Stoner’s KitchenThis longhouse was named for “Duncan Stoner” Munro. He lived here until he died in 1937. He was originally a stonemason. When he married in 1892, he came to this house to stay with his ageing, single Uncle Malcolm. After he left, the kitchen was kept open for Tinkers to use.
“Duncan Stoner” is a translation of the Gaelic Donnchadh Clachair. It is one of the two historical Gaelic nicknames that we know from the township. Duncan would have eventually taken over his uncle’s share in the tenancy, but Malcolm survived until 1908. Instead, when Duncan died his eldest son Malcolm (“Cally Stoner”) inherited his share in the tenancy.
Within a few weeks, Cally and Eddie MacCallum had agreed between themselves that the land couldn’t properly support two families. The two of them sat in the kitchen and tossed a coin to see who would stay and who would go. Cally lost. He left for a new life on the islands, taking his wife Bella and two young daughters with him. Eddie then farmed Auchindrain alone, until he retired in 1963.
Eddie used the byre next door to keep some of his cattle, and turned the Room in this house into a potato store. The kitchen, however, was left alone, and was always kept ready for use by any of the Tinkers who needed it. There is a story behind this. In the early years of the 20th century, Eddie’s youngest brother Jock (John McCallum) was playing by the Township burn. Jock chewed on a water dropwort root, mistaking it for a wild parsnip. This is the most poisonous of all British plants – one root can kill a cow. Jock became very ill. It was feared he would die, but ‘a passing Tinker-woman on the road’ knew what to do, and saved his life.[caption id="attachment_22913" align="alignnone" width="357"] Jock, Eddie, Neil McCallum at Eddie’s House about 1910[/caption]
Jock lost all his hair and was sickly throughout his life. But he had survived, and the McCallum family felt they ‘owe(d) the Tinkers a debt of eternal gratitude’. This was why Eddie made the kitchen available for any passing Travellers who wished to stay overnight. We don’t know the name of the ‘tinker-woman’. She was probably from the Townsley or Williamson families, based by the shore at Furnace. Another connection between this house and the Travellers is that as a child the famous, much-published Gypsy storyteller Duncan Williamson (1928-2007) worked for Duncan Stoner Munro.[caption id="attachment_22914" align="alignnone" width="600"] Three members of the Townsley family in the 1970s.[/caption]
How many cows do you keep in the room next to your kitchen? And do you know how to skin a rabbit? Click here to find out!