John Birnie & William Birnie Family Grave

The recent discovery of a photograph of the 1939 Glen Mhor distillery workers has brought with it a sense of the passing of time and the inevitable loss of the names and characters that worked at Glen Mhor, as well as the buildings and site itself, into the history books.

This research project represents my homage and effort to revive Glen Mhor in a new light. I had not anticipated that I would gain such a deep understanding of the individuals who worked at the distillery. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to acknowledge their efforts.

I would like to express my gratitude to Jack, who, thanks to the Find A Grave facility and Fiona at Inverness Crematorium, they were able to assist in the precise identification of the Birnie grave plots at the Tomnahurich Cemetery in Inverness. The Victorian cemetery is situated in close proximity to the distillery site, just across the River Ness and onto the next peninsula. It is also home to the grave site of Robert Robertson and his family, as will the graves of several other individuals associated with Glen Mhor. 

The cemetery is vast and, in the absence of additional assistance, it was challenging to locate the Birnie graves. I had anticipated that the search would require several days of traversing the site without much success, a scenario that I had previously experienced when conducting genealogical research. Fortunately, with the assistance of Jack and Fiona, we were able to identify the precise location of the graves. Furthermore, the grave stones were still intact. 

I experienced a range of emotions when Jack confirmed that he had located the graves and sent over the images that are presented here. Their families, their stories, and a whisky legacy that many will be unaware of. I have yet to visit the site, but I believe that it would be a worthwhile experience to pay my respects in person. If you are in the vicinity, the following instructions will be of assistance:

'Tomnahurich Cemetery, Class 1, Section L.3, Lair No’s. 99, 100.  There is a Grey Granite Memorial with Celtic Cross atop on the lair.  The lair is located just over half way along on the top terrace at the foot of Tomnahurich Hill facing out to Glenurquhart Road in Inverness.'

All three sons are listed below their parents, including William, who is situated at the foot of the stone. John's tenure as Provost of Inverness (1910-1916) is duly noted. It is of interest that he passed just three days after the death of his son, Alistair.

In addition to the aforementioned stone, there is another stone in the lead image, on the left. This stone is for Jack Birnie, his wife Mildred, and their daughter, Thelma Ann. A footstone is also present, though it is not readable due to the limitations of the available evidence. 

It appears to be an ideal location for the final resting place. In a sense, it is fortuitous that John and William, in particular, were not present to witness the subsequent fate of their much-loved distillery.