Tuesday, July 30, 2019


At the local Arran museum, we found this. It mentions a Miss Currie, who I think was my great-great aunt. My mother's mother's mother was Isabella Currie. She was brought up in Brodick on Arran, and her sisters remained on the island when Isabella married and moved to Glasgow. I can't imagine why she did. If I lived on Arran I would never leave.

Isabella was a very pretty girl, as can be seen in photos we have of her, and she married my great-grandfather, who was a joiner. Her sisters had a certain status in the island and I imagine they weren't very pleased at the match. Presumably Isabella must have been very much in love with Alexander. Anyway (I've told different bits of this story before) Isabella, or Bella as she was known, contracted TB and died at the age of 35, when her children were 3, 5 (my future grandmother) and 6.

The sisters blamed Glasgow for her death - probably rightly, since Arran is a beautiful island with a few villages, whereas Glasgow was a densely-populated industrial city. It's even sadder that her youngest child also got TB and died at the age of 12.

But Granny always went to the island in the holidays, to stay with her aunts - one of whom was presumably this Miss Currie.

Where we were staying in Brodick was just round the corner from the main hotel, which has a swimming pool which we used. This is the view as you turn the corner to the leisure centre.

One of the aunts was lady companion to the Duchess of Hamilton, who lived in Brodick Castle. I imagine that this involved much running upstairs to fetch the Duchess's embroidery (or whatever) but she also went trips with the Duchess, some of them on the Duke's yacht. We didn't know about the yacht until we visited the Castle a couple of years ago and mentioned to a guide that there was a family story that my great-great aunt was once shipwrecked with the Duchess.This seemed a highly unlikely tale to me but the guide said, oh yes, the Duke wasn't a very good sailor and often got into scrapes in his yacht. And now we've seen a picture of it.

All over the island there are beautiful blue hydrangeas, as above. They're blue instead of pink because of the peaty soil. These are in the grounds of the Castle, which now belongs to the National Trust.

The gardens are lovely. I imagine that the view must have been even better in the Duchess's day, before the trees grew so tall, but you can still see the bay more or less at the bottom of the garden.

This is the view coming out of the little supermarket. Rather better than the view from my normal one!

In another life, I'd live on Arran. I love all islands but feel a particular affinity with this one because of our family connection. My lovely granny knew it so well and talked so tenderly of it, as did my mother, who also went there for holidays to stay with the aunts. All the names of the villages - Brodick, Corrie, Sannox, Lochranza, Pirnmill, Machrie, Shiskine, Blackwaterfoot, Lagg, Kildonan, Whiting Bay, Lamlash - are woven into my childhood memory from my granny's tales. 

I suppose it would be a long way to any fabric shops but let's be honest: I have enough fabric to last several lifetimes of quilting.


  1. There are no hydrangeas anywhere in the world like the ones in Scotland and Ireland....

  2. I love hydrangeas, especially purple and blue ones. Arran looks gorgeous! I would love to visit it, although living on an island full time would present challenges for me.

  3. Anonymous8:39 pm

    How lovely to have that connection. Those Hydrangeas are a stunning blue.

  4. Beautiful hydrangeas! I have a Curry ancestor, but they are not that rare, I believe. She was born in upstate New York in 1825 and married one of my Ferguson ancestors. I like genealogy, too. And quilting! I am trying hard to give away pretty much all of my fabric. After my husband died, twelve years ago, I had terrible insomnia for a few years and used to buy fabric from online sites. It's beautiful, but I no longer quilt. Still, I have found some charitable groups that can use it.

  5. That does look beautiful (although swimming pool!!! Was it heated?) I thought all hydrangeas were blue as a child - we must have acidic soil in NZ too.

    1. Indoor swimming pool, of course! And yes, heated.

  6. Fun to read about your family. We plan to visit Arran in a few weeks while in Scotland. Your family has piqued my interest.

  7. It was fun to read about your tie with Arran. Although, when I visit places that my grandmother spoke about (I loved that you mentioned all the names of the little towns -- I have the same connections to places all over Utah -- via my grandmother) I was quite sad that there weren't great aunts there to visit. I know, logically, it doesn't make sense, but I often wish we could have lived, for example, when our grandmothers were children -- to see what they were like. Or to have known them as young mothers. {Sigh.}