black dog at night

Alastair mor a’ Bhochdain – Big Sandy of the Ghost

Sandy was an enormous man, powerful and commanding and he was a gifted man – he could foretell the future, or rather: he knew somebody who could…

Big Sandy lived in Munerigie, just a short walk away from Invergarry House where he used to come often to share a story or two. One night on his lonely walk home with only the full moon as his company, he spotted a big, black dog ahead of him. Thinking it might be one of the Invergarry dogs, Sandy tried to make the dangerous looking creature go back home, a futile attempt. So he started swearing at the creature, when suddenly the hairy mass turned human and swore back at him in Gaelic. The dog wasn’t a dog at all, it was a ghost.

What a strange encounter alone, at night in the woods.

The ghost can’t have been too rude though, it is nearly impossible to swear in Gaelic. The place still carries the name of this meeting: the Goblin’s Grove, Glac a’ Bhòchdain.

Big Sandy and the ghost fought with each other, then rested and sat and talked. This happened many a night in the same manner. The ghost told Alistair during their fighting breaks about the future and in particular about the downfall of the House of Glengarry.

Big Sandy of course spread the tale and when it finally reached Glengarry, the chief summoned him immediately to enquire about the prophesy. Sandy’s story wasn’t believed.

Alistair grew tired of the strange meetings with the dark dog at night and the disbelief his stories met with, he left Munerigie to sail to America. As soon as he touched ground on the other side of the Atlantic, the ghost reappeared and predicted many battles to be fought unharmed and a safe return to Munerigie, where Sandy’s bones would rest in the small graveyard nestled in between the trees.

The dog was right about everything: twenty-five years after the prophesy, the chief died and his son had to sell the estate. Big Sandy of the Ghost was buried in Munerigie. Nobody knows what happened to the black dog but to this day, nobody likes to walk the woods at night.

The story of Alastair mor a’ Bhochdain was taken from: Edward Charles Ellice: Place-names in Glengarry and Glenquoich, 1898


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