Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

George Macleod. Innovator and Craftsman.

In recent years, a new breed of crofter has settled in Lewis,people with no ancestral ties to the island who came seeking a better life for themselves and their families. They may be called "na Gall" (Gael.foreigners),but in some villages they were like the blast of oxygen sometimes needed to revive the patient. As a general rule,the "good lifers" domain is readily identifiable. Attached to the end of the croft house is a small "greenhouse" fashioned from wood and plastic sheeting,where tomato plants and peppers are grown. There may be half a dozen cloches in the near vicinity and a variety of farmyard animals free to wander the croft - goats,poultry,ducks and for those with equestrian ambitions for their children,a horse. I wish such people "bon chance" in their search for the "good life".
Actually, Seoras Dhomhnull Chalum (George Macleod,8 Dalmore)was quite a breath of fresh air himself. He brought to our village things that had never probably been seen there before.He acquired ducks and drakes, and for his efforts got beautiful eggs of duck shell blue,of course,and sometimes little ducklings which went swimming in the "allt" with their mother. Later he bought a pair of nanny goats(for milk,I suppose),and I remember they were called Daisybelle and Marybelle(I think) and I can still see them standing at the corner of the house to be milked by Mairi Long, Seoras'wife. They were smelly creatures who would gladly eat your Harris Tweed guernsey,given the chance. True to goat mythology,they could give you a fair "dunt" from behind. I didn't like the taste of goat's milk then,and I don't like it now. Still,the goats were a novelty for me,and a first for our village in the district. In such things,Seoras was "ahead of the curve" - a phrase so often used today. Seoras would have given today's good lifers a run for their money. He was a skilled craftsman in wood and metal and many of his artefacts can be found in homes,far and wide. George's piece de resistance was the spinning wheel,which he so beautifully crafted in different sizes and in a variety of woods. I remember being asked by George to deliver a full sized, working spinning wheel to the textiles department of the Glasgow School of Art,which they had ordered. It was an exact copy of the spinning wheel that had been used by Bodach Glass,my grandfather. The art school were delighted to receive such a beautiful piece of George's craftsmanship.
Still to come - hosts of golden daffodils,sapphires,a breath of spring and a two-wheeled tractor - and then some more.

1 comment:

TomCayman said...

Donald John,

Somehow browsed upon your blog today. My grandmother Annie McCallum (nee McLeod) is buried in the Dalmore cemetery.

Dalmore beach is quintessentially one of my favourite places in the world, something about the scale of the beauty of the place is just wonderful.

That my grandmother has her headstone overlooking the beach adds a depth of resonance to me that is then difficult to express.

Coming from Garenin originally, Annie moved to Edinburgh University and then to teach at Leith Academy. During her time in Edinburgh she met my grandfather, Tom McCallum, and as the eldest son of his eldest son, I share the same name.

In the late 60s they retired to Breasclete, where I visited several times a year, making my time and experiences in Lewis very formative in my upbringing, even though I never lived on the island.

I'm just completing building my new house in Cayman, and it will be called Creagan, after my grandparents house in Breasclete. The ocean views from my new house are wonderful, but not as magnificent as the southerly views over Loch Roag and the Harris hills that led my grandmother to choose to live in Breasclete rather than move back to where she was brought up in Carloway.

I still make it back to Lewis at least every couple of years with my family from Cayman.

For sure the internet is an amazing thing for sharing information and keeping history alive as you are doing.

All the best