The Invergarry Gathering
meetings are common enough now at Inverness and in other parts
of the Highlands, but they were then unknown except in Glengarry.
The scene of the games was very pretty and striking. There
was an open space in
the island surrounded with birch trees, and the clear river
ran on each side, with mountains towering on both sides of
the valley. Lunch was provided in a tent for the gentry, and
in a recess in the wood a rural kitchen was improvised, where
cooking for some three or four hun-
dred people, men, women and children, was carried on.
The games were of the usual sort now common, dancing, piping,
lifting a heavy stone, throwing the hammer, and running from
the Island to Invergarry and back, six miles. The young men
who ran came in exhausted, and almost in a state of nudity,
for they had thrown off their kilts on the way, and arrived
in their shirts only. A blanket was cast over them and a glass
of whisky administered.
One feat which I never saw since was twisting the four legs
from a cow, for which a fat sheep was offered as a prize.
The cow was brought up and felled before the multitude, and
the barbarous competition began, several
men making the attempt. At last one man succeeded. After struggling
for about an hour, he managed to twist off the four legs,
and as a reward received his sheep, with an eulogistic speech
from the chief in Gaelic.
About five in the afternoon, when the games and feast had
ceased, it was announced that the carriages for the chief
and his party were on the road outside the island. A sort
of procession was formed, the pipers leading, and
the chief departed amidst loud cheers. The country people
were all regaled, dinner being laid out on the green consisting
of basins of broth, boiled and roast beef and mutton, fowls,
salmon, potatoes, and a large quantity of oaten bannocks.
There were no knives or forks, but the men’s dirks and
skean dhus were called into requisition to assist their fingers.
Afterwards they had dancing, which was entered into with great