106013: Kenneth Morrison

Kenneth Morrison, later known as Kenneth MacDonald, was born in 1861, the son of Sibla Morrison of Ferry. The house he and his mother lived in belonged to his aunt Catherine, and it passed to Kenneth following her death. A generous man, he later gave use of the attached property ‘house 71’ to widow Peggy Ann MacKillop (née MacLeod) and her two young sons, Norman and Donald.

Kenneth became a herdsman and was grieve on Borve Farm, prior to its break-up in 1900.

His young neighbour Donald MacKillop had many memories of Kenneth, who was a well-respected man in the community. Donald’s poem Ann an taigh-cèilidh Choinnich/In Kenneth’s ceilidh-house is included on pages 170/171 of his book Coille an Fhàsaich. He also included vivid descriptions of Kenneth. From page 53:

 … what a hearty welcome the old man gave us! He sat us down on a bench behind the partition, close to the peat fire. He had a big black beard right down to his chest, black hair down the back of his jacket, and bushy black eyebrows. He wore a black-peaked sailor’s cap even though he was sitting beside a peat-fire …

There’s so much I could say about Kenneth. He was good at healing cattle – so much that the crofters would come and ask his advice about all their sick animals. 

Kenneth was a ferryman, and not restricted to human passengers. From page 56:

[He] had a little boat about eighteen foot long … once when they were transporting the Board’s stallion, with the poor horse swimming and Kenneth holding the halter in his hand to keep its head up out of the water. That was how they used to ferry the horses back and forth to Berneray in those days. They would cross via Uist.

Donald also wrote about Kenneth in The Place Names of Berneray. From page 22:

He was a great favourite with the children, despite his big black beard and sailor’s cap. When we were in trouble, as children, we always ran to Kenneth for sympathy, He worked on the land in every capacity from farm grieve to animal nurse. His ability to cure animals was astounding, considering that he could neither read nor write. I remember well the day, about fifty years ago, he operated on one of his hens that had swallowed seaweed. He slit open the crop with a razor-sharp knife, and having removed the offending weed, sewed it up again, Next day this self-same hen could be seen scratching away in the bay, as fit as ever. A living proof of Kenneth’s ability as a vet. For this particular operation, apart from the knife, his only other instrument was a fairly large needle, supplied by my mother along with white undyed woollen yarn which he specifically asked for. These he sterilised for quite some time in a kettle of boiling water over his peat fire, before he commenced his operation.

Kenneth’s grandfather was also a ferryman, similarly named Kenneth. Bàgh Choinnich and Bodha Choinnich was named for either or both.

Record Type:
Also Known As:
Kenneth MacDonald
Date Of Birth:
1 Apr 1861
Date of Death:
Brothers Keeper Reference:
CEBH 2060
Farm Labourer; Ferryman; Grieve; Herdsman
Record Maintained by: