Sections


Rob Roy MacGregor Campbell
The '45
Extracts of Statistics from the Annexed Estates for Western Strathearn (1755-56)
The Reports of the Annexed Estates (1755-69)
A Tour of Scotland - Thomas Pennant (1769)
Seismic Activity (1789)
Account of 1791-99 vol-11 - Comrie, County of Perth
Archibald MacNab (1734-1816)
Henry Dundas (1742-1811)
Sir David Baird of Seringapatam (1757-1829)
Companion and Useful Guide to the Beauties of Scotland – Sarah Murray (1799)
Roman Camp, Dalginross – October (1800)
Flash from the Caledonian Mercury – September (1814)
I've a Boat to Catch (1818)
A Picture of Strathearn - John Brown (1823)
St Fillan’s Highland Society (1827)
Letters from the Distant Past (1831 - 1859)
Comrie, St Fillans and Monivard (1837)
Statistical Account: Parish of Comrie (1838)
The Glen Lednock Census (1841)
The Queen’s Visit (1842)
The Road to Comrie (1857)
For the Sake of Nelly Fergus (1860)
From an Unknown Guidebook-circa (1892)
Comrie (1895)
Tales of Derring Do
Soldier, Soldier, won’t you marry me wi’…
The Adventures of Paddy or Highland Peter
Ghoulie Tales
A Serious Business
Mail Order Bride
The Man with the Powerful Voice
Double Entry bookkeeping
Hey, Gie’s ma Haun…or Murder Most Foul
Kate Mackenzie's Terrible Deeds
Watty and Meg Drummond
The Fencibles
Deacon Reid
Amazing Grace
The Day of the Penny Wedding
The MacArthur's were there before the Hills
The Beggar's Badge
A Pane by any other name can be a Pain!
The Powder Keg
The Coo didnae hae ony Teeth!
The Green Lady of Glen Lednock
The Queen of Tynasithe
The Great Wall of Comrie
Whisky, You're the Devil
A Wee Rumble
A Whale of a Time
An Encounter of the Third Kind
Another Debate
Bosom Pals
Getting Stoned in Comrie
Hanging about Comrie
It's Whisky in the Jar
Picking Other Folks' Brains
Porridge for Breakfast
Tarred and Buttered
Temperance
The Convert
The Debate
The Schism
The Levitation
The Twa' Brithers
There’s a Hare in my Soup
Yer bum's oot the Window

18th & 19th Century

The Convert

Archie McNiven, came from Blairnroar, Glenartney, where he was apprenticed as a mason. He was not a tall man standing only five feet five inches, but he was a tough, leathery man, as hard as nails and who loved to fight, normally after imbibing. As a man he took a strong liking to the barley bree and, as is often the case, his other self appeared, which to put it mildly was rather fearsome.

During the wintertime, when he could not work at his trade he, and others, engaged in making illicit spirits which would be sold throughout the neighbourhood. As a result he became known to the Excise and fell foul of the law. As smuggling was a serious business, the participants would come in contact with the Excise officers and the result inevitably led to a fight. After various encounters he was almost caught, as some of smuggling friends had been prior, and he decided to leave the country and join members of his family who had sailed away to Canada in the 1829 exodus. One night he took the Lang Side road, bidding farewell to his friends at the coffin stone (clach nanan) near the roadside, for Greenock. There he boarded a ship and worked his passage to Montreal, thence to Keene, Ontario, meeting up with his family in that tiny community.

Once there he practised his trade and also developed a reputation as a distiller of alcohol, a strong customer of it, and as a fighter. His style of fighting though was quite unique and was called “Carding.” The basic idea, now out of fashion but popular in its day amongst certain factions, was that instead of punching and hitting the target with the fists, Archie would strip off all of the target’s clothes and make him run and hide. The target normally could find no way of getting home without being seen and avoiding further embarrassment.

On one occasion in the bar of the public house in Keene whilst chatting with the landlord, a stranger with an English accent entered the premises. He was stylishly dressed, of distinguished appearance and ordered something from the bar. As he and Archie were standing together at the bar Archie said, “Good Morning, Sir.” However the stranger, no doubt somewhat aghast at being addressed by this ruffian, took no notice of him and ignored him. Archie again addressed him, saying, “I was saying good morning to you, Sir.” The stranger, who was much taller than Archie, looked down at him with a contemptuous look and told him that he did not want to be addressed by the likes of him, Archie said, “Oh, I think, sir, that you might be all the better for a bit of carding.”

The stranger told him to go away and not to bother him again. The barman, realizing what was about to happen and noting the anger rising in Archie, decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and disappeared into a room behind the bar. Just as the barman was out of view Archie flew at the stranger and fastened on to him like a wild terrier. The swell tried to defend himself as best he could but hitting out was no good. Archie confined himself to tearing off all the man’s clothes and in a few moments the stranger’s pants were all torn down to his boots, and his coat, vest and underclothes shredded. Once this was accomplished and Archie felt satisfied that he had done enough to prove his point, he walked to the door of the bar and left the stranger to his thoughts. The barman then re-entered the room and the target begged him for a room where he could remain to think about what he should do. A room was provided and a tailor arrived who measured him for a new set of clothes. Once these arrived he said that he would not forget this style of fighting and in future would steer well clear of anyone called McNiven. No doubt he was keen to see the back of Keene!

Sometime after this Archie became unwell and his landlady went, on his behalf, to call out the doctor. However the doctor, who also doubled as a vetenarian, knew of Archie’s reputation and asked for his fee in advance. On hearing this Archie was much troubled especially when he found that the doctor/vet was treating the landlady’s cow who was ill at the time he asked why he would not treat him at the same time. Archie now realised that something was wrong and that the problems were of his own making and he decided to renounce the barley bree for ever, which he did.

Time passed and he became his true self once more and after joining the Methodists became a new man. Later he returned briefly to Comrie but all his friends and relatives had long left the area with the exception of his cousin, John, who wanted him to stay. As an incentive he even offered to have Archie buried in Tullichettle Cemetery alongside his ancestors but Archie could not bring himself to make the decision so he returned to Canada and died shortly thereafter.

There were thirteen public houses in Comrie in 1834 and two distilleries, one located at the East end of Drummond Street and the other at Easter Tullybannocher, and two breweries. In 2009 there are only four hostelries which serve strong liquor so one can make the assumption that whilst not yet quite TT the sale of alcohol has been greatly reduced!