68746: Malcolm Morrison

Malcolm Morrison, born about 1839, was the son of Donald Morrison and Marion Shaw of Tarabhig in Ruisgarry. After a few years living as a cottar, at a site still visible as Tobhta Mòr ni’ Chaluim, his mother was passed the croft at 14 Ruisgarry (Trealigarry). Malcolm worked as a herd boy for Rev John Bethune during the years of the potato famine, and used to recall how he was ‘on the point of fainting with hunger’. In due course, the privations suffered by the islanders led to events such as the Reef Incident.

In 1864 the family moved again, to 17 Ruisgarry (Brusda).

Malcolm met his future wife, Effie Morrison, Oighrig Iain, whilst kelp making on the island of Haay. They married at Tarbert in February 1872, making their home at 17 Brusda, which Malcolm later inherited. Malcolm and Effie had seven children together. In 1900, with the creation of the new crofts in Borve, Malcolm exchanged 17 Brusda with 3 Borve, which had been allotted to Roderick MacLeod.

Malcolm was a good friend of the bard Malcolm MacAskill. In the book Orain Chaluim, Malcolm Morrison’s grandson Alick tells how weddings were:

‘the happiest of occasions, and the bard’s prowess on the violin and the chanter made his presence indispensable. He had the full-throated support of dark, curly-haired Malcolm Morrison, the local expert on mouth music. The latter nearly drove his wife to distraction with his interminable rehearsals, especially of the air “Guilbneach a bu a locha.” ‘

He was also a piper. His neighbour Effie Morrison (Oighrig Phadruig), a pious lady, was keen to stop his playing, as Alick recounts. Malcolm avoided visiting her for some time, but, when he eventually decided to pay a call, carefully concealed the chanter in the sleeve of his jacket:

She greeted him warmly and said: “A Chaluim an do stad thu fhein dhe ‘n fheadan fhathast?”

“‘S fad o ‘n uair sin, a bhalaich,” replied Calum.

“Thig a nall agus gu faigh mi breith air laimh ort,” said Effy.

Calum stretched out his hand. The old lady grasped it firmly and shook it so vigorously that to Calum’s consternation, the chanter slipped out of his sleeve into the fire, which was in the middle of the room.

The barge An Aobhac belonged to Malcolm. He used her when gathering peat from the isle of Opisay. Around 1910 he became involved in a race with a boat belonging to Lachlan Munro. Although he won the race, An Aobhac struck a skerry in the course of the race, with the result that the skerry was re-named Sgeir Chaluim.

In 1911, living at 3 Borve with Malcolm and his wife were two of their grandchildren, John Archie and Effie MacAskill. Following Malcolm’s death, the croft was passed to his son Donald.


Record Type:
Date Of Birth:
Date of Death:
1 May 1916
Brothers Keeper Reference:
CEBH 234
Crofter; Herd boy
Record Maintained by: