Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Cha n' aigh' husa Cheos.

My Uncle Shonnie was planning to build a new house(taigh gheal) on one of his four crofts in Dalmore. I suppose that by the standards of the time,Shonnie could have passed for a "wee" farmer in Dalmore,while the same might have been said of his friend and relative,Murdo Macarthur in Dalbeg (Murchaidh Dhale Beag). They were not men to let the grass grow under their feet,and had good business minds. Shonnie felt that the croft on No.9 was best suited for his new house,which,if you knew him,would have to be the biggest and best around. Shonnie had always admired a large bungalow which was located on the Stornoway-Tarbert road,opposite the Leurbost road end. How he acquired the plan of this house from the owner,I know not,but suffice to say that when Shonnie had his house plan drawn up,it was the same,except that 3 feet was added to all the "Leurbost dimesions". I don't think the man from "ceann rathad Luirbost" was very happy,and frankly,one couldn't blame him.
With the plans approved and the mason/clerk of works taken on(Coinneach Dhomhnull Dubh,Doune Carloway),fortune favoured Shonnie at this very time in the parish of Lochs. It so happened that the church in the village of Keose had outlived its usefulness,and tenders were invited for its demolition. I do not know if a new church had been built,or if its congregation was being amalgamated with another. Shonnie's tender was accepted,and gradually the demolition got underway. The main interest in acquiring the old Keose church,was the great quantity of Ballachulish slate on the roof,and the vast amount of prime timber in the roof,and in the body of the kirk. The slate and wood from the old church in Keose are to this day still in place in "Shonnie's bungalow" at No. 9 Dalmore. The church had been built at the head of a little creek, abundant in large brown fronded seaweed. Many years later,I visited Keose in my car to visit the site of the old church by the sea. There was no trace of the church,but there was a modern factory producing alginates from the seaweed. Well,some would say that this was progress!
Shonnie told everyone in the village how beautiful was the spot in Keose where the old church was built,so much so that everyone in Dalmore began to talk about Keose,how nice it would be to visit Keose,as they had never been over there "in their life". They had been in Lerwick,Lossiemouth,Great Yarmouth,Glasgow and London but,true to form,they had never been to Keose. So,the idea grew that maybe a trip to Keose was called for,and it was arranged that the whole village(and that meant everyone)would be transported there for the biggest ever picnic this side of Beinn Bhragair(Padruig Mor's bus - driver the Magaran,who else). Parents or friends would tease their children,in way of admonition,or simply for fun "Cha n'aigh 'husa Cheos".The children would repeat the mantra "Cha n'aigh mise Cheos" ( trans: "You will not get to Keose"). Of course,they knew the would get to Keose,because every man jack of them was going to Keose. Victuals were prepared for maybe 40 people in the biggest picnic that Keose ever witnessed. Excitement grew as preparations went ahead. Mothers chanted "Cha n'aigh'husa Cheos",the children just laughed.
When the day arrived,no one could believe it. Rain,as no one could ever remember,had fallen during the night and was still falling heavily at breakfast time. Every allt and abhuinn were now raging torrents,the allt at our house was over the bridge and large parts of the village were under water. It was the same along the west coast,we were told. A picnic - you must be joking, and the initial feeling was that it be called off. The Magaran arrived with the bus,with great difficulty,I'd imagine and left the decision to picnic with us. A lot had been invested in this day,and it was now a case of "Who Dares Wins",or something like that! With every soul aboard,and food and drink to feed a multitude,the bus climbed out of Dalmore,and despite the devastation around us,there were the first signs that we were going to enjoy this jaunt,whatever else might happen. When we got to Callanish(or thereabouts) we noticed that the rainfall there had not been anything like what we had in Dalmore.As we travelled further east we realised that here they had no rainfall at all. In fact,the sun was out now and it was hard to believe that the weather on either side of the island could be so different. Since then,I have noticed that this difference in Lewis weather(east v west) is not unusual.
When we reached Keose.it was warm and sunny and quite unbelievable. The tablecloths were laid and the spread thereon was sumptious.The Keose picnic was long remembered in Dalmore.
You will remember from a previous post about the old Dalmore Church, how the Reverend Finlayson would come over from Keose around 1850, to take a service in Dalmore(we think). Now the sad reality was,that 100 years on,a man from Dalmore had come over to Lochs to demolish the old church at Keose.

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