View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 28 May 2010

Hurricane update - 28 May

The southern hemisphere is in the spotlight, 4 weeks after their tropical cyclone season closed. Subtropical cyclone Joel is currently located to the southwest of Madagascar and slowly moving south whilst weakening. Winds are at 35 to 40 knots (that's equivalent to a force 9 gale). Only the regional monitoring centre on nearby La Reunion is acknowledging Joel, but even that does not expect the storm to live much beyond tomorrow afternoon.

Here's to the 2009/2010 southern hemisphere season, finally signing off.

Don't forget: the Atlantic hurricane season commences next Tuesday, 1 June. They are forecasting a (hyper)active season, yeah sure. Seeing is believing - they were expecting something similar last year, but it all came to nothing thanks to El Nino and a shedload of dust from the Sahara desert. However, El Nino is gone, so keep abreast through the National Hurricane Center if you live in Hurricane Alley.

Clearances: South Uist

These quotes from the Napier Commission's report from South Uist, describe the clearances there. It starts with an excerpt from a statement of complaint from the township of Kilpheder in the far south of South Uist. The Commission then proceeds to quiz John Mackay from question 11143 onwards on the actual events. John is 75 years old at the time of the Commission's visit in May 1883.

[People were] compelled to emigrate to America; some of whom had been tied before our eyes, others hiding themselves in caves and crevices for fear of being caught by authorised officers.

11143. Will you relate what you heard and saw?
—I saw a policeman chasing a man down the macher towards Askernish, with a view to catch him, in order to send him on board an emigrant ship lying in Loch Boisdale. I saw a man who lay down on his face and nose on a little island, hiding himself from the policeman, and the policeman getting a dog to search for this missing man in order to get him on board the emigrant ship.

11144. What was the name of the man ?
—Lachlan Macdonald.

11145. What was the name of the previous person you referred to?
—Donald Smith.

11146. Did the dog find this unfortunate youth
—The dog did not discover him, but the man was afterwards discovered all the same. He had got into the trench of a lazy bed.

11147. What was done with him ?
—He was taken off.

11148. And really sent off like an animal that was going to the southern markets ?
—Just the same way.

11149. Did you hear that the same thing was done to others, although you did not see it ?
—A man named Angus Johnston, whose wife gave birth to three children, and another child was dead before, he was seized and tied upon the pier of Loch Boisdalc ; and it was by means of giving him a kick that he was put into the boat and knocked down. The old priest interfered, and said, ' What arc you doing to this man ? Let him alone. It is against the law.' The four children were dead in the house when he was caught and tied, and knocked down by a kick, and put on board.

11156. Were they in the habit of sending away husbands without their wives? —No. I never heard any instance of that kind, unless a man voluntarily left his wife when they would disagree.

11157. But you understand that one man was put on board a vessel by force with four dead children in the house, where was the wife at that time ?
—She followed him on board.

11158. The dead children would be buried before that ?
—The four dead bodies were buried before the mother went on board.

Friday 28 May

A day without much sunshine, but plenty of rain and showers. It is very busy in Stornoway nonetheless, as tomorrow is the day of the half-marathon, an annual event on the last Saturday in May. Apart from the 13 miles of the Half Marathon, there is also a 10 km (6.2 miles) funrun for the younger ones. By about 10.20 tomorrow morning, I expect the first runners to come past.

In my historical researches, I have found the attestation of a Canadian man who was discharged from the service a week after being drafted in on the grounds of being undesirable. I wonder what this poor chap had done. But we shall never fully know what the reasons for that were.