Mackay Mackay

Around 1930 Mackay Mackay was appointed as the Headteacher of Rogart School.  This native of Scourie went on to teach in Helmsdale and Brora Schools and is remembered today for his inspirational teaching and political aspirations.


He was certainly a hard task-master, but he left a phenomenal legacy of forming young minds. The children he taught remember him with great affection and recognise the positive influence he had on their development, schooling and subsequent careers.

Elizabeth Smyth remembers “He was a huge influence because he was passionate about his subject and brought it to life for our wee class of 15-year-olds doing O levels! He was my favourite teacher ever.”

Mackay Mackay (known by his students as Kye Kye, always wore a hat and one day the bairns wrote on it “Feel your ears they are growing”. All the class were taken out and interrogated. Alix Ross, Kinnauld, confessed she had done it and Mr Mackay was shocked—she was one of his good pupils.

When teaching in Brora some of the boys rolled it up and used his hat as a football. The result was the belt. But as his pupils grew older the Brora lads would go over to Rogart to visit their former teacher. They would take him a bottle at Hogmanay and it would be concealed within the dyke.

Donnie Macdonald, remembering his days in Rogart School, thought Mackay was a hard master. Donnie got the belt every Friday because of his spelling. The tawse we have in our collection is almost certainly the one used by Mackay Mackay and his predecessors.


John Macdonald writes: “He twice stood for parliament as a Labour candidate for Moray and Nairn but he was never elected and so we will never know what influence he might have brought to bear on the politics of his day. I think, knowing his ability, that this might have been considerable were he in the prime of life.”

Bertie Boa was taught by him at Brora School and he remembers Mackay being given time off for electioneering. Unfortunately the teacher had eggs thrown at him when he stood for the Westminster seat. There was a photo of him spattered with egg in the local press.  But, despite the humiliation of the egging, Mackay actually did quite well in the general election of 1955.

James Gray Stuart, 1st Viscount Stuart of Findhorn, had held the seat of Moray and Nairn for the Unionists continuously since 1923. So when Mackay received more than 9,500 votes he bagged a respectable 39.41% in this two-horse race. In the next general election, in 1959, there were three candidates – Unionist, Labour and Liberal. This time Mackay Mackay took a quarter of the votes cast and came in second to Stuart (whose majority increased), but beat the Liberal candidate, Donald C Macdonald, into third place.

Parish life

John Macdonald remembers his Balchlaggan neighbour:  “Sometimes over the New Year period Mackay Mackay would call in on us in Little Rogart and partake of the small glass. After a dram he would sit back and the subject would focus on some historical topic. I can remember one subject being the Battle of Culloden and him making the case that Bonnie Prince Charlie was a disaster for Scotland. Perhaps Mr Mackay triggered an interest in history which has never left me.”

In the Culdrain debating society Mackay also took an active part. John recalls. “I attended one debate where the subject was, ‘What is more powerful – the pen or the sword?’  Who led the case for the sword I cannot remember but I do remember the case for the pen being forcefully put by our local schoolmaster, Mr Mackay Mackay.”

Personal life

Mackay Mackay was the son of crofter, Thomas Mackay, and his wife Fairlie Macintosh. He claimed ancestral connections going back to General Mackay and the battle of Killiecrankie.

In 1937 he married Annie Cruickshank at Inverallan. He died, in Rogart Schoolhouse, in 1967 aged 59.

Elizabeth recalls: “I remember we were all summoned to the assembly hall one day, and Jack Macleod (our headteacher) told us that he had died. There were lots of tears… he was a brilliant teacher.”

The dominie was a heavy smoker and one former pupil, now in her 90s, recalls the gentleman dashing out of class at every bell to light up! This was almost certainly his cause of death from lung cancer. On his death certificate his profession was given as Principal Teacher of English and Deputy Headmaster. His wife was the Headteacher at Rogart School.

In memory of Mackay Mackay (11 February 1908-5 March 1967).


Thanks to Elizabeth Smyth, John Macdonald, Donnie Macdonald, Catherine Cook née Fraser, Bertie Boa, Douglas Sutherland and all his former students who shared their memories.