View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Raasay weeps

A harrowing tale of evictions from the island of Raasay, as I continue to copy, paste and clean up the findings of the Napier Commission, now sitting at Torran in Raasay. Raasay is the longish island off the east coast of Skye. Donald Mcleod, a 78-year old former fisherman from Rona, just north of Raasay, tells of the evictions of fourteen townships. Chairman Lord Napier is asking about this.

7837. We want to find out if you know about the evictions in former times. The first one began in the time of M'Leod himself about forty years ago. Do you recollect that?
—I don't remember the first removing, but I remember Mr Rainy about thirty years ago clearing fourteen townships, and he made them into a sheep farm which he had in his own hands.

7838. What became of the people?
—They went to other kingdoms—some to America, some to Australia, and other places that they could think of. Mr Rainy enacted a rule that no one should marry in the island. There was one man there who married in spite of him, and because he did so, he put him out of his father's house, and that man went to a bothy—to a sheep cot. Mr Rainy then came and demolished the sheep cot upon him, and extinguished his fire, and neither friend nor any one else dared give him a night's shelter. He was not allowed entrance into any house.

7839. What was his name?
—John MLeod.

7840. What is the name of the town were his father was?

7841. Will you give us a rough estimate of the population of the fourteen townships?
—I cannot; there were a great number of people.

7842. Were they hundreds?
—Yes, hundreds, young and old. I am sure there were about one hundred in each of two townships.

7843. Will you name the towns?
—Castle, Screpidale, two Hallaigs, Ceancnock, Leachd, two Fearns, Eyre, Suisinish, Doirredomhain, Mainish.

7858. Did the people out of these fourteen townships that Rainy cleared go of their own accord?
—No, not at all. The people were very sorry to leave at that time. They were weeping and wailing and lamenting. They were taking handfuls of grass that was growing over the graves of their families in the churchyard, as remembrances of their kindred.

7859. Mr Cameron.
—Might that not occur even though the people left of their own free-will, if they were much attached to their kindred?
—No, they were sent away against their will, in spite of them.

Tuesday 7 September

Although the day started fairly bright, cloud increased through the afternoon and bits and pieces of rain started to bother us. The wind remained fairly strong through the day, leading to a slight delay on the ferry service to Ullapool. As my previous post indicated, I have been transcribing more evidence from the 1883 Napier Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of the Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands. The submissions at Glendale were a touch worse than from elsewhere in Skye, but I have yet to do Raasay and Portree.

Today saw the 70th anniversary of the start of the London Blitz, and the beginning of the end of Hitler's bid to invade Great Britain. It has been suggested that if he had kept up his attacks on RAF airfields and aircraft, the RAF would have been on its knees in a week or so. The Blitz, which was sustained for weeks and months, claimed thousands of lives, and not just in London. In 1941, a bombing raid on the Glasgow suburb of Clydebank was devastating, and the raid on Coventry in 1940 infamous. After bombing with aircraft, the Nazis switched to bombing with flying bombs (the V1) and rockets (V2) in 1944 and 1945. Again, it is suggested that Hitler's Germany was within weeks or months of developing a jet-propelled aeroplane, which would easily have outflown the propellor-driven planes that the Allies were using.

Napier Commission in Skye - Attitude

I am currently working my way through the Napier Commission's Report for the Isle of Skye. The landowner at the time (1883) in the northwest of the island was Dr Nicol Martin. His attitude towards his tenantry is eloquently portrayed in reply to:

7570. You think they could not pay the rent?
—I know they could not do it, and they would not do it. They are getting indolent and lazy besides. Look at this winter; they did nothing but go about with fires on every hill, and playing sentinels to watch for fear of sheriff's officers coming with warnings to take their cattle for rent. They went about with pitch-forks and scythes and poles pointed with iron or steel, and it was a mercy no one would serve the processes upon them, or they would have murdered him sure enough. You cannot get a sheriffs officer now to serve a process on any tenant in Skye.

Monday 6 September

Quite a nice day, but very breezy out here. I took delivery of an external harddrive with a terabyte (1 million megabytes) storage capacity. So I spent the afternoon transferring pictures and files onto it, including my collection of videos that I've shot with my photocamera. Cleaned up the laptop's harddisk at any rate, and I now have all my pictures (more than 26,000 at this time) in one place. I also have all the tags that people have sent me over the year in one place. I have everything backed up on CD-ROMs, but the disadvantage of those is that you cannot (normally) add to them. The external harddrive works just like a normal computer HDD.

I have also continued to transcribe the reports from the Napier Commission in the Isle of Skye, and you can follow progress on the link provided.

A reminder, as if I need to remind, that the 9th anniversary of 9/11 will be this coming Saturday. As per usual, there will be only one post from me - possibly two, if I get that other tribute sorted out before then.