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A Murder in Kershader
A Murder in Kershader
By Murdo Macleod, Murchadh Dhomhnaill Chalum, 2 Kershader.
Tales of the old days and ways, unless they related to events of local significance, found few listeners and of those, many were in circulation and some of them I'll now relate. Some you may find difficult to accept as records of actual events, but as the Gaelic has it "Ma's breug bhuam e 's breug thugam e", or as the non-Gaelic speaking Highlanders say, "If it is a lie from me, it was a lie to me".
My first tale concerns a murder that took place many, many generations ago, but was, and probably still is, one of the first tales told to the young people of this district. I, myself, would only be about five years of age when an older brother took me for a walk of over four miles to see the evidence of the hundred-year-old murder that the storms of winter or the rains and sunshine of the summer failed to obliterate. The stones on the shore of Loch na Seanna Nighean (on the map, Loch na h'Inghinn - click button above) were still red with the blood of the poor girl who had been cruelly put to death on that spot. The stones and the shore were red anyway, and some sceptics might suggest there was a lot of iron in the vicinity.
According to tradition, a young woman from the village of Kershader had gone early one summer morning to look for a stirk belonging to her family that was grazing on the common pasture. The morning was misty and likely to clear up into a lovely summer's day. After a while, she saw two men engaged in skimming what appeared to be a stirk and coming nearer she realised the animal was the one she was seeking. She also knew the men, two brothers who also lived on the tack of Kershader. While she was considering what to do, whether to approach the men or to run home, one of the men noticed her and called and she, in great fear, did as they told her.
Apparently, the men realised that if their action became known, their position would be a very serious one and would surely mean the loss of their home and banishment from the neighbourhood. They, therefore, decided that the girl must be silenced and it did not take them long to kill her. This they did on the shore of the loch and to enable them to hide their crime, they decided to sink the body in the loch and await the darkness of the night to dispose of the body elsewhere.
That same night, they removed the body and sunk it, with some stones attached to it in Loch Erisort, at a spot much frequented by small-line fishermen. The place is known as 'aite na Cailleach. Although a thorough search was made of the whole area, no trace of the missing girl was found; so the incident of her disappearance came to be regarded as an unsolved mystery.
There were suspicions, and these suspicions were confirmed in an unusual way. One morning, quite a number of small boats were fishing at 'aite na Chailleach when one of the suspects caught a human bone on the hook of his line. He wanted to throw it back into the sea but other men in the boat wanted a look and on handing the bone back, they were aghast at it spurting blood onto that man's face. What had been a suspicion had now become a certainty: the missing girl had been murdered and fate had shown the murderer. Arrangements were made to recover the body but the brothers left the district that same night. Some say to America, but in any case, they were never seen again in their old home district.
Naturally, with the passing of the years, many versions of this story gained currency, but the place and cause of the murder is in agreement in all of them, as is the incident on the fishing grounds.
Comunn Eachdraidh na Pairc 1991