Dornoch Historylinks Image Library

Mr & Mrs R Mackay Embo
Mr & Mrs R Mackay Embo

B/w laser photocopy of photo of an elderly couple standing outside a cottage, probably Embo, captioned "Looking there (sic) bonniest". On reverse: "Mr & Mrs R Mackay, Hope Cottage, parents of Robert John Mackay." Quality of copy is poor.
[A photograph of their son Robert John is at picture #11427]
Picture added on 24 April 2008
Hope Cottage was No 10 Front Street and there was an emply stand between it and No 9 Front Street (Mizpah Cottage) which was owned by my maternal grandparents Donald Cumming and Annie Cumming (Nee Fraser). RJ Mackay built a supply store on the empty stand and this building in now Mackays Post Office, Embo. The writing on the photo appears to be that of RJ Mackay who loved to write using a pseudo Scots dialect.
I remember as a boy returning empty lemonade bottles to RJ Mackay's timber built 'General Store' and being palmed off with a slab of glass toffee instead of returning the cash paid for bottle deposits. I recall that the timber store mysteriously burnt down and was soon repaced with a grand brick built shop which stands today.
Added by Donald J Ross on 20 February 2011
Parents of Ann MacKay who married Sandy MacFarlane and lived in Boston. They were close friends of my Grandparents, Hugh and Mary (Wood) Findlay, originally of Brechin, Scotland.

Many thanks for your comment - Administrator
Added by David Wood Harlow on 04 June 2014
These are the parents of RJ Mackay who lived at 10 Front Street, Embo. In the 1911 census they lived at this same address and are named as Robert and Kate Mackay aged 49 and 46 years and living there with daughter Teenie (22), son Donald (17), daughter Maggie (14), son Robert John (10), daughter Kate (8) and daughter Lucy Bella (4). Robert's occupation was then given as "Fisherman" and that in their marriage they had 11 children of whom 8 were still alive. This house later became the home of RJ Mackay himself along with his wife when he ran his trading store between 10 and 9 Front Street. RJ also liked to be known as the “village poet” and was a constant contributor to Golspie’s Northern Times which we then knew as the “rag”.
Robert and Kate Mackay were then not the parents of Maggie MacFarlane (Nee Cumming) who was the Embo born wife of the Scottish born American song writer and comedian Sandy MacFarlane.
The parents of Maggie MacFarlane were Adam Cumming (born Embo 2/7/1841 and died 17/1/1926) and Anne Cumming nee Mackay (Born Embo c 1857 and died 6/8/1943 and known as Anne aigh Shorus). Their marriage was registered in Dornoch on the 17/10/1876.They and their children originally lived in the eleventh from the sea on Terrace Street in Embo but later built Boston House at the front of the village. This house was probably built with remittances from their many children that made good in the Boston Area of the USA. In their marriage they had 9 children of whom 7 survived to adulthood. Boston House later became known as Grannies Heilan Hame when Jock MacIntosh (Johnny Horsy) of Embo Farm bought the building and made it the focus of his caravan hire business in the 1960s. Of course this name arose from Sandy MacFarlane's famous song of the same name.
Adam Cumming was the grand uncle of my mother Maryann Cumming (Maryann aigh Dannagh) and Anne Mackay was the aunt of my father William Alexander Mackay (Willie M). In the mid 1940s my family lived at Springwell Cottage just behind Boston House and we as children spent many times visiting Adam and Anne’s daughter who then lived in the house. She was Kate Mackay (Kate aigh Adam),her husband was William Mackay (Bielsie)and their daughter was Kate Anne Mackay (later Grant). William Mackay at that time also owned the one house left at the "Yards" South of Embo and rented it to Ina Vass and her three young sons Makkie, George and Joe who were all at Embo school with us Mackay children.
This photo must then have been taken in the early 1930s when Sandy and Maggie Macfarlane and their children visited Embo on several summers from Boston. Sandy MacFarlane was already famous by then and the visits were always reported in the Northern Times.
The writing on the photo I now suspect to be that of Sandy MacFarlane himself as it is identical to the writing on a photo portrait of him in highland regalia in the museum's photo album. Perhaps it was Sandy that taught Robert John Mackay the pseudo Harry Lauder type Scottish dialect that he loved to use...plenty of laddies, lassies, bonnies, grannies and awas that were completely strange to Gaelic speaking Embo folk!

Many thanks for your comment and the correction re: relationship to Ann Mackay - Administrator

Added by Kenneth Mackay on 21 June 2014
Hi, was just wondering if anyone had any info on who owns the old shop?
We've started up a local business and are looking for a small property as a business base to use as contact centre an storage. We know it's in a state of disarray but we're willing tomputvsome effort in with a little help to bring this old building with history back to life, its a shame to see it go to waste and turn to ruin andcan eyesore and we would be willing to help restore and save it at the cost of our time and money with hopefully a little help and support from the community and hopefully government or council help. Thanks for any info or help supplied, kind regards, Brett ireland, partner, owner andcdirectir of Highland helping hands.
Tel 07541523928
Added by Brett ireland on 28 June 2018
My partner and I actually own the premesis and may contact us by phone on 01862 810613 or on email address
Anonymous comment added on 04 August 2018
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