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Mary Ann MacAskill

Mary Ann MacAskill

Mary Ann was born in 1838, the eldest child of John MacAskill and Margaret MacKay of old Borve. By 1851 she was living with Catherine MacLeod at Pol an Oir, who, although described as her aunt, was probably her cousin through her paternal grandfather Kenneth MacAskill. Mary Ann worked for Catherine as a servant and later as assistant shopkeeper. They were also distilling their own whisky.

In 1864 Mary Ann had a daughter, Christina MacMillan, and, with neighbour Neil MacAskill, a son John in 1876.

The house and business at Pol an Oir passed to Mary Ann following Catherine’s death in 1877, with Mary Ann later working as a wool spinner. The bay in which the property stood is named Mary Anna’s Bay.

There is a tale told on Berneray and recorded in Place names of Berneray, of the time that local fisherman Neil MacKillop and his crew were cajoled into Mary Ann’s home, with the offer of a cup of tea,

as the day was rather cold.  They, of course, would have been well aware that she and her aunt ran an illegal shebeen. Mary Ann, likewise, was fully aware that they  had the meagre proceeds of their toil in their pockets. When they finally left they had spent their last penny on illicit whisky. Old Neil's parting words to Mary Anna were: "You - - - - windbag, you did it once but you won't do it again."

Mary Ann’s son died of tuberculosis in 1905 and, following her own death, the property passed to daughter Christina.



Title: Mary Ann MacAskill
Record Type: People
Gaelic Name: Màiri-Anna Iain Choinnich-Phortair
Date of Birth: 1838
Date of Death: 24-08-1925
Occupation: Domestic Servant; Cottar; Shopkeeper; Wool spinner; Servant
Sex: Female
Bk Reference: CEBH 2549
Record Maintained By: CEBH
Subject Id: 76841