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Isabel MacKay

Isabel MacKay was a great granddaughter of Uisdean Dubh MacKay, father of the first Lord Reay, Donald Duaghal MacKay. She was reputed to be a beautiful, intelligent and charming young lady. She married John Sutherland in 1747 and had a daughter Harriet. She died the year following the daughter's birth.

In 1745, the poet Rob Donn MacKay wrote a famous poem in Isabels Honour at a time when she was still in her teens, two years before her marriage. The piobaireachd that is said to have flowed from that poem seems to be based on the theme of the Prince's Salute, a MacIntyre composition. While there is no uncertainty about Isabel herself, there is much uncertainty about the composer of the tune that carries her name. The composer is unknown but it could have been George MacLeod who lived in the area, was a friend of Isabel MacKay and Robb Donn, and, was reputed to be a fine piper.

Whatever, when listening to the tune one can enjoy a vision of a beautiful young lassie out on the hill seeing to the kine as Rob Donn put it.


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