Inchbrine

Less than one mile north of Balnain is a township variously named Inchbrine, Inchbreen, Balbeg or Balbeg Inchbrine. See the Balmacaan sale brochure. On the 25 inch OS map it is called Balbeg

These crofts were largely settled by the MacDonald families, who moved from the Choire Dho settlement in Glenmoriston.

Duncan's wife, Ann MacGregor, was from Balbeg Inchbrine and Flora Grant that married John was from Inchbrine.

The Raid of Inchbrine

Inchbrine is famous for an event which took place in 1691 or 1692. The story, as handed down by tradition, is as follows.

Twenty years or more before the Raid, a vagrant woman from Lochaber arrived at Shewglie, and was provided with food and shelter for the night. Before morning she gave birth to a boy, whom the goodwife of Shewglie offered to keep and rear. The mother consented, and went her way.

The boy grew up unbaptised, and, as he tended Shewglie’s cattle, he was known by the name of Gille Dubh nam Mart—the Black Lad of the Cows. His young companions taunted him with his origin, and made his life miserable ; and at last he left Shewglie, and made his way to Lochaber.

The Lochabermen soon brought his knowledge of Glen- Urquhart into requisition ; and under his guidance a party proceeded to the Glen, in search of plunder. Crossing the mountains, they passed by Shewglie, and came suddenly to Inchbrine, while the people were absent in the distant peat moss. Hurriedly lifting a large number of cattle, they retraced their steps along the old path leading through Corribuy and across Glen-Coilty. Summoned from the moss, the men of the Braes speedily gathered at the house of James Grant of Shewglie, and requested that he should lead them against the invaders. Shewglie, whom we have seen distinguishing him­ self at Killicrankie, had not a drop of coward’s blood in his veins ; but the followers of the Gille Dubh were more numerous than the Urquhart men who had hastily met, and he advised delay until more were got together.

“I will follow the Lochaber men,” exclaimed his impulsive wife, Hannah Fraser, “and you may stay at home, and ply the distaff.” Smarting under the taunt, he bade his men follow him, and set out after the raiders, whom he over­ took on a small rocky plateau, lying to the south of the burn of Corribuy, ever since known as Carn Mharbh Dhaoine—the Rock of the Dead Men. The Gille Dubh stepped out to meet his late master. “ I did not expect,” said the latter, “ that you would be the one to lift cattle in Glen-Urquhart.” “ Nor I,” replied the young man, “ that you would be the one to follow me, seeing I have taken none of yours.” On Shewglie’s account the spoil was at once given up, and the men of Urquhart turned their faces towards their Glen.

They had proceeded but a few paces when a hare started from among the heather, and ran across the moor between the two parties. Kenneth Macdonald, from Meiklie-na-h-aitnich, raised his gun, and fired at it. The shot had no effect on the hare, which was believed to be a witch, but it brought disaster on Kenneth and his companions. The Lochabermen thought it was intended for themselves, and returned the fire. A desperate fight followed. For a time the Urquhart men kept their ground, and several of their opponents fell ; but in the end they were forced to fly, leaving eight of their number, including Shewglie, dead in the heather.

The Lochabermen not only took possession of the cattle again, but they also returned to Shewglie, and took every hoof belonging to that township. Hannah Fraser, weeping over the result of her rashness, approached the Gille Dubh, and appealed for mercy. “Remember,” said she, “that I long befriended you, and that I am now a widow, and about to become the mother of a fatherless child.” There was no mercy in his reply :—“ Ma tha thu trom, beir searrach !”—“ If you are with child, bear a foal !”

The people of Glen-Urquhart removed their dead from Corribuy, and raised cairns on the spots where the bodies were found. These still stand, one larger than the others marking the place where Shewglie fell.

The lady whom Gille Dubh nam Mart so grossly insulted was in due time delivered of a son, who early dreamt of avenging her wrongs. At last, when he had reached manhood, he rode alone to Lochaber, and came to the Gille Dubh’s house late in the evening. His request for quarters for the night was readily granted by that worthy, who, in accordance with the rules of Highland hospitality, refrained from enquiring who he was or whence he had come. Finding the young man entertaining, the Gille Dubh conversed with him on the deeds of former days till far into the night. Grant alluded to the Raid of Inchbrine, and induced his host to relate the story. When the tale was told, the young man sprang to his feet and exclaimed, “ The hour of vengeance has now arrived.” “ Who are you ?” angrily demanded the Gille Dubh. “ I,” replied Grant, “ am the foal which the goodwife of Shewglie carried on the day of the Raid of Inchbrine ;” and, with these words, he plunged his dirk into the man’s heart. Rushing out of the house, he leapt into his saddle, and was far on his way to Urquhart ere the morning light fell on the lifeless body of Gille Dubh nam Mart.