The following article is taken from notes written by Norah Summers (nee MacAskill) about her time staying in Errogie just after World War 2
My father was the Rev. Angus MacAskill a Church of Scotland minister who was a native Gaelic speaker from Harris. In 1940 he was ordained and inducted to Acharacle in Ardnamurchan peninsula in Ardgyle -shire. Nineteen forty seven saw him called to the linked parishes of Stratherrick, Boleskine and Foyers near Inverness. Later that year I started at Stratherrick Public School, where the formidable Miss Jessie MacGillivray had been a pupil teacher and spent her whole career. In my first year there were still children up fourteen years old attending the school, but the next year it became a Primary only.
Miss Macgillivery was a very devout Free Presbyterian, and we started every day with an hour of what she referred to as “Bible” during which we recited the portion of Psalm that we had had to learn as homework, as well as the prescribed question(s) from the Shorter Catechism. When we had been right through the latter we just started again, but don’t ask me now the Reasons Annexed to the Fourth Commandment. We also sang the Psalms, and very occasionally some approved hymns, which were not numerous.
A Colporteur 1 used to come from time to time and provide us with tracts containing improving, and usually quite scary, stories.
We lived in the manse at Errogie, next to the tin church. I seem to remember two sisters (Polly and Kate Fraser) living in the Old Manse at Boleskine – it was eventually a guest house but I think that was after our time.
A succession of Lay Missionaries lived in the Foyers manse and took a morning service. Dad took a service at Errogie, I think at 11.00, then Boleskine would be 12 30. He then had the evening service at Foyers – I often went with him to Boleskine and/or Foyers. My mother attended the Errogie service and taught the Sunday School, but would be at home the rest of the day with my younger siblings. I was nearly 5 and my brother was 2 when we went there, and our two younger sisters were born in the manse. The name of the District Nurse was Johanna Alison, who married Tim Pow. Doctor Angus Lamont lived in Foyers.
We went to the school along the road, it was officially called Stratherrick Public School. The playground was very steep and I got many a grazed knee! Miss MacGillivray lived in the adjoining schoolhouse with her two sisters (and a vicious Pekinese which bit my mother). Miss Kate was Matron of the Infirmary in Inverness, Miss Jessie was the teacher and Miss Mary kept house and drove the van to pick up the distant children, and deliver to Boleskine school, the school dinners which were cooked on our premises by Miss Fraser, Mrs Jean MacGregor (who lived in “The Ark”) and Mrs (Anne) Hendry. When I first went to the Academy in Inverness I had to stay Monday to Friday (with friends, not in the hostel), but before the rest of us children got to that stage we moved to Brechin, and I went to Brechin High School from the end of 1st year onwards.
I remember Angus MacGiillivray from the shop at Gorthleck very well, we used to go there for petrol as well as for groceries, and his van came round on a Thursday. I think he got married quite late in life to everyone’s astonishment. There was a family member who had gone to live in Argentina and he used to give us the exotic foreign stamps.
The Free Church was just along from ours, between us and the school, and its manse further up, past the Post Office, on the left, before the comer where the smiddy was, at the junction where you went right to Inverfarigaig and left to Gorthleck. The Free Presbyterian church was pretty well at Gorthleck, – no manse that I can remember. The minister used to come out from Inverness by bus on a Saturday and stay till Monday – one did not travel on the Sabbath. There was a Catholic priest (Charles Thain) who lived at Whitebridge – Dad used to visit him in a spirit of fraternity, I think he was quite lonely. He died in a fire, very sad.
I remember Farraline House well, there was a family called Moore who lived there, they came from Northumberland, I think – Margaret was about my age and I used to go to play sometimes. There were cottages near the house, I remember a family called Milton – Betty and Eleanor and George were at school.
There were all sorts of characters – Mrs (Elisabeth) Reece at the Errogie Post Office, and her daughter Pam who played the harmonium in church; wee Jimmy the beadle who lived in the “Beehive”; a retired Colonel Sopper at Aberchalder, who invited us to tea every spring to pick narcissus. He had lost an eye in a skiing accident which we took as an awful warning! Then there was Mrs Sorrel-Cameron at Gorthleck House, another interesting place to go for tea. I had piano lessons from Mrs Fred Fraser, who was the organist at Foyers, Dad used to drop me at her house and go visiting. She did needlework and I still have a handkerchief sachet she gave me.
My mother started a Woman’s Guild despite much head-shaking, and we loved coming home from school to the remains of the baking all the ladies had brought. Speakers always had to stay a night if not two, and we got to know some amazing people – one missionary from India kept in touch with Mum the rest of her life. I have been a fan of the Guild ever since! I actually served as National Convener in 2005-6, but that is another story.
1 Colporteur:- someone employed by a religious society to distribute bibles and other religious tracts.