MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Mr. and Mrs. Michael S. MacNeil. Photo from Songs Remembered in Exile. Used with permission of Margaret Faye Shaw.

Mr. and Mrs. Michael S. MacNeil. Photo from Songs Remembered in Exile. Used with permission of Margaret Faye Shaw.

Michael S. MacNeil

Michael MacNeil was born February 17, 1875. He was a successful farmer from Benacadie Glen who owned and operated a sawmill on the Boisdale Peninsula. For many years, he was also employed as a mail contractor, travelling the 31 mile route from Christmas Island to East Bay every day. Known locally as "Micheal Shandaidh," he was the son of Sandaidh Dhomhuill a'Chul (Sandy, son of Donald of Rear Castle Bay). Sandaidh, Micheal's father, was an accomplished fiddler, who composed many songs in Gaelic. His great grandfather had been a foster brother to MacNeil of Barra and was well educated in the arts. A local legend concerning the family states that Michael's grandfather came from Barra to Antigonish in his own boat with a cow. He settled in Castle Bay and for years, the cow would wander away to "greener pastures" in nearby Benacadie. Eventually, Michael's grandfather heeded the advice of the cow and moved the farm to Benacadie Glen, where he and the cow remained. That farm was to become one of the most prosperous in the district. Michael MacNeil was also recorded by John Lorne Campbell in 1936. He died November 1, 1953.