Ronald Mackay: Fortunate Isle, a Memoir of Tenerife

fortunate isleRonald Mackay: Fortunate Isle, a Memoir of Tenerife

Ronald Mackay, who hails from Coupar Angus and Dundee, has just launched a new book of memoirs. Fortunate Isle: a Memoir of Tenerife, has been published by PlashMill Press ( The ISBN number is 9780957261280.

Fortunate Isle tells of Ronald’s adventure when, at the age of 18 and with £40 pounds in his sporran, he hitch-hiked to Spain and then took a tramp steamer to the Canary Isles.

Ronald was born in Scotland and educated at the Morgan Academy. In 1960, at 18 and uncertain about a career, he worked his way through France and Spain and took a cargo-ferry from Cadiz to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands hoping eventually to reach Latin America. Short of money, he sought work on the island of Tenerife. Finding himself, almost by chance, in the tiny village of Buenavista del Norte, he was taken in by the sympathetic owner of a local family-run pension.

mackay fortunate isle
Ronald Mackay with a copy of Fortunate Isle

For the next year he lived in Buenavista, under the towering volcanic peak of Tiede. He worked at a variety of manual jobs including plantation construction and the selection and packing of banana stalks for export. On foot he explored the plains, mountains and seacoast around the village, grew close to the people, and enjoyed many curious and lively adventures. Ronald’s friendships and experiences – some of them hazardous — helped forge his character.

Fortunate Isle is a charming book that tells of a young man’s coming of age fed by discovery and adventure. As well as moments of lively humour, it has high drama and deep reflection.

Publisher at PlashMill Press, Rod Fleming, said ‘We are delighted to launch this excellent book, which is a credit to its author. It’s a great read and ideal for those long dark nights.’

After leaving Aberdeen University in 1967, Ronald was appointed British Visiting Professor at Bucharest University. From the ’70s he turned to ‘problem-solving’ as a career specialising in the evaluation of research and development programmes in which he wrote his doctorate. He laid the groundwork for the first Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics in Latin America; tackled issues of aboriginal education throughout Canada’s North and Arctic; pioneered courses in project planning, management and evaluation at Montreal’s Concordia University; and held visiting posts in Toronto, Edinburgh and Singapore.

Longing for the land, he farmed, first in Canada and then in Argentina, and used his expertise to help improve agricultural practice in many developing countries. Since 2012, he and his wife have lived overlooking Rice Lake, Ontario, in Canada.

Fortunate Isle is available in paperback internationally through Amazon and all  good booksellers.

Ronald and his wife Viviana in 2013