The seven MacDonald sisters of Balemartine
Photograph of the seven MacDonald sisters of Balemartine in the 1920s.
Courtesy of Mrs Maggie Campbell
The seven MacDonald sisters Chrissie, Mary Ann, Sarah, Mary Jane, Neilina, Mairead and Hughina are pictured outside their home in Balemartine in the late 1920s. To supplement the family income, the first six daughters left home aged between 14 and 16 to work on the mainland, mainly in service in Glasgow.
It was believed that a seventh child had healing powers in their hands to cure scrofula (tuberculosis of the neck glands) also known as ‘tinneas an rìgh’, the King’s Evil. The disease was so called because it was formerly supposed to be healed by the touch of a king.
On Tiree, the healer would cross their hands over the swellings three times the first day, four times the second day and seven times the next. They could not be paid in money but were later often given a gift by their grateful patients.
Black and white photograph of the seven MacDonald sisters of Balemartine in the 1926.
The seven MacDonald sisters of Balemartine in the 1920s. L-R: Chrissie, Sarah, Mary Ann, Mary Jane, Neilina, Mairead and Hughina (Veendy).