He has already had one battle much earlier in his life with Carstairs Matheson about the significance of the Land League struggles. Carstairs Matheson totally opposes the Land League struggles, saying that what is needed is these Highlanders have to be gutted out there so they can become regular workers in the Central Belt and that will advance. Maclean does not take that attitude at all so you actually see some of these attitudes he already has which are going to make him sympathetic from that. The combination of the Irish struggles plus his view at the end of the First World War that the next war is going to be the United States, is going to be a battle between the British Empire and the United States, which is sometimes actually seen in retrospect as rather odd by lots of people but actually there’s other people saying the same thing at the same time, that after that it’s going to be the war and, of course, at that time ... Lever (Lord Leverhulme) ... Lewis ... is having a big influence in that and he sees what is happening up in Lewis as tied to creating a naval base for the oncoming war, so he sees it ... future anti-Imperial struggle and he very much obviously supports the people on Lewis fighting against the influence of Lever but also the land raiders as well, he supports them. Having said that, it’s not as neat. He finds some opposition on Lewis to this as well. It’s not as neat as ... If he’d been in Donegal or Mayo at this particular time, he’d find a lot more sympathy for the sort of things he was doing, a ready made movement there that would do that, but I think these are his motivations for going to Lewis at that particular time, with his rapidly expanding world view created after the 1916 rising, 1917. What’s happening in Russia and in comes the Bolshevik consul and he’s seeing everything in a global perspective, but he’s able to link very specific things and I think he does see the link between Ireland and the Highlands.

  • Allan Armstrong
Tuesday 25th May 2010