About Us

Looking Up Loch Broom from Braes, outside Ullapool, Wester Ross
(image credit: T.Hartley, ullapoolselfcatering.co.uk)

Our website was created to share The Lairds’ Own Country? by Don Shaw. The majority of any profits from sales of this little book will be donated to charity with at least 50% going to the Ullapool Museum

The Author, Don Shaw

Don Shaw grew up in Edinburgh but many of his ancestors came from the Highlands. His great-grandfather William Mackay opened Mackay’s Bookshop at 27 High Street, Inverness (nowadays W.H.Smith) and his great-uncle Eneas Mackay published books in Gaelic and English.

Don has lived in Wester Ross since 1988, working in Ullapool in various roles including in one of the local bookshops and in Parlett’s Post Office.

He spent 5 years publishing the magazine Wester Ross Life, later turning snippets from it along with lots of new material into a book, 100 Years in Wester Ross. In After the Highland Clearances: Reclaiming Lost Lands he recalled pioneering Highland land re-settlement schemes of a century ago. Limited copies of these two books are still available.

His new book, The Lairds’ Own Country?, was researched and written during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, and it is hoped it conveys his fond appreciation of this part of the world, its history, its people and their community spirit.

His inspiration for The Lairds’ Own Country?

Lockdown. The coming together of people in Highland communities like Ullapool from the spring of 2020 in the first Covid-19 lockdown was extraordinary. The book was written during that period – when the simplest treat like a coffee at the Ceilidh Place became the stuff of dreams and thoughts turned to what makes this land remarkable – namely, the people!

The people: The ordinary but also very special people of this area, including Allan Mackenzie who the book is dedicated to. A man with both Sutherland and Wester Ross ancestry, the author’s brother-in-law (and illustrator’s uncle) who died at the start of 2020 after courageously living with worsening Multiple Sclerosis for the last 30+ years of his life, never complaining or losing his sense of humour to the very end.

Connection. A desire to treat the history of northern Ross-shire together with that of Sutherland.  Too often, these adjacent areas are written about separately because they are in two different counties. But Assynt and Lochbroom, Creich and Kincardine, are neighbouring parishes and their native people have so much history in common, from attempted clearances by the Marquess of Stafford to the Year of the Sheep in 1792.

Anniversaries. Sadly, 2020 marks 200 years since awful clearances at Inverlael, Assynt, Strathnaver.  But on a happier note, 2020 is also the 50th anniversary of both the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool and Knockan Crag Visitor Centre – two very different places putting ordinary people’s interests first.

Creative/Marketing/Sales, Donna Williamson

Donna Williamson (nee MacKenzie, originally from Ullapool), Don’s step-daughter, took on the role of sharing Don’s work to a wider audience. He loves the research and the writing, and she enjoyed using her skills to design the centrefold map and cover of his latest book, as well as this website.

Together they make this small window onto the fascinating history of the Highlands of Scotland more accessible to you!

feedback for The Lairds’ Own Country?

“It’s a geographical area I don’t know well at all, but by the end I felt I knew a great deal about it. I also felt as though I wanted to visit it and follow the trail and experience it first-hand. It was a fascinating and great read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Bob Chambers – Historian & Author

It is engaging, eloquent and leads the reader on. It wasn’t something you would put down and read later and it also encourages the reader on a journey through the book.”

Lucy Beattie – Farmer & Educator

 © D L Williamson 2020

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