A high society wedding of its day took place in Appin in 1908, with the union of Catherine MacLachlan, Port Appin and William Livingstone of Bachuil, Isle of Lismore.
Catherine was born on Sheep Island in 1875 but from an early age lived with her uncle and aunt, Alex McLachlan, Harbour Master and Isabella, at the Pier House, Port Appin.
After studying in Glasgow she returned to Appin and in 1898, was appointed as infant mistress, at Strath of Appin School, a position she held for 10 years.
During this time, she met William Livingstone, Baron of Lismore.
William was the son of the Rev Alexander Livingstone and held a post in the service of the British Central African Company, in Nyassaland.
On the day of the wedding, Wednesday 22nd July, William and members of the wedding party left Bachuil House and sailed over from Stronacroibh, Lismore, to Port Appin, with a Highland piper playing.
Arriving at Port Appin pier, the groom’s party made their way to the United Free Church (today’s Kilmaluig, on the Port Appin road) for the ceremony.
The church was filled to capacity with guests from Appin and Lismore, with others travelling a distance, including William’s best man, Mr J C Stewart, from Rhodesia. The church interior was decorated with flowers of variegated hues and palms.
Catherine wore an ivory satin dress, with duchesse lace, orange blossom and white heather. The bridesmaids were Agnes Cameron, a cousin of the bride and Mary Crerar (Macarthur) a niece.
The wedding service was conducted by Rev Duncan Ross and assisted by Rev William Torrie, Lismore and Rev H Fraser, Tyndrum.
The wedding reception was held at Airds Hotel, Port Appin and organised by the proprietor Mr Forbes. The dinner and speeches were held in a marquee, on the hotel grounds, with the Rev Ross presiding as chairman. The wedding gifts were laid on view, within the hotel, for all to admire.
As per the custom, the newlywed couple left the reception, in the early evening, before the dancing of the guests, commenced.
Mrs Fleming sang and music played, as the guests danced, but few were aware of a tragic incident that occurred, just yards from the hotel door.
The couple’s departure was delayed as the horses were uneasy when being harnessed to the carriage. Something had spooked them and they were left to settle, before trying again.
During this time, a crowd of well-wishers had gathered outside the hotel, waiting to wave off the newlyweds. One of those was Dugald Buchanan, a 35-year-old railway surface man from Pollanach, Appin.
The horses were finally harnessed, when quietened and the couple were able to drive out of the hotel grounds, turning right for Tynribbie.
As they did so, Dugald stepped onto the low laying parapet wall, over the small road bridge at Tigh na Droichit (cottage opposite Airds Hotel). Though barely recognisable as a bridge today, but hence the Gaelic name of the cottage.
The horses were perhaps still anxious and then seeing the crowds of people, triggered one of them to rear their front legs. The sudden movement caused Dugald to lose his balance and he fell backwards, down into the burn.
Unaware of what had just happened, the carriage drove off, to begin their honeymoon tour, while bystanders went to Dugald’s aid. Witnessing the severity of his injuries, Dr MacKay was called for.
As a result of the fall, Dugald’s neck was broken and he was pronounced dead later that evening by the attending doctor.
A tragic event on such an auspicious day.
The undertakers and blacksmith, at the time, were a family called Nicol who lived close to Airds Hotel, at Strathaird.
Strangely, after the death of Dugald Buchanan, the horses that drew the hearse, belonging to Nicol, refused to cross over the bridge, for reasons unknown.