Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Monday, 28 January 2008

An Ghearraidh. Dalmore's hidden jewel.

I know the Gearraidh like the back of my hand, as I was there at least twice a day with our cattle or fishing for saithe from its rocks.Until recently,I did not know what the word "gearraidh" meant,and sort of confused it with "garadh"(garden),but the fertile nature of the place would justify my confusion.Dwelly's Gaelic Dictionary(the Big One)gives the word "gearraidh" as a point(jutting into the sea),green pasture land about a village,the land between the machair(shore) and the monadh(moor),etc.These accurately define the Gearraidh which I knew so well, which intrigued me,but which had about it an air of foreboding,even malevolence.It's not the place in which I would elect to spend the night.And yet, it is truly a beautiful area - green,green pastures with a small river meandering across its plain,before it tumbles at speed into a very bonnie little beach.
This is the land between Dalmore and the boundary fence of Garenin village, a place with fascinating names like Cnoc A' Choin( Hill of the Dogs ),Allt na Muilne( River of the Mills ),Rudha na Trilleachan( The Headland of the Oyster Catcher ).There is much evidence that the Gearraidh was occupied over hundreds of years - the large number of lazybeds,the remains of houses,walled enclosures and "torran poll",the circular beds in which the seaweed was kept to use as fertiliser in spring.A man named Neil Maclennan( Niall Ban )and who had a son,Murdo,is said to have lived in the Gearraidh around 1820-1830,but the story goes that he only lived there one or two years,because, being in such an exposed place,especially in winter,he gave up because of the constant presence of sea-spume.If Niall Ban threw in the towel after such a short time,then who built these structures? Whoever was there ,stayed there for some time.There was a whisky still here,as one might expect,and with all that sea-spume,who could blame Neil for taking a few sniffters.The "gaugers"(customs/excise)would occasionally drop by and one had to have a place to secrete the whisky and the "copper".Neil had 24 bottles of the "hard stuff" hidden under the thatch of the roof.When the gaugers asked Neil if he had any whisky,he immediately replied that,yes,he had two dozen bottles buried in the thatch above their heads.Maybe it was,the way he said it, because one of the excisemen replied."If you had that much whisky,you certainly wouldn't be telling us".
They left, and Neil might have had a dram to calm the nerves.
Whenever they did leave,these Maclennans went to stay in Back,on the other side of the island,and had the nickname of "Fortie".Another person said to have lived there was one Murchadh Macaoidh(Murdo Mackay),but nothing else is known about him.

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