then - New World - a journey undertaken sometimes willingly, sometimes unwillingly, but always knowing that somehow, some way, they would make their mark upon it. Such has been the case and now their descendants feel the need to trace their roots back to Kintyre. I know that we will make them welcome.

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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ISSN 0140 0762

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