Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Am Bhaile Mor. Steornabhadh Mhor a' "Chaisteil".

When I was very young,the only time I would see Stornoway("am bhaile mor" - the big village ie.the town),was in the coming and going, during our summer holiday on Lewis. Very few people had cars in the years after WW2. The local doctor would have a car,but ministers and midwives would,I think,have had to make do with a sturdy Raleigh bicycle. You would see vans and lorries in Dalmore,of course,but motor cars were rare visitors. An exception to this was the visitation to the cemetery in Dalmore of a steady flow of hearses for committal services in "Cladh Dhail a'Mor". So,when we saw a "car" coming in the Mullach Mor,it was generally a hearse taking the departed for "tiodhlacadh" (burial). As stated elsewhere,my older brother,Donald(born 17.12.38)stayed for his first four years at 5 Dalmore,with my Grandpa Glass and Aunts Peigi and Dollag,speaking only Gaelic(he never lost it).He eventually returned to Renfrew in preparation for starting primary school,and of course learning the "new" language of this strange and hectic place. Our house in Inchinnan Road overlooked the large roundabout at St.Andrew's Cross ,which was always busy with all forms of transport,including "real cars". Donald was looking out on this scene from the kitchen window,when he noticed my mother behind him. Like a wise wee man,with a slight shake of his head,he said in Gaelic,of course." Mother,what an awful lot of funerals there are in this place!"
I have one early memory(although vague)of "going over to Stornoway"(as we Siareachs would say),and that involved a visit to the Lewis Hospital. I know that it was nothing serious(Mother wasn't with us),but I do not recall which of us (Donald or me) needed medical attention,or whether one,other or both was detained there,but I don't think so. What I do remember is that the van was blue,and its owner/driver was "Calum Aonghas Alasdair",a close cousin of ours and a gentleman through and through.Calum was one of the few in the district who owned a vehicle,and who most certainly would have done this "mercy mission" for anyone who might have asked,whether related to Calum or not. On the way across to town,we sat in the front,as this, was the only part which had windows. I do remember that we went via Callanish,and that the roads were "morgnan"(gravel) until we reached the outskirts of Stornoway. It would be some years to come before tarmacadam(no abbreviation here - credit to the Scot) appeared in the rural areas of Lewis. I recall that when I walked along a stretch of "unmade" road ie.morgnan,it was surprisingly easy on my bare feet. At Achmore,the main road to Stornoway went straight ahead through "airidh" territory to meet up with the Pentland Road from Carloway.This was and still is the A.858 to Stornoway. The road to Leurbost via Cliasgro was a sheep track, for all I know. When the sheep track was made up and tarmaced,the sheep wisely made way for man and the car,and a very fine road it is now. We will visit "the town" again in the future when there's a bit more tarmac on the roads.

No comments: