The Minute Book of the Lismore Agricultural Society 1853

John David MacColl, the last secretary of the Lismore Agricultural Society, carefully preserved its archive in a tin box after the Society’s activities stopped around the time of WW2.  In due course, his son, Archie, kindly presented the box to Comann Eachdraidh Mor for safe keeping.  The archive includes the founding minute book of the Society from 1853, which shows that, although it had “gentlemen” presidents, it was really run by the tenants of the island, and the prizes for ploughing, crops, livestock and dairy products were keenly contested amongst farmers and crofters.  There are real surprises such as the fact that the 20-year old Alexander Carmichael (later to be the celebrated folklorist) was the winner of the first ploughing match in 1853.  Staff at the European Ethnological Research Centre, based at Edinburgh University, have judged the minute book to be of national importance, and a key source for research, since so few documents of this kind have survived in Scotland.  It has now been published in full, with a full commentary, at: