Thursday, July 31, 2008

A great-great-great-great-great time in Campbeltown

The next two nights was to be the start of intermittent visiting of relatives - in this case quite distant. The drive down from Oban was punctuated by a short stop at a preserved Scottish village from a time when the land farmed was communal. A split second decision saw us turn off the A83 to Campbeltown (our destination that day) for the B842 down the east side of the peninsula - it was more of the typical single track roads that we were used to: sealed, tight, twisty, bordered by large stone walls & only room to pass at the occasional passing bay. A great look at the countryside and a view across the water, through the cloud to the Isle of Arran. Campbeltown, for some reason or another, was once the home of almost thirty distilleries in its heyday - now there are only two; this seemed quite odd as it was pretty isolated.

We were set to meet two brothers who I think were Dad's third cousins. Anyway, when we found their house, met them & managed to decipher about three-quarters of what they were saying (wonderfully thick Scottish accents punctuated with a lot of 'ayes') we found we shared a common great-great-great-great grandfather (I think - it got all very confusing with multiple family trees coming out & a lot of people helpfully having the same name). From what I remember, with a family of ten children there was not enough work on the family farm or employment close by to support them all. So some time in the 1800s five of the sons up & left to Australia & then pretty soon after to NZ. Of the five left in Scotland, the family name (Wallace) has only carried on down one line - this is obviously the line that we were meeting. I'm not sure how many related Wallaces are left in NZ (this is my paternal grandmother's side of the family), but there are some.

James & William had only just sold the family farm last year & retired as there was no one else in the family to take it over. But we still got the big tour around the farms (a change from Dad's tour of dairy farms around Oamaru & the district (spied some of Sir Paul McCartney's farms - we were very close to Mull of Kintyre); the land was a lot more fertile & developed in this part of the country than most we had already seen in Scotland. It was great to see the land that some of my ancestors left all those years ago & also my great-great-great-great-great grandfather's headstone. And the sun even came out briefly & every one was very excited & telling us what a nice day it was!

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