It is always exciting to find a photograph featuring a Largo-based boat with a clear name or registration number. It provides an opportunity for further research both of the boat and of the owner. The boat seen front and centre of the image above shows KY 289 tied up at Largo pier circa 1900. This half-ton, 23 feet long vessel belonged to David Gillies and was named Violet. For a time boats under 15 tons burden were marked with their registration numbers first, followed by the letter code of their port of registry, hence the marking 289 KY. KY of course denotes Kirkcaldy.
The postcard image above shows Violet hauled up onto the sands at the Temple, her name clearly legible on the right. There are three men and a boy inside the boat and an older man standing proudly in front of it. It would seem likely that the man standing is boat owner David Gillies and the others are members of his family. This David Gillies was not the net manufacturer of the same name but the fisherman known as "Fisher Davie". He lived between 1836 and 1923 and resided in the Crusoe Buildings. The same boat is in the same place in the photograph below, with a wider view of the Temple in the background.
David Gillies was son of fisherman John Gillies and his wife Grace Sharp. David married Mary Simpson (daughter of shoemaker Alexander Simpson) in 1858. They had six children (five sons and a daughter). David was the brother of Samuel Gillies, who lost his life, along with six other Largo men when the Brothers fishing boat was caught in a squall about 50 miles east of the May Isle in 1886. It was David who registered the death of Samuel, as well as the deaths of Samuel's sons John and Alexander.
The Violet was still on the list of boats based at Largo in 1914, when David Gillies would have been aged around 78 years. The full list of Largo's registered boats in 1914 is below, the Violet being the smallest vessel among those listed. Violet is pictured further below in the harbour at Lower Largo with the tide back. David Gillies died in 1923 aged 87 years.