... Kilmuir! (laughs) But they’re not necessarily talking to each other. They were to an extent so there’s big monster meetings in Portree and Dingwall and Bonar Bridge and so on and these delegates go there and chat, but the idea from the Irish perspective was that this was nothing like the Irish Land War: “This is a local response. It’s maybe worthy of our interest, possibly worthy of our support, but they’re Scottish. They’re loyal Imperialists. They’re having a little problem at the minute but it’s not like our problem with the British.” So lack of organisation, a lack of interest probably, in the sense of somebody from Caithness organising with somebody from Skye. Did they share a common cause? Certainly some newspaper articles were suggesting that they did, or the newspaper was trying to suggest: “There is a movement in Caithness; there is a movement in Barra; there is a movement somewhere else.” But whether those people on the ground ... they maybe knew about it from the newspaper but whether they were in direct contact with something, it’s much more difficult to say. Only ... in my opinion, Sutherlandshire and Angus Sutherland were much ... was the area of the Highlands that was the closest to the Irish model, and Angus Sutherland had lived in Glasgow. He’d befriended many members of the Irish Land League in Glasgow. He’d been to Ireland to look at how they worked. He organised Sutherlandshire in 1884 and 1885 which, in a way, was reminiscent of Ireland and in 1889 you even get that Land League candidate standing in the local elections and so on, which is something like what happened in Ireland. But what does this do? It creates even more tension in the Highlands because people like John MacKay, they’re too worried about Sutherland as an individual ... Angus Sutherland as an individual. They think that they’re taking the crofters in the wrong direction, so you end up with a split within the crofting movement, as well as against the Sutherland family, for example. So there’s lots of these tensions.

  • Andrew Newby
Thursday 29th April 2010