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Donald, born in 1885, was the youngest son of John MacLean and Ann MacAskill of 18 Ruisgarry (Brusda). Donald’s father died of consumption when Donald was only four years old, and his mother continued to work the croft with the help of her children.
Donald became a hand loom weaver and married Jessie Mary MacLean of Quay. They stayed at 18 Ruisgarry for a while before moving to Quarry, Backhill, where Donald worked as a fisherman and seaman, continuing to supplement his income by weaving, originally on a wooden loom, later a Hattersley. His wife passed away in 1931, leaving him with three young children.