• Marion MacLeod (Mor Bhrù)
Location:
Bhrù
Date:
Friday 19th February 2010
Reference:
SWI2010/010

Simon:

So, one of the things I’m interested in is the fishing and the men going to Peterhead.

     

Marion:

Yes.

     

Simon:

So if we can talk about that and what you remember. Did you have also other family that continued fishing in this way?

     

Marion:

Yes. And an uncle.

     

Simon:

And do you think you could ... Would you be comfortable talking in Gaelic even though I’m talking in English?

     

Marion:

I don’t mind.

     

Simon:

Because Finlay told me you had the best Gaelic in the ... That I should get you in Gaelic.

     

Marion:

Ha! Don’t believe everything Finlay says, you just don’t.

     

Simon:

(laughs) And I’ve got people helping that will translate the Gaelic later. But also I’d like to have the Gaelic voice in it.

     

Marion:

Do you want me to talk Gaelic?

     

Simon:

If you would, yeah.

     

Marion:

If that’s what you want me to do. Because I don’t mind, I’m bilingual.

     

Simon:

Yeah? That’d be excellent.

     

Marion:

And I didn’t go to school until I was six years of age because we had no road and there was no other child in the village except my brother who was four years younger. So I had to cross a river so I was not allowed to go to school until I was six and all I could speak of English was what they were telling me at home: “The teacher will ask you: What’s your name? and you will say: Please Miss, my name is Marion Smith. And then the teacher will ask you What is your address? and you will say: Please Miss, my address is 1 Earshader Uig”. And that was it!

Simon:

You remember that?

     

Marion:

I remember it very well! That was all the English that I could speak, mm hmm. But it never kept me back. I mean the more languages you know, the easier it is for you to learn another one. That’s how I found it. I spoke more or less pure Gaelic which was spoken then and I found when I went to the secondary in Stornoway, they told me I would have to take two foreign languages and that one of them would have to be Latin, which I found boring, absolutely boring. But you had to do what you were told in those days. But I found that being able to speak proper Gaelic helped me while struggling with Latin. It did, definitely.

Simon:

Is the grammar closer?

     

Marion:

The grammar. We had declensions: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative. You get all that in Gaelic as well as in Latin. So it really helped me that I could speak proper Gaelic which was natural to me. It was the language of the house, of the home, and my grandfather was living at the time. He lived two years after my father was lost and my brother being four years younger ... I mean, we didn’t have the same ... He would be two or three and I would be five or six. It wasn’t really ... My grandfather was my friend, if you know what I mean. My mother was there but she never got over the shock of the Iolaire at all (the HMS Iolaire sank off the Isle of Lewis on 1st January 1919 killing over 200 men). So I spoke my grandfather’s Gaelic which was fairly ... there was no adulteration in it at all. And that helped me with my Latin ... Well, I didn’t like Latin at all.

Simon:

What was the other language that you did? Did you do French or German or just Latin?

     

Marion:

Latin, but the Rector tried to get me to leave Gaelic. He was from Stornoway and he didn’t like the rural children to sort of be as advanced in anything as the Stornavites. So he told me to leave Gaelic, just leave it, and take Greek. For goodness sake, you’d have to be ... You daren’t say no at the time and I told him a real, 100% lie. I told him that I would have to ask my mother. In those days there were no telephones and he said: “When will you get an answer from your mother?” So in those days the post came every second day, not every day as it is now but every second day, and I said: “Well it’ll take five days.” And he said: “Well come to my office and let me know.” So I waited. I was telling a lie! I waited for five days and then went to his office and I said ... He said: “Well? What are you going to do?” and I said: “Please sir, my mother doesn’t want me to leave Gaelic.” “What? You can speak Gaelic can’t you?” “Yes sir.” “You can read it can’t you?” “Yes sir.” “And write it?” “Yes sir.” “What more do you want?” I said: “Please sir, I want to continue with Gaelic.”

Simon:

And you did?

     

Marion:

I did.

     

Simon:

Good for you.

     

Marion:

So, now. Getting on to the work.

     

Simon:

Yep. I’m going to move this here because ... Everyone here’s got Stanleys. Everyone I know on Skye has a Rayburn and here you all have Stanleys (Rayburn and Stanley are common makes of kitchen range ovens).

     

Marion:

This is a Stanley but it’s oil, oil fired.

     

Simon:

Did you always have oil or did you have peat?

     

Marion:

No, I had another one which was exactly the same in shape and colour as that one but it was peat burning, or coal. Now I got to the stage where I just couldn’t manage ashes and things like that so I got this one which you just need to turn a knob. There’s no ashes, no dust, and it’s really really good and the top heats whatever you want to cook and there’s the oven and it heats the water. I’ve got a radiator in every room in the house. So it does everything, it’s a wonderful ...

Simon:

They’re great aren’t they?

     

Marion:

Yes, it’s wonderful.

     

Simon:

I know a woman in Staffin who’s about your age and she has an old Rayburn. I think she still puts peat on it. She sits around the Rayburn like ... A very comfortable way of living.

     

Marion:

Yes. I’m at the stage where I’m unable to work with ... I can just manage with ... well, I’ve got a home help. The carers they call them now, and she’s very good and my son is next door and his wife and they’re very very good to me. And the neighbours ... we used to have a lovely neighbour out here but I’m surrounded by English people now. English people, one thing about them is they don’t try to change your lifestyle in any way but they’re not like the neighbours we had. And they’ve all got dogs.

Simon:

Collies or other dogs?

     

Marion:

All sorts! All sorts of dogs. A lady who comes to see me every Friday about quarter past eight, she’s got an Alsatian. And it’s been biting people and she got off with it! Doesn’t even have a muzzle on. There’s all types of dogs and they’ve got to have a walk seemingly every morning. They pollute the place as well. But that’s it, I don’t know why! I don’t mind dogs but some of them have three! Every one of them and there’s about, I would say, ten English families and there’s only one working.

Simon:

Are they all retired?

     

Marion:

No. They’re not that age some of them. Well, some of them are that age but some of them aren’t. But they’re not working!

     

Simon:

What do they do?

     

Marion:

Walk with the dog!

     

Marion:

So ... I miss my old neighbours. The way we lived here was we never locked the door. Now when I go to church, my son takes me to church in the mid-day service, and I’ve got my key in my pocket and it grieves me to think that here I am, just in the church a mile away, with my door key in my pocket. The neighbours we used to have, even if I wasn’t in if my neighbour wanted baking soda or whatever she would come to my cupboard herself and get it. That’s the way we lived. My husband, my late husband, had a tractor and the man next door had a tractor and if they were taking home the peats and one of them got bogged, the other would pull them out. But things have changed. That’s one thing about them, they don’t try to overrule us or change our way of life. But, well, we’ve got to accept that the world is changing rapidly and not for the best. Now if I’m alive at the next voting ... When is it going to be anyway?

Simon:

It’s not far, May.

     

Marion:

Well, even if I’m alive then and I’m able to, I’m not going to vote. Who am I going to vote with? Thieves? Robbers? It’s terrible isn’t it? It’s only recently we found out what they were doing with the taxpayers money. And they’re all in it! They’re all in it. By voting ... I’ve just made up my mind ... Well, you’re condoning people who are robbers and liars. So I’m not going to.

Simon:

Good for you.

     

Simon:

Shall we go back to the fishing? And you can do it in Gaelic and if you talk about the fishing in Gaelic? So even if you think back to when you were very young, you can tell me which of your cousins did the fishing if they went to Peterhead and how often that happened ...

     

Marion:

Às dèidh a’ chogaidh mu dheireadh cha robh an t-iasgach galach mar a chanadh iad, ’s e sin an t-iasgach a bhathas a’ dèanamh air an taobh sear dhen rìoghachd, cha robh e cho luachmhor mar gum biodh ’s a bha e ron a’ chiad chogadh. Bha iad an uair sin, na fireannaich òga a’ chuid bu mhotha aca, bhiodh iad a’ falbh ann am mìos na Màigh gu taobh sear na rìoghachd, Ceann Phàdraig agus Bhuig ’s na h-àiteachan sin agus bhiodh iad ann gu toiseach an fhoghair agus bhiodh iad an uair sin a’ tighinn dhachaigh agus eh... deireadh an fhoghair bhiodh iad a’ falbh gu taobh an ear Shasainn airson mar a chanadh iad an ‘t-iasgach geamhraidh’ gu Yarmouth agus na h-aiteachan sin. Agus bha e coltach gur ann shìos ann an sin a bha an sgadan pailt. Agus bhiodh na boireannaich a’ falbh còmhla riutha a chutadh agus bhiodh na fireannaich leis na h-eathraichean mòra agus bhiodh iad ann an sin da mhìos no mar sin, gus an tigeadh an geamhradh.

     
 

Agus bha àiteachan ann mar eilean Bheàrnaraigh agus cha robh mòran acasan a’ dol chun an iasgaich air a bheil mi a’ bruidhinn an-dràsta, bhon bha iad ag iasgach aig na dachaighean, well bho na dachaighean aca fhein, giomaich agus iasg sam bith eile a gheibheadh iad. Bha iadsan a’ dèanamh am bith-beò às an sin, ach bhiodh corra dhuine à Beàrnaraigh an dèidh sin ri dol chun an iasgaich, chun an taobh sear dhen rìoghachd. Agus ’s ann ... an t-àite san deach mise a thogail ann an Iarsiadar, ’s ann a bhuineadh sinn do dh’oighreachd Ghrìomarstaidh. Agus bha an t-àite sin a’ dol gu math trang ... agus bha a h-uile dachaigh – bha sia deug de dhachaighean eadar na trì bailtean beaga - Iarsiadar, Crùlabhaig agus Lunndal – agus bhiodh duine no dithis anns a h-uile dachaigh ag obair aig an oighreachd sin. Bho thòisicheadh iad anns a’ Ghiblean ag ullachadh an àite airson nan daoine mòra mar a chanadh iad, na daoine beairteach a bha a’ dol a thighinn a dh’iasgach agus a shealg... bhiodh iad ag ullachadh an àite às dèidh a’ gheamhraidh airson nan daoine sin a thighinn ann. Agus nuair a thigeadh iad, bhiodh duine no dithis às a h-uile dachaigh a bh’ air an oighreachd aca ag obair aca gus an dùineadh an t-àite a-rithist ann an October. Agus cha bhiodh an uair sin càil a’ dol ach coimhead às dèidh nam beathaichean, beagan croitearachd mar togail a’ bhuntàta ’s rudan dhen t-seòrsa sin, biadhadh bheathaichean mar an crodh agus na caoraich... agus bhiodh na caoraich air a bhith air a’ mhòintich fad an t-samhraidh agus bhiodhte gan toirt dhachaigh mu Shamhain. Agus bhathas an uair sin gan seòrsadh a-mach – an fheadhainn a bhiodh iad a’ dol a chumail airson gum biodh uain aca, bhathas gan cur còmhla ri rùd chun na Bliadhn’ Ùir’, agus bha a h-uile beathach a bh’ ann air a dhubadh an uair sin, agus an fheadhainn nach robh gu bhith còmhla ris an rùd, bha iad gan cur chun na mòintich. Agus bha iad a’ cur seachad a’ gheamhraidh air a’ mhòintich mar othaisgean agus beathaichean fireann, bliadhnaich agus mar sin. B’ e sin a-nis obair a’ gheamhraidh ’s bha an latha cho goirid, cha robh mòran solais ann ... anns an latha. Bha an latha cho goirid agus cha robh tòrr ann a ghabhadh a dhèanamh a-muigh agus nuair a dh’fhàsadh e dorch, ‘s ann a bhiodh iad a’ gabhail biadh mòr an latha ... agus mar is trice, ’s e buntàta agus sgadan saillt no buntàta ’s iasg saillt no feòil shaillt, b’ e sin am biadh a bhiodh ann agus bhiodh iad an uair sin, ’s maithte, a’ cruinneachadh ann an taighean a chèile agus ag innse seann seanachasan, seann amhranan agus gnothaichean tlachdmhor dhen t-seòrsa sin. Bha e math a bhith gan èisteachd. Bha mise nam nighean bheag ag èisteachd nan rudan sin air am biodh iad a’ bruidhinn agus ged a tha beagan dheth air a dhol às mo chuimhne, tha cuimhne ‘am air mòran dheth fhathast. Agus bidh e a’ toirt tlachd dhomh a bhith a’ dol thairis air nam inntinn, a’ cuimhneachadh air na làithean a bha sin. Agus an togail a fhuair sinn, cha robh an t-acras air duine ach bha am biadh a bha sinn a’ gabhail, bha e glan agus bha e làn beatha agus bha daoine ag obair cruaidh. Agus bidh e a’ cur iongantas orm an-diugh a bhith a’ cluinntinn g’ eil clann ann a tha ro throm. Uill, cha bhiodh duine cloinne an uair ud ro throm, bhon nuair a thilleadh sinn dhachaigh às an sgoil bha againn ri bhith cuideachadh leis an obair a bha ri dhèanamh. Agus bha sinn a’ dèanamh tòrr cuideachaidh air ar pàrantan agus bha sin gar cumail fallain. Cha robh a leithid a rud ann ri mo linn-sa bhith òg, agus leanabh a bha ro reamhar, bhon ged a bha sinn a’ faighinn gu leòr biadh, ach bha sinn ga losgadh mar gum biodh leis na bha sinn a’ dèanamh a dh’obair.

     
 

After the last war the fishing was not so strong, that is the fishing that they did on the east coast of the country. It was not as valuable as it was before the First World War. They were at that time, most of the young men, they used to leave in the month of May for the east coast of the mainland, Peterhead and Wick and these places, and they would be there until the beginning of autumn and then come home and eh ... the end of autumn they would leave for the east coast of England for, as they say, ‘the winter fishing’ in Yarmouth and these places. And it seems that it was there that the herring was plentiful. And the women would leave with them to do the gutting and the men would be on the big boats and they’d stay there for two months or thereabouts, until winter set in.

 

And there were places like the island of Bernera, and not many of them went to the fishing that I am talking about just now, because they were fishing at home, well from their own homes – lobster and any other fish they would catch. They were making a livelihood out of that, but in spite of that an occasional person from Bernera would go to the fishing to the east coast. And it was ... the place where I was raised in Earshader, it belonged to the Grimersta estate. And that place was very busy ... and every home was – there were sixteen houses between the three villages, Earshader, Crulivig and Lundale – and one or two people from each of the houses would be working on that estate. From the time they would start in April preparing the place for the gentry, as they were described, the wealthy people who were coming to fish and hunt ... they would be preparing the place after the winter for these people coming. And when they did come, one or two people from each house on their estate would be working for them until the place closed again in October. And there would be nothing going on then but looking after the livestock, a little crofting such as lifting potatoes and things of that nature, and feeding animals such as the cattle and the sheep. And the sheep would have been out on the moor all summer and they were brought in round about November. And then they were sorted out – those they would keep for lambing were placed in the company of the ram until New Year. All the animals were dipped at that time and those that were not going to be with the ram were sent out on to the moor. And they spent the winter on the moor, the likes of hogs, male animals and year-olds. Now, that was the winter work and the day was so short, there was not much light ... during the day. The day was so short that there was not a lot that could be done outside, and it was when it did get dark that the main meal of the day was eaten. And more often than not, the meal would consist of potatoes and salt herring or potatoes and salt fish or salt meat. That would be the meal, and they would then perhaps gather in each other’s houses and tell old stories, sing songs and pleasant things like that. It was good to listen to them. As a young girl, I used to listen to these things that they talked about and although I have forgotten some of it, I remember a lot of it yet. And it gives me great pleasure to go over it in my mind, remembering those days. And the way we were brought up. Nobody went hungry and the food we ate was pure and full of sustenance and people worked hard. And it amazes me when I hear nowadays that there are children who are overweight. Well, not one child at that time would be overweight, because when we returned home from school, we had to help with the work which had to be done. And we helped our parents a lot and that kept us fit and healthy. There was no such thing in my generation as a child being overweight when young, because although we ate plenty of food we were burning it up as it were, through the amount of work which we did.

Simon:

Thank you.

     

Marion:

Do you follow? No.

     

Simon:

I know some of the history so some of the names come up and I know what you’re talking about. I met up with some old skippers over in Buckie and they said that they had men from Lewis working on their boats and that they would go down to Yarmouth with them.

     

Marion:

Yes, in the winter. The winter fishing: Iasgach Geamhraidh.

Simon:

And they would do the North Sea and work their way down the coast.

     

Marion:

Yes.

     

Simon:

And then they’d be back for spring, and do spring on the croft.

     

Marion:

Yes that’s right. That’s very true. So, what more?

     

Simon:

Em, I guess we’ll ... Did you know women that worked in the herring as well? The gutting and the ...

     

Marion:

Cha robh e na chleachdadh aig na boireannaich far an deach mise a thogail a bhith a’ dol chun an iasgaich idir, ach anns a’ chuid bu mhotha de Leòdhas ’s e sin an cosnadh a bh’ aig na boireannaich, agus an fheadhainn far an deach mise a thogail, an fheadhainn nach robh ag obair dhan oighreachd mar Grìomarsta, Sgealascro agus Morsgail ...

     
 

It was not usual at all for women where I was brought up to go to the fishing, but in most parts of Lewis that was the way women earned a living, and those of them where I was brought up, those who were not working on an estate such as Grimersta, Scaliscro and Morsgai ...

Simon:

So we were talking about the herring, the clan ... Was it ‘clan nas keer’?

     

Marion:

Clann-nighean. ’S e clann-nighean an sgadain a chanadh sinn. Bha iadsan ri leantainn an iasgaich, biodh e ann an Sealtainn no an Arcaibh no an Ceann Phàdraig no Bhuig agus sìos a Shasainn cuideachd. Bha iad ga leantainn far am biodh e. Agus an t-aite, mar a bha mi ag ràdh an t-aite anns an do dh’èirich mise suas, cha b’ e sin an doigh beatha bh’ aca idir, ’s ann a bha iad ag obair aig an oighreachd bha rin taobh. Agus, ach aithnichidh mi, dh’aithnichinn gu leòr bha ag obair a’ cutadh mar a chanadh iad an sgadain, agus bha mi a’ tuigs’ gur e obair chruaidh dha-rìribh a bh’ ann, ach cha robh iad a’ gearain idir. Agus bhiodh tòrr cur-seachad aca còmhla ri chèile tha mi a’ tuigs’ cuideachd agus tòrr suirighe agus bhiodh feadhainn a’ pòsadh nuair a bhiodh iad air falbh aig an iasgach. Agus m’ athair-cèile ’s mo mhàthair-chèile a bha ann an seo fhèin, ’s ann a-muigh nuair a bha iad ag iasgach agus ise a’ cutadh ann an Ceann Phadraig, phòs iad ann an sin. Agus nuair a bha an t-iasgach seachad ann an sin, thàinig iad dhachaigh ’s chuir iad an-àirde dachaigh dhaib’ fhèin agus tha mis’ ann an sin fhathast!

     
 

Herring Girls. We called them the Herring Girls. They followed the fishing, whether it be Shetland or Orkney or Peterhead or Wick and down to England also. They followed it wherever it was. And the place, as I said, the place where I was reared that was not the way of life they had at all, they were working for the estate that was beside them. And, but I do know, I knew lots who were working at gutting the herring as they’d say, and I understood that it was really hard work but they never complained. And I also understand they had a lot of ways of passing the time in each other’s company, and also plenty of courting and some got married when they were away at the fishing. And my father-in-law and mother-in-law who were here, when they were at the fishing and she was gutting in Peterhead, they got married there. And when the fishing was over there, they came home and they set up home for themselves and I am still there!

Simon:

Did you know any girls that went to the herring and did any of them get married or ...? When they went?

     

Marion:

That’s what I’m just talking about.

     

Simon:

OK. You can read my mind then! You know what to say without me asking.

     

Marion:

Mmm hmm.

     

Simon:

And around the time when you were young, you also had on the islands Lord Leverhulme coming. And Kenny MacIver I was talking to this morning was talking about Coll and the stuff that happened around there. Do you remember those times at all?

     

Marion:

O tha. Tha cuimhn’ agamsa air Lord Leverhulme a bhith ann agus an dùil a bh’ aige tòrr mòr leasachaidh a dhèanamh air Eilean Leodhais agus eh... agus gu mì-fhortanach, cha d’ fhuair e leis e. Chaidh muinntir Steòrnabhaigh na aghaidh. Agus bha e a’ togail rathaidean is rudan dhen t-seòrsa sin ’s bha e a’ toirt obair do dhaoine, agus nuair a dh’aithnich e gun robh iad na aghaidh anns na rudan a bha na bheachd a dhèanamh, dh’fhàg e Leòdhas agus chaidh e dha na Hearadh. Agus timcheall air na ficheadan, toiseach nam ficheadan, fichead ’s a dhà no mar sin, bha feadhainn aig nach robh fearann an uair sin, fhuair iad fearann. Chaidh bailtean a bha aig na tacannan ann an Leòdhas, aig an luchd-tac, chaidh am briseadh sìos mar Gabhsann, Dail a Mòr ’s Dail a Beag, Linnsiadar, an Riof, Eadra-Fhadhail ’s na h-àiteachan sin, a bhriseadh sìos agus a thoirt do dhaoine mar fearann agus rinn iad dachaighean ann. Tha na bailtean sin fhathast nam bailtean agus chaidh Lord Leverhulme, chaidh e dha na Hearadh. ’S bha e na bheachd tòrr a chur air adhart ann an sin, ’s bha e a’ tòiseachadh a’ cur rudan air adhart ann an sin agus daoine ag obair aige. Agus bha e a’ dol a dhèanamh àite sam biodhte a’ marbhadh mucan-mara agus bha daoine ag obair ann an sin. Gu mì-fhortanach, bha e air falbh air làithean saora no air gnothaichean air choreigin agus ’s ann a thàinig bàs obann air agus sguir a h-uile càil a bh’ ann an uair sin. Agus bha daoine air am fàgail ann an suidheachaidhean a bha glè dhuilich a thaobh obraichean agus cosnadh anns na bliadhnaichean a bha a’ tighinn às dèidh sin. Agus cha robh, mar gun canadh sibh, obair suidhichte aig mòran agus ’s ann air airgead na Stàite, ris an canadh iad an ‘dole’, ’s ann a bha mòran dhe na teaghlaichean air an togail an uair sin. Agus ann an naoi deug air fhichead mar a tha fios agaibh, bhris an cogadh a-mach an uair sin agus bha gnothaichean duilich dha-rìribh a thaobh sin. Bha mòran dhe na bha, mar a chanadh iad, anns an Nèimhidh anns an Reserve, bha a h-uile duine aca sin biodh iad òg no aosta, ma bha iad air an ainm a chur a-steach airson a bhith ann ’s air beagan trèanaidh fhaighinn, bha a h-uile duine dhen sin air an gairm air falbh agus cha robh mòran air am fàgail ach seann daoine agus clann - agus fiosan duilich a’ tighinn cho tric, Nuair a chìteadh am ministear agus èildear a’ dol gu dachaigh anns an robh duine air falbh, bha mar gum biodh cinnt ann gur e droch naidheachd leis an robh iad a’ tighinn chun na dachaigh, agus ’s e sin a bhiodh ann agus bha mòran dhen sin ri tighinn. ’S e amannan duilich a bh’ ann, feagal bho latha gu latha duda dh’fhaodadh a thighinn a-màireach. Agus rinn e tòrr mòr a thoirt air falbh às an eilean de dh’òigridh ach bha iad mar gum biodh a’ cumail a’ dol, a’ feuchainn ris an dachaigh a chumail a’ dol ann an dòchas gun tilleadh na bha air falbh bhuapa anns a’ chòmhrag uabhasach a bh’ ann. Bha iad mar gun canadh sibh beò ann an dòchas agus bha feadhainn ann a chaill an dòchas sin agus sin glè dhuilich, ach bha feadhainn eile ann agus bu mhath gun do thill iad.

     
 

Oh yes. I remember Lord Leverhulme being here and the expectations he had to carry out lots of developments in the island of Lewis and eh ... and unfortunately, he did not get his way. The people of Stornoway went against him. And he was building roads and things like that and he was giving work to people, and when he realised that they were against him in what he planned to do, he left Lewis and went to Harris. And round about the 20s, the beginning of the 20s, ’22 or thereabouts, there were people who had no land who were given land. Townships which were owned by the tacks in Lewis, owned by the tacksmen, they were broken up – such as Galson, Dalmore and Dalbeg, Linshader, Reef, Ardroil and these places, were broken up and given to people as land and they built homes on them. These villages are still villages and Lord Leverhulme, he went to Harris. And he was of the mind to advance a lot of things there, and he was starting to develop things there and people working for him. And he was going to build an abattoir where they would kill whales and people were working there. Unfortunately when he was away on holiday or on some sort of business, he died suddenly and everything came to a halt. And people were left in situations which were quite difficult as regards jobs and earnings in the years after that. Not many people had a steady job, as you might say, and it was on state money such as the ‘dole’ that many of the families were reared at that time. And in 1939 as you know, the war broke out then and things were really difficult as regards that. There were many of those in the Naval Reserve, all of them be they old or young, if they had signed up to be there and had had some training, they were all called away and there were not many people left except old people and children. And difficult news arriving often. When the minister and a church elder were seen going to a home where someone was away, it was certain as it were that it was bad news they were delivering to the home, and that is what it would be and there was a lot of that. These were difficult times, fearful from day to day as what tomorrow would bring. And it took a lot of the youth away from the island but they kept going as it were, trying to keep the home going in the hope that those who were parted from them would return from the dreadful conflict that was taking place. They were as you might say living in hope, and there were some who lost that hope and that was very difficult, but there were others and it was good that they returned.

Simon:

And after Leverhulme you got the Stornoway Trust and the land put into community ownership.

     

Marion:

Hmm?

     

Simon:

The land was put under the community?

     

Marion:

Well Coinneach McIver would’ve told you all of that, he’s a chairman of the Trust or something.

     

Simon:

Yeah, he told me all about that.

     

Marion:

He told you all about that. He knows more about the Trust than I do. We were outside the Trust area. The Trust area was just Coll and Back and Point and these places roundabout Stornoway. And the castle.

Simon:

So what was Uig at that time? Uig at that time, how was that?

     

Marion:

Where was I?

     

Simon:

Were you still at Uig, at Earshader then? Or had you moved to ...?

     

Marion:

Bha mise ann a Ghlaschu nuair a thòisich an cogadh, agus bha mo mhàthair na bantraich bho àm an Iolaire agus bha an aon bhràthair a bh’ agam air a thogail air falbh dhan an Nèimhidh. Agus, shaoil leam gur e mo dhleastanas, a thaobh ’s gun robh mo mhàthair na bantraich ’s i na h-aonar agus mo bhràthair air falbh anns a’ chogadh, gur e mo dhleastanas a thighinn na b’ fhaisge dhi agus thug mi suas m’ àite mar bhanaltram sgìre ann an Glaschu, agus thàinig mi dhachaigh a Leòdhas. Agus bha iad an uair sin a’ cur a-mach dà uàrd air an ospadal a bharrachd air mar a bha e, agus fhuair mi obair anns an ospadal ann an Steòrnabhagh agus cha bhithinn ceàrr ann a ràdh nach b’ urrainn ospadal eile ann am Breatainn a bhith na bu trainge na bha e, leis na bha a’ tighinn a-steach ann dhe na truaghanan a bhathas a’ togail bho uachdar na mara bhon sguir iad a chleachdadh Caolas na Frainge – cho mòr ’s a b’ urrainn dhaibh ga sheachnadh a thaobh ’s cho cunnartach ’s a bha e leis an nàmhaid. Agus ’s ann a thòisich iad a’ dol suas taobh an ear Bhreatainn – an fheadhainn a bha a’ dol a dh’Aimeireagaidh, ’s dha Canada ’s dha na rìoghachdan sin. An àite a dhol tro Chaolas na Frainge mar a b’ àbhaist dhaibh, ’s ann a bha iad a’ gabhail suas taobh an ear Bhreatainn agus seachad os ar cionn tuath òirnn. Agus cha robh na Gearmailtich fada gus an do lorg iad seo... agus bha an t-slighe sin mu dheireadh a’ cheart cho cunnartach ri slighe a bhiodh a’ dol tro chaolas na Frainge. Agus bha iad, bha iad a’ cur fodha nan soithichean againne, mòran dhiubh tuath òirnn ’s an ear òirnn agus an iar òirnn cuideachd. Agus nuair a gheibhte feadhainn ’s mathaid sna lifeboats, ’s mathaid gun tug iad seachdain no ceala-deug anns na h-eathraichean beaga a tha sin gun mòran biadh no deoch idir. Agus bhiodh iad ann an suidheadhadh duilich agus bhiodh feadhainn aca air bàsachadh, ach bhiodh an fheadhainn a bha beò dhiubh bhiodh iad a’ tighinn thugainn dhan an ospadal ann an Steòrnabhagh agus bha sinn trang dha-rìribh. Agus bha tòrr obair ri dhèanamh timcheall orra. Bha feadhann aca air an losgadh leis an ola a bhiodh air uachdar na mara ... nuair a ghabhadh an ola sin teine ’s iad a’ feuchainn ri thighinn troimhpe, ag iomradh ann an eathar beag. Bha iad ann an suidhicheadh duilich air an losgadh ach bhiodh sinn a’ dèanamh ar dìcheall agus ga faighinn. ’S e gàirdeachas mòr a bh’ ann nuair a gheibheadh sinn a leithid sin air a thoirt troimhe gu ìre gum faigheadh e dhachaigh no gum faigheadh e air ais dhan an arm no dhan an Nèimhidh, far an robh e. Agus thug mi ann an sin a-nis còrr air bliadhna, ach ’s ann a-muigh air an tuath far a bheil sinn an-dràsta, ’s ann a bha iad ag iarraidh banaltram sgìre agus chuir mi steach air a shon agus fhuair mi e. Agus bha mi ann an sin gun a phòs mi. ’S tha mi ann fhathast.

     
 

I was in Glasgow when the war started and my mother had been a widow since the time of the Iolaire, and my only brother had been enlisted into the navy. And I thought it was my duty, since my mother was a widow and alone and my brother away in the war, that it was my duty to come and live near her so I gave up my post as a district nurse in Glasgow and I came home to Lewis. And at that time, they were adding two more wards to the hospital in Stornoway, and I would not be wrong in saying that another hospital in Britain could not be busier than it was, with the number of poor souls who were being admitted after being lifted from the sea since they stopped using the English Channel – as many as possible avoiding it because of the danger from the enemy. So they started going up by the east coast of Britain – those who were going to Canada and America and those countries. Instead of going through the English Channel as they did before, they started going up the east coast of Britain and passing us to the north of us. But the Germans were not long in finding out about this ... and that route was eventually as dangerous as the route through the English Channel. And they were sinking, they were sinking our ships, many of them north of us and east of us and west of us also. And when some of them perhaps managed to get into the lifeboats, they could spend perhaps a week or two weeks in these little boats without much food or water either. And some of them would be in a bad way and some of them would be dead, but those of them who were still alive would be, they would be sent to us at the hospital in Stornoway and so we were very busy indeed. And there was a lot of work involved in looking after them. Some of them had been burnt by the oil on the surface of the water ... when that oil went on fire as they were attempting to get through it in a small rowing boat. They were in a terrible way with burns, but we would do our best for them. It was a matter of great rejoicing when we managed to get anyone in that situation through to a stage when he could go home or be able to re-join the army or the navy where he had been. And I spent over a year there, but out in the country where we are now they were seeking a district nurse and I applied for the job and got it. And I was there until I got married. And am still here.

Simon:

I was wondering, in Glasgow ... I used to live in Partick in Glasgow and there are three Gaelic churches around that part of Partick. Did you meet many other Gaels when you were in Glasgow? Were there people speaking Gaelic or ...? Were there people from the other islands?

     

Marion:

Cha bhiodh duine còig mionaidean ann am Partaig air Dumbarton Road an uair ud gun tachradh duine air choreigin ris a bha a’ bruidhinn Gàidhlig. Cha mhòr nach e Gàidheil gu lèir a bha timcheall air Dumbarton Road, ’s na h-aiteachan sin an uair sin. Agus bha anns na h-eaglaisean, bha eaglais na h-Alba air Gardner Street agus ’s e Gàidhlig a bh’ aig a’ chuid bu mhotha a bha a’ dol dhan tè sin - daoine a thàinig a-steach bho na h-eileanan agus bhon eilean-sa fhèin, agus shuidhich iad iad fhèin ann an siud agus b’ e sin an eaglais aca. Agus bha dà eaglais eile ann am Partaig cuideachd agus eh... bha Gàidhlig bu trice a bhathas ri searmonachadh anns na h-eaglaisean, agus bha eaglais eile ann an Govan, eaglais Ghàidhlig ann an Govan cuideachd. Agus chan eil i sin fosgalite an-diugh, ach bha mòran theaghlaichean a’ dol dhan a h-uile eaglais a bha sin air Latha na Sàbaid ... na h-athraichean ’s na màthraichean ’s a’ chlann. Agus bha e dìreach mar gum biodh sinn aig ar dachaigh fhìn, a’ tachairt ri daoine a bha sinn ag aithneachadh agus bhiodh na ministearan a’ frithealadh seann daoine no daoine a bha tinn anns na dachaighean aca fhèin, ’s ma bha duine a bhuineadh dhan choitheanal aca san ospadal, bhiodh na ministearan a’ dol dhan ospadal a shealltainn orra. Agus bha e an ìre mhath mar gum biodh sinn anns an eilean-sa fhèin. Cha robh càil gallta an uair ud timicheall air Partaig idir.

     
 

Nobody would be five minutes in Partick on Dumbarton Road at that time until you would meet someone who could speak Gaelic. Almost everyone living around Dumbarton Road and these places were Gaels in those days. And in the churches, there was the Church of Scotland on Gardner Street and it was Gaelic that most of the people who attended there spoke – people who came from the islands and from this island itself, and they settled there and that was their church. And there were two other churches in Partick also and eh ... the sermons were mostly in Gaelic in the churches, and there was another church in Govan, a Gaelic church in Govan also. But that one is not open now, but there were many families attending all of those churches on a Sunday ... fathers and mothers and their children. And it was just like being at home, meeting people whom we knew and the ministers would be attending to old people or people who were sick in their own homes. And if anyone of their congregation was in hospital, the ministers would go to see them in hospital. And to a great extent, it was just as if we were in this island itself. There was nothing foreign about Partick at that time.