Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Donald Campbell's Memorial Cairn Glenshiel

Shinty’s journey through the last 100 years has many interesting lay-bys which should be stopped in for a little time and the stories linked to them recalled with affection. Kintail has had a long sporting history : today it still produces shinty players of note. It doesn’t forget them either. “Lean gu dluth ri cliu do shinnsirean” meant something then just as it means something now. The proof is to be found on a gentle bend on the A87, one and a half miles east of Shie1 Bridge, where stands an inscribed cairn about 5 foot high surmounted by a stone cross 1 foot 6ins. in height. The cairn is in the traditional bee-hive shape of the typical Scottish cairn and built of rough local stone. On the side facing the road is fixed a heart-shaped stone tablet which contains the following inscription:
The cairn which was designed and built by a local mason ,was erected towards the end of I927 by his fellow members of the Glenshiel Shinty Team as a mark of respect to a comrade who died so tragically young. The tradesman who built the cairn was probably John Grant, mason, who lived at Shiel at that time
In the presence of a large number of spectators the cairn was unveiled by his father Mr. Colin Campbell, Shiel House. You pass the cairn quickly because the A87 nowadays is a relatively fast trunk road and with the cairn sitting on a curve many travellers must be unclear as to why it sits there. A pity this certainly if shinty folk drive by without stopping off because not only was Donald Campbell a shinty player but like most of his unlucky generation he had seen service in the Great War.
Campbell was born in I895 in G1enshiel,the second son of Col1n Campbe11 Shiel House a much respected County Councillor and widely acknowledged expert on Highland Ponies. As he grew to manhood by the shores of Loch Duich he developed a deep love of his Kintai1 homeland and there too, in common with all other youngsters of his age, then as now, he learned his shinty and first played for his local team, one of the three parish teams of that part of Wester Ross, the parishes of Glenshiel, Kintail and Lochalsh. These have since merged to form Kinlochshiel who presently play in the premier division of north shinty.
During the First World War Donald Campbell served with the Lovat Scouts and with them was posted overseas ,serving in Egypt and Palestine where he contracted malaria from which he was never to free himself completely. For almost ten years he lived to suffer from recurring bouts of malaria which progressively weakened this once robust Highlander and was the eventual cause of his untimely death at the early age of 3I years
On his return to civilian life Donald worked for a time as Inn-keeper. at Cluanie Hotel, half way between Invermoriston and. his beloved Shiel Bridge, before he took up the task of driving the mail-bus from Glen Shiel to Kyle of Lochalsh.
He continued to play shinty for Glenshiel but not as regularly as he would have wished for his ill-health and heavy business commitments ruled him out as a regular in the first team. His two younger brothers did however play regularly and well for many years.
He managed compensate for his lack of physical involvement in the game by acting as Secretary/Treasurer for a number of years, an undertaking which he carried out diligently throughout the twenties and which he still held when he died. On the day of his funeral/he was carried by his former team-mates the mile and
a half from his home at Shiel Lodge where he died to the spot where the cairn now stands at which point his remains were put aboard the hearse which was to bear him to the village of Beauly where his ancestors came from.
At the roadside spot where the Cairn now stands a short service was held, and in keeping with an old Highland tradition, the impromptu cairn was set up. The remains. then left, followed by the family on the long overland journey . to the church of St. Mary's, Beauly where he was buried beneath the granite cross erected by his parents to commemorate his elder brother John, who had died at the Somme in January I9I7.
Not long after his death it was decided in Glenshiel that Donald Campbell should have some sort of permanent memorial in the Glen he loved and served so well.
A fund raising campaign was set in motion and it was decided that the spot on the shore of tiny Loch Shiel to which his team-mates had carried him would be the most appropriate place for such gesture of fellowship and affection,
Permission for this was readily granted by Lady Baillie of Dochfour and the cairn was quickly erected. It is presently maintained by the Campbell Family of Glenshie1 and they have recently cleaned up the inscribed marble tablet which had been badly stained by algae.
‘Gad chuimnachadh, A Dhomhnaill, gu brath tuilleadh’.

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