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Finlay, born in 1858, was the son of Neil MacKinnon and Grace MacLean of Mull. He became a stonemason on Bute, marrying Mary MacLeod in Glasgow. They returned to live at her home at Quay on the island of Berneray. Together they were to have eight children. Finlay worked as a labourer and fisherman, later becoming grieve on Borve Farm. In 1900 he obtained one of the new crofts in Borve - croft 1, on which he built his family a home, named Taigh na h-Aibhne. He later built homes for each of his sons. As well as crofting, he ran a shop and with his son Hector he transported the mail.