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In 1795 in the township of Burican (now Glenree farm), a son was born to tenants John Mackinnon and Catherine Cook. His name was also John and he and his family were cleared from Burican to Torrylinn, around 1825, to make way for the sheep.
John married Janet Mackenzie in 1838 and they had a son called Peter in 1840. In an interview in 1912, regarding the clearances, Peter recalled how his father ‘the old man used to tell how a sword which had done duty at the Battle of Bannockburn (by his ancestors) was stolen from a cart during the removal to Torrylinn’.
Peter married Janet Cook and they had a son called Peter born in 1883 who married Mary Maclean who’s family hailed from Skye. Peter and Mary had three children; Janet, Lachlan and Morag (Reid).
Now as convention goes Janet should have been called Janet Cook Mackinnon, for obvious reasons outlined above, however, Peter was so excited at the birth registration he forgot to mention the Cook part. This brought a smile to Janet’s face many a day.
At the age of 14 Janet left school and began working at the Post Office in Lagg (now Kilmory House). She was the relief postie covering the Kilmory area as far as Auchaleffan and Sliddery water. When a telegram arrived she was despatched to deliver it by hand, on foot, immediately.
Later Janet was one of the first people in Kilmory to get a bicycle as during the war only essential personnel were issued with them.
Her bookkeeping skills served her well in the Post Office and it wasn’t long before she secured a position in the creamery at Bennicarrigan recording the milk deliveries from the farmers.
Following this employment Janet took up a new position with Stewart’s Motors of Corricravie as a conductress and it was during this period that she met a mechanic working for Stewart’s, Duncan Mulholland.
Duncan had recently returned from the Palestine Police and it was not long before they were married in 1953 at the Free Church, Bennicarrigan, and the wedding reception was the first to be held in Kilmory Hall.
The honeymoon was planned for a trip to Ireland, however a truck that Duncan had his eye on down south became available early. In true Mulholland style the truck won and the plans were changed to go down south and pick up the truck and stay with great family friends, the Craigs.
It was very fortunate for Janet and Duncan, their six children, 20 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren that the honeymoon plans were changed as the ferry, Princess Victoria, that was to take them to Ireland floundered in a storm with great loss of life.
Janet and Duncan initially stayed at Ashgrove, Corricravie where Duncan ran his agricultural contracting and haulage business.
During this period they had three children, Alexander, Peter and Isabelle, however in 1960 it was decided to move to Canada and the business was sold to Bannatyne motors.
The venture to Canada did not last long with the family returning to Claynod in 1961 and Duncan starting a timber contracting business.
Sons Duncan and Gordon were both born whilst at Claynod and finally Iain, shortly after the family returned to Torrylinn.
Janet was home again.
You can imagine that Janet’s hands were full most of the time with farm work and six children to bring up, however this was not the case as hundreds of children will testify that there was never any problems for Janet regardless of the number of kids cascading from ‘the terrace’.
She was hugely involved in the local Kilmory district with regards to the church, Kilmory Hall ,SWRI and further afield in the Arran Gaelic Choir. A trip to the Mod was her Christmas.
Her pancakes and her tablet were, and still are, legendary. Who is to know which grandchild has the elusive recipes?
It was always certain that she would win something at the Rural event the day before the annual cattle show.
We all know she was a big gambler. Never been heard not to win a raffle anywhere anytime even without buying a ticket. Lotteries of every description and to be fair she won a few, much to the disappointment of her dear friend and paper boy David Crossley.
She loved her volunteering spell at ArCaS and always looked forward to it. Meeting up with her friends for a chat and a cuppa made her day.
Never a great holidaymaker, rather she catered for visitors to the farm. Many became great friends and visited year after year without fail.
That is not to say she did not travel. Twice to both Canada and Australia to visit friends, family and distant relatives which she enjoyed immensely. On the whole though, people came to visit Janet.
With the loss of Duncan in 1997 there was little time for Janet to mourn his passing as the seeds had been sown and the little blighters had found her doorstep. Nothing pleased Janet more than visits from her grandchildren and her great grandchildren for that matter.
Following a successful 90th birthday party, at Kilmory Hall, she enjoyed seeing many of her friends and family again but alas this was to be Janet’s last party. A few months later, after a fall, Janet’s mobility deteriorated and this led her to be confined, for the most part, to her Linnholme cottage at Torrylinn.
Towards the end of her life she was cared for at home by numerous personnel in the health system and her close family. The Covid restrictions curtailed any more visits from friends and family, however remaining at home was a blessing rather than admission to the hospital where severe visiting restrictions applied.
Even her sister Morag who lived less than 100 yards was unable to visit and she described her as ‘not only her sister she was my best friend’.
Brother Lachlan (Lachie) never missed a Sunday phone call which she always looked forward to and he always looked up to his big sister even if she got the first bike those many years ago.
On the morning of the 18th of July, Janet passed away and on her death certificate the cause is listed as ‘old age’ a rare thing these days.
The doctors commented that they had rarely come across such a strong heart but we all knew that anyway.