Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Dalmore. A New Beginning.

In 1918-1919,when the Great War ended,Dalmore was to be occupied once more by people, after more than 60 years,and the land there to be divided up into 10 crofts,each of approximately 4 or 5 acres in area.We have often heard the mantra "Homes Fit For Heroes",and that being eligible for a croft in 1920,one had to have fought in the Great War war,or a family claimed for a son lost in the war.I don't think that this was strictly the case,if it was the case at all.There were families who came to Dalmore who hadn't,or couldn't possibly have had a son in the war.Here was land up for grabs,and all interested parties submitted their names and a ballot was held.Sometimes more than one ballot was necessary,as in the case of our croft,No.5 .In the first draw,No.5 went to a man from Bragair,Iain Mhurchad an Gobha(John the son of Murdo Smith).The reality of the situation may have unnerved the man,and he eventually settled in Newmarket(Stornoway).My uncle John Macleod(Iain Glass),who happened to have been in the war,won on the second ballot and put the croft in his father's name,my grandfather, Donald Macleod(Glass).
The man who "won" No.1.(in at the sea cliffs)was a man from Bernera who was married to a woman from Shawbost(Piuthar Bean a'Shachead).Even after cutting peats(over the hill and above Taigh Shoudie),the Bernera man decided he wanted nothing more to do with Dalmore.What was going on ? Had he and the "Smitheach" been spooked or something ? The Bernera man and the "Shachead" (sp? The Jacket?)were married to two sisters from Shawbost,and it was to the Shachead he assigned croft
No.1 to do with it as he pleased,and for his own benefit. The Shachead didn't hang about and offered it to Donnachadh Dubh from Garenin in exchange for two wedders(or wethers - castrated rams).According to the Shachead,he only ever got one.But who would have argued with Black Duncan over one paltry wedder ? Not many!
Dalmore is not proving all that attractive,so far.Calum Dhomhnull Dhonnachadh from Upper Carloway actually drew No.9,but stll young and unmarried he went to Canada.By this time,one could sell the croft,which he did to my grandfather,Glass for £60,acting as proxy for my uncle John(Shonnie Glass).Peter Macaulay(Padruig Mor) from Carloway got croft No.7 which he kept for 30 years growing corn.In the 1950s he sold No.7 directly to Shonnie Glass,claiming he was to busy with his transport business.As far as I know,the remaining crofts were accepted on the first ballot.
In the early 1920s when the ten crofts were alloted,the land in Dalmore was not very fertile(sheep had been on it for nearly 70 years !),particularly the outer crofts Nos.8,9 and 10..These were essentially moorland ground covered in rushes.To compensate these people,they were given three one half acre strips of machair land down by the beach.And that still pertains to this day.
The only people who inherited a "walk-in"house was Shoudie,my paternal grandfather,his wife and his three sons(my father Alexander Maclennan was then a young man of 18 years) .Well, they had to put a roof on it,but the walls were sound.Nearly 70 years before,an amazing thing is said to have happened on the grassy mound outside this house.It is said that the woman of this house had gone mad(Dalmore,again)or deeply depressed,and that she was given to wander dangerously throughout the village,espcially near the sea.It is also said that her husband used to tie a rope round her waist attached to an iron stake driven far into the ground.This was to ensure his wife's safety,when his work took him any distance from home.People said she resembled a ram tethered to a stake,except that she didn't eat any grass.One summer's day,while tied to the rope,a massive cloud of midges descended on the poor woman,and attacked her mercilessly for some time.When her husband returned,he found his wife,her sanity restored.I wonder what she had to say to her husband about the rope around her waist?

1 comment:

Shelley said...

That midges could drive a crazed woman sane I quite believe, knowing full well that the opposite is certainly true enough!