By Myra Griffin, Secretary / Treasurer Friends of Kilbride
On Sunday 1st of October, two months of planning came to fruition, when, at the invitation of Friends of Kilbride, some 50 folk gathered at Kilbride historic site, Lerags, to commemorate the lives and deaths of three World War I soldiers, whose untimely ends are commemorated on their 19th century Kilbride family stones.
The existence of these stones had come to light following a casual visit to Kilbride from a Canadian visitor. A search of the records showed that the McCulloch family stone recorded the deaths in action of Sergeant Iain McCulloch, Cameron Highlanders and Gunner Donald McCulloch, Tank Corps. By pure coincidence, the McIntyre family stone, also erected in the 19th Century, stands almost side by side with that of the McCullochs, and records the death of Private Hugh McIntyre of the 48th Highlanders of Canada. These two markers, erected 160 years ago, positioned almost adjacent to each other seem to be the only two Kilbride markers associated with WW1.
That particular McCulloch line seems to have been obliterated with the death of Donald, on 2nd of August 1917. Ian died in action in 1915, and their remaining sister married late in life, and appears to have had no children of her own.
Hugh McIntyre, a stonemason by trade, emigrated to Canada in 1912, volunteered with the Canadian Highlanders on the outbreak of war, and managed a few days leave home in Oban, before being killed in action at St Julian, Belgium in 1915.
However, with the assistance of the Canadian Government, and local researcher, Jill Bowis, we were able to make the Kilbride connection known to the McIntyre Family, some of whom now live in and around Edinburgh. Catherine and Colin, great niece and nephew respectively of Hugh, and other McIntyre family members attended the service, and took an active part. Catherine led us in a Gaelic hymn, and Colin ceremoniously planted a commemorative tree.
The non-denominational service was led by the Revd Mr. Cameron of Glencruitten Parish Church, the Gaelic scripture being declaimed by Anne Fergusson.
Piper Donald MacDougall, Seil Crofts, played the Lament “The taking of Beaumont Hamel” and The Pibroch, “The Old Woman’s Lament.”
Friends of Kilbride Elaine, Hannah, Deborah, Alistair and Keiran contributed to the affair giving freely of their time in various tasks, directing traffic, setting out “Café Kilbride” for the post-service brunch and generally ensuring the comfort and safety of our guests. Karen’s and Anne’s home baking was literally the icing on the cake of Silver Laced Catering’s wholesome spread.
BBC Alba transmitted a recording of the event in their news programme.
During the service, a gale of wind and the rain swept in from the Atlantic, as we sheltered beneath canopy and umbrella. But our spirits were uplifted as we looked back to that tragic time, and thought of the selfless sacrifice made not only by our three Hielan’ Laddies, but a sacrifice made by some 10 million combatants of all nationalities, and by 3 million non-combatant civilians, caught up in that tragic, ultimately senseless, conflict.
Friends of Kilbride would like to express their gratitude to all those who participated or contributed.
For further information about Friends of Kilbride, and our aims and objectives, please see our Facebook page, or web site www.friendsofkilbride.scot