The 2018 AGM on October 27th, marked 21 years of the Ross of Mull Historical Centre. Once the official business was dealt with, Rosie Burgess of Crofter’s Kitchen, Kintra was invited to say a few words about the part her father played in the birth of the Centre.
Rosie’s father, James (Jimmy) McKeand was one of the founding members, and a major driving force, of the establishment of the Ross of Mull Historical Centre.
Jimmy’s grandfather, Peter, came to Scoor as a tenant of Argyll Estates in the 1870s and his father, also Peter, continued there until 1938. James lived at Scoor until, when he was aged 12, the family moved to a farming tenancy in Northamptonshire. Rosie believes that her father spent the next 35 years wishing himself back on Mull.
In 1974 a friend alerted Jimmy to the opportunity to buy the then derelict farmhouse at Scoor. He made the purchase and converted the farmhouse into some of the first purpose-built self-catering accommodation on the Ross of Mull. He then spent the next 20 years working this business, together with crofting and agricultural contracting.
Because of the way Jimmy was torn away from his roots as a lad, Rosie believes her father felt a particular empathy for all those families who had had to move away from their homeland, whether by choice or enforcement.
Well before 1990 Jimmy had begun to establish contact with people locally, on the mainland and worldwide with a shared interest in the history of the Ross of Mull. Between 1993 and ’95 he visited Australia and New Zealand, contacting and visiting many with Mull connections. He also travelled to Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Islands, following the trail of emigrants from the Ross. His photographic records of those trips are in the archives at the Ross of Mull Centre.
Finally, Jimmy, along with the help of other local folk– in particular his Bunessan School contemporary, Attie MacKechnie – formally convened the Ross of Mull Historical Centre in 1997.
Although Jimmy passed away in 2001, the momentum was enough to motivate others to carry on establishing a lasting venue which continues to welcome those from all over the world back to their roots.
Rosie then cut the 21st birthday cake and said that it gave her and, she was sure, everyone in attendance, great pleasure to celebrate the achievements of the past 21 years.
The Ross of Mull is an extraordinary microcosm of all that draws visitors to the Hebridean Islands. The scenery, as you travel along the single-track road from the ferry at Craignure is breath-taking. You experience in the many walks in the area a true sense of wilderness; the secret bays with their beaches of silvery sand, the abundance of wildlife and the innumerable marks on the landscape of the lives of past generations and communities long gone. The Ross of Mull is a compelling place for anyone fascinated by history and the ancient way of life of the Gaelic people.
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