Interesting to collect stories about the move of the population of a township at the back of one of the very few hills in Tiree because of sand, blowing sand. The soil in Tiree is very sandy, extensive machair land, and a very slight change in the prevailing wind can open the shores up to sand blow and this, over time, affects the arable land. So family histories gave us a certain amount of material about this and I, as one of my tasks in the context of this project, undertook to look at the parish registers of births and marriages ... deaths, although these weren’t really recorded systematically until the middle of the nineteenth century, but there were parish registers from earlier for births and marriages, and to just begin to plot these movements. You’d begin to see when there weren’t any more births in Hough, for example, and the people that you began to recognise from the oral records combined with the written records, you know, were turning up in adjacent townships and so on. But that’s the sort of thing that takes quite a lot of time and you really need to know the people, in a way. It sounds a bit of an exaggeration to say that but in an island where, as in Gaelic communities generally, people would be identified by a patronymic rather than a surname and so on. It really takes quite a lot of unravelling, and the use of the knowledge that comes from township historians to be able to detect exactly who is who at a particular time ... So we were able to undertake that kind of work.

  • Margaret Mackay
Thursday 17th June 2010