Rob Donn and the MacKays of Strathy
Rob Donn’s long-term employer Iain mac Eachainn (‘John son of Hector’) was descended from the MacKays of Strathy, although he lived in Muisel in Strathmore, where Rob Donn joined his household as a farm servant at an early age. Like his partner Hugh of Bighouse, Iain was a drover and farm manager; he was also a poet and patron of the arts who recognized the talent of his young protégé:
Tha m’ obair-sa air dol gu làr
Thèid i bàs do dhìth nam fonn,
Ach leis gach britheamh dan eòl dàn
Bidh cuimhne gu bràth air Rob Donn.
My work has fallen to the ground
It will perish for want of airs,
But with every judge of poetry
Rob Donn will be remembered forever.
Rob Donn composed several poems for this family, including the pipe song Isabel MacKay and a heartfelt elegy upon Iain’s death in 1757.