The halls, where our ancestors first saw the light,
Now blackened in ruins they lie.
And the moss-covered cairns are all that remain
Of the once pleasant homes of MacKay.
I was born at Ridsary on Strathnaver, and was about 10 years of age when that part of the Strath where my father lived was depopulated, and our habitations burnt to the ground. I saw these four townships all in flames on the same day:-
* Ceann-na-coille, with 7 housesI saw in all thirty houses burning at the same time.
* Syre, with 13 houses
* Kidsary, with 2 houses
* Langall, with 8 houses
When this was taking place, I was leading two horses up the Strath, to carry from Kidsary some of our furniture, which was left by my father near the place, when we were evicted from our home a few days previous to this. As the houses were all covered with dry thatch, dwelling places and steadings, the crackling noise as well as the fire and smoke were awful.
I noticed one house at Langall, having a good stack of peats beside it, which the burning party, on coming round, put to the same fate as the houses, and if any other thing remained in or near the premises it was at once consigned to the flames.
It may be mentioned that the inhabitants left these houses a day or two before they were set on fire, being ordered off the ground by Sellar. It was heartrending to hear the cries of the women and children when leaving their happy homes and turning their faces they knew not whether.
The most of our cattle died the first winter, as we had no provision for them. We got no compensation for our burnt houses, not any aid to build new ones, or trench land.
I declare this statement of mine is true.
-- Alexander Graham
-- Murdo Mackay, Student
30th Aug., 1883