In Memory of Dollina Carmichael

In Memory of Dollina Carmichael

30 December 2016

In Memory of Dollina Carmichael

Dollie’s Cottage was a Lismore landmark. Originally known as Tigh a Bheallaich (house of the pass), it was universally known as Dollie’s Cottage. Dollie had lived there all her life and her mother had died there just short of 103. Dollie died in Benderloch in her 100th year. She was a most wonderful neighbour to me from 1990 until 1998 when she was forced to move to the mainland. I was very sorry to see her go but not as sorry as she was to leave. She died in December 2016.

Before there was a waiting room at Point
there was Dollie’s Cottage
Before there was a cafe anywhere
there was Dollie’s Cottage.
A cottage with no bathroom, no kitchen no indoor plumbing
Tourists loved its authenticity.
Cameras clicked not knowing there was
no bathroom, no kitchen, no indoor plumbing
They wanted to capture the past
To taste the Highlands.
They wanted Dollie’s Cottage.
The locals loved it too
Loved their welcome.
their waiting room
their cosy cafe.
Dollie welcomed everyone.
Then along came 90% grants for substandard houses
And none were more substandard than Dollie’s.
Turned out she loved the thought of
A bathroom, a kitchen and indoor plumbing
Plans were drawn up
the standard of Dollie’s cottage was to rise.
No problem Miss Carmichael
A kitchen, a bathroom, indoor plumbing
A gravity feed from a tank on the hill
No more filling the kettles from the well
In all weathers.
No more chemical toilet.
No more hand washing bedding
With water from kettles filled at the well.
The estate were contacted.
Silence. A long silence
Eventually Dollie feared the council
hearing of her substandard housing
(the most substandard In Argyll)
just might suddenly care
Even forcibly move her god knew where
I had to stop. More silence from the estate. From the island. From me.
She’s used to it, I heard. She has a lovely garden
She keeps the fuchsia from invading her cottage
Her roses never fade
Her black cat deals with the mice.
But one day the cat left. The mice arrived.
Dollie was alarmed. Stuart emptied the trap
Whenever he was here.
I took to badgering the doctor.
She must go to Bealach na Mare
To a kitchen a bathroom and indoor plumbing.
And in 1998 just after Iain Mor died
She was cleared.
Cleared to live in a house
With a bathroom, a kitchen, indoor plumbing.
Not on Lismore but
In Port Appin
The cottage, Dollie’s Cottage, was sold.
The estate lost no time
And all Dollie lost was several more years
with her brand new kitchen, bathroom and indoor plumbing
On her beloved island
And all she ever said was how much she missed
home
As she wept quietly.


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