Coll The Coll Magazine

Article by L MB (2000)

Tributes. Alexander (Alec) Blelloch McLennan of the Isle of Coll

Alexander (Alec) Blelloch McLennan of the Isle of Coll


Alec McLennan passed away on the 28th August 1999 after a long illness which he bore with admirable fortitude. He leaves behind three children, two sons in law, and five grandchildren, his wife having died three years previous. He died in his own bed at Kilbride on the Isle of Coll, something which throughout his illness he was absolutely determined to do, stoic and long suffering to the end.

Alec was born in Fife in 1916. At an early age he went to sea and served until after the war as a ship's engineer. Cooincidentally one of his ship mates was uncle to the man who would eventually marry his second daughter, Margaret. He met his wife, Flora MacFadyen, when she was nursing. After a time spent in Freetown, in what is now Sierra Leone, he returned with Flora and their three children to take up the tenancy of Uig on Coll.

He eventually took the tenancy of Arileod, a large mixed farm, and spent over twenty years farming beef cattle and sheep there. It was an old fashioned farm, with a little of everything, housecows, hens, geese, ducks, pigs, sheep and cattle. Arileod was a focal point for the west end of Coll, somewhere to visit and have a crack, and the hospitality was warm and unstinting.

Alec kept on his seaboots by becoming piermaster in 1970 for twelve years. He also acted as shepherd at Caolis for the late Ian MacKenzie, and was a contract fencer. He had an eye for a straight fence and his huge strength meant he could carry stobs and wire on his back to the outermost parts of the island. This enabled him to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of farm boundaries and distant corners which he remembered all his life.

When he retired twelve years ago he and Flora moved to Kilbride, a farm with a field and a bare tract of garden. Here he continued to farm sheep to fill the numerous freezers in the house and byre, and with breathtaking skill created a beautiful flower, fruit and vegetable garden out of unpromising bog. Kilbride is on a windy ridge, but this never defeated him. He won numerous prizes for his garden produce at the local show and before his death won the prize for the best kept garden on the island. Apart from gardening, Alec was a great reader and was the island librarian for years.

Alec was a rugged strong character: he had a personality larger than life and had robust, outspoken views on the island, its people, the state of farming, the government, any subject you like. You disagreed with him at your peril. But he was no ogre. He had a great sense of humour. Many an anecdote started with 'I laughed when I heard....'. His views were never malicious or unkind, although he despised sharp dealing and dishonesty, and he was a kind and generous man under his tough exterior. He will be greatly missed not only by his family but by all us islanders who knew him.


Coll Magazine - Article by L MB

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