Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Monday, 3 March 2008

The Magaran's Bus.

In the late evening of a glorious summer's day,as the sun sets over the west coast of Lewis,you will witness the most wonderful sight anywhere on earth. The sky and sea glow in shades of gold,orange,yellow and red,throwing the hills and islands into dark relief. There is a beautiful Gaelic saying which does real credit to such a Hebredian sunset. Seeing,let me assure you,is believing
As we passed through the villages in the Magaran's bus(a step up from a charabanc),we drank in the sights of home.The "feannagan" of corn,potatoes and hay could be seen running away from the road into the middle distance. Two points of information. 1. A schoolmistress asked me if the "Magaran" was the name of the bus.No,the "Magaran" was the nickname of the driver of the bus. Remember everyone from here needs his/her unique name as there may be 30 Macleods in just a few houses.
2. A "feannag" is a long narrow strip of cultivated land,with drainage trenches dug along the sides. Edward Dwelly,an ENGLISHMAN,in 1901 published the most complete dictionary of Gaelic in existence.He says that the term "lazybed" applied to "feannag" in English "is merely a southern odium on the system of farming in Gaeldom,where soil was scarce,and where bog-land could not be cultivated in any other way".Well said,Mr.Dwelly ! The bus would slow as we passed cows on their way home for milking. The lambs could be heard answering the call of their mothers.As that large orange sphere sank towards the horizon,we would see here and there the warm yellow light through the windows of some houses.The favoured source of light was the "Tilley Lamp",which came in all shapes and sizes. There were still in these years(late 1940s) a good number of the traditional "black houses",long, low and thatched. With walls six feet thick,and built without mortar from local stone,these were the houses that sheltered the people and their animals for centuries,but which were slowly giving way to the "taigh geal",the "white houses".
Coming along the road at the back of Dalmore,my mother,called"The Commander" but never to her face,would start negotiating with her erstwhile school chum,the Magaran, about taking the bus the one mile into Dalmore with herself, "her exhausted wee bairns" and some very heavy Kellogg's Cornflakes boxes."Annie,this is not the approved route,and it's more than my job's worth".This was where the half-crowns would make their last appearance of the journey.I knew that even without the "tip", the Magaran was going to pull his bus off the Carloway road and head into Dalmore,God's Little Acre.

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