• Donald MacAulay (Reddy)
Location:
Stornoway
Date:
Tuesday 16th February 2010
Reference:
SWI2010/007

Simon:

What I thought we could do is maybe just start off with just a description of Bernera and the community before. So the kinds of things like it’s a fishing crofting area so ... and also the kind of conditions people were living in at the time or the factors that would ... It’s a little bit different from ...

     

Donald:

When is this ...

     

Simon:

Prior to the ...

     

Donald:

Prior to the ...?

     

Simon:

The riot.

     

Donald:

Oh, yes. Well obviously I’ve got a good idea but ...

     

Simon:

Tell us about what you know. Just take your time.

     

Donald:

I’ll start in Gaelic. I’ll probably tell them who I am first of all et cetera.

     
 

’S e mise Dòmhnall MacAmhlaigh. Rugadh agus thogadh mi ann an Circebost ann an Eilean Bheàrnaraigh ann an Locha Ròg, ann an Circebost. Bha mo phàrantan, m’ athair bha e ri ‘g iasgach agus bha mo mhàthair a’ coimhead às dèidh an taighe agus a’ chroit fhad ’s a bha esan air falbh. Bhiodh iad a’ falbh mu dheich uairean madainn Diluain agus cha tilleadh iad a-rithist gu deireadh na seachdaine ... Disathairne mu mheadhan latha.

     
 

Bha an uair sin mar a tha cuimhne agamsa air an toiseach, bha Beàrnaraigh ... bha sluagh ann a bharrachd air mar a th’ ann an-diugh. Nuair a chaidh mise dhan sgoil bha ceithir fichead ‘s a ceithir a’ dol dhan sgoil an uair sin, agus bha triùir a’ teagasg ann – am maighstir sgoile agus dà bhean-teagaisg. Bha a’ chuid bu mhotha dhen t-sluagh a bh’ ann an uair sin, ’s ann a’ strì ri iasgach a bha iad – iasgach ghiomach no sgadan no iasg geal a rèir an t-seusain. Agus bha feadhainn an uair sin a bha a’ dèanamh tìde anns an arm no anns a’ Chabhlach Rìoghail, mar a chanadh iad an RNR. Agus bha nighean ... clann-nighean mus pòsadh iad, bhiodh iad ann an seirbheis aig uaisle a’ bhaile mhòir ann an Glaschu ’s Dùn Èideann ’s Lunnainn agus iomadach àite eile. Sin a’ chuimhne a th’ agamsa air Beàrnaraigh nuair a bha mi òg.

     
 

Bha na h-iasgairean an uair ud, ’s ann gu Billingsgate a bha na giomaich a’ dol agus cha robh margaid ann do chrùbagan, agus bu mhòr am beud bhon bha iad cho pailt. An uair sin a bharrachd air mar a tha iad an-diugh, cha robh, cha robhas gan iasgach ann ’s gan toirt air falbh. Ach eh ... bhiodh a-nise iad a’ cur air falbh nan giomach Diluain mus fhalbhadh iad a dh’iasgach, agus bhiodh an uair sin aig deireadh na seachdaine, gheibheadh iad telegram tron phost-oifis ma ràinig na giomaich sàbhailte agus dè a’ phrìs a rinn iad, agus ann an seachdain no dhà, bha iad a’ faighinn an airgid a-rithist tron phost-oifis bhon a’ mhargaidh ann am Billingsgate ann an Lunnainn.

     
 

Bha iad ... bha a h-uile dachaigh an uair sin a’ cumail dhà, trì agus ’s ceithir beathaichean mairt, dhà no trì airson bleoghann airson an teaghlach a chumail suas ann am bainne, gruth agus càise, agus bha caoraich gan cumail cuideachd. Cha robh, mar a chanas sinn, feansaichean ann an uair sin agus bha na caoraich gan cur a-mach air a’ mhòintich, a-mach às an eilean gus nach milleadh iad an t-arbhar. Agus bhiodh an crodh – an fheadhainn a bhathas a’ cumail air a’ chroit airson bainne, bha iad gan cumail air bacan le sèine orra. Agus an còrr dhen stoc gan cur a-mach, agus bhiodh iad gan cumail air falbh bhon bhaile a-muigh air na h-àireachan. Bha a-nise àirighean ionadail ann agus bha àirighean a-muigh air a’ mhòintich a-muigh, mar a chanadh iad, no air Beannaibh a’ Chuailein a-mach gu ruig Loch Langabhat bha uaireigin aca ann a shin.

     
 

Mar a thuirt mi, an dèidh na h-àireachan a bha air a’ mhòintich a-muigh aig Beannaibh a’ Chuailein, bha am frìth sin aig croitearan Bheàrnaraigh bho chian, agus bha Dòmhnall Munro no an Rothach Dubh mar a chanadh iad ris, bha iad an uair sin airson gun cuireadh iad fèidh, gun gleidheadh iad fèidh a-muigh air agus cearcan fraoich agus chaidh a’ mhòinteach sin a thoirt bho mhuinntir Bheàrnaraigh agus pìos eile a thoirt dhen oighreachd dhaibh a-staigh faisg air, na b’ fhaisge air an rathad. Cha robh rathad ann an uair sin co-dhiù, ach far a bheil an rathad an-diugh. Agus, ach mus d’ fhuair iad cead air stoc a chur ann a shin, dh’fheumadh iad gàrradh eadar sia mìle no seachd mìle a thogail iad fhèin, gun tuarastal gun taing. ’S rinn iad sin, agus bliadhna, dhà-no-trì bhliadhnaichean às dèidh sin - trì bliadhna no ceithir bliadhna – ’s ann a thàinig an Rothach a-rithist ’s thug e bhuapa an oighreachd sin agus a’ mhòinteach, agus gun tugadh e dhaibh far a bheil baile Thàicleit an-diugh ann am Beàrnaraigh airson stoc a ghleidheadh ann as t-samhradh. Nise, cha robh sin freagarrach ann an iomadach dòigh agus ... bha iad ... bha deasbad aca ma dheidhinn sin ris an Rothach, ach bha esan mar a bha e. Bha lagh aige dha fhèin agus mura robh dhèanadh e lagh dha fhèin, bhon ’s ann aige a bha a’ chùirt ’s a h-uile càil eile an uair sin. Agus co-dhiù ... thàinig a’ chùis gu, gun do sheas iad a-mach agus agus gun tàinig iad a Steòrnabhagh. Agus ’s e bun a bh’ ann, ’s ann a thug an Rothach sumain a-mach tron a‘ chùirt airson a h-uile duine aca a bh’ ann an Tòpsann co-dhiù. Cha chreid mise nach robh sia deug a shumainean aige gan toirt seachad, agus airson na daoine fhuadach às an àite. Ach cha robh e cho eòlach air muinntir Bheàrnaraigh ’s a bha e an dùil, agus sheas iad a-mach na aghaidh ’s thàinig a’ chùirt gu cùis ann an Steòrnabhagh. A thaobh nuair a bha iad a’ cur timcheall leis na sumainean, ’s ann a thuirt fear dhe na maoir a bha còmhla ris an Rothach gun cuireadh esan, nam biodh ... nam biodh gunna aige, gun cuireadh esan màthraichean Bheàrnaraigh a chaoineadh bhon bha iad cho mì-mhodhail ... a’ chlann ... agus gun robh iad a’ tilgeil phluic orra nuair a bha iad a’ falbh air feadh na h-oidhche bhon an dàrna baile chun a’ bhaile eile. Cùis a bh’ ann, chaidh ... bha feadhainn ann an Steòrnabhagh dhe na daoine sin agus ’s ann a chaidh breith orra agus an toirt a-steach leis na poilis. Bhon nuair a chunnaic an Rothach iad, agus Mac’Illinnein am fear eile ... a bha còmhla ris, chaidh iad chun a’ phoilis agus fhuair iad an uair sin cead airson an cur an sàs. Agus nuair a chuala iad ann am Beàrnaraigh an rud a thachair, fhuair fear aca air falbh agus ’s ann a thàinig iad a Steòrnabhagh, grunn mòr aca agus pìobaire air an ceann agus nuair a chualar iad a’ tighinn, gun robh iad a’ tighinn, ’s ann a chaidh an duine bochd a bha air a thoirt a-steach, ’s ann a chaidh a leigeil a-mach. A-nise, nuair a chaidh a thoirt a-steach dhan oifis, dhan phoileas-oifis, thug Mac’Illinnein am maor a bha còmhla ris an Rothach, thug e ionnsaigh air agus pronnadh. Ach dè bh’ ann ach ’s ann a thug iad deise ùr dha, mas fhìor airson gun dèanadh e suas airson nach gabhadh iad nan aghaidh. Ach bun a bh’ ann, chaidh an Rothach, Mac’Illinnein agus am fear eile, chaidh an toirt gu cùirt agus chaidh am binn a thoirt a-mach an aghaidh an Rothaich agus Mac’Illinnein, agus rinn croitearan Bheàrnaraigh ... rinn iad a’ chùis. Agus sin mar a ... ’s tron a sin, ’s ann a thàinig an Napier Commission a chur air bhonn. Agus thàinig iad dha na h-eileanan ’s dhan a’ Ghàidhealtachd a’ togail fianais ach dè bha a’ tachairt do chroitearan agus às a ... cuin seo a bh’ ann, ochd ceud deug ceithir fichead ’s a sia, ’s ann a thàinig an Achd a-mach a’ toirt cothrom agus saorsa dha na croitearan, gum biodh fearann aca dhaib’ fhèin nam pàigheadh iad am màl. Agus chuala mis’ sin iomadach uair ann an taigh mo sheanar nuair a bha mi òg – bhiodh na seann bhodaich a’ tighinn a-steach ’s iad a’ smocadh agus ag innse sheanachasan, agus sin mar a tha cuimhne agamsa air ma-thà – ’s fhada bhon uair sin.

     
 

I am Donald MacAulay. I was born and brought up in Kirkibost in the island of Bernera in Loch Roag, in Kirkibost. My parents ... my father was fishing and my mother looked after the house and the croft whilst he was away. They used to leave about ten o’ clock on Monday morning and they would not return again until the end of the week ... Saturday around midday.

 

There was then, as I first remember, Bernera was ... there were lots of people there compared with nowadays. When I went to school, there were eighty-four pupils attending school then and there were three teachers ... the schoolmaster and two female teachers. The majority of the people who lived in Bernera then, they were working hard at the fishing – fishing for lobster or herring or white fish according to the season. And there were some at that time who were doing time in the army or the Royal Navy, in the RNR as it was called. And the girls ... the girls before they got married would go into service working for the city gentry in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London and many other places. That is my memory of Bernera when I was young.

 

The fishermen at that time, it was to Billingsgate they sent the lobster but there was no market for crab, which is a great pity as it was so plentiful. At that time compared with nowadays, they were not being fished and sent away. But eh ... they would send the lobster off on Monday before they set off for the fishing themselves, and then at the end of the week they would receive a telegram through the post-office if the lobster arrived safely and the price it made, and in a week or two the money would arrive, again through the post-office, from the market in Billingsgate in London.

 

They were ... every home at that time kept two, three and four heads of cattle, two or three for milking purposes to sustain the family in milk and in crowdie and cheese, and sheep were kept as well. There were no fences, as you might call them, at that time and the sheep were sent out on to the moor, out of the island so that they would not spoil the crops. And the cows would be – those being kept on the croft for milk, they were kept on a tether and chain. The rest of the livestock was sent out and kept away from the townships on the shielings. Now, there were local shielings and there were shielings out on the far-off moor as it was known, or at Beannaibh a’ Chuailein out as far as Loch Langavat, they would sometimes have them there.

 

As I said, after the shielings that were out on the moor at Beannaibh a’ Chuailein, that moorland had belonged to the crofters of Bernera since time immemorial, and Donald Munro or the Black Munro as he was known, wanted to put deer, would keep deer out on the moorland and grouse, and so that moorland was taken from the people of Bernera, and another piece of the estate offered to them further in nearer the road. There was no road there at the time, but where the road is nowadays. And, but before they had permission to keep livestock there, they had to build a wall themselves of between six or seven miles, without pay and without thanks. And they did that, and a year, a few years later, three or four years, Munro came again and he took that part of the estate and moorland from them and said that he would give them the land where the village of Hacklete is now in Bernera, to keep livestock there during the summer. Now that was not suitable in many ways and ... they were ... they had a discussion about that with Munro, but he was who he was. He was a law unto himself, and if not, he would soon make one for himself, because he was in charge of the court and everything else then. Anyway, the matter came to a head, in that they stood against him and they came to Stornoway. The result was that Munro brought out a summons through the court for each one of them in Tobson anyway, I think that he gave out thirty-six summonses, in order to expel the people from the place. But he did not know the Bernera people as well as he thought, and they stood up against him and the matter came to court in Stornoway. With regard to them distributing the summonses, one of the bailiffs along with Munro said that he would ... if he had a gun ... he would set the mothers of Bernera weeping, since they were so ill-mannered ... the children ... that they had been throwing sods at them when they were travelling at night from one township to the other. The situation was then ... some of these people were in Stornoway and they were caught and brought in by the police. So when Munro and MacLennan the other one ... the bailiff who was with him ... saw them, they went to the police and received permission then to imprison them. And when they heard in Bernera what had happened, one of them got away and they headed for Stornoway, a large contingent of them led by a piper, and when it was heard that they were coming, the poor man who had been imprisoned was set free. Now, when he was brought in to the office, the police office, MacLennan the bailiff who was with Munro, attacked him and battered him. But what happened then was that they gave him a new suit of clothes, in effect that it would prevent him from taking up against them. But the result was that Munro and MacLennan and the other one were brought to court, and Munro and MacLennan were sentenced, and the Bernera crofters won the day. And that was how ... it was through that, that the Napier Commission was set up. And they came to the Islands and to the Highlands gathering evidence as to the state and the situation of the crofters and out of that ... when was it now, 1886, an Act was passed which gave opportunity and freedom to the crofters, that they would have their own portion of land if they paid their rent. And I heard of that many a time in my grandfather’s house when I was young – the old men would come in and they would smoke and recount stories, and that is how I remember how it was then – it is a long time since then.

Simon:

Another thing I was going to ask about, Kirkibost itself. This was, if I’m correct, created in 1879? Or ...? What was the land before?

     

Donald:

Well, Kirkibost had been there since ... as it used to ... since Christ left Partick. (laughs) And in ... it was cleared by, believe it or not, a fellow Dr. Macaulay who had the tack and Lynch ...

Simon:

I’ll just record this for my references.

     

Donald:

Do you want that in English or in Gaelic?

     

Simon:

Emm. Give me it in Gaelic.

     

Donald:

Uill, baile Chirceboist far na rugadh agus na thogadh mise, bha mar a chanas iad, bha e ann fo chian. Bha ... a’ dol air ais chun a’ cheathramh linne deug, bha manaich ann a shin agus tha loch ann an Circebost ris an can iad Loch Mharcail. Bha sin air ainmeachadh air an Naomh Marc agus tha e coltach, mar a chuala mise e, gun robh na manaich sin, gun robh sgoil aca agus bha eaglais ann agus sin mar a thàinig an t-ainm Circebost, bhon a’ Lochlainn nuair a bha na Lochlannaich anns an eilean seo - agus circ (eaglais) agus bost (baile) agus gur e baile na h-eaglais gur e a bh’ ann. Nise, bha fear de chlann ‘Ic Amhlaigh air a bhreith a-nis ... an Dotair Ruadh mar a chanadh iad, an Dotair MacAmhlaigh. Chaidh, bha esan ... bha tac aige ann an Linnsiadar agus ’s ann a chuir e sùil ann am baile Chirceboist, gum biodh e math dha airson tac eile airson caoraich is stoc a chumail, agus chaidh na daoine a chur às an sin.

     
 

Chaidh feadhainn aca dhan Rubha agus chaidh feadhainn ann an dhà-no-trì bhailtean eile suas a dh’Ùig ‘s ... ann am Beàrnaraigh Bheag bha feadhainn aca. Co-dhiù a-rithist ann a ... às dèidh an aimhreit thàinig ... chaidh daoine a stèidheachadh air ais ann an Circebost a-rithist agus chaidh a chur a-mach na lotaichean no croitean. Bha sia air fhichead, bha sia air fhichead croit ann an Circebost agus eh ... mar a bha mi ag ràdh, bha a’ chuid bu mhotha dhe na daoine a bha sin, ’s ann ag iasgach a bha iad ged a bha iad a’ cumail stoc air na croitean, agus crodh agus caoraich. Ach, ’s e an t-iasgach a-mhàin a bha gan cumail beò ’s bha iad gu math dheth a rèir an latha. Agus bha a-rithist ... thòisicheadh ag iarraidh nuair a thàinig càraichean no carbaidean ola, bha iad ag iarraidh rathaidean agus bha iad ag iarraidh ... ’s e aiseag eadar Àrd a’ Chaolais agus Barraglom, ’s e mar a gheibheadh daoine a-mach ’s a-steach, ach bha a h-uile duine ... an ìre mhath a h-uile duine, bha bàta aca dhaib’ fhèin bhon chan fhaigheadh tu às air dòigh sam bith eile.

     
 

Agus, thòisich iad ag iarraidh drochaid ... agus cha robh “council” Rois, cha robh iad airson airgead a chur a-mach agus ... ’s ann a thòisich an uair sin muinntir Bheàrnaraigh gu lèir ag iarraidh cabhsair a chur ann, ‘S chaidh an uair sin, an fheadhainn aig an robh iasgach nam bradan, bha feagal orra gun cuireadh e sin bun os cionn agus eh ... o cha robh, cha robhas airson sin idir. Co-dhiù, ’s ann a thòisicheadh a’ togail airgid air feadh a h-uile h-àite san robh muinntir an eilein – Glaschu ’s Dùn Èideann is Lunnainn agus thall ann an Aimeireagaidh is a h-uile àit’ eile ... togail airgead airson ... ’s ann a bha iad am beachd creagan Chleitir a bhlastadh agus an caolas a dhùnadh. Agus a’ cheart cho luath agus a chuala na daoine mòra mu dheidhinn sin, ’s ann a chaidh a ràdh gur e drochaid a b’ fheàrr a bhith ann. Agus mu dheireadh fhuair iad drochaid ann an ... naoi ceud deug is leth-cheud ’s a ... cha chreid mi nach ann a chaidh an drochaid a thogail. Agus sin mar a tha daoine a-mach ’s a-steach à Beàrnaraigh an-diugh. Chan fhaigh thu casan fliuch no ceann fliuch an-diugh, ach ann an càr ... sìos, suas, a-null ’s a-nall. Agus nuair a tha cuimhne agamsa air a bhith òg, a h-uile càil a bha a’ tighinn dhan eilean, ’s ann ga thoirt a-nall air bàta an dàrna rud aig Àrd a’ Chaolais no Brèascleit no Càrlabhagh agus ... cha robh e glè fhurasta, bha e gu math cruaidh ach bhuineadh daoine glè chruaidh dhuinne.

     
 

Well the village of Kirkibost where I was born and brought up, it was as they say, it was there from time immemorial. It was ... going back to the fourteenth century, there were monks there and there is a loch in Kirkibost called Mark’s Loch. That was named after Saint Mark, and it seems as I heard it, that these monks had a school there and there was also a church, and that is how the name Kirkibost came into being, from Norse when the Vikings were in these islands here ... ‘circ’ (church) and ‘bost’ (village) and that it was the village of the church. Now, there was one of the Clan MacAulay who was here ... the Red (haired) Doctor as they would say, Doctor MacAulay. He was ... he had a tack in Linshader and he set his sights on the township of Kirkibost, because it would be good for him as another tack on which to keep sheep and other livestock, and so the people were banished from the place.

 

Some went to live in Point and some in another few villages went up to Uig and ... some of them went to Little Bernera. Anyway, again in ... after the riot ... people were settled back again in Kirkibost and it was divided out in lots or crofts. There are twenty-six, there were twenty-six crofts in Kirkibost and eh ... as I was saying, most of the people who were there, they were fishing although they kept livestock on the crofts and cows and sheep. But it was the fishing alone that gave them their livelihood and they were well off in relation to the era. And again there was ... when cars and oil vehicles came on the scene, people started wanting roads and they wanted ... it was a ferry between Àrd a’ Chaolais and Barraglom, that was how people would get in and out, but everyone, almost everyone had their own boat because there was no other way of getting off the island.

 

And they started asking for a bridge ... and the Ross-shire Council, they were not willing to spend the money and ... so then all of the people of Bernera started asking for a causeway to be built there. But then, those who were at the salmon fishing, they were afraid that that would put the industry in jeopardy and ... Oh, they were not for it at all. So then they started raising money everywhere in which Bernera people lived – Glasgow and Edinburgh and London and over in America and many other places ... raising money for ... they were of the mind to blast the cliffs at Cleitir and to close the sound. And as soon as the people in authority heard about that, they announced that a bridge would be best. And so at the end of the day they got a bridge in ... nineteen fifty and ... I think the bridge was built. And that is how people are in and out of Bernera nowadays. There are no wet feet nor wet heads nowadays, but in a car ... up, down, over, across. And when I think back on being young, everything that came on to the island was brought across in a boat either from Àrd a’ Chaolais or from Breasclete or Carloway and ... it was not easy, it was very difficult but the people were hardy.

Simon:

Maybe do this bit in English so that ...

     

Donald:

Yes. Unfortunately today and possibly because of the introduction of television to every household, and radio, the old ways have died out if you like. But the young ones don’t know the local history as my generation knew it and consequently very often when you ask somebody of the younger generation, and I’m not putting them down in any way for that, but when you ask them anything about the local history and dates of happenings they’ll look at you with a blank stare as much as ... You can almost see them going round and saying: “Well what television programme was that on?” (laughs) But again, Bernera’s not unique in that respect. It’s generally throughout the whole of the Highlands and Islands. There’s very little of the old traditions left now. When I was young there was no ... I think there was one radio in the whole village and nearly everybody would go out at sometime or another to hear what was going on in the outside world. And then somebody else got a radio and I remember one of them was the old ... one with the big trumpet loudspeaker on it like you used to see on gramophones. Changed days ... The housing has changed. Much more comfortable, bigger houses, piped water, electricity and every comfort. Some would say: “Oh, it’s a pity the old system and customs have died out,” but no, I don’t think so. People are a lot better off in every respect now than they were these days and I wouldn’t like to see these conditions coming back.

Simon:

Also, in terms of ... the fact of people having to stand up to Munro and that being successful, whether that had a kind of legacy for people as a community?

     

Donald:

Eh ... No, I wouldn’t say that because they knew they were right so it wasn’t so much as winning a battle but proving that they were right. That’s the way I would see it anyway.

     

Simon:

That can be quite important for people, to know you’re in the right ...

     

Donald:

Oh yes, very important! Very very important that they won their case. As I said, they knew they were right. They knew they were acting in the right and by the law. They were never ... They were a law-abiding people and they were isolated in a way because there was no connection with even the rest of Lewis apart from at communion time when they went to the communions in Uig or Carloway or even venturing as far as Stornoway. And you had to walk.

Simon:

You said that ... you were talking about the Skye events, like the Braes, how they often got more recognition ...

     

Donald:

Yes. One thing that slightly irritates my way of thinking is that the so-called Bernera Rioters, the Bernera crofters, didn’t get the recognition they should have got because of the action they took against Munro the factor. He used ... How would you put it? A strong hand against the crofters because he thought they wouldn’t retaliate and when they did, they did it the right way. They took it to law, took it to court, and won their case. And yet when you read in all the history books and different other, I would say, academics who go from time to time and review the thing, ones who get the recognition for the crofters getting the right to have a croft as long as they paid the rent went to the so-called Braes uprising in Skye. Now that happened four years, I think if I remember correctly, after the so-called Bernera Riot and not only that but one or two other places, Glenelg I think was another one ... They were encouraged that they could stand up for their rights. Before, they weren’t. They weren’t sure because they were cowed and they were hammered down by landlords and factors and very often the landlord was hiding, knowing full well what was going on, behind the factor and if anything really desperate happened: “Oh, I didn’t know! My factor was looking after that!” James Matheson, who was the proprietor of Lewis at the time of the Bernera Riot, he more or less said: “Oh, well I didn’t know.” And when Munro was asked in court he said: “Oh, I don’t bother James with trivial things like that!” Dismissing thirty-six families and it wasn’t sufficient, he thought, to tell his landlord what he was doing. So I think that should be ... sometime, someone should correct it. Might start another riot but never mind! (laughs)

Simon:

One thing I was wondering was to what extent were groups like the Land League involved? I know that Innes, the lawyer, he was a Liberal or sympathetic to the Liberals and they had land reform policies ... In many ways I think the Land League were quite heavily involved.

     

Donald:

I don’t think politics have changed very much in that century past in that respect or in this century present because the ones who were for politics, they jumped on the bandwagon because they saw that yes, there was a good case here for the crofters to win so they went on the side of the crofters. But they didn’t do very much before that.

Simon:

So it was very much a local thing?

     

Donald:

Oh yes. I mean, we didn’t have in Lewis ... it was a kind of backwater then. They didn’t bother very much but when that case came up we made the headlines and the politicians grabbed it with both hands. I’m not taking anything away from Mackintosh, Farquhar Mackintosh. He was very much on the crofters’ side, even before that, but on his own, a lone voice, he couldn’t do very much. It’s a very complicated ... not an argument but it’s a complicated piece of history when you go into the ins and outs. As I said, yes, you had the politicians but they were quite happy then because there wasn’t an awful lot to ... How many of the crofters would even have any interest or even read or able to read at that time the intricacies of politics? So they would be promised something and then: “Oh well, OK we’ll go with that.” But it took a long time coming. Yep.

Simon:

I was just wondering, with the Braes they seemed quite ... well I think the Land League were more heavily involved and they also saw connections with what was happening in Ireland ...

     

Donald:

Yes, oh yes.

     

Simon:

... and they’re seen as more important?

     

Donald:

That’s it. And of course the other thing was that the ... What do you call him? On Skye, the Sheriff ...

     

Simon:

Ivory.

     

Donald:

Aye, Ivory. He shouted for the military and that boosted it up but there was nothing like that here.

     

Simon:

Cos at Aignish the Land League were involved and also the military were brought it ...

     

Donald:

Yes. Well, of course the Land League, I think they were encouraged when the decision was given in favour of the crofters, for the band of crofters, they said: “Oh, this is the way to go about it,” and they went from there. Then of course when the Sheriff Ivory called for the military and the police ... I wonder how many Skye men were in the Glasgow contingent that came up! (laughs) Because at that time all the ... well, not all but the majority of the policemen were Highlanders and Islanders. When I joined the police in 1948 ... I would say that in the city of Glasgow there’d be 25% to 30%, if not more, were Highlanders and Islanders and in the other forces it was the same.