People like Angus Sutherland who grew up in Glasgow after moving from Helmsdale, and his family had been removed from the inland of Sutherland during the Clearances so he had ... Angus Sutherland I always identify as one of the leading lights of the more radical wing of this kind of movement. But certainly you see this in the late 1870s, these urban organisations. They get accused of being disconnected from real life in the Highlands and that they’re idealising the past and that they’re trying to bring a sort of outside agenda onto the modern ... There was certainly a lot of them did go back to the Highlands, certainly during the summer for example, and they retained close family ties with their own part of the Highlands. What you get of course then is that people tend to generalise based on their own locality, so Angus Sutherland is from the east coast of Sutherlandshire but he speaks about Skye and about Lewis and so on and the same goes for other people. There’s a lot of them, a lot of these Glasgow radicals, are from Argyllshire as well so although they do have a rooting and a locale, they do tend to speak more generally on issues like that. Glasgow often gets mentioned. Liverpool I think is really important, especially in the kind of meeting of Highland exiles, if you like, and Irish politicians and Irish exiles in Liverpool and there’s historically quite a lot of antagonism between Scottish and Irish in the nineteenth century but certainly in these urban contexts ... You get a few people willing to put aside, for example, religious antagonisms, and certainly the Scots were no more charitable than the English in their perceptions of the Irish in the nineteenth century, so it tends to be a self-selecting group of radicals who are making these connections but connections are nevertheless formed between Irish and Highland communities and this tends to link together dialogue about land reform and famine and landlord tyranny and all of these tropes almost get taken from an Irish context and get superimposed into a Highland context. But this, there’s obviously some common ground that people feel there is between them.

  • Andrew Newby
Thursday 29th April 2010