Mac's Scotland

Isle of Skye

Born on Skye, Callum Bailie McNeill was born a few miles west of Portree, into a crofting family struggling to survive in a period of economic decline for the region. The farm did not produce enough income for the family to live on and both his mother, Theresa, and father, William, took on extra jobs to make ends meet. His mother was maternal and loving but beaten down by years with an angry husband who had been forced to marry her when she had fallen pregnant at 18 and he was 21. Until that point William McNeill had ambitions of joining the navy and seeing the world but his father and Theresa’s father instead forced him to marry and remain on Skye to raise his family. 

William Struan McNeill was a man prone to drinking and bouts of violence when drunk. All of the family fell victim to his fists with the exception of his daughter, Iona to whom he became devoted. 

Callum grew up fighting for his life. He revered his older brother, Connor and, as a young boy, would follow him everywhere. Connor hated their father and Callum inherited this view of him. The brothers tried to defend their mother from him and they both left school early after multiple suspensions, truancy and a reputation as bullies and thugs (among teachers.)

Theresa died of MS at the age of 36 and Connor joined the navy to escape. Callum felt betrayed by this, feeling that both his brother and mother abandoned him. He was 13 when his mother died.

Iona began to go off the rails after the death of her mother and was killed at the age of 16 by persons unknown. The police investigation went nowhere and the remaining McNeill’s believed that the police did not care about a crofting family from Skye. He was 17 when she was killed.

Callum wanted to leave home after his sister’s murder but had no money to escape the farm. He’d had a string of jobs but nothing had stuck. He was medicating himself with alcohol, weed and anything else he could obtain. Seeing how his sister had ended up, Callum had never dived into this world wholesale, always holding back from taking the path that would eventually lead to prison.

William McNeill had begun drinking in earnest after the death of his wife and took his own life 6 months after the death of his daughter and on his late wife’s birthday which was 2 days after Callum’s 18th birthday. Callum sold the farm and the family home and it is now an outdoor pursuits venue. Though Callum has not been back to see it he knows at some point he will have to return to Skye in order to apprehend his sister's murderer. He's dreading it.