South Shian - Shian Ferry

Shian means "Fairy Hill"
(Fairy tales around Scotland :

In |The Jew's Harp in the Law, 1590–1825 by Michael Wright, Source: Folk Music Journal, Vol. 9, No. 3 (2008), pp. 349-371

Some time in the intervening eighteen days it had come to the notice of the justice, John Campbell of Moy, that Mcllmichall had been consorting with evil spirits. Mcllmichall, under interrogation, confessed to a series of meetings that took place in and around Appin from November 1676 to February 1677, at some of which he played Jews harps. On Sunday, 20 November 1676 he had been travelling from Ardtur, about a mile north of Port Appin, south to Glackriska, on Loch Crenan opposite the island of Eriska. Somewhere (and he claimed that he had become lost) he had seen candle lights on a hill and a large number of men and women dancing. He was spotted by the participants, and there was a discussion among them as to whether they should invite him in, after which the leader, who appeared to be a large, ruddy-faced, old man, dressed as a corporal guardsman, asked Mcllmichall to come back on the following Sunday. The defendant confessed that he 'judges them not to have bein wordlie men or men ordayned of god, and that they enquyred if he wes baptized and that he said he wes'.

THE JEW'S HARP IN THE LAW, 1590-1825 359
In spite of the leader having told Mcllmichall he must keep their meetings secret, he confided in a certain Robert Buchanan, and he was punished for this by the distinctly unimpressed fairies, who gave him a beating. Nevertheless, he continued to meet with the dancers on a number of other occasions up until 2 February 1677. The meetings always took place on Sundays, sometimes on the island of Lismore or at a well-known fairy mound, the Shian of Barcaldine, on the south side of Loch Crenan, where, while the others danced, 'he played on trumps'.36 This implies that he played more than one Jews harp. Playing two Jews harps, one in each hand, is a known technique, practised by skilled players, particularly in Austria today and in Ireland in the recent past.
The information regarding Donald Mcllmichall comes from a single source, the Highland Papers.

Highland Papers, ed. byj. R. N. Macphail, Publications of the Scottish History Society, 2nd series, vols 5, 12, 20, 3rd series, vol. 22, 4 vols (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 1914-34), III, Highland Papers, III, 37-38.

At his trial he was asked : Interrogat if he mett with them in other places Answers that he mett them in Leismore and at the Shian of Barcalden and still saw the old man that seemed to be cheif being ane large tall corporal Gardman and ruddie and he was engadgeit to conceal them and no to tell other. Bot that he told it to the forsaid Robert Buchanan once fer which he was reproved and stricken be them in the cheik and other pairts, and that he mett them still on ilk Sabaths nights and that he playd on trumps to them quhen they danced.

In view of his confessions, the jury had no hesitation in finding Donald Mcllmichall guilty of the theft of the cow and of consorting with evil spirits.
He was executed on Monday, 19 November 1677

Other references to Donald include
Canon J. A. MacCulloch paper called 'The Mingling of Fairy and Witch Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Scotland', in 1921, wrote, 'Donald MacMichael, told how he had entered a fairy hill, where dancing was going on … One of the fairy women engaged Donald to return eight nights after. He obeyed and was in the hill for a month, playing the "trumps" while the fairies danced.'

Canon J. A. MacCulloch, 'The Mingling of Fairy and Witch Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Scotland, Folklore, 32 (1921), 227-44 (p. 238).
Henderson and Cowan, p. 62.
I. F. Grant, Highland Folk Ways (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961), p. 135;

Henderson and Cowan : Donald Mclllmichall's first sighting he saw them dancing by candlelight. On subsequent visits he playd on trumps to them quhen they danced'.39

Two finds of Jew's harps (TRUMPS have been made at Achandun Castle, on the island of Lisemore.

1770 - Dorothy Wordsworth travelling


22 June 1774
The meeting appoints that the ferrying place should be altered from Rubha Garbh and “Ruardachock” on Loch Creran to Shian and the point of “Leadgrianich” – Barcaldine and Airds to build proper houses for accommodating travellers upon their respective sides of the Ferry as good as those on each side of Rudha Garbh – new line of road to be marked at – committee appointed to examine the expediency of erecting a ferry at Creran and Dallachoilish across Loch Creran. 333

25 June 1774 The Meeting appoint Glenure and Comby to converse with Barcaldine anent bringing the Ferry from Rubha Garbh to Eriska in place of Shian as proposed by the meeting 341

1788 - GD170/487
Estimate for repairing quay on Barcaldine side of Shian ferry

9. 1793, January 27 Justices of the Peace Petitions NAS
Petition of Dougald McColl, ferryman at Shian, to Alexander Campbell of Barcaldine, J.P., against tenants of Rougarve, for not using the ferry.

1815, March 25. Complains of conduct of John Cameron at Shian who is guilty of ‘undue liberty in wood cutting and hunting and the illicit practice of smuggling added to inattention to the service of the ferry and not keeping proper boats’

GD170/514 Title Building and house repairs
Shian ferry. 1830-2. [7 documents.]

1820 GD170/2392
Letter from Henry C. M. Cox to Sir Duncan Campbell of Barcaldine, 1st b.t.
Description 1 August. Had visited Argyllshire in 1805, and remembers romantic scenery near Loch Awe and Ballachulish; thanks Barcaldine for his invitation
Dated at Shian Ferry, Inverness.

1823 GD170/2530
Letter from Hugh McColl, crofter, to Sir Duncan Campbell of Barcaldine, 1st b.t.
Dates [16 Aug 1823]
Explains that he 'is known to be incapable of making bargains or transacting business of any kind where skill and judgment is required' and 'in consequence of this failing with whom [or rather, which] Providence has pleased to visit him', he had undertaken to pull enough ferns to thatch the ferry house of Shian for a very inadequate sum; asks to be released from this bargain.

1828 GD170/2541
Letter from A. MacDonald to Sir Duncan Campbell of Barcaldine, 1st b.t.
4 Feb 1828
Protests at suggestion that field that goes with the ferry and is used for keeping a horse for passengers on the ferry, should be taken from him; urges Barcaldine to consider how much more useful it is to have such a horse now since the steamboats and the Oban coach commenced and gentlemen no longer take their own carriages as they used to do; 'this place would be a place of woe and derision without a horse'. Assures Barcaldine that the shop is not an impediment to the ferry, as some days they have had six men ferrying carriages and horses, and then those coming to shop were of assistance. Dated at Shian Ferry.

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