View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 27 March 2010


Wreathed in the smoke of a peatfire, 80-year old Calum Ferguson tells a story from his book Children from the Blackhouse, in the Blackhouse at Arnol on 27 March 2010.

Unfortunately, I have had to remove the video at the request of Calum himself.

Saturday 27 March

Today was focused on a story teller, Calum Ferguson, who was at the Arnol Blackhouse for an hour between 11 and 12 (to speak in English) and 1 and 2 pm (to speak in Gaelic). Calum is a prolific writer and teller of tales, none of them tall, by the way. And proud of his heritage from Point, which frequently prompts him to gently poke fun at the poor sods from elsewhere in Lewis. In order to be in Arnol at 11, it required a departure from Stornoway at 9.10, as that would take us to the village the long way round. A £6 Rover ticket took care of our pilgrimage. The weather was not very good, with frequent showers and a cold northwesterly wind. Attendance at the storytelling session was good, with quite a few youngsters around. Everybody braved the dense peatreek, which at times obscured Calum from view. The stories were followed by a cuppa and a ceilidh in the adjacent Whitehouse (as opposed to Blackhouse). I am informed that the name Blackhouse is a misnomer: it should be Thatched House. The Gaelic Taigh Tugaidh sounds like Taigh Dubh in pronounciation - trust me, it does. Tugaidh means Thatched, Dubh means Black.

At 1pm, we trotted up the road to the main A858 road, past the many ruined blackhouses that Arnol has, alongside modern residences. The bus took an hour to take us to Callanish, which is 18 miles away. Once there, we had a cup of hot soup to warm us up, then we had to leg it back to the main road to pick up the bus back to Stornoway. Once more the long way round.

As I type this, I am still smelling of peat reek.