Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Friday, 25 January 2008

Dail Mor. Bliadhna na Chaoraich Mhor.

Dalmore(and its beautiful neighbour,Dalbeg)had by 1852-1855 been cleared of its entire population,with 26 people left with no option but to emigrate to Canada'and a further 41 relocated to other places on Lewis,where Sir James Matheson had no immediate plans for a sheep farm or a deer park.This was the "year of the big sheep" in Dalmore and other parts of Uig Parish.The "Big Sheep" which came with the Highland Clearances was the Cheviot,a breed of sheep from the Scottish Borders,which eclipsed the indigenous Black Face,in size,weight and wool growth.In time the "Caora Dubh" would be cleared.Of course Matheson was intent on boosting estate revenues like the other British gentlemen he'd meet in the clubs of London or Edinburgh.These people looked on themselves as farmers on the grand scale,and readily adopted the latest farming methods which they would discuss among themselves.Because of the nature of the Lewis terrain,Matheson knew that sheep,deer,salmon and white fish were to be his estate's principal commodities,and efforts would be made to establish these "industries" as soon as possible.As we know, the lands and rivers were let to tacksmen(tenants)"from a'the pairts" at very attractive rents(well,Sir James thought so).One can still examine the rentals for this period. Dalmore's rent was at this time £115-5-0 which was high compared with land of a similar acreage in another part of the island.The Cheviot was a voracious eating machine,wasn't particularly fussy,but would do so much better on the lush pastures of Dalmore and Dalbeg.
So, from a village of 20 houses and 87 people in 1841, 20 years later in 1861,we now have only John Mackenzie,described as "shepherd",aged 43 years,his wife Mary(40) and a daughter Helen(8),and even they were incomers from Leurbost.I think their house was in at the sea.Surrounded by "thoosans" of sheep, the Mackenzie marriage must have been sorely tested by the noise of the sea,the ever present spume and the mass choir of the Cheviots.

No comments: