Donald (1926-2015) was a son of Donald MacKillop and Peggy Ann MacLeod of 11 Borve. He never knew his father, who died of cancer a few weeks before Donald’s birth. The family lived at his mother’s childhood home in Pol an Òir. However, space was cramped, and in 1930 the young family were gifted the use of a home at Port, attached to that of their benefactor, Kenneth Morrison, of whom Donald had many memories. Donald started attending Berneray School in 1931.
His first work was assisting shepherds on the island of Pabbay, and he was later employed at the aluminium works in Kinlochleven. Between 1944 and 1948 he served as a seaman in the Royal Navy, mostly on Atlantic convoy duty. On his return from naval service he worked on the hydro-electric scheme at Loch Sloy, before joining the Glasgow Police, where he served for 25 years.
In Glasgow in 1956 Donald married Flora MacLean from Waternish, Skye. Together they had a daughter. Flora passed away in 1987. In 1998 he married Catherine Hutchison (née MacColl) from Furnace. They lived in Glencoe.
A keen historian, Donald gathered a wealth of information on the history of his native island. In 1983, in collaboration with his friend John Ferguson, he submitted a manuscript on The Place names of Berneray to the Gaelic Society of Inverness. It was later published as a monograph in its own right. By 1989 he had gathered additional information, which enabled him to deliver a paper on the Sea names of Berneray. He had a second home on Berneray, in a property named Aird mo Ruin, and played a prominent role in Berneray Historical Society for many years. Donald was instrumental in obtaining funding for the installation of a cairn to commemorate the birth of Giant MacAskill. It was unveiled in 1992.
In 2008, a collection of his Gaelic songs and poems, with translations into English, was published, edited by Anne Lorne Gillies. Coille an Fhàsaich includes an autobiographical account of Donald’s life on the island of Berneray. Additionally, several recordings appear on the Tobar an Dualchais website.
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- Brothers Keeper Reference:
- CEBH 3380
- Seaman; Police officer
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