Fr Sandy MacKintosh

This is a photo . He is one of the ‘big hitters’ in the history of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles and one of my favourites.

He was born in Arisaig in 1854, a first cousin of Fr Allan MacDonald (their respective mothers were sisters). He studied at Blairs, France, and Partickhill (Bearsden) and was ordained in Glasgow in 1877. He served as a priest for a couple of years in Ayrshire. Then in 1880, at 26 years of age, he was appointed the parish priest of St Peter’s Daliburgh. On behalf of the crofters of Daliburgh (and, in fact, you could say it was on behalf of all the people of Eriskay, South UIst, and Benbecula) he made a powerful verbal submission to the Napier Commission on Monday, 28th May, 1883, at Lochboisdale. He followed it up with a written submission, an extract of which I give here. What he suggested should be done became the main principles of the Crofting Act of 1886. He was described as straight talking but also as having a ‘gentle and affectionate nature’. Both before and after he said what he said to the Napier Commission, he was accused by the factor, the farmers, and the establishment of ‘fomenting religious division’.

Whether he felt he had to get out of the situation in Uist or whether he was moved out for his own good is unknown. What makes me think that he left to make a new start is the fact

Fr Sandy as a younger priest.

that In 1884 he was in Glasgow preparing to lead a group of emigrants to Canada when he was asked to take over the parish of St Mary’s, Fort William. He retained that position until his sudden death on 4th May 1922. I have included a photo of him as a young man from around the time he was in Daliburgh and a photo of St Mary’s, Fort William, and the Chapel House. The school which he built in 1885 was behind these buildings. The church is now the HIE building at the top of Gordon Square. Older readers will remember it as MacRae and Dick’s garage.

Fr Sandy became a Canon in 1907, then Vicar General under Bishop Martin.

Perhaps it was the foolhardiness of youth but his voice was the most powerful and effective of all the Catholic clergy in the islands who fought for reform (all of them from Lochaber) and he should not be forgotten.

Articles by Fr. Michael J. MacDonald