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Kildonan, once more

Seventy years have come to pass Since first I set my eye Your wondrous sights to see. Memories are fading fast, Memories that come and go As they dance to seniles tune. Childhood memories that flutter by Of tales of yesteryear, To be grasped before they die, Kildonan, once more.

The roar of stags and distant hinds, The clash of horns on Dhorain high,

Eagles soaring on the wing, Salmon leaping in the spring, Shooting stars on winter nights And now and then the northern lights, The wonders of the cosmic might And on a moonlit night, So empty, eerie and alone, Kildonan, once more.

Upon the hillside high, In the ancient crags of time, You can hear them clear, The whispered sounds of yesteryear Echoing from ben to ben. Echos from the mists of time Stand witness to the deeds of yore Until the death of yesteryear, Kildonan, once more.

Oer the eons they did come, Ancient Britons, Picts and Gaels, Vikings bold and strong And Donan came and built his kil And spread his gospel wide. For seven thousand years and more They sheltered in thy bosom And then in just a flash of time, In but a single day, ochone, Kildonan, no more.

Cast in stone for all to see, Icons from the distant past, Ancient houses round and true, Silent sentinels standing tall, Pictish brochs eight in all, The bustling kirk Where Sage did preach Now empty and forlorn,

Kildonan, ochone.

Donans god was but a myth! Laid low by Morays satan son, Well versed was he in thought and deed, With Edins books on right and wrong And Adams laws on wealth to make, With Bettys ear and Lochs as well, A witchs cauldron made in hell! With pious words he set his trap, Infamous deed for infamous greed Kildonan, no more.

They came in the early rays of dawn With fire and cudgel and pistols drawn, Bettys edict was read from afar, Then came the thugs, as if to war. They fell upon her loyal clan, Young and old, the sick, the lame, Driven from heath and hame

With nothing but the clothes they wore, For Donans god was but a myth! Kildonan, no more.

From Caen to Kinbrace, Twelve long miles and more, A dozen townships all ablaze. Billowing smoke, its veil did spread And cast a darkness oer the land Save for infernos leaping flames Lit upon the fleeing souls, Wailing to their god on high, But Donans god was but a myth! Kildonan, no more.

They huddled on Bunilidhs shore, Cast adrift from kith and kin, Neer a hand from kirk or king, For Bettys chattels they remain. But in this, their darkest hour

A lowland laird an offer made, A passage to a distant land And soil to till as-their-own. Was Donans god but a myth? Kildonan, no more.

And so began an epic trek, A journey straight from hell Across the wild Atlantic To Hudsons mighty bay. Towering waves and icebergs too, Howling gales and arctic freeze, A typhus plague, the frail laid low In the graveyard of the deep. For Donans god was but a myth! Kildonan, no more.

An arctic winter they endured On Hudsons frozen shore, Forty below and blowing snow

For six long months and more, Spade and axe did cabins make, Game and fish their strength did keep, Winters bears they held at bay, With every challenge that was met Their spirits they did sore. Kildonan, once more?

Those that bent to winters toll They laid by Hudsons shore. They bowed their heads in prayer And set their faces to the west, Seven hundred miles of wilderness Before the Promised Land, Canoe and portage by the score, Blizzards fierce and rapids wild, Oer marsh and river and forest dense, Kildonan, once more.

The Promised Land came in sight By the river in the valley wide, Selkirks earl his vow did keep With land upon their crops to reap, They were free and they were strong, Oppressions dragon they had slain! They built a kirk for Donans god And called the place Kildonan, For Donans God was not a myth? Kildonan, once more!

Kildonans seeds they did sow In the face of natures foes, Grit and toil a miracle wrought, Golden wheat sprung to the sky Oer a vast and timeless land, To the limits of the eye. A mighty city soon did grow Around the kirk for Donans God.

The gateway to the west was born. Kildonan, once more!

The silent straths of Sutherland Their sons and daughters gone, Bear witness to the folly Of a tyrants heavy hand. The prairies vast and wide, Where riches now abide, And the nation they begot, Steeped in freedoms ways, Bear witness to these words: Kildonan, once more! Kildonan, once more!
- Donald (Dennis) S. MacLeod

On the 200th Year Anniversary of the Kildonan Clearances.

This poem is dedicated to the memory of all of the peoples of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland who, in the face of great adversity, sought freedom, hope and justice beyond these shores. They and their descendants went forth and explored continents, built great countries and cities and gave their enterprise and culture to the world. This is their legacy. Their voices will echo forever through the empty straths and glens of their homeland. Notes: 1. This is a story told in rhythm rather than a poem told in rhyme. 2. Kildonan and adjacent straths were cleared in stages and there were at least three ships that sailed to Hudsons Bay with settlers at different times. All of the events described occurred at one time or other over this period in one or more of the straths. 3. For ease of telling the story has been written as one continuous event. 4. The trials and tribulations of the settlers caused by the war between the North West Company and the Hudson Bay Company is left for another day. 5. Dhorain Beinn Dhorain, Strath of Kildonan. 6. Donan Gaelic priest who brought Christianity to the Picts of Northwestern Scotland. 7. Kil hut or church. 8. Ochone woe is us. 9. Broch Pictish tower. 10. Sage Alexander Sage, minister at Kildonan at the time of the Clearances.

11. Morays satan son Patrick Sellar, factor for the Sutherland Estates (also William Young, chief factor), natives of Moray. 12. Edin Edinburgh University where Patrick Sellar obtained a law degree. 13. Adam Adam Smith, father of economics. 14. Betty - Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, Chief of the clan Sutherland. 15. Loch James Loch, lowland lawyer, senior advisor to the Sutherland Estates. 16. Caen, pronounced as in, and presumably named after Caen in France, was the most easterly of the Kildonan townships. 17. Bunilidh gaelic name for Helmsdale. 18. Lowland laird (Selkirks earl) Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk.