The loss of Lawrence MacEwen from Muck, a small Hebridean island Muck creates a gap like crevasse. Muck is in the MacEwen family from 1896. In the last forty years Lawrence along with his the wife Jenny and their family have been able to keep Muck, a fertile island thanks to its vibrant livestock farm and philosophy of self-sufficiency. In the end, Muck is regarded as an instance of a functioning rural community that is modern and ingenuous. “I believe in the process of evolution, not revolution,” Lawrence stated. His unique style of compassionate paternalism is the proof of his success.
Lawrence MacEwen first visit to his island, he described the words “unceremonious”. His mother returned to her home with her second child on board the Loch Mhor from Mallaig. When the skipper captain “Squeaky” Robertson peered into the Moses basket, he said that the slumbering baby appeared to “chust like a lobster that had been cooked”.
Along with his siblings, Alasdair, Catriona and Ewen, Lawrence roamed the island with his feet often unshoed. Free of the restrictions that come with Health and Safety laws, it was a time ruled by the whims in the Atlantic Ocean. Free by the winds and surrounded by a sand beach, they made shelters, slept under the stars, learned how to fish, cut sheep or make hay, and then grow tatties. They could tell a good animal from a bad one and developed expertise with livestock. They were born to farm.
When Lawrence’s brother Alasdair declared in 1969 he would no longer cultivate at all on Muck, Lawrence was both anxious and exuberant. Lawrence would never think of him being “the laird” but rather a farmer gravedigger, Coastguard Special Constable (there was just one minor theft) forester, fireman with enormous responsibility. He would make sure that, while he was in charge the island and the community should not just survive, but also thrive. He would ensure that there were students in the school and that all new residents were assessed for the rightness of their position. Islanders were able to vote on this. Muck must change in the present adopt alternative energy as well as encourage development.
As the most strong man on the Small Isles, Lawrence could carry the Highland pony or a stout bull right into his boat Wave and with shoulders as large as the animals which he breed. But he was equally likely to look after his children, rocking prams as they worked in the garden as well as eating an ice cream, and playing games during tea gatherings. Ice cream created Lawrence MacEwen look like a child.
He was so determined to not destroying the stunning panorama of Rum’s sea-girt mountains with the much-needed pier that was built on Muck’s protected side that it was instead constructed in Port Mor. The result was that winter sailings on the CalMac vessel would be extremely limited, for the benefit of islanders.
Bearded and with a flash of red-blonde hair and dazzling blue-eyed eyes, the man looked like the image of a noble Viking. A far cry from the feudal tweed-clad laird with his massive hands that were encased in those lines from a lifetime’s hair graft yellow oil rig-style shoes (and no socks!). According to BBC anchor Mark Stephen wrote, “If someone ever handed Lawrence the book “How to be a Landowner”, I’m going to think that he utilized it to capture oil drops from his favorite antique tractor. He definitely did not had the time to read the manual.”