THE ADVENTURES OF PADDY GLALLOCH OR HIGHLAND PETER
At the turn into the nineteenth century Paddy Glalloch lived in Comrie. He was one of those characters who could get on with anyone including the local Laird of Comrie, Mr. Drummond who resided in Comrie House. In a society which was class-ridden, Paddy was always up to the mark with the local gentry.
Paddy lived in Drummond Street but rented some arable land lying between the village and Comrie House. The Laird also farmed part of the land besides Paddy’s and they jointly owned a wooden plough with the exception of the coulter and the sock. They were good friends and always enjoyed doing things together however both had opposing views on ecclesiastical matters and matters came to a head when the subject of the new minister was brought up. The Laird naturally supported the position of the heritors who supported the notion that the minister should be appointed by the gentry whereas Paddy took the position that it was the church members who should decide on the selection. This eventually became one of the root causes of the great disruption of 1843.
Paddy along with two like-minded souls decided to present themselves as a deputation to the Laird of Drummond Castle known locally as “the Chancellor.” On arriving at Drummond Castle they asked for admittance on important business and the butler so advised “the Chancellor.” He directed that the deputation be shown in and at once Paddy addressed the issue. On hearing it “the Chancellor” asked how the lairds of Comrie, Aberuchill and Ardvoirlich saw the matter and Paddy advised him that all three lairds took the position that it was their inherent rights as landlords and landowners to appoint the minister. Hearing this “the Chancellor” then said that he could see no way that he could oppose the wishes and opinions of his fellow heritors.
Paddy, not known for his discretion, exploded and exclaimed, “This is just what I expected from the bloody House of Drummond.” This caused his Lordship to ring the bell and when the butler appeared he was told to take the gentlemen downstairs and to give the two who had said nothing whatever they would take in the way of eating and drinking but pointing to Paddy told the butler to give him nothing. Paddy, facing the Laird, said to him, “Do you think, Sir that I would eat and drink in your bloody house? No, Sir, I never shall so demean myself.” He then marched from the room and took the road back to Comrie.
On arriving there he armed himself with an axe and a saw and made his way to where the plough had been left. He banged it with the axe splitting into parts which he then sawed in halves paying particular attention to dividing it equally by using exact measurements. Having accomplished this task he took his parts home with him and sent someone round to advise the Laird of Comrie of what he had done and that no longer could they be partners!
Paddy was a great admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte and, at the drop of a hat, would espouse his cause. The people of Comrie were staunchly loyal to the Crown and took exception to this defense of the Corsican adventurer. Many a time occurred when fisticuffs were threatened with Paddy being supported by his son Gregor, who was physically handicapped being hunchbacked, dwarfish and lame and who possessed an uncouth appearance. He was, however, articulate being able to “clip coots” and could give as good as he got.
On one occasion Gregor became surrounded by other Comrie men debating the worth of Napoleon. One of the farmers involved in the debate came from the Carse of Strowan and feeling that he was getting the worst of Gregor’s argumentation asked, ”supposing Bonny was to come over here what would you do, Currihunkers?” Regarding the farmer with scorn Gregor replied, “I could do a great deal more than you could, you butcher-looking blockhead. I could sow the seeds of discord and that is a great deal more than you could do!” Gregor went on into adulthood as a teacher, and enjoyed considerable success. Many of Comrie’s children were sent there by their parents. The school, and Cripple Gregor’, were viewed by as being better than the Parish school. His father continued on with his battles and was asked on one occasion by one of his opponents, “What good would come to the people of the district if Napoleon was to conquer the country?” Paddy reflected on the question for a moment and replied, “If Bonny was to come here he would soon sort out “Baggy” Tainsh! “Baggy” Tainsh was a particularly stout, obnoxious lawyer who had his practice in Crieff.
Paddy held to his views throughout his adult life. In those days in every house in the neighbourhood family worship existed. Not to be outdone Paddy prayed in company, “O Lord, give great success to Napoleon Bonaparte wherever he goes, by sea or land.” This remark caused an outcry and the young people decided to make an example of him. They constructed him in effigy and fixed the effigy on a cart which they wheeled through the village followed by a great crowd who threw various missiles at it. The cart was then placed against the side of Paddy’s house and set on fire. As the roof was thatched it caught alight very quickly and although the house was saved it tempered Paddy and his son’s ardour for Napoleon.
His house which was on the south side of Drummond Street faced the Seceder Church, the Gilfillan Church, at the back and Paddy’s back windows gave a clear view into the church which was only a few yards distant. As mentioned earlier, Paddy was a staunch churchman, but like many cherished strong feelings of bitterness about the Seceders. In those days the Church held Fast days which were strictly adhered to by the congregation. The Fast days were held at different times than the Parish Church and their congregation ignored the traditional Fast days held by the Parish Church. Because of this the children of the Seceder Church would be playing around when a Fast day was being held by the Parish Church and this caused great offence to Paddy.
On one occasion when this occurred Paddy challenged them and was only laughed at so he decided to take the matter into his own hands. When the Fast day for the Seceder Church came around and the weather very warm the windows of their Church were opened to let in a breeze. Seizing the chance he opened his own back windows, settled down beside it and as soon as the service in the Church began he started playing his bagpipes with all his might and continued till the service was over. Paddy felt that he had been suitably vindicated!