Just on the edge of the Isle of Skye, beside the bridge to the mainland, is a small village called Kyleakin. Castle Maol is a ruin just a little outside of the village, on a hill top overlooking the Kyle Akin. Oddly, it is also known as Castle Moil, Dun Akyn, Dunakin Castle, Dun Haakon and Castle Dunakin! It was the family seat of the McKinnon clan and it looks commanding still, standing on the headland even though it is ruined. I was taking photos from about a half mile away in a car park when a car pulled up and the lady driver asked if this was the way to the castle. I replied there was a path, but it was steep, muddy and in parts quite deep in mud and water. It is also overgrown and difficult to find in parts so this point was the best view of the castle by far without getting really dirty and tired.
She’d gotten out of the car and she smiled and told me this story:
“I’ve been going to night school to learn genealogy and I’ve found out about some of my ancestors going back hundreds of years. My great, great, great grandfather was a McKinnon. His family owned and at one time lived in the castle. Sometime in the late 18th Century he emigrated to Hawaii. He opened a bakery store there which whilst not in the family now, is still operating. I’ve thought about the family members who are lost in time now and who I’m resurrecting in memory, and to find out I have a physical connection to them through the castle fills me with an incredible need to be here, to see it, to touch it.
So I’ve hoped and dreamed for 20 years and finally planned this trip and now here I am, a half a mile away from something that has filled my thoughts and dreams for most of my adult life. I want to touch it, as my ancestors did hundreds of years ago and feel connected to them emotionally, across time and history. Getting muddy and wet is the least of my concerns and nothing will bar me now from going up there and touching the stone.”
Her and her elderly step-father set off and I took some more photos, feeling a little humbled by her story. Suddenly I thought about her amazing journey, and I thought about my journey too. I am agnostic, so I don’t believe there is a point to life, except the point you make. Mine is about People, Places and Experiences. This blog is about relating them too. Here I was in the midst of a great story, in a great place, about some amazing people, so I set off quickly to catch them up.
They’d not gone far as the bracken and undergrowth had grown over the path. She had jeans and trainers on and her elderly step-father was wearing some very smart leather slip ons. They really weren’t dressed for this so being in walking trousers and boots I tried to beat a little path for them. As we walked I introduced myself and she said her name was Tari Thompson. I explained about my blog and that her story had touched me and how most of my life now was spent going places and meeting people and having experiences. I asked if I could walk up with them and photograph her realizing her dream and touching the stone. She was happy with this idea and we set about making our way to the hill that the castle was on. I chose an adjacent hill when we got nearer, as I had an excellent view across with the Kyle Akin in the background. I then went over to where they were after giving them some time alone.
I got some photos, and I took some for them on their ipad and their camera. It really was a touching moment. This was a lifelong dream for someone coming true, and they shared it with me. I left them alone then so she could dwell on her own thoughts uninterrupted, but I left her my card, and hopefully she will email as I asked her to so she can see the photos I took and approve them to be published here.
And here they are 🙂
I love my life lol
EDIT: Some time after this was published, I received an email and I’ve copied the contents below…
Subject: Castle Maol Message: I want to thank you for the great blog you wrote about Ms. Thompson fulfilling her dream of placing a hand on the castle and connecting with her ancestors. Her ancestors are, in fact, my own. It gave me a chill to think about doing the same one day. Thanks again! Jonathan McKinnon
What’s the chances!!