‘Big cat’ and murder mystery feature in latest Kintyre Magazine

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The autumn 2021 edition of the the Kintyre Magazine is bursting with an eclectic mix of articles on a wide range of subjects.

An eye-catching small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, photographed feeding on a thistle near Balnabraid by Jimmy MacDonald, features on the front cover of the 90th instalment of the Kintyre Antiquarian and Natural History Society publication.

This is an apt illustration as the magazine features an account of the first butterfly sightings of 2021 by the magazine’s editor Angus Martin and his wife Judy.

The first of the year was not of the variety which appears on the publication’s cover, however, but a more common peacock butterfly, followed shortly afterwards by several other breeds.

This follows Mr Martin’s regular By Hill and Shore feature, which tells of the author’s outings in and around Campbeltown, and the flora and fauna he encounters on his travels.

The piece also tells of the first signs of each new season and the first sights and sounds of visiting birds like cuckoos and swallows, as reported to Mr Martin by members of the community.

The magazine features many other articles by various authors on both historical and contemporary topics.

The first couple of pieces are bound to be of interest to anyone with a connection to the name McEachen as both relate to men with that surname.

The first is a letter which appeared in the Argyllshire Herald newspaper in 1874 about the 1873 murder in Uraguay of a Matthew McEachen, who was a son of a Kintyre man who emigrated to Argentina.

The following piece, titled John McEachen, Campbeltown, and the Excise Cutter, by Barbara Wyley, refers to the author’s research into her paternal great-great-grandfather Archibald McEachen’s origins.

A series of fascinating historical letters, all passed on to Mr Martin by descendants of their authors, follows the 12-page ancestral piece.

The first is from Southend farmer John Ralston, to his brother Peter, who had emigrated to Illinois in the USA.

In the 1849 letter, John breaks the news that the men’s mother has died.

He also shares an insight into farming at the time, with adverse weather, low crop yields and poor markets causing many to give up the challenging life and join the many Kintyre expatriates living in the USA.

The next letter, written in 1856, was sent by another Kintyre farmer, Duncan MacMillan, to his expatriate daughter Margaret, who had moved to Australia.

This time, instead of desiring to join his family abroad, the letter’s author urged the recipient and her family to return to Kintyre, suffering the emotional pain of separation.

The final letter, from 1891, had a female author, Southend-born Flora McCallum, who herself emigrated, via Canada to the USA, with her parents, sisters and brother.

It was sent to her sister Margaret, the only sibling to remain in Kintyre and recounts her voyage across the Atlantic to her new home.

Interestingly, all three letters have been reproduced almost exactly as they were originally written, including grammatical errors and missing punctuation.

Continuing through the magazine, the next article is an 1897 account of Tarbert Fair which first appeared in the Evening News and was later reproduced in the Campbeltown Courier.

Towards the end of the magazine appears another piece which featured in the Campbeltown Courier a few years later, in 1900.

Titled The Clarion Scouts in Camp: Unpatriotic Demonstration, it was submitted by the paper’s Carradale correspondent during the Second Boer War, in reference to young socialist pioneers whose mission was to convert others to their cause.

The edition’s final article, by Christine Ritchie, tells of the lasting legacy Janet ‘Jen’ Fisher had on her native Carradale and areas much further afield.

Copies of the latest edition are available to purchase from The Old Bookshelf, The Kintyre Larder, Made In Kintyre and Coastal Design in Campbeltown and in Muneroy Stores in Southend.