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Emily Catherine McArthur's Islay

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S: Emily Catherine McArthur's ISLAY Catherine Poole

FC: Emily Catherine McArthur's Islay

1: © Catherine Faye Poole, 2012 | Emily Catherine McArthur's Islay Front cover photo: Photo of author, by Ian Robinson. Back cover photo: Photo of Ian Robinson All photos by the author unless otherwise noted | P.O. Box 40172, Whitehorse, Yukon Canada Y1A 6M9 robpoole@northwestel.net

2: I remember the day my mom, Faye Isobel Poole née Brown, told me she had one regret in her life. Her mother, Emily Catherine (Kate) Brown née McArthur, had always wanted to travel to Islay, Scotland, to see the place where her family was from. It was a place that was dear to her, through the stories of her grandmother and grandfather. Her great-grandparents, Flora (McCuaig) and Hugh McArthur and children, had emigrated from Islay to Oro Township, in Ontario, Canada in 1840. My mom had wanted to take her mother there, but never had the money to do so. Then later, when her mother had passed on, she just wanted to travel there for herself and was never able. I had never known this, and at the point of her telling, my mom was not able to make the journey any longer. That is when I resolved to visit Islay and take pictures that would allow my mother to see Islay, if not through her own eyes, then at least through mine. My cousin, Doris (Dode) Johnston née Brown had a passion for genealogy research and had compiled documentation of our family on Islay going back to at least 1694. They were McArthurs, McCuaigs and Gilchrists living in Cragabus and Bowmore. Doris told me that her one big "bucket list" item was to visit Scotland, and we talked about planning an extended-family trip there in two or three years, giving us all time to save for the adventure. And so, in May 2011, my husband Ian Robinson and I traveled to Islay and began this process of bringing Islay to my mother. The book was promised for Christmas that year. However, before the end of the year, both my mom and cousin had passed on and were never able to see these photographs. In my mind, I picture each of them pausing to take a quick look at Islay on their way to a better place. This book is dedicated to the family of Emily Catherine McArthur, and to her memory; and to the memories of her daughter Faye Isobel Poole and grand-daughter Dode Johnston. Catherine Poole Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada February 2012

3: Faye and her mother, Kate, circa 1953 (photographer unknown) | Faye at her and Don's 50th wedding anniversary, September 2007 (photo: Caleb Morin) | Faye and husband Don with daughters Donna, Lorna and Catherine circa 1980 (photographer unknown) | Faye with nieces Peggy, Dode and Laura, 2007 (photo: Caleb Morin)

4: Note: Maps of Islay can be found on the internet, including at www.islayinfo.com/map.html. High resolution maps show more detail on the Oa including Cragabus. | Genealogy research by Dode Johnston

5: Approaching Port Askaig, the lighthouse at McArthur's Head is visible on the port side of the ferry, with Ireland in the background.

6: ... and the Paps of Jura are starboard. Our arrival in May 2011 was the second sailing of the new ferry, MV Finlaggan.

8: First Impressions: winding, narrow roads; beautiful views, over land and sea; so much green (which means so much rain); and white houses seem to be the norm. Can you guess the colour of the outside of both my grandmother and mother's houses? "White" would be the correct answer.

10: On the Oa: Upper Cragabus after a morning rain. Family genealogy traces our McCuaig ancestors back to at least 1694 in Cragabus. With our wonderful hosts at their Cragabus Bed

11: and Breakfast, we spent an evening taking turns holding the incubating partridge eggs over the peat fire during a power failure. Breakfast, including their freshly laid eggs, will definitely hold you over to the evening. And they even lend out their wellies! (www.uppercragabus.co.uk)

12: Buildings at Lower Cragabus - the road on the Oa winds through their farm. Standing stone in the background. The chambered cairn at Lower Cragabus is thought to date back to the days of the Vikings

14: Duncan MacDougall and his cousin James McCuaig, who both now live in Port Ellen. James grew up in Lower Cragabus. We spent an enjoyable evening with them, and then another afternoon, talking about possible family connections. (photo: Ian Robinson)

15: Duncan thought we might be more closely related to the "White Hart McCuaigs", founders of the White Hart Hotel in Port Ellen, than directly to James' own family.

16: Middle Cragabus, which is aptly located between Lower and Upper Cragabus. | The Oa (pronounced "Oh") in mist, during a sunny walk, and the American Monument on the Mull of Oa, placed in memory of those lost in shipwreck in 1919.

18: Kilnaughton Chapel and Cemetery, located west of Port Ellen at the beginning of the Oa. Port Ellen Maltings produces some of the malted barley for Islay's distilleries.

20: The beach at Kintra Farm. We camped there, listening to the wind and waves, then took a hike back toward the Oa. The abandoned crofts along the way tell a poignant story, of those who left and longed for home.

23: Kildalton Cross at the Kildalton Old Parish Church | The cross itself predates the church. It is considered to be one of the best examples of early crosses in Scotland, dating to the second half of the 8th century. Coins lie in offering at its base.

25: With eight world-renowned whiskey distilleries on Islay, there is always the chance for a wee dram. I am sure it helps the Ileach (people of Islay) sleep well at night - both from its medicinal properties and its boost to the economy.

28: This display at Kilchoman Distillery indicates there was a legal distillery in Cragabus in 1841. It also shows Duncan and Peter McCuaig, and Hugh and John McArthur as being among those charged for having illicit stills in 1801. Perhaps relatives caught in the act? I was assured by Ileach that everyone made illegal whiskey, it was just some who were unfortunate enough to be caught.

31: Peat fields cover Islay's interior. Peat is still used to provide warmth and a homey glow to many hearths. It gives the streams their brown colour and adds its smokiness to the Islay whiskeys.

32: Port Charlotte: The Port Charlotte Hotel - great breakfast and evening entertainment.

34: Por t Wemyss & Por tnahaven

37: The horse that insisted on having its photo taken on the Rhinns.

38: Ardnave ... where we were chased by an angry highland "attack" cow, protecting her newborn calf.

40: Finlaggan was the center of the Lordship of the Isles, reaching its height in the 145h and 15th centuries. Traditionally, McArthurs were pipers and McCuaigs cup bearers. A knight's final resting place shows below.

43: The new Kilarrow Church was completed in 1769, a year after Bowmore was established. Known as the Round Church, it is said that it was built without corners so that the devil would have no place to hide.

44: Downtown Bowmore at sunset

47: Random photos - these are those pictures I couldn't bear to leave out, even though they don't necessarily fit anywhere (middle photo opposite page: Ian Robinson).

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  • Title: Emily Catherine McArthur's Islay
  • Photobook from Islay, 2011
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  • Started: almost 5 years ago
  • Updated: over 4 years ago

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