The Last Sabbath Before the Burnings

[Crest of Clansfolk of Clan MacKay] Crest of Clansfolk of Clan MacKay
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   Gaelic name: MacAoidh 
                (son of fire)
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"The sportsman now roams o'er the Sutherland hills
And down where the Naver runs clear;
And the land a brave race had for centuries owned
Is now trod by the sheep and the deer.

Rev. Donald Sage wrote about the last Sabbath in Strathnaver before the burnings -

"In Strathnaver we assembled, for the last time, at the place of Langdale, where I had frequently preached before, on a beautiful green sward overhung by Robert Gordon's antique, romantic little cottage on an eminence close beside us. The still-flowing waters of the Naver swept past us a few yards to the eastward.

The Sabbath morning was unusually fine, and mountain, hill, and dale, water and woodland, among which we had dwelt so long dwelt, and with which all our associations of 'home' and 'native land' were so fondly linked, appeared to unite their attractions to bid us farewell.

My preparations for the pulpit had always cost me much anxiety, but in view of this sore scene of parting, they caused me pain almost beyond endurance. I selected a text which had a pointed reference to the peculiarity of our circumstances, but my difficulty was how to restrain my feelings till I should illustrate and enforce the great truths which it involved with reference to eternity.

The service began. The very aspect of the congregation was itself a sermon, and a most impressive one. Old Achoul sat right opposite to me. As my eye fell upon his venerable countenance, bearing the impress of eighty- seven winters, I was deeply affected, and could scarcely articulate the psalm.

I preached and the people listened, but every sentence uttered and heard was in opposition to the tide of our natural feelings, which, setting in against us, mounted at every step of our progress higher and higher. At last all restraints were compelled to give way. The preacher ceased to speak, the people to listen.

All lifted up their voices and wept, mingling their tears together. It was indeed the place of parting, and the hour. The greater number parted never again to behold each other in the land of the living."

The Last Sabbath in Strathnaver Before the Burnings
A Poem by Annie Mackay, formerly of Strathnaver

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