Am Bratach No. 249
July 2012


Photo brought back memories of keepers

Following your excellent photograph of Alec MacDonald and Jimmy Sutherland in your May issue I would like to take up your invitation to tell you what I know about the gentlemen.

Alec was born at Applecross in 1909. He had three brothers and two sisters. The family went to Skye and then to Inchkinloch where his father was a shepherd. They walked the cattle from Skye! One brother, Donald, was a shepherd at Grumbeg and then manager at Mudale for the Kimballs. He died at the Rogart sheepdog trials aged 61. His brother, Roddy, was a stalker at Strathmore and then Ben Armine. Alec worked for the Kimballs at Loyal and Altnaharra, where he was the head keeper for many years, celebrating fifty years with them in 1976. His first wife, Jessie, died of leukaemia during the war, he subsequently married Peggy and they had three children, Sandra and twins, Catherine and Alan. He died in 1998 aged 89.

Jimmy (born 1910?) was, I think, brought up in Helmsdale and his first job was as underkeeper with the McCorquodales at Kilphedir. At the outbreak of war he joined the Lovat Scouts and learned to ski (in Canada?) and went to the Faroes. He fought with them up Italy. (When I went to Florence I had to send him a picture postcard of “yon fancy bridges”). After the war he worked for the Midwoods at Syre, living at Dalvina. In 1955 Lord Kimball took a lease on Klibreck from the Sutherland Estate and Jimmy and his family moved there — Mrs Sutherland, Betty, Helen and Walter. We were tenants there for September from 1956. My father, Michael Barry, bought Klibreck in 1969 and Jimmy stayed with us until he retired to a croft in Tongue in 1973.

I guess the photograph dates from the early 70s as Jimmy is no longer wearing Altnaharra tweed.


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