In 1830, Lismore was one of the granaries of the West Highlands, with every possible scrap of land producting grain. The population had reached its peak of 1500. By 1910, numbers had dwindled to 400 and were still falling. The agricultural economy had been almost completely transformed to support sheep and cattle, with ploughland replaced by the now familiar green grassy landscape.
This book explores the many interrelated factors that lead to the haemorrhage of people. Much is told through the actions of two major players in the famine years: Allan MacDougall and James Cheyne, who had opposing approaches to land management.
Detailed examination of the fates of different groups shows that the most vulnerable were the landless but also the young of all classes. They were "pushed and pulled" into migration to make their living, principally in the expanding industries of the central belt of Scotland.