There are two photos of my father which I treasure simply because they are the only ones I have of him as a young man. In the first one he´s 16 and in the second one, which isn´t dated, I think he´s probably about 18. I know that both were taken in Ireland where he sometimes spent the summer with relatives who had a farm there. Judging by the Border Collie in that photo I can only assume that they were sheep farmers though I can´t be sure about that. There are a lot of things about my father that are a mystery to me. In the first photo he´s carrying a camera and yet none of the photos he took have survived. Also, there isn´t a single photo of him as a baby. However, the greatest mystery has always been his mother, Helen Campbell, for whom I was named. My father himself knew only that she died very young and that on her deathbed she pleaded with her mother-in-law to look after her child and made her promise not give him up to her own mother. I find this horrifying as it would appear that my paternal great grandmother, must have been unpleasant to say the very least if her own daughter couldn´t entrust her child to her. Until very recently these were the only facts I knew about Helen Campbell until Linda, a cousin of our mutual cousin, Neville, did some research into my father´s antecedents. I now know that poor Helen was only 23 when she died and my father only 4 which explains why he had no recollection of her. Linda has traced Helen´s family tree back to my great great grandparents who came from Reay in Caithness. I wish my late father had known this because sometime during the 1960s he went north to work at the nuclear power station in Dounreay near the town of Thurso and only returned when he found it impossible to find a suitable house there for the family.
As the name Dounreay suggests, it´s very close to where his maternal great grandparents, Robert Campbell and Betsey Isabella MacDonald came from. Of course, considering how small a country Scotland is, this is no great coincidence but if he had known this he may have been able to find relatives still living there. However, one thing I find particularly interesting about Robert and Betsey is that they, perhaps unwittingly, joined two warring clans together. Throughout Scotland´s turbulent history the Highlanders didn´t just wage war on the English but also on each other and the clans MacDonald and Campbell have a particularly bloody history. I won´t go into that in detail but I have to say that I find it comforting that now that I can lay claim to both clans in my family tree I no longer have to defend my middle name to any of my countrymen named MacDonald! Yes, clan memories die hard in Scotland and the massacre of MacDonalds at Glencoe in 1692 has - unfairly - gone down in history as proof of the bloodthirsty nature of the clan Campbell. I say "unfairly" because, according to what I´ve read about this ancient family feud, the MacDonalds weren´t averse to slaughtering the Campbells either!
With all this recent knowledge I created this page in memory of my dear dad who passed away in 1995.
The tartan on the left is the clan Campbell, on the right the clan MacDonald and in the middle the clan Armstrong to which our family belongs. Thank you, Linda, for making this possible.