Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Monday, 31 December 2007

The tragic death of Murchadh a Sgiobair.

Dail Mor(anglecised as"Dalmore) means "the large dale(river valley floor)".Approaching the village along a fairly straight road,there in little to see except spent peat bogs,lots of heather and black faced sheep.The only sounds to be heard as we travel along this flat moorland is the haunting sound of a lapwing,and the muffled roar of the Atlantic Ocean which must lie beneath the blue sky up ahead.The "Mullach Mor"(the large top or ridge) is the beginning of a rapid descent towards the sea,only interrupted for a short distance along the road by the "Mullach Beag"(the wee ridge).The road has been built into the hillside and the banking which supports it on the other side is very steep and leaves no margin for error.
It was along this road in the late afternoon that Murdo was leading his horse which was pulling a cartload of peats.As I remember it(I'd be about 8/9),it had been a fine day,perfect for getting home some peats from the peat bogs where they were cut and dried in spring/early summer.Murdo,the horse and the cart full of peats negotiated the Mullach Mor safely,but on the Mullach Beag something went terribly wrong.No one is sure what occured at that moment,whether the horse was spooked and reared or the large cartwheel went beyond the road edge,the full load carrying all before it down the deep roadside.Suffice to say, that when the villagers were alerted,the scene which confronted them was horrific.The horse, upside down and still harnessed to the cart by its two shafts, lay across poor Murdo's body,as did the shafts.The horse was struggling to free itself.but mercifully Murdo's death would have come quickly.It took the men some time to retrieve Murdo's body as hands only were available in those days.The horse survived.
Murdo's wife had gone for the day to visit her people in Shawbost,from whence she hailed.Someone with a car(minister,doctor perhaps) conveyed a close friend to break the awful news to his wife.It is said that as she saw her friend approach,the poor woman started to cry.Murdo's wife was the sister of Bean Dhomhnull Chalum(the wife of Donald Macleod,No.8 Dalmore).I was sitting at the far end of that house when Murdo's widow met her sister in the kitchen at the other end of the house.To this day I can still hear the initial loud cry of pain and the wailing which followed.The lady eventually left Dalmore to live in Shawbost beside her own people.I'm sorry that I don't recall the names of some of the old people nor their ages, but remembering that Glass my grandfather(born 1861) died in 1952, it would make most of these villagers late 70s - mid 80s.
That was the first time I realised what death was,principally because it involved an old pal of mine,Murchadh a Sgiobair. God Bless Him.

Then there was light,......and Little Richard.

Before the arrival of bottled gas,piped water or electricity(arond !951),the main source of fuel was peat, for heat and cooking and the paraffin lamp for light.The "Tilley"lamp with its brilliantly glowing mantle reached parts of the house never reached before.The switch on of "the electric"in the summer of 1951(in Dalmore) had been anticipated in most households,be it a single light bulb socket or the full panoply of electrical goods available in Stornoway,or from J.and D. Williams' immense catalogue.For us at No.5,the piece de resistance was the massive 13 valve Pye radio,which my uncle,Shonnie Glass(John Murdo Macleod) had bought.Radio Luxembourg's Top Twenty came on air at 11 o'clock on a SUNDAY NIGHT,and for us "cool cats"from Renfrew,this was a must.But this was still "latha na sabaid"(the sabbath),and it took my mother's immense powers to persuade Bodach Glass to allow Little Richard to bring Sunday to a close. After all, my mother Annie had been the baby of his 9 children,and I think,if truth be told,she was his favourite.Glass was a very pious man of 90 years,and an Elder of the Church of Scotland in Carloway,and we rock and rollers attended Sunday church three times every sabbath day."A ghile",lucky for us that Glass was not an elder in the Free Church.After all,the "unco guid" in the Free Church viewed their village friends in the "established church" as doctrinally tainted,and fellow travellers of the unreformed church of Rome.Still,it was back to business on Mondays,and doctrine was left far behind(until the following Sunday,that is).

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Murchadh a Sgiobair.

Murchadh a Sgiobair(Murdo the Ship's Skipper) lived in a taigh dubh with his wife at No.6 Dalmore high up on the croft.The "black house" had very thick walls and was thatched with straw.The long axis of these black houses was in the direction of the strong prevailing winds (W. or S.W.) and were often built in the shelter of a hill,as was the case with Murdo's house.He and his wife had no children,but made everyone welcome inside their warm and inviting home.When I was about 6/7 years,I spent a bit of time with Murdo,"helping"around the 4 acre croft,or so I thought.Murdo assured me that he could not do a full day's work without my input(or with words to that effect).
I cannot recall Murdo's surname, but"nicknames" or noms de plume were often employed where there were a paucity of Mac surnames (eg Macleod,Macdonald,Mackay etc) and equally with Christian names(Donald,Murdo,Angus etc).My paternal grandfather,Alexander Maclennan was always known as "Shoudie",while my other grandfather,Donald Macleod was called "Glass".To this day I don't know why or how they acquired these pseudonyms.So, in the case of our Murdo,one cannot assume that he was the skipper of a boat.or that his father was,but it is nevertheless possible! Only his family could answer that one.
It was shortly after World War 2(the year 1947/48),and I,a game wee guy,was there to help my old pal Murdo in and around the croft at No.6.We were accompanied at all times by his "sonsie billie"Monty,a dog of questionable pedigree,but of unquestionable loyalty.One beautiful summer night,with the Milky Way illumining the scene,a crowd of people,young and old along with their dogs were gathered on the road outside Donald Macleod's house at No.8 Dalmore.They were waiting for the Magharan to deliver a lorry load of materials for Domhnull Challum (Donald Macleod No.8 - not Donald Macleod "Glass" at No.5).
The lorry arrived and the bright lights helped the Magharan in what were very difficult manoevres to place the tailgate of the lorry opposite the weaving shed.During this time of frantic activity,no one had noticed that one of the dogs had fallen under the rear wheels of this very heavy lorry.The dog was dying,but little could have been done to save him.It was Monty,my dear pal,who would have done his bit at El Alemein.Monty was carefully removed and his corpse was placed in Murdo's barn to save him from the ravens and the gulls.
After breakfast I joined Murdo at Monty's burial over near the fence and away from the feanags .Murdo led, spade in one hand, and Monty's tail in the other This was how Monty went to his grave,no ceremony,no Last Post.Still,a wee boy of 6/7 would have known no better.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Born in Dalmore (Dail Mor)

I was born at 5 Dalmore on the 13th of October,1941 and Hitler,or I should say his bombs,could take the dubious credit for the relocation of my heavily pregnant mother from Renfrew to Dalmore.The German bombers had visited Clydebank,Port Glasgow and other places on the River Clyde.There was great destruction and loss of life,and some "stray" bombs landed in some unexpected places.The bomb which landed in the Robertson Park,in sight of our room and kitchen on Inchinnan Road,Renfrew(and actually exploded!) concentrated the minds of many in the Royal Burgh.Following a telegram to her father Donald Macleod("Glass") in Dalmore,"bha Anna Glass a'mach a'seo"(Annie Macleod made a sharp departure to the safety of her father's croft near Carloway).Guided by the skilled hands of the local nurse/midwife Mary Macarthur,my mother was delivered of a healthy boy at 6.10 am "up in the room"at 5 Dalmore.I was the only child ever born there,but when you look at the facts,that is hardly surprising.Until about 1920,Dalmore and Dalbeg had been managed as a sheep farm(since 1860) and was only divided into crofts at the end of The Great War. Glass was eventually given the croft at No.5. Both sides of my family came originally from Garenin and settled in Dalmore,the Maclennans("Shoudie") at No.4 and the Macleods("Glass") at No.5.
The house at No.5 was occupied in1923 and when it was abandoned in the early 1970s, it had only a life span of about 50 years.Glass and his wife saw all of their nine children born in Garenin,but from around 1940 onwards,only Glass and various unmarried members of his family stayed at 5 Dalmore(Peigi.Dollag,Shonnie).There were no unmarried mothers nor unmarried fathers in Dalmore in those days,so barring Adolf Hitler and the Luftwaffe,nobody at all would have been born at No.5.
My reminiscences will not necessarily be in chronological order,and there may be a mix of old and new.Many stories of the "olden days" were passed on to me by many worthy folklorists (actually historians). Tales of early Dalmore (1760-1860),lost in the mists of time,may be visited again, and hopefully you will visit this site,and add your own comments,but bear in mind that I retain editorial authority (ha,ha).

You may be interested in the other Dalmore blog,
blog address :- www.dalmoretails.blogspot.com