Dornoch Historylinks Image Library

Photographs of Dornoch
Historylinks
Photographs of Dornoch

CD containing 125 photographs of Dornoch and the surrounding area, scanned from old photos and postcards. Photographs apparently acquired/borrowed by Barry Turner from Mrs Thompson, Castle Hotel.
Picture added on 24 April 2008
Comments:
This photograph was not taken in 1920. This house was owned and occupied by Kate Mackay (Katagh aigh Adam) nee Cumming, up until at least 1952 when she left for Boston in the USA to live with her many siblings there. Kate was by then the widow of William Mackay (Bielsie). She was daughter of Ann Mackay (The Grannie of the famous song Grannie's Heilan Hame) and Adam Cumming. Kate was the first cousin of my father through her father and a cousin of my mother through her father. My sister Isabella and I stayed with Kate and Bielsie for some time in middle to late 1945 when my mother went to visit my father who was then working in Glasgow as a builder. My other siblings were farmed out with several of our other Embo relatives. Glasgow was at that time being rebuilt to repair damage by German aerial bombing in the War. When we were staying with Kate as described there was a loud knock on the kitchen door late one night. The small kitchen can be seen attached to the back of this building in the photo. When Kate answered the door there was a soldier standing there in full battle dress and carrying a kitbag on one shoulder and a rifle in the other. It was seen that he had "Poland" shoulder flashes on his uniform. He then spoke in broken English and asked if he could hide his kitbag in the house. There was much confusion and fear as our guardian Bielsie was already in bed in the "closage" next to the kitchen. The soldier then entered the kitchen and made in the direction of the main house where he met Bielsie in the passage way. Bielsie was then an old man but very physically fit and tall and a bit of a forbidding looking person with a temperament to match. There was then a loud shout from Bielsie and a torrent of words in Gaelic which even a complete stranger to that language would have no difficulty understanding. The soldier then fled and that was the last we saw of him. Later rumour was that this soldier was part of a Polish army unit billeted somewhere near The Poles. At that time Russia and the new Communist Government of Poland were demanding the return of the Polish soldiers who had fought with distinction under Polish General Wladyslaw Anders while attached to the British Army. These soldiers owed their allegiance to the war time Polish Government in Exile from which the Churchill led British Government withdrew its recognition in July 1945. These soldiers suspected that if they returned to their native Poland their new Communist Government or their Russian bosses would have them killed. This caused many of them to desert and go into hiding. Many that did return to Poland were imprisoned and even killed and this led to the present day antipathy against Winston Churchill by exiled Poles world wide.

So back to the date of the photo. It was taken sometime after 1953 and after John MacIntosh (Johnnie Horsey) of Embo Mains Farm bought the house from the estate of Kate Mackay who died in Boston after only a short stay there. John MacIntosh then established the present large caravan park in the dunes below and to the South of this house and used the house as the administrative and commercial core of his enterprise. John MacIntosh was the person that named the house "Grannie's Heilan Hame". Despite Embo people knowing that this was the house where the grannie of the song lived they always called the house "Boston House". And anyway Embo people would never use the term "Heilan Hame". That langage would more than likely be used by people originating South of the Highland line and possibly only after many years exile in the USA!

(I have a photo taken at the front door of this house in August 1952 when my family stayed at the house after Kate Mackay left for Boston. I did intend sending you a copy of this photo but two old photographs I sent in the recent past were not published and I suspect there has been a breakdown in the photo processing system. Regards KM.)

Added by Kenneth Mackay on 17 December 2010
Date is 1959 or later (Car in pic is Austin A99/Wolseley 6/99 I think,"big brothers" of Austin Cambridge etc. Sorry being car anorak!) More to the point - isn't it STILL a surprise the burial chamber nearby is not well protected & that little is made of this superb site in terms of historical info within the holiday park?

Many thanks for the corrected dating, we wil amend our records accordingly - Administrator
Added by Dave Fleming on 16 March 2011
My father and mother Drew and Jean Bell were the first managers when Grannies opened. My bedroom was top left in picture.
Added by Iain J Bell on 28 March 2012
Bielsie mentioned above was my paternal grandfather, my father being Alec Mackay better known as Aleky Beilsie, and I well remember playing with Ian Bell when we were young boys.

Many thanks for your comment - Administrator
Added by John Mackay on 09 March 2015
I am the current manager. We are having an internal refurbishment this year of the house and restaurant. I’m looking for photographs that could framed and displayed, preferably with relevant history. Grateful for any contributions via Historylinks Museum
Added by Mark Gibbons on 26 November 2017
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Embo

Alexander Ross grandson of Donald RossAerial view of Embo StreetKennels at Embo StreetModel plane built by Semus MacdonaldEmbo Street - Kate Campbell & John MacDonaldEmbo Street photographsCarnegie Hero Fund Trust Certificate Bronze lifesaving medal awarded to William CummingGrampian TV's Highway filmed at DornochMackay and Ross summer visitors to Embo