The Stalker’s Dream

One item that visitors to Scotland this year have been able to purchase has been copies of a cartoon called ‘The Stalker’s Dream” which should prove of interest to Clan Donald. The print is taken from an original watercolour painted by Elizabeth Stuart of Dalness around 1903.

The artist, wife of Dugald Stuart and proprietrix of Dalness from 1855 until her death in 1912, was the niece of Donald, the last of the male line of MacDonalds of Dalness, whose family gave refuge to their Glencoe kinsmen, who had escaped massacre at the hands of Campbell Militia on the night of February 13,1692.

The MacDonalds of Dalness, “Clann Domhnuill Reamhair” who were Glencoe MacDonalds, had been feuars of Dalness from the Campbells since at least the seventeenth century.

The cartoon is believed to show Sir Schomberg McDonnell of the McDonnells of Antrim, who visited the Dalness estate for the purpose of stalking and as a result of Mrs. Stuart’s will eventually came into possession of the estate upon her death in 1912.

Unfortunately Sir Schomberg died a few years later and the property passed to the Earls of Antrim, who sold it to the National Trust for Scotland in 1937. The house was bought separately at this time by the grandparents of the picture’s present owner, Mr. Ewan Bell of Edinburgh.

Celtic mythology possibly influenced Elizabeth Stuart in her unusual style of painting, as according to Professor Neil Carmichael’s translation of “The lay of the Sons of Uisineach” the Irish princess Deirdrie of the Sorrows, lived at Dalness, where she found the spot where the deer could be shot from the window and the salmon from the stream could be fished from the door of the bower.

The Dalness estate had an enviable reputation for stalking the heaviest beast ever recorded for Dalness being a 22 stone Royal shot by Mr Athole MacGregor in September 1886.