Interesting to see that St Donnan’s still exists – not much different from the ‘photo I took when I was there.in 1955. At that time,the resident priest was in ill-health and the local Diocese needed to take him (unwillingly as far as he was concerned).off the island and recruited a priest from the London Oratory who had known him during the war to ‘lure’ him off ‘on holiday’..He, Fr Sir Hugh Barrett-Lennard Bt (qv), recruited a small group of 17 to 20 year old lads to go, stay in the rectory for a couple of weeks and generally explore the island. It was like going back a few centuries. Most notable: the friendliness of the Islanders; the fact that, in our tramping around the island, they would welcome us into their homes for tea and biscuits etc; the island historian who could relate the history of the caves as handed down through his family; the one lorry used to transport us across the island on arrival and departure; the telephone system run from the one local shop which closed down when the operator went home and left the island without telephone contact overnight and at weekends (STD did not exist); the wreck of “The Jennie” which had gone aground in 1954 and far more. Fr Hugh, known to us all as ‘slightly eccentric’, as a result of wounds suffered in the war, introduced himself to us as ‘The Pope of Eigg’ on arrival and was treated as such by the islanders. He returned for many years with different parties. He will be remembered by many of the islanders who lived there from 1955 onwards and, unfortunately passed away at 89 in August 2007, He remained a very good friend of our family over the years having performed his first marriage service after ordination for my brother and his wife followed by being transported from a nursing home to perform the 50th anniversary service as his last at the Oratory.
I remember Father Leonard well, David. My memories are not that great, but I have vague recollections of a young classical guitarist in one of the groups who played magnificently. I visited Father Leonard at the Oratory (late 90’s early 2000’s) but he was somewhat wandered. I took the picture one early January evening after Mairi MacKinnon lit all of the candles. PS the Chapel house was knocked down many years ago.
© Isle of Eigg