Duncan MacDonald, 1951, Peninerine, South Uist by Dr Werner Kissling. By courtesy of the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh
Monday, 1 September 2014
A previous blog offered a summary of Duncan MacDonald’s life story. It may be divided into quite a few sections of varying lengths. Here is offered the second part (NFC 1180, pp. 130–70) where MacDonald related to Calum Maclean his early schooling, his first paid work and then speaks of his experience on joining the Militia, including a memorable walk between Fort William and Inverness. At that time in Uist, work opportunities were relatively scare and in order to gain a steady income then military service was an attractive if not a necessary expedient. Like his two brothers and contemporaries, Angus MacLellan and Angus MacMillan, both of whom were very fine storytellers, MacDonald enjoyed his time in the Militia. MacDonald then continues with his work as a stonemason and names the various houses that he had built throughout South Uist. The opportunity has been taken to modernise the Gaelic orthography and also to offer a translation.
An Dèidh na Sgoile
Nuair a dh’fhàg mi an sgoil aig ceithir bliadhna deug as an spot uarach, thòisich mi air staimh air a’ chladach. Agus bha mi trì mile on chladach co-dhiù agus bha agam ri sin a’ choiseachd a h-uile latha a dh’ ionnsaigh a’ chladaich agus bha na staimh a bha mi a’ togail air raon dhen chladach agus bha mu mhìle eile dhen chladach agam ri choiseachd airson nan stamh. Agus a’ chiad gheamhradh is earrach ’s e dà thunna a rinn mi. Agus ’s e not an tuna a bha a’ phrùs orra an uair sin. Agus bha tasdan ri chumail as an not a bha sineach airson an àite as na thiormaicheadh iad. Agus a-nist cha robh cairt aig m’ athair ann. Cha dèanadh cairt feum as an àite an robh sinn. Cha robh rathad ron bhaile ann agus mar sin cha robh ann ach eich chliabh. Agus dh’fheumadh e a-nist fear cartach fhaighinn à baile air choreigin eile a chuireadh a-mach na staimh gu ruige Loch Aoineort dha agus bha am fear sin a’ tagairt ceithir tasdain as a h-uile tunna a chuireadh e a-mach agus bha sin a’ fàgail an tunna aig còig tasdain deug. Agus cha robh mi ach aon bhliadhna ag obair air na staimh agus an ath bhliadhna chaidh a’ phrìs aca a thoirt a-nuas gu sia tasdain deug an tunna. Agus bha a-niste ceithir tasdain do dh’ fhear a chuireadh a-mach e ri thoirt às na sia tasdain deug agus tasdan airson an àite an deachaidh an tiormachadh. Agus bha sin a’ fàgail agamsa aon tasdain deug às an tunna. Ach, co-dhiù, bhathar mar sin airson bhliadhnaichean. Agus thàinig an seo ach dh’fheumte a bhith a’ losgadh nan stamh agus cha robh a’ phrìs mòran na b’ fheàrr an uair sin fhèin orra.
Ach nuair a bha mi suas a h-ochd bliadhna deug an seo chaidh mi gam chosnadh chon a’ mhuilleir agus sin a’ chiad mhuinntearas a rinn mi ann a muilean Thogha, ged is ann ann an Snaoiseabhal a bha am muileann an-dràsta, lean an t-àm riamh e Muileann Thogha. Agus ’s e sia notaichean an tuarastal a bha agam às an leth-bhliadhna. Agus bhithinn a’ feamanadh as a’ chladach le cairt agus ag aiseag an todhair sin a-rithist a-mach chon na cruiteadh. Bhithinn a’ biadhach nan each, a’ toirt deoch dhaibh, a’ dèanamh fodair agus a’ cartadh agus oidhcheannan a’ fuireach nam chaithris còmhla ris a’ mhuillear as a’ mhuileann nuair a bhiodh bleith trang ann agus nuair a thàinig an sin àm na treabhaidh dh’fheumainn èirigh gu math tràth as a’ mhadainn mu chòig uairean agus bha mi a’ faighinn cupa tì an uair sin agus bha mi a’ toirt biadh dha na h-eich agus bha mi a’ falbh a’ sgaoileadh thodhair. Agus bha doras a h-uile duine a bha san nàbachd rium dùinte agus iad gun fhosgladh is na daoine gun èirigh agus bha mise a’ sgaoileadh ann an sin gus an èighte orm gun bhiadh nuair a dh’èireadh am muillear agus a gheibheadh e air dòigh agus bhiodh ann na bi ann. Agus bhiodh agamsa an uair sin air a sgoileadh de thodhar na chumadh treabhadh ruinn gu àm dìnnearach. Agus nuair a dh’eughadh am muillear orm dhachaigh an uair sin, bha mi a’ dol dhachaigh agus bha sinn a’ gabhail ar bithidh. Agus bha sinn an uair sin a’ falbh a threabhadh. Bhiodh esan a’ treabhadh leis an h-eich agus bhithinn-se às a dheaghaidh le spaid a’ dlùthadh an talmhaine, a h-uile pathach a dh’fhàgadh e mu chreig, bha mise ga thionndadh leis an spaid. Agus nuair a thigeadh an uair sin àm dìnnearach bha sinn a’ leigeil às nan each agus a’ dol dhachaigh. Agus nuair a ghabhamaid ar dinnear bha mise an uair sin gam òrdachadh a-mach an uair sin as a’ mhionaid a’ sgaoileadh tuilleadh todhair a bhìte a’ treabhadh an dèidh na dìnnearach agus bha mi ann a shin gus a ruigeadh am muillear leis na h-eich nuair a leigeadh e fhèin is iad fhèin an deagh anail. Agus bha mise an uair sin a’ tòiseachadh air dlùthadh às a dheaghaidh leis an spaid is esan a’ treabhadh. Agus chuireadh e an uair sin a dh’ iarraidh sìol dhachaigh mi feasgar tràth agus thighinn ’uige leis an t-sìol agus bha esan an uair sin a’ leigeil às nan each agus a’ cur an t-sìl agus bha e gam fhàgail sa chliathaidh gus am biodh e fhèin ullamh dheth agus e fhèin a’ falbh dhachaigh. Agus nuair a bhithinn-s’ ullamh cliathaidh an uair sin is an t-anmoch air tighinn, bha mi a’ dol dhachaigh leis na h-eich agus bha mi air an iorram a bh’ ann a shineach fad na h-ùine a bhìte a’ treabhadh. Agus nuair a thàinig an seo a’ Chaingeis is a bha a muinntearas suas, fhuair mi mo thuarasdal agus thill mi a h-uile mac sgillinn dheth ann an tòrr m’ athar. Cha robh mi ri smocadh na ri sìon aig an àm.
Agus dh’fhasdaidh mi an uair sin aig Iain Buidhe ann am Peighinn nan Aoireann agus thairg e seach notaichean gu toileach dhomh. Agus cha do dh’iarr mise an còrr. Agus chaidh mi an uair sin air an ath-leth-bhliadhna gu Iain Buidhe Pheighinn nan Aoireann. Agus bha mi leth-bhliadhna ann agus bha mi gu math na bu shocraiche agus na b’ fheàrr dheth na bha aig a’ mhuillear. Agus nuair a thàinig an Fhèill Màrtainn dh’fhasdaidh mi leth-bhliadhn’ eile.
A’ Dol don Mhilisidh
Agus a-null deireadh an earraich bha seàrdsant a bhuineadh dhan Mhillisidh a’ dol mun cuairt ag iarraidh ghillean a liostaigeadh. Agus dheònaich mi fhìn agus gille eile a bha san nàbachd liostaigeadh, fear Aonghas MacGilleFhaolain agus ’s e an sloinneadh a bh’ air athair Dòmhnall Iain mac Cairistiona, nighean Iain ’ic Fhionnlaigh. Agus ghabh sinn as a’ Mhillisidh cuideachd. A-niste bha e fada air an earrach mun a liostaig sinne agus bha aig gillean na Maillisidh ri bhith a-muigh latha Bealltainn, an fheadhainn a bha a’ liostaigeadh as ùr. Agus a-niste cha robh ùine aig a’ notice air tighinn ’ugainne a bheireadh air falbh sinn agus dh’fhalbh sinne agus ràine sinn Loch Baghasdail, mi fhìn agus an gille seo, gar cois airson falbh air a’ bhàta dhan Mhillisidh agus chunna sinn an seàrdsant a liostaig sinn ann a shin agus dh’fhaighneachd e dhuinn an d’fhuair sinn notice. Thuirt sinn nach d’fhuair:
“Ma-thà,” ars’ esan, “tillidh sibh dhachaigh,” ars’ e fhèin, “gus am faigh sibh a’ notice.”
Agus seo an rud a rinn sinn. Thill sinn dhachaigh agus rinn iad toileachadh mòr ruinn nuair a thill sinn ged a ghabh iad iongnadh gu dè thill sinn. Agus gu dè a-niste mar a thachair dhan notice ach chaidh a’ notice a chur à Inbhir Nis chon a’ phoileasman ann an Loch nam Madadh agus nuair a ruigeamaide Loch nam Madadh bha am poileasman a’ dol a shìneadh a notice dhuinn nar laimh. Cha robh ùine air a chur ’ugainn dhan Cheann a Deas ach cha deach sinne gu Loch nam Madadh ann ’s ann a chaidh sinn gu Loch Baghasdail agus mar sin nuair a chunnaic am poileasman ann an Loch nam Madadh nach do ràine sinn, thill e na noticean a dh’Inbhir Nis agus ann an ceann naoidh na deich a lathaichean às a dheaghaidh sin thàinig na noticean ’ugainn dhachaigh agus b’ fheudar dhuinn falbh an uair sin ach bha sinn cola-deug air deireadh air càch. Agus dh’fhalbh sinn agus ’s e an rathad a bha sinn a’ dol a ghabhail, am bàta à Loch Baghasdail chon an Òbain agus an uair sin bàta a’ chanal às an sin gu Inbhir Nis. Agus dh’fhalbh sinn. Ach gu dè ach a bha bàta an Òbain a-nist fadalach an latha a bh’ ann an seoach agus mun a ràine sinne an t-Òban bha bàta Inbhir Nis air falbh agus ’s ann air feasgar Dihaoine a bh’ ann a shin agus bha sinn a’ dèanamh forfhais cùine a gheibhte an ath bhàta gu Inbhir Nis agus chan fhaigheadh gu Dimàirt seo a’ tighinn, a chionn bha iad gun tòiseachadh air a dhol eadar an t-Òban is Inbhir Nis a h-uile latha cho tràth siud air an t-samhradh. Ach, co-dhiù, bha sinn ann an taigh as an Òban an oidhche sin agus an làr-na-mhàireach fhuair sinn a-mach gun robh bàta a’ falbh às an Òban an latha sin dhan Ghearasdan ach nach robh i a’ dol na b’ fhaide na sin. Agus rinn sinn suas ar n-intinne gu ruigeamaid an Gearasdan fhèin. Dh’fhalbh sinn. Ràine sinn an Gearasdan. O! bha daoine gu leòr ann an sin air a’ chìdhe agus nuair a chaidh sinn air tìr, bha fear a ‘shergeants’ na Millisidh ann agus ’s e an dòigh air na dh’athnich sinn e, aodach an t-saighdeir a bhith air agus briogais de thartan nan Camshronach. Chaidh sinn a bhruidhinn ris feuch dè mar a dh’èireadh dhuinn. Dh’innis sinn dha facal air an fhacal mar a bha sinn fadalach gun an t-Òban a ruighinn an-dè is gun do chaill sinn bàta Inbhir Nis agus nach fhaigheamaid bàta tuilleadh suas gu Dimàirt seo a’ tighinn agus nach robh airgead a phàigheadh loidseadh.
“O!” ars’ e fhèin ruinn, “feumaidh am poileasman,” ars’ e fhèin, “aite fhaghinn dhuibh.”
Agus dh’iarr e oirnn a dhol far an robh am poileasman agus sheall e dhuinn taigh a’ phoileasmain. Dh’fhalbh sinn agus ràine sinn doras a’ phoileasmain agus bhuail sinn ann a shin. Thàinig am poileasman chon an dorais agus dh’fhaighneachd e dè bha a dhìth oirnn. Dh’innis sinn dha facal air an fhacal mar a bha. Dh’fhaighneachd a dhuinn an robh toil againn a dhan phriosan. O! thuirt sinn ris nach robh agus:
“Dèanaibh dàil ann a shin, ma-thà,” ars’ esan, “aig an doras agus ghabha’ mise sìos cuairt ann a sheo feuch am faigh mi,” ars’ esan, “aite dhuibh.”
“Ach air an t-saoghal,” arsa mi fhìn ris a’ ghille eile nuair a dh’fhalbh am poileasman, “ciamar a bha sinne a’ dol a phàigheadh loidseadh ann a sheo gu Dimàirt seo a’ tighinn? Chan eil,” arsa mi fhìn, “airgead aig a h-aon againn a nì e ach beagan agus ’s ann is fheàrr dhuinn,” arsa mi fhìn, “feuchainn ri a choiseachd.”
Agus dh’fhalbh sinn agus nuair a thàinig am poileasman ga brith cùine a thill e cha robh sgeul aige air na loidseirean. Dh’fhalbh sinn an uair sin agus chaidh sinn dhan bhùthaidh agus fhuair sinn mar a chanas iad as a’ Bheurla quarter loaf. Agus an gille a bha còmhla rium-sa cha robh e airson uisge-beatha aig an àm idir ged a dh’fhàs e glè throm a-rithist air, agus mar sin ’s e dà bhotal lemonade a fhuair sinn. Agus ghabh sinn a-mach às a’ bhaile agus fhuair sinn an rathad mòr agus chunna sinn na clachan mìle agus bha “66½ to Ins” air a’ chiad tè. O! bha an t-astar glè mhòr ach ged a bha fhèin, dheònaich sinne a choiseachd agus bhiodh e an sin – tha mi a’ smaointinn mu chòig uairean feasgar agus thachair seann-duine oirnn glè bheag às a dheaghaidh sin an dèidh falbh on bhaile agus bha sinn tacan a’ bruidhinn ris agus bha Gàidhlig gu leòr aige cuideachd. ’S ann an Gàidhlig a bha sinne a’ bruidhinn. Ach tha mi cinnteach gur h-e glè bheag as an àite a bhruidhneadh an-diugh i.
“Ach saoil,” arsa mi fhìn “na choisich duine riamh an t-astar?”
“Oh ho, a ghràidhean,” arsa e fhèin “nach e daoine a bha ga dhèanamh riamh,” ars’ e fhèin, “ma na thòisich innealan eile.”
Agus thug seo misneach uamhasach dhuinn agus dh’fhalbh sinn agus chum sinn romhainn agus ràine sinn an seo Spean Bridge agus shuidh sinn ann agus bha sin deich mìle a-mach às a’ Ghearasdan agus thug sinn làmh air an loaf agus bha i air a dhol na dà leth nam achlais agus bha an dà bhotal lemonade a’ fàs gu math trom cuideachd agus bha a’ ghlaine a bh’ annta cho tiugh agus màsan biorach aig na botail. Agus dh’òl sinn an dà bhotal lemonade agus dh’ith sinn an loaf, roinn dhi, co-dhiù, agus gu dearbha, gu dearbha, chuir i gu leòr a phathadh oirnn, ach neo-air-thaing nach robh gu leòr uisge againn. Agus dh’fhalbh sinn an seoach agus bha sinn a’ smaointinn air tilleadh air ais a Fort William agus nan tilleamaid a-niste deich mìle air ais bha seo cha rachamaid air aghaidh gu sìorraidh agus ’s e a dhol air aghaidh a b’ fheàrr. Agus chum sinn romhainn. Agus bha an t-anmoch a’ tighinn agus nuair a thigeadh dà rathad oirnn bha againn ri fear dhiubh fheuchainn feuch cùine a thachradh a’ chlach mhìle mun aithnicheamaid gun robh sinn air an rathad cheart agus mar bu trice ’s e an rathad ceàrr a bha sinn a’ feuchainn. Ach thachair an seoach dà rathad oirnn. Chaidh i an uair sin gu dorchnachadh agus bha “to Kingussie” air bòrd agus bha sinn a’ smaointinn gun robh Kingussie agus Inbhir Nis, ma dh’fhaodte gun robh iad dlùth dhà chèile agus dh’fhalbhadh agus dh’fheuchadh an rathad “to Kingussie” an toiseach agus nuair a ghabh sinn fadachd ’n a’ chloich mhìle thill sinn air ais agus chunna sinn gun robh taigh ri taobh an rathaid e an taobh shìos dhuinn pìos agus bha triùir mu cheathrar aig ceann an taighe nan seasamh is iad a’ bruidhinn agus chaidh sinn far an robh iad agus mun ràine sinn iad thachair nighean oirnn leithe fhèin agus dh’fhaighneachd sinn dhith cò am fear dhe na rathaidean a bha seo a bha a’ dol gu Inbhir Nis agus thuirt i ruinn gur h-e an rathad bhon tàine sinn agus thill sinn air ais, ach cha deach sinn fad sam bith uair a ràinig an nighean na daoine a bh’ aig ceann an taighe is a dh’innis i dhaibh mar a bha dh’eugh iad sin dhuinn air ais agus thuirt iad gur h-e an rathad a bha a-mach ann an seoach, gur h-e bha a’ dol gu Inbhir Nis agus ’s ann mar seo a bha. Dh’fhalbh sinn an uair sin agus fhuair sinn an uair sin gu taobh Loch Lòchaidh agus bha sinn ri taobh an locha an sin a’ coiseachd ùine agus taobh a’ chanal, an rathad seachad fad an t-siubhail. Agus ràine sinn aig cidhe aig taobh an locha an sin agus bha sinn a’ dèanamh suas ri chèile gu leigeamaid ar n-anail ann agus chaidh sinn a-staigh do shed a bh’ ann a shiud. Bha an dà chliathaich aige fosgailte agus O! gu brith dè an tuisleadh a chaidh annam fhìn ghabh mi eagal gu faodadh bòcain a bhith ann agus bha an taobh eile aige fosgailte agus a-mach roimhe a ghabh mi cho luath ri geàrr agus cha chuala duine a leithid de shreathail riamh is a bha geàdh nam maidean fhad ’s a bha mi a’ dol rompa. Agus nuair a fhuair mi a-mach caoite is e, bha mi cho sunndach is a bha mi riamh. Cha robh sgìos na airtneul orm. Dh’fhalbh e leis an eagal. Agus chum sinn romhainn. Cha robh duine ri fhaicinn. Ach ràine sinn an seoach am Bridge of Oich Post Office agus bha an rathad a’ dol tarsaing a’ chanal agus bha rathad eile bìdeag an taobh a-staigh dheth a’ dol taobh a-null a’ bheinn agus thuirt sinn gum feuchamaid an rathad a bha an taobh a-bhos an toiseach agus dh’fheuchadh e agus cha bu rathad sin idir. Cha robh ann ach bìdeag de fhrith-rathad ach ’s ann a chaidh Invergarry Sanatorium a thogail a-rithist agus am bun-rathaid a bh’ ann a shin a chuir air dòigh air a son. Agus thill sinne co-dhiù air ais chon a’ Phost Office agus bhuail sinn aig an doras agus dh’airich sinn a bhith a’ fosgladh uinneig gu h-àrd as ar cionn theann sinn a-mach on doras agus bha fireannach a-mach ann a shin gu leth air an uinneig:
“Seadh,” ors’ e fhèin, “dè tha a dhìth oirbh, ’ghillean?”
Dh’fhaighneachd e ann am Beurla dè bha a dhìth orinn agus dh’innis sinn dha gun robh toil againn fhaighinn a-mach cò an rathad a bha seo a’ dol gu Inbhir Nis. Dh’innis e ann am Beurla a dhol tarsaing a’ chanal ann an sin agus cumail a-mach gu Cille Chuimein agus a dhol tarsaing ann a shin a-rithist air a’ chanal agus an uair sin taobh an locha fad an latha gu Inbhir Nis tuilleadh. Seo an rud a rinn sinn. Chaidh sinn tarsaing na drochaid sin agus chumadh a-mach seachad agus nuair a bha sinn a’ cromadh sìos dhan bhaile ann an Cille Chuimein ’s e aon nigeann a chunna sinn air a cois ann agus dh’eugh sinn dhi agus fhreagair i sin cuideachd agus bha sinn airson a bhith cinnteach mun rathad agus dh’iarr i oirnn an canal a dhol tarsaing air. ’S e a’ mhadainn a bh’ ann, madainn Didòmhnaich. Dh’iarr i oirnn a dhol tarsaing a’ chanal agus cumail a-mach an uair sin taobh an locha agus chum sinn romhainn a-mach taobh an locha agus cha robh tuar air an locha teirgeachdainn idir.
Ach a-mach an seo ach aig Druim na Drochaid dheònaich sinn a dhol do thaigh bh’ ann an sineach feuch am faigheamaid balgam tì agus chaidheadh ann agus cha robh ann a shineach ach seann-duine seann-bhoireannach a-staigh na suidhe ann an sunnaig agus ’s e Gàidhlig a bh’ aca seo agus an sunnag a bh’ aig a’ bhoireannach as an robh i na suidhe, ’s e seann-bairillte a bh’ ann agus a’ chliathach a sàbhadh às on mhullach gu a leth agus bha am boireannach na suidhe agus bha an cùl a bha sa bhairillte a’ dèanamh cùl dhi fhèin a currag mu ceann an sin agus bithe gnè ris mun cuairt uile gu lèir agus thug e nam chuimhne seann-chailleach a chunna mi ann an Uibhist mun d’fhalbh mi agus fada roimhe sin cuideachd air am biodh a leithid eile a churraic agus dh’fhaighneachd iad dhiom cò as a thàine sin is dh’innis sinn agus dh’fhaighneachd sinn am faigheamaid cupa tì agus gheibheadh. Thòisich fear an taighe a’ cuir air dòigh teine le cnagan beaga fiodha agus ’s ann againn a bha an t-iongnadh dhe sin o nach robh mòine mar a chleachd sinn fhìn agus dh’fhaighneachd iad cò as a bha sinn is dh’innis sinn gur h-ann a Uibhist.
“Cò an ceann de dh’Uibhist?”
“Às a’ Cheann a Deas.”
“Agus,” ors’ am boireannach, “nach e sin dùthaich nam Pàpanach?”
Agus thuirt mise rithe gur h-e:
“Agus,” ors’ i fhèin, “an e Pàpanaich a th’ annaibh fhèin?”
“Chan e a tha san dithis againn idir,” orsa mi fhìn, “’S e Pròsdanach a tha as a’ ghille a tha còmhla riumsa ach ’s e Caitligeach a th’ annamsa.”
Agus cha d’rinn i an còrr forfhais ach fhuair sinn an tì, cupa tì an duine agus bìdeag loaf agus ’s e sin sgillinn am fear a bha e oirnn agus rinn e cuideachadh mòr linn. Agus bhiodh sineach mu dhà uair feasgar an latha Didòmhnaich agus chum sinn romhainn an uair sin agus chaidh sinn seachad Inbhir Moireasdan agus o! àiteachan eile nach eil cuimhne agamsa an-diugh air. Ach, co-dhiù, bha sinn a’ coimhead air an loch agus air a’ cheann fo dheireadh thall chunna mi bàgh morghain as a’ cheann eile aice. Cha robh mi a’ faicinn a’ chinn eile as a’ mhadainn idir. Ach ged a chunna mi am bàgh morghain thug sinn ùine mhòr, mhòr mun a ràine sinn mu choinneamh. Agus ràine sinn an seo mu choinneamh agus chuir sinn seachad an loch agus ràine sinn an seoach Baile Inbhir Nis. Agus bha saighdeirean gar coinneachadh feadh a’ bhaile agus cha robh fear a choinnicheadh sinn nach robh sinn a’ faighneachd an rathaid chon nan Cameron Barracks. Agus bha a h-uile fear gar stiùireadh suas agus cha robh an uair sin ach iad a’ tighinn a-mach dhan bhaile dìreach na saighdeirean feasgar gus mu dheireadh na thachair dithis oirnn dìreach a’ cromadh na steapaichean a-nuas as na barracks a’ dol a-mach agus thuirt iad ruinn nach robh sìon againn ach dìreach suas na steapaichean air an tàinig à-san a-nuas agus gun rachamaid dìreach chon a’ gheata. Agus ’s ann mar seo a bha. Dhìrich sinn suas air na steapaichean caola a bh’ ann a shin agus ràine sinn an geata agus bha fear air geàrd ann an sin, saighdear agus dh’fhosgail e an geata dòigheil dhuinn agus dh’fhaighneachd e cà’ robh sinn a’ dol agus dh’innis sinn.
“O! ma-thà,” ors’ esan, ’s e Beurla a bh’ aige, “tha na gillean eile agaibh thall ann a shin ann an tentaichean agus bha dhà na trì a thentaichean thall ann a shineach a-staigh agus ’s ann a bha recruits na militia agus a neo-air-thaing nach do rinn na gillean a bh’ ann a shineach toileachadh ruinn nuair a ràine sinn. Ach ged a bha fhèin nuair a chaidh mise na mo shìneadh ann a shin agus an gille a bha còmhla rium cuideachd, cha robh meur a mheura ar cas nach robh at eadar a h-uile meur riamh agus mu chuairt mur sàilean air at gorm mun cuairt leis a’ chioseachd agus cha b’ urra’ mi a-màireach mo chasan a chur fodham idir. Agus bha sinn an làr-na-mhàireach air an sin Dialuain agus Dimairt agus Diaciadaoin san tent ann a shin agus ’s ann Diardaoine a thàinig seàrdsant agus gu rachamaid gar passadh chon an dotair agus aig an aon àm bha sinn a’ dol a dh’ fhaighinn, nuair a thigeamaid on dotair mun tilleamaid dha na barracks, bha sinn a’ dol a dh’ fhaighinn ar cuid aodaich aig Telford Road Barracks. Dh’falbh sinn còmhla ris an t-seàrdsant agus ràine sinn an dotair agus ’s e an Dotair MacPhàidein a bh’ ann an uair sin. Bha bodach mòr laghach agus Gàidhlig gu leòr agus ann an Gàidhlig a bhruidhinn e ruinn agus dh’iarr e oirnn ar cuid aodaich a chur dhinn ach ’s ann a thuirt e gun robh sinn paiste gu leòr:
“Daoine sam bith a choisich ann a seoach,” ors’ e fhèin, “às a’ Ghearasdan,” ors’ esan, “chan eil feum aca air dotair idir.”
Dh’iarr e oirnn ar làmhan a chuir a-mach an uair sin is air meòirean obrachadh. Chuir e cairt mu choinneamh ar sàilean agus na marcan a bh’ orra innseadh dhà, deorda a bh’ ann. Thuirt e gun robh sinn math gu leòr. Cha tug e oirnn a’ bhriogais a chur dhinn idir. Cha robh feum orra. Dh’fhalbh sinn an uair sin is chuir sinn umainn a dh’fhalbh còmhla ris an t-seàrdsant agus fhuair sinn ar n-aodach ann uair sin ann an Telford Road Barrack agus dh’fhàg sinn an t-aodach a bh’ umainn ann agus thill sinn còmhla ris an uair sin dha na barracks. Bha an seo cùirt againn ri sheasamh an làr-na-mhàireach air an sin airson a bhith fadalach. Chaidh sinn chon na cùirt. Ach nuair a chaidh cha robh am beachd an fheadhainn a bha a’ dèanamh na cuirt diola-feuch sam bith a dhèanamh oirnn airson a bhith fadalach, nuair a chuala iad gniomh a rinn sinn. Agus ’s ann a bha iongnadh mòr, mòr aca dhuinn agus cha robh duine sam bith a bh’ ann am posta mu chuairt feuch am faiceadh iad na daoine a choisich às a’ Ghearsadan. Agus bha iad a’ bruidhinn ri chèile thall is a-bhos ann am Beurla mu na daoine agus dh’innis sinne an aon reusan a bh’ againn air a bhith fadalach. Chòrd e riutha fuathasach math agus nuair a chuala iad nach robh airgead againn a phàigheadh loidseadh agus gun a ghabh sinn coiseachd a raghainn bha iad a’ dèanamh dibhearsain uamhasach agus thug iad an uair sin aon cheithir tasdain deug an duine dhomh fhìn agus dhan ghille agus dh’fhaighneachd iad dhuinn:
“A bheil fhios agaibh a-nist carson a bha sibh a’ faighinn sin?”
“Tha airson coiseachd às a’ Ghearasdan.”
“Agus a bheil fhios agaibh a-nist,” orsa fear dhe na bh’ ann, “dè an t-astar a bha sibh a’ dèanamh às an uair fad na h-ùine a bha sibh air an rathad?”
“O! cha robh na bu mhutha. Cha robh uair againn.”
“Bha.” ors’ e fhèin. “Bha sibh a’ dèanamh ceithir mìle as an uair fad an t-siubhail.”
A chionn tha a h-uile coltas gun d’fhuair à-san brath on phoileasman nuair a thill e o iarraidh a’ loidseadh dhuinne is nach robh sinn roimhe, fhuair iad brath bhuaithe an t-àm a bh’ ann a bha sinn a’ bruidhinn ris agus bha fhios aca fhèin math gu leòr an t-àm a ràine sinn an geata far an robh an geàrd a bha a-mach agus mar sin bha fhios aca a h-uile mionaid a bha sinn air an rathad.
Agus bha sinn an uair sin bha sinn ann an section bheag linn fhìn a chionn cha robh sinn cho fada air aghaidh leis an drill ris an fheadhainn a bha ann cola-deug romhainn. Bha mi fhìn is an gille a bha còmhla rium agus duine na dithis eile a thàinig à Leòdhas, bhathar gar drilleadh còmhladh agus bha sinn fuathasach, laghach an ceathrar againn ann a shin. Agus chaidh sinn an sin a-mach gu ruige Fort George airson a losgaidh a dhèanamh agus nuair a bha a’ losgadh seachad an seo thill sinn air ais gu ruige Inbhir Nis agus bha a-niste an còrr de seann-làmhann na Maillisidh gus a bhith suas ann an latha no dhà agus nuair a thàinig an sin an latha a bha na seann-làmhan a’ ruighinn chaidh sinne a mharchadh a-mach às na barracks ùra sìos gu Telford Road far an robh càch agus chaidh sinn an uair sin a h-uile gin againn còmhla an lùib chàich agus dha na companaidhean dha robh sinn air ar n-òrdachadh agus bha an uair sin na recruits air an cur air fheadh duine an siud is duine an seo air feadh nan companaidhean agus ’s e Mac an Tòisich a bha na Chòirneal an uair sin agus bha sinn am feasgar sinn fhèin a’ Militia a’ falbh gu ruige Aldershot. ’S ann ann an Salisbury Plain a bha an trèineadh gus a bhidh a’ bhliadhna sin agus tha deagh bheachd agam air Mac an Tòisich ag innseadh dhaibh is e a’ dol mun cuairt air muin eich mar bu chòir dhaibh iad fhèin a ghiulain, nach robh duine sam bith gus a bhith is a cheann aige a-mach air an uinneig, na trèine, fad an t-siubhail ach e a dh’fhuireach stòlda a-staigh agus nuair a ruigeamaid Peairt am feasgar sin gum biodh tì romhainn as an Stèisean agus na soithichean beaga a bh’ againn, canteens a bheirte riutha a bhidh deiseil againn airson tì a chur annta agus chaidh an uair sin ar marchadh a-mach às a Telford Road Barracks dhan Stèisean ann an Inbhir Nis agus suas am platform uile gu lèir. Agus chaidh an uair sin sianar ann an seachd na ochdnar a ghearradh a-mach às an lethuair airson a dhol a-staigh dhan h-uile carriage gus an robh sinn air bòrd uile gu lèir agus nuair a bha dh’fhalbh an trèan’ agus aig sia uairean bha sinn ann an Stèisean Pheairt agus bha feadhainn feadh na stèisein ann an sineach le trams bheaga agus coireachan orra agus tì gu leòr a’ feithamh oirnn agus neo-air-thaing nach do chuireach a-staigh sèibhichean loaf còmhla ris an sin agus silidh orra eadar-dhà-bheul. Bha sinn fuathasach math dheth is dh’fhalbh an uair sin an trèan à Peairt agus bha mi fhìn a’ coimhead a-mach air an uinneig fad an t-siubhail agus bha mi a’ faicnn muir an ear orm agus co-dhiù bha mi airson gum faicinn am Forth Bridge agus bha feadhainn eile agus b’ fheàrr leotha a bhith nan sìneadh na a bhith a’ coimhead a-mach agus bha mi nam sheasamh ann an sin fad an t-siubhail agus air a’ cheann fo dheireadh thall ràinig i am Forth Bridge agus a neo-air-thaing nach robh starm aig an trèan’ a’ dol ron drochaid. Chaidh i a-nall chon an taobh eile dhìth agus nuair a chaidh bha i a’ tarraing a-staigh ron dùthaich agus chan fhaicinn a’ mhuir tuilleadh. Chum sinn romhainn fad na h-oidhcheadh agus bhithinn a’ faighneachd a dh’ fhear a bhiodh às an stèisean nuair a stadadh i den t-ainm seo is air an àite ad eile. Bha Dundee West, bha Bournemouth. Bha Newcastle-on-Tyne. Bhathar a’ teannadh suas ach, co-dhiù, stad i uaireigin sa mhadainn agus thàinig seàrdsant a-mach is bha iad ag innseadh dhuinn na canteens a bhith deiseil againn gun robh sinn a’ dol a dh’ fhaighinn tì. Agus tha mi a’ smaointeachadh gur h-ann an Oxford a fhuair sinn an tì an toiseach, a chionn ’s e dà thì a fhuair sinn air an rathad agus bha tè dhiubh ann an Oxford agus tè eile ann an Leicester. Agus an dèidh falbh às an àite mu dheireadh, stad an trèane an sin agus bha an t-uisge ann agus dh’iarr an seàrdsant air a h-uile duine an cotaichean mòra a bhith aca deiseil, airson a’ fuasgladh às a’ kit airson gun robh an t-uisge ann nuair a rachamaid a-mach is dh’aithnich sinn an uair sin nach robh sinn fada on ceann-uidhe agus ràine sinn an seoach stèisean agus ’s e Aldershot Junction a bh’ air agus dh’aithnich sinn gun robh sinn dìreach aig an àite agus thàinigeadh às, a-mach às an trèane. Agus chaidh ar marchadh an uair sin suas dhan an North Camp an Aldershot. Agus bha sineach feasgar Disathairne. Didòmhnaich bha sinn air Church Parade agus Diluain bha review as an South Camp agus bha againn ri dhol ann an sin. Agus dh’fhalbh sinn agus bha an Rìgh is a’ Bhanrighinn ann a shin cuideachd. Agus bha aig a h-uile rèisemeid – tha mi am beachd gur h-e 46,000 a bha gus a bhith ann an latha sin, ri dhol seachad air beulaibh an Rìgh. Agus cha robh sinn a-nist on a chaidh sinn a-staigh air oisean a’ square mòr a bh’ ann a shineach ach a’ faighinn air aghaidh glè bheag fad an latha gus an deach sinn seachad air beulaibh an Rìgh. Agus nuair a chaidh, cha robh ach marchadh an uair sin dhachaigh. Agus dh’innseadh dhuinn an uair sin gun robh fall in againn ri dhèanamh aig meadhon-oidhche airson a dhol gu ruige Salisbury Plain airson an còrr dhen trèineadh. A-nist, cha deach sinn a chadal ann ach aig meadhon-oidhche bha fall in againn agus dh’fhalbh sinn. Agus cha robh teagamh ’n t-saoghal agam nach ann aig Aldershot Junction a bha sinn a’ dol a-staigh is gur h-ann a thàine sinn a-mach, ach bha seo na b’ fhaide is bha mi a’ gabhail fadachd is bha feadhainn eile a’ gabhail fadachd. ’S e àite an d’ ràine sinn nach robh stèisean idir ann. Cha robh sìon ach seana-ghàradh ann a shin is feadhainn a fhuair an tacsa a leigeil ris. Cha tàinig an trèan’ fhathast. Cha robh sinn ach a’ coiseachd cho an stèisein agus bha dùil agam gur h-ann aig Aldershot Junction a gheibheamaid an trèan’ agus chaidh sinn na b’ fhaide na sin agus an t-àite ’n do stad sinn cha robh stèisean idir ann, ach smodal guail is rèilichean agus seana-ghàradh thall is fhuair cus iad fhèin a leigeil ris is fhuair cus iad fhèin a leigeil ris is feadhainn eile nach robh tacsa aca idir ach a’ leigeil an anail air muin a’ racksack. Agus thàinig an sin an trèan’ a-staigh agus cha robh againn ach streap suas ’uice, cas a chur air a’ bhòrd aice is dhìreadh a-staigh an doras. Dh’fhalbh an trèan’ sinn leinn gus an d’ràine sinn stèisean as an robh sinn a’ dol a thighinn a-mach faisg air Salisbury Plain agus nuair a thàine sinn a-mach às an trèan bha an t-usige ann. O! bha deagh phìos coiseachd againn ri dhèanamh agus O! bha a’ chriadh (clay) air a’ bhogaich a bha sin air fàs fuathasach sleamhainn gu h-àraid as na cachaileithean a bha sinn a’ dol roimhe agus tha beachd agam air aon fhear, fear MacÌosaig agus bha trì na ceithir a rifles tarsaing air a muin mun a ràine sin aig feadhainn a bha a’ toirt suas. Ach, co-dhiù, ràine sinn an campa agus bha an campa suas romhainn. O! dh’iarr Mac an Tòisich an uair sin dìreach tàimh a leigeil leis na daoine fad an latha tuilleadh agus sin rud a chaidh a dhèanamh agus cha robh parade ann an latha sin idir agus fhuair sinn an dinnear is gach sìon eile dìreach as an lethuair agus bha sinn ann a shin a-nist gu deidheach oir rinneadh an trèineadh uile ann an sin agus am baile bu ghiorra dhuinn ’s e Andover agus bhitheamaid a’ dol cuairtean ann an sin cuideachd. Bha mi fhìn fuathasach toilichte nuair a bha sinn a’ dol gu ruige Salisbury Plain gum faicinn na clachan aig Stonehenge agus na dhèidh sin bha a h-uile coltas nach robh an trèineadh goirid do Salisbury Plain idir. Cha deachaidh sinn riamh gan coimhead co-dhiù. Bha sinn ann an sin gus an robh deireadh an trèineadh ann agus an uair sin bha sinn a’ tighinn dhachaigh. Ach, co-dhiù, chunnaic fear dhe na gillean an seoach latha dhe na lathaichean tractor-engine a’ tighinn a dh’ iarraidh na h-imprich.
“O! ’illean thigibh a-mach agus gum faice’ sibh,” ors’ e fhèin, “an trèane a tha seo a’ falbh feadh a’ chnuic gun railway idir.”
Agus bha lathaichean ann fhad ’s a bha sinn ann cho teth agus bha an dotair gar n-ordachadh dhachaigh gun parade a bhith idir ann. Agus bha iongadh againn dha, fear a bhiodh ag obair air feur. Bha e mar coinneamh shìos ag obair. Thàinig e is machine aige is aon each aige. Gheàrr e am feur. Bha e lathaichean mar sin. Thàinig e an uair sin agus inneal eile aige às deaghaidh an eich. Bha e a’ crathadh an fheòir agus chìtheamaid a’ dol na smùid dha na speuran air a chùlaibh e. Thug e lathaichean mar sin. An ceann latha às a dheaghaidh sin a-rithist thàinig e agus an t-each cianda aige agus inneal eile às a dheaghaidh, agus ’s e ràcan a bha seo, agus ga chruinneachadh còmhla na thorran. Bha agus dh’fhalbh e an seo. Thug iad leotha air falbh a h-uile snaoim dheth ann an ùine fuathasach goirid agus bha iongadh uamhasach aig a h-uile duine againn dhà. Ach, co-dhiù, nuair a thàinig an seo an latha againn is sinn a’ tilleadh dhachaigh, chaidh air marchadh dhan stèisean air ais. Agus chaidh sinn air bòrd an-dràsta ann an dà thrèan’ agus bha e ag innseadh dha na h-uile duine an obair a bhiodh aca nuair a ruigeadh iad Inbhir Nis agus bha mi fhìn air baggage fatigue nuair a ruigeamid an stèisean an Inbhir Nis. Agus dh’fhalbh an dà thrèan’ co-dhiù agus O! neo-air-thaing nach robh iongnadh fhad ’s a bhiodh an latha ann dhe na h-uile sìon. Ach ’s e latha a bh’ ann fad an t-siubhail airson an aon ùine a bha i a’ dorchnachadh aig an àm ud na bhliadhna. Ach, co-dhiù, tha mi a’ smaointeachadh nach e an aon loidhne a ghabh sinn a’ tighinn agus a ghabh sinn a’ dol suas idir ach thàine sinn seachad air a’ Forth Bridge ceart gu leòr a’ tilleadh ach chunna mi stèisean Loch Levenside agus ghabh mi iongnadh nach fhaca mi air mo dhol suas idir e, gun robh e na b’ fhaide e staigh san dùthaich. Agus chumadh e nuas fad an t-siubhail gus dìreach a ràine sinn Inbhir Nis agus nuair a ràinig rinn mise baggage fatigue mar a bha e air a chuir mum choinneamh, a’ toirt nam bagaichean, bagaichean chàich agus ga seifteadh bhon trèan’, bagaichean dubha ga seifteadh air falbh bhon trèan’ far am faiceadh na sèardsants iomachaidh an cuir nan tòrr agus an cuir air làraidhean sìos chon nam barracks. Agus nuair a bha a h-uile sìon dhe sin seachad, bha sinn an uair sin a’ marchadh gu Telford Road Barracks agus bha sinn an uair sin a’ faighinn ar cuid aodaich fhìn ann a shin agus a’ cuir dhinn aodach an t-saighdeir. An t-aodach a bh’ againn nuair a bha sinn as a’ Mhailisidh, bha seacaid bhàn againn agus seacaid dhearg againn agus a’ bhliadhna ud, bha a’ bhoineid mhòr mar a bheirear sa Bheurla am feather bonnet againn agus ìte mhòr gheal na cliathaich agus bha againn ri deagh aire a thoirt dhi fad an t-siubhail agus cha b’ e sin am furasda. Bha i an crochadh air cùl a h-uile duine riamh as an tent mun cuairt. Agus bha èibhleadh againn de thartan nan Camshronach air an aon dòigh is a bha e aig an arm cheangailte agus bha an còta mòr, còta mòr dorcha. A h-uile sìon a bhuineadh do shaighdear ceangailte bha e dìreach againn. Ach rud sam bith a chailleadh sinn a bhuineadh dhà, dh’fheumamaid pàigheadh air a shon. Agus tha mi a’ smaointinn, bha sinn fhin a’ faighinn leinn dhachaigh a’ phaidhir bhròg a bh’ oirnn agus tè dhe na lèintean. Bha sinn ga faighinn sin dhachaigh leinn agus ma bha an còrr de bhleaicean againn, bha sinn ga fhaighinn dhachaigh. Agus tha mi a’ smaointinn fad na seachd latha fichead, tha fhios agad, bha suas mu thrì notaichean agam ri fhaighinn nuair a bhathar gam phaigheadh as na barracks ùra. Nuair a fhuair sinn ar n-aodach fhìn thug sinn seachad aodach an t-saighdeir sàbhailte. Bha sinn an uair sin a’ dol gu doras na gu uinneig ’s e a bh’ ann, agus bha seàrdsant an taobh a-staigh ann a shin agus bha sinn a’ faighinn ar paighidh. Ach, co-dhiù, bha an oidhche sin againn ri fuireach ann an Inbhir Nis mum faigheamaid trèan’ dhan Chaol. Agus fhuair sinn sin, loidseadh an Inbhir Nis an oidhche sin agus an làr-na-mhàireach dh’èirich sinn agus chaidh sinn dhan stèisean agus fhuair sinn tiocaid gu Loch nam Madadh airson ochd is sia sgillin, a h-uile fear againn. Seadh à Inbhir Nis gu Loch nam Madadh. Agus dh’fhalbh sinn an uair sin air an trèane sin chon a’ Chaoil agus bha am bàta ann an sin a’ feitheamh agus chaidh sinn air bòrd innte. Agus dh’fhalbh i leinn agus ghabh i dìreach dha na Hearadh an toiseach agus chuir i a-mach ann a shin gillean na Hearadh. Agus chaidh i an uair sin gu Loch nam Madadh agus chuir i a-mach gillean Uibhist air fad ann a shin. Agus cha robh agam-sa an uair sin ach m’ aghaidh a chur air à Loch nam Madadh air a’ Cheann a Deas. Agus ’s e an Fhadhail a Tuath a’ chiad fhadhail a chaidh mi roimpe agus cha b’ e an Fhadhail a Deas. Agus choisich mi fad an latha suas gus na ràine mi an dachaigh. Agus thadhaill mi fhìn agus an gille a dh’fhalbh còmhla rium ann an Stadhlaigearraidh agus fhuair sinn tì ann an sin agus gu dearbha ’s e rinn am feum dhuinn. Agus chan urra mi a ràdha gun do bhlais sinn air tì a dh’fhalbh sinn à Inbhir Nis ’uige sin. Ma dh’ fhaodhte gun d’ fhuair sinn bìdeag de loaf na rudeigin. Ach, co-dhiù, mu dhà uair feasgar ràine mise an dachaigh ann an Snaoiseabhal agus chan urra mi a ràdha an-dràsta gun robh mi sgìth idir. Agus ’s ann an 1902 a bha sin.
Thàine mi dhachaigh as a’ Mhillisidh ann an 1902 agus bha mi ag obair air a’ chruit a-staigh còmhla ri m’ athair agus bha mo bhràthair a b’ òige na mi air muinntearas aig tuathanach faisg oirnn. Agus nuair a thàinig an sin an ath samhradh ann an 1903 is a bha an t-àiteach seachad dh’fhalbh mise a dhèanamh an darna trèineadh as a’ Mhillisidh. Agus bha sinn a’ bhliadhna sin ann an Hawick. ’S ann a bha an campa againn. Agus nuair a chuir sinn a-staigh na seachd latha fichead ann an sin, thàine sinn dhachaigh. Agus bha mise ag obair a-staigh fad na bliadhna sin a-rithist gu 1904 agus dh’fhalbh mi ann an 1904 a-rithist dhan Mhillisidh ann an June. Agus cha robh sinn a’ bhliadhna sin ach ann am Fort George. Agus dh’fhàs mise bochd a’ bhliadhna sin as a’ Mhillisidh agus fhuair mi discharge. Cha tàine mi dhachaigh idir ach ghabh mi muinntearas aig tuathanach ann an Inbhir Aoraidh agus ’s e fear MacKinnon a bh’ ann agus ’s e Carnlonan Farm, Inveraray, an t-ainm a bh’ air an àite agus thug mi greis a dh’ ùine aig an fhear sin. ’S ann ri obair fearainn a bha mi as t-samhradh a bh’ ann a-null agus nuair a thàinig am foghmhar dh’fhalbh mi às agus chaidh mi dhan Òban agus fhuair mi obair aig fear eile an sin a-muigh am Bràighe a’ Ghlinn Bhig agus bha mi ann a shin ag obair as t-fhoghar gus an robh obair an fhoghmhair ullamh agus gheibhinn obair ann fad a’ gheamhraidh cuideachd ach gun robh an tuarastal ro-bheag. ’S e not as t-seachdain agus mo bhiadh agus mo leaba’ a bh’ agam fad na h-ùine roimhe sin nuair a bha an latha fada as t-fhoghar. Ach a-nist nuair a bha an geamhradh air tighinn, bhathar ga thoirt dhomh aon tasdain deug as t-seachdain is mo bhiadh is mo leaba’. Ach raghainnich mi tighinn dhachaigh. Agus thàine mi dhachaigh.
An uair sin ann an 1905 liostaig mo dhithis bhràithrean eile as a’ Mhillisidh agus dh’fhan mise an uair sin an sàs an obair na cruite còmhla ri m’ athair. Bha sinn ann an Snaoiseabhal as an t-seana-chruit a bh’ aig m’ athair. Agus an uair sin ann an 1906 mun tànaig mo bhràithrean dhachaigh as a’ Mhillisidh air an darna turas chaidh mi fhìn gu muinntearas gu tuathanach a bha faisg orinn, fear Iain Fearghasdan ann an Dreimeasdal agus thug mi bliadhna gu leth ann an sin. Agus ann an 1907 chaidh Peighinn nan Aoireann agus tacaichean beaga eile a bhristeadh agus cruitean a dhèanamh orra agus thachair gun tàinig tè a chruitean Pheighinn nan Aoireann nar lùib fhìn. Agus thàine mise dhachaigh an uair sin à Dreimeasdal agus chaidh sinn a Pheighinn nan Aoireann. Agus bha trì mairt againn a’ falbh a Snaoiseabhal agus dà bheothaich eich agus gamhainn na dhà agus beagan chaorach. Agus a-nist bha diofar mòr, mòr eadar an dà fhearann, am fearann a bha sinn a’ faotainn ann am Peighinn nan Aoireann agus am fearann a bha sinn a’ fàgail bhuainn a Snaoiseabhal a chionn bha fearann Pheighinn nan Aoireann na bu ghiorra na chladach agus bha e na b’ fheàrr as a h-uile dòigh. Bha e rèidh agus bha e seasgair. Ach bha taighean againn ri dhèanamh. Bha taigh-còmhnaidh againn ri dhèanamh agus bàthach agus stàbla agus àtha agus bha e h-uile cuid dhiubh sin againn ga fhagail bhuainn ann an Snaoiseabhal. Ach chaidh a mheas agus am fear a bha a’ tighinn a-staigh nar n-àite bha aige ri phàigheadh dhuinne. Ach cha robh sin trom. Cha deach a’ mheas dha na taighean, dha na gàrrachan inbhe ach dà not dheug. Ach bha am fear a thàinig a-staigh as ùr ga ghearain trom gu leòr. Ach, co-dhiù, a thaobh m’ athair a bhith na chlachair roimhe thoisich sinn air na taighean agus bha làn-ùidh agam fhìn as a’ chlachaireachd agus cha robh i doirbh a h-ionnsachadh dhomh mar sin agus thòisich mi ann an tacsa m’ athar agus mar a rinn sinn gach bàthach is àtha agus an taigh-còmhnaidh cha robh sìon a dh’ eagal orm-sa ro thaigh sam bith a thogail tuilleadh. Agus thog mi taighean eile as a’ mhionaid an dèis na taighean againn fhìn a bhith ullamh agus chum mi orra riamh tuilleadh gus na sguir mi nuair a bha mi trì fichead bliadhna is a còig. Chan eil bìdeag eadar an Fhadhail aig Beinne na Faoghla agus taobh a deas Loch Baghasdail nach eil taigh ann a thog mi agus Loch Sgìobard. Thog mi taigh air an taobh deas a Loch Baghasdail, taigh Pheadair Mhòir, taigh Aonghais ’ic Dhùghail ’ic Ìomhair, taigh Raghnaill ’ic Iain ’ic Uilleim agus roinn de dh’ obair a dhèanamh air taigh Tàilleir Ruaidh Mhic Iain ’ic Fhionnlaigh: agus a-staigh a-rithist air a’ Leith Mheadhanaich taigh Gille Bàn Chaluim agus rinn mi roinn de dh’ obair air taigh Iagan Nìll agus thog mi taigh Mac Dhòmhnaill Bhàin ’ic Phàdruig leam fhìn a h-uile clach dheth ann am Baghasdail agus thog mi taigh le Lachlainn Iain Mhòir ’ic Eachainn Ruaidh ann am Baghasdail agus thog mi taigh do dh’Iain Aonghais ’ic Iain ’ic Aonghais ann am Baghasdail. Agus chuir mi crìoch air taigh Aonghais ’ic Dhòmhnaill ’ic Iain ’ic Ruairidh ann an Dalabrog. Agus a-rithist thog mi taigh do dh’Fhionnlagh MacAoidh ann an Ormaclait agus thog mi taigh do bhean Dhòmhnaill ’ic Ruairidh ann an Ormaclait agus thog mi taigh ann a Staoinibrig do dh’Iain mac Alasdair ’ic Ruairidh agus thog mi taigh ann am Peighinn nan Aoireann do Raghnall mac Dhòmhnaill ’ic Caluim agus thog mi taigh ann an Togha Beag do dh’Eairdsidh mac Iain Mhaoir agus thog mi taigh ann an Togha Mòr do Dhòmhnall a’ Mhuilich agus thog mi taigh ann an Dreimeasdal do dh’Aonghas mac a’ Phosta Bhàin, ’s e a bheireamaid ris agus thog mi taigh air Càrnan an Ìochdair dhan Mhuillear Ruadh a chaidh a-null dhan Ìochdar a Beinne na Faoghla, mac Dhòmhnaill ’ic Iain ’ic Dhonnchaidh ’s e a bheirte ris agus thog mi taigh ann an Caolas Liabhrasaidh do dh’Iain Mòr mac Dhòmhnaill ’ic (?) Òig agus ann an Caolas Liabharsaidh do Niall Mòr mac Alasdair ’ic Theàrlaich – agus a h-uile gin dhiubh sin taighean geala agus roinn mhòr de dh’ obraichean eile a bharrachd air an sin eadar cuir air dòigh iomadach rud mun cuairt air taigh ach thog mi na taighean sin uile.
When I left school at exactly fourteen years of age I immediately began working on the seaweed on the shore. I was three miles away from the shore in any case and I had to walk this every day to go to the shore. The part of the shore where the seaweed was another half a mile further. The first winter and spring I collected two tons of it. The price per tonne was £1 and a shilling had to be paid [in rent] for the place in which it was dried. But my father did not own a cart and, besides, a cart would not have been any use in the place where we worked. There was no road through the township and so there were only horse pannions. But he would have to hire a carter from some other township in order to transport the seaweed to Locheynort for him and he would offer four shillings for every ton that he would transport and that left each for 15 shillings. And I only worked one year at the seaweed and the next year the price went up to 16 schillings for a ton. And now a tasdan had to be given to the man for transport out of the 16 schillings and another schillings for the place in which it was dried. So I was left with 11 schillings out of each ton. And anyway this was how it was for years. And so it came to be that the seaweed needed to be burned and the price hardly got any better. And when I was around eighteen years of age I went to work for the miller and the first work I got was at the mill of How, even thought the mill was in Snishival now it was always called that How Mill. And my salary was six pounds for half a year. And I used to cart the seaweed from the shore and I would then take out the manure over to the croft and then I would feed and water the horses, make fodder for them and then carting and at nights I would watch over along with the miller at the mill when it was busy and when it came to the ploughing time I had to get up quite early in the morning, around 5 o’clock, and after having a cup of tea, I would then feed the horses and then I would spread the manure. And everyone’s doors were closed in the neighbourhood and they remained unopened and nobody was up and I was spreading manure until I was shouted in for food when the miller got up and everything was put in order and that’s how it was. And then I would either keep spreading manure or I would keep on with ploughing until dinner time. And then the miller would shout at me to come then and I went home and we ate our dinner. I then we would leave to go out ploughing. He would plough with the horse and I would follow after him with a spade closing over the earth, every patch that was left around a rock, I turned it with the spade. And when dinner time would come we let the horses go and home we came. And then we’d take our dinner I would then be ordered out in a minute to spread more manure and ploughing would be done after dinner and I would be there until the miller came with the horses when he and they would take a good breather. And I was then starting to close after him with the spade while he was ploughing. And he’d then ask me to go home to fetch seed in the early evening and to come back with the seed and he would then let the horses go and he’d plant the seed and they would leave me in the harrow until he was himself ready to go home. And when I’d be finished harrowing then and when it was getting late, I went home with the horses and I was on the rigs there all the time ploughing. And when Easter came that was when the work was finished, I got my wages and I gave every single penny of it to my father. I wasn’t smoking or anything like that at the time.
And I was employed by Iain Buidhe (‘Yellow-haired John’) in Peninerine and he happily offered me £7. And I didn’t ask for more. And I then went for the next half a year to Iain Buidhe in Peninerine. And I spent half a year there and I was far calmer and better off than when I was at the miller. And when Martinmas came I was employed for another half a year.
Going to the Militia
And over at the end of spring there was that was a sergeant in the militia was going around wanting lads to enlist. And I myself was willing and another lad that was my neighbour went to enlist, who was called Angus MacLellan and his father’s patronymic was Donald John son of Caristiona, daughter of John son of Finlay. And we joined the militia together. Now it was long into the spring before we enlisted and the militia lads had to out by May Day, the ones who had recently enlisted. And now there was not enough time for notice to come to us that would permit us to go and so we went and arrived in Lochboisdale, myself and the other lad, by foot to leave on the boat for the militia and we saw the sergeant that enlisted us and he asked us if we had got notice. We said that we hadn’t:
“Then,” he said, “you’ll return home until you get notice.”
And this is the thing we did. We returned home and they were greatly pleased to see us when we returned although they were surprised why we had returned. And the next thing it so happened was the notice had gone to Inverness to the policeman in Lochmaddy and when we’d reach Lochmaddy the policeman was going to hand the notice to us. There was no time for it to be sent to us in South Uist but we didn’t go to Lochmaddy and so we went to Lochboisdale and therefore when the policeman in Lochmaddy saw that we hadn’t arrived, he returned the notices to Inverness and in nine or ten days after that the notice arrived for us at home and we had to leave but we were a fortnight behind the rest. And we left and the way we were going to take was a boat from Lochboisdale to Oban and then the canal boat from there to Inverness. And we left. But what happened was that the Oban boat was late that day and before we reached Oban the Inverness boat had gone and it was a Friday evening then and we were making enquiries when the next boat to Inverness left and it would not leave until Tuesday coming for they had not started yet going between Oban and Inverness daily as early as that in the summer. But in any case we were in a house in Oban that night and the next day we found out that a boat was leaving Oban on that day to Fort William but it was going no further than that. And we made up our minds that we’d reach Fort William itself. We set off and reached Fort William. Oh! there was plenty men there at the quay and when we landed one of the sergeants of the militia was there and we recognised him for he was wearing a soldier’s uniform with Cameron tartan breeks. We went over to talk with him to try and find out what would happen to us. We told him word for word that we were late in reaching in Oban yesterday and that we had missed the Inverness boat and we wouldn’t get a boat up until Tuesday coming and we had no money to pay for lodgings.
“Oh!” he said to us, “the policeman must find a place for you.”
And he asked us to go to where the policeman was and he showed us the policeman’s house. We set off and reached the policeman’s door and knocked. The policeman came to the door and he asked us what we needed. We told him word for word how things were. He asked us if we would like to go to prison. Oh! we said to him that we wouldn’t like that and:
“Wait here, then, at the door,” he said, “and I’ll take you down from here to see if I can get you a place to stay.”
“But how in the world,” I said to the other lad after the policemen had gone, “are we going to pay for lodgings here until this Tuesday coming? We don’t have any money between us but a little and we would be better off walking.”
And we went and when the policeman returned, whatever time that was there was no sign of the lodgers. We set off then and we went to the shop and we got, as they say in English, a quarter loaf. And the lad who accompanied me didn’t want any whisky at that time although he eventually became very fond of it, and so we got two bottles of lemonade. And we went out of town and we found the highway and we saw on a milestone that said it was 66½ miles to Inverness on the first one. Oh! it was a long distance but even though it was we were willing to walk and it would be that – I think it was five o’ clock in the evening when we met an old man very shortly after we had left town and we spent a while chatting to him and he had plenty of Gaelic as well. We were speaking in Gaelic. But I’m sure there’s very little that can speak it in that place these days.
“But do you think,” I said, “that anyone has ever walked that distance?”
“Oh ho, dear ones,” he said, “wasn’t there always people being doing that before those other machines started up.”
And this gave us great heart and so we set off and we kept on going until we reached Spean Bridge and we sat down and that was ten miles out of Fort William and we took to hand the loaf which had broken in two in my oxter and the two bottles of lemonade that had got quite heavy as they were made of thick glass and had sharp bottoms. And we drank the two bottles of lemonade and we ate the loaf, a part of it anyway, and indeed, indeed, it made us thirsty enough, but thankfully we had enough water. And we set off from there and we thought of returning to Fort William but if we had returned now ten miles back from here then we wouldn’t have ever made any progress and it was better than to go on. And so we kept on going. And it was getting late and when it came to a fork in the road we had to try one of them to see if we’d encounter a mile stone before we’d know that we were on the right road and as usual it was the wrong road we tried. But we happened upon a fork in the road. It then grew dark and on one sign it said “to Kingussie” and we thought that Kingussie and Inverness were perhaps close to one another and so we’d go and try the road “to Kingussie” to begin with and when we got fed up of the mile-stone we turned back and we saw that there was a house beside the road, a piece down from us and three or four men standing at the gable end of the house chatting and we went over to where they were and before we reached them we met a lassie all by herself and we asked her which of these roads went to Inverness and she said to us that it was road that we had come from and we turned back, but we had not gone far at all when the lassie reached the men at the gable end of the house and she told them how what had happened and they shouted us back and they told us that it was the road out there that went to Inverness and that was how it was. We set off then and we got to the side of Loch Lochy and we were walking along side the loch for a time beside the canal, the road going by all the time. And we reached a quay beside the loch and we made up together that with take a breather and we went into a shed there. Both its sides were open wide and Oh! and whatever the thing that I felt I took a fright that there were ghosts there and the other side was open and out of there I went as quickly as a hare and no one has ever heard such a scream like a goose caught in a trap as I was going through. And when I got out I was rid of it, and I was as happy as I had ever been. I didn’t feel either tired or weary. It had disappeared with the fright and we kept on going. There was no one to be seen. But we reached the Bridge of Oich Post Office and there was a road going over the canal and there was another road a little bit inside it going to the side over the mountain and we said that we’d try the road on this side at first and so we tried but wasn’t the right road at all. It was only a bit of a rough track and that’s where the Invergarry Sanatorium was built and it was the beginning of the road that was built for that purpose. So we returned in any case to the Post Office and we knocked at the door and we noticed a window opening above our heads and we stepped back from the door and there was a man half-way out of the window.
“Aye,” he said, “what do you want, lads?”
He asked in English what we wanted and we told him that we’d be pleased to find out which was the road going to Inverness. He said in English to go over the canal there and to keep going until Fort Augustus and to go over there again at the canal and then to go along by the loch all day long in order to get to Inverness. That was what we did. We went over the bridge and we kept on going by until we came near the town of Fort Augustus and we saw a lassie who was up and about and we shouted to her and she answered too as we wanted to make sure about the road and she asked us to go over the canal. It was morning, Sunday morning. She asked us to go over the canal and to keep going on then along by loch side and we kept on going along the side of loch but there was no sign of the loch ending at all.
But only it was only here at Drumnadrochit we were willing to go to a house to try and get a mouthful of tea and we went and found only an old man and old woman sitting on a bench and they both spoke Gaelic and the bench on which the old woman was sitting was an old barrel on which side had been sawn from the top to halfway down and the woman was sitting at the back of the barrel and the barrel made a back for her and she had a hat on her head and it used to go all the way round and this reminded me of an old woman in Uist before I left and way before that too who had a similar type of hat and they asked me where we had come from and we told them and we asked if would get a cup of tea and we got that. The goodman of house then put a fire on with a bits of kindling and we were amazed at this as it wasn’t peat like we were used to and they asked where we were from and we said from Uist.
“Which one of the Uists?”
“From South Uist.”
“And,” the woman asked, “isn’t that the Catholic one?”
And I said to her that it was.
“And,” she asked, “are you yourselves Catholics?”
“Both of us are indeed not Catholics,” I said, “the lad who I’m with is a Protestant but I’m a Catholic.”
And she didn’t enquire any further and we got tea, a cup of tea for each of us and a bit of loaf and that cost us a shilling and it was a great help to us. And it would’ve been two o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday and we then kept on going and we went by Invermoriston and oh! many places that I don’t recall today. But in any event we were looking out over the loch and at the very last we saw a shingle bay at the furthest end of it. I had not seen the furthest end of it at all during the morning. And although we saw the shingle bay it took us a long, long time before we reached it. And we finally reached this place and we went by the loch and we reached Inverness. And we were met by soldiers throughout the town and not one of these men that we met that we didn’t ask the way to Cameron Barracks. And every one of the men gave us directions up and there were just those coming out of the town, just the soldiers, in the afternoon and at last a couple happened to meet us coming down the steps of the barracks on their way out and they told us that all we had to do was just to go up the steps from where they had come down and we should go straight through the gate. And this was how it was. We climbed up the narrow steps and we reached the gate and a man was on guard there, a soldier and he pleasantly opened the gate for us and asked us where we were going and we said:
“O, then,” he said, speaking in English, “your other lads are over in the tents and there were two or three tents over by where the militia recruits were and thankfully the lads were pleased to see us when we arrived. But even though I went to lie down as well the lad was along with me, there was not one of our toes that were not swollen, all our toes and our heels were swollen blue all around with all the walking and I couldn’t put my feet down at all the next day. And on Monday, the next day, we stayed there in the tent, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday and then on Thursday a sergeant came so we could get passed by the doctor and at the same time we were going to get, when we returned from the doctor before we arrived back to the barracks, we were going to get our uniforms at the Telford Road Barracks. We went along with the sergeant and we reached the doctor and it was Dr MacFayden there at the time. He was a big, kindly old man who had plenty of Gaelic and he spoke to us in Gaelic and he asked us to remove our clothes and he said that were passable enough:
“Any man who walked to here,” he said, “from Fort William does not need a doctor at all.”
He asked us then to put out our hands and to work our fingers. He put a card around our heels and the marks which indeed told him. He said that we were good enough. He didn’t make us take our trousers off at all. There was no need to. We went then to put our clothes back on and we went along with the sergeant and we then got our uniforms at the Telford Road Barracks and we left the clothes we had on and we returned along with him to the barracks. We had to attend a military court the next day as we had been late for duty. We were sent along to the court. But when we went the folk who were holding the court were of the opinion there was not a case to stand for being late as they had heard about the deed we had done. And they were greatly surprised by what we had done and there was no one at post around who didn’t try to see the men who had walked from Fort William. And they were chatting to one another hither and thither in English about the men and we told them the only reason we had for being late. He enjoyed it terribly well and when they heard we had no money to pay for lodgings and we chose to walk and this entertained them terribly well and they then gave us fourteen shillings each to me and the lad and then they asked us:
“Do you know now why you’re getting that?”
“For walking from Fort William.”
“And do you know now,” said one of the men, “the speed that you were going for every hour that you were walking on the road?”
“Oh! not that either. We had no timepiece.”
“You were,” he said, “doing four miles an hour all the way.”
Because in all likelihood they had found out from the policeman’s message when he had returned from enquiring about lodgings and that we were no longer there, and they got a message from him at the time that we had spoken with him and they knew fine well the time that we reached the gate where the guard was out and therefore they knew about every minute that we had been on the road.
And we were then in a wee section by ourselves because we weren’t far ahead at all with the drill as the others who had been there a fortnight before us. I and the lad along with me as well as one or two others who had came from Lewis, were being drilled together and the four of us got on fine together. So we went then out to Fort George for weapon training and when the weapon training was finished we then returned to Inverness and now the old Militia hands were nearly ready in a day or two when the old hands were passing out we were marched out of the new barracks down to Telford Road where the rest were and we then went, everyone of us, along with the rest and the companies who had not been given orders and the recruits were combined amongst the men here and there throughout the companies and MacIntosh was the Colonel then and we were that afternoon in the Militia and leaving for Aldershot. The training was to take place on Salisbury Plain that year and I remember well MacIntosh telling them as he went around mounted on horseback how they should comport themselves and that no man was to stick his head out of the window of the train, all the way but he had to stay firmly in and when we’d reach Perth that afternoon tea would be served at the Station and we had wee vessels, canteens they would call them, would be ready to put tea into them and we were then marched out of the Telford Road Barracks to the station in Inverness and up the platform all together. And the six or seven or eight of us were put into a pack or eight and divided out every half hour so as to go into every carriage to make sure that everyone was on board and then the train departed and at six o’ clock we were in Perth and there were a few around the station with small trollies with kettles and plenty of tea waiting for us and thankfully there were slices of loaf along with it spread with jam. We were terribly well off and then the train departed from Perth and I was looking out the window all the way and I saw the sea in the east and in any event I wanted to see the Forth Bridge while a few others thought it better to lie down rather than looking out and I was standing there all the way and at last the train reached the Forth Bridge and thankfully the train made a rattle going over the bridge. She went over to the other side and when she went and pulled into the countryside and I never saw the sea again. We kept on all night and I would ask the man at the station when it would stop as well as the name of this and that place. There was Dundee West, Bournemouth and Newcastle-on-Tyne. It was getting nearer and in any case it stopped sometime in the morning and a sergeant came out and he was telling us to get out our canteens ready as were going to get tea. And I think it was in Oxford that we got the tea at the start because we got two teas on the way and one of these was in Oxford and the other was in Leicester. And after leaving the last place, the train stopped there and it was raining and the sergeant asked us to have our great coats ready and to get the kit open for it was raining when we got out and we knew then that it wasn’t long before we’d reach our destination and we reached the station and it was called Aldershot Junction and we knew that we had just arrived at the place and we alighted out of the train. And we went marching then up to the North Camp in Aldershot. It was Saturday evening. On Sunday we were on the Church Parade and on Monday there was a review in the South Camp and we had to go there. And we set off and King and Queen were present too. And every regiment – I expect that there was to be 46,000 present on that day, had to go by in front of the King. And we were not now since we went inside the corner of the big square there but to get in front a little bit all day until we went by in front of the King. And when we went by we only then marched home. And we were told then that we had to do a fall in at midnight in order to go to Salisbury Plain for the rest of the training. Now, we didn’t go to sleep but at midnight we had a fall in and we set off. And I had not one doubt in the world that we were going to Aldershot Junction to go in and from there out, but this was longer and I was getting fed up and a few others were getting fed up. The place we reached had no station at all there. There was nothing but an old wall and a few rested against this. The train had not yet arrived. We only had to walk to the station and I expected that we would get the train at Aldershot Junction and we went further than that and the place in which we stopped had no station at all but only some coal, rails and an old wall over and a lot rested against this and the others had nothing to rest against but to take a breather on top of their rucksacks. And the train came in then and we had only to climb up it and to step on board and to climb in the door. The train departed with us until we reached the station to where we were to alight near Salisbury Plain and when we alighted from the train it was raining. Oh! we had a good piece of walking to do and Oh! the clay was boggy and had got extremely slippery especially at the gates which we were going through and I have an impression of one man called MacIssac who had three or four rifles on his back which he was carrying for a few others had given up. But in any case we reached the camp and the camp was up before us. Oh! MacIntosh requested that we take a rest with the other men for the rest of the day and that was the thing that was done and no parade was held that day at all and we got our dinner and everything else within a half an hour and we were there now until the end of all the training was done and the town nearest to us was Andover and we used to go trips there too. I was terribly happy when we were going to Salisbury Plain to see the standing stones at Stonehenge and after that there was every appearance that the training was not going to be near Salisbury Plain at all. We never went to see them in any event. We were there until the end of the training and then we were going home. But in any case one of the lads there saw on one of these days a tractor-engine coming to fetch us for moving off.
“Oh, lads come out and see,” he said, “this train that his going through the hill without a railway at all.”
And those days were very hot and the doctor ordered us home without a parade being held. And we were amazed by him, the man who was working at the hay. He was down opposite us working. He came and he had a machine with a horse. He cut the hay. Those days were like that. He came then and he had another machine with a horse behind. It was shaking the hay and we could see smoke rising from it into the sky behind him. His days were spent like that. At the end of the day after that again he came with the same horse pulling another machine, and it was rakes, and which was gathering it together in heaps which were left behind. They took it with them away every single bit of it in a very short time and every one of the men was amazed by this. But it any event when the day arrived for us to return home, we were marched back to the station. And we went on board just now in two trains everyone was told about the job they would have on reaching Inverness and I was on baggage fatigue detail when we reached Inverness station. And the two trains departed in any case and Oh! thankfully there was no surprise while the day lasted about anything. It was a long day all the way for at the same time it was getting dark at that time of the year. But in any case I was thinking that it was not the same line we took coming back as the we had going up at all for we came by the Forth Bridge right enough on the return and I saw Loch Levenside station and I was amazed that I had not seen it on the way up at all, that it was further into the countryside. And it kept on down all the way just until we reached Inverness and when we reached it I was on baggage fatigue detail as I had been ordered to do, carrying the bags, others bags and shifting them for the train, black bags and shifting them from the train where the sergeants thought fit to heap them and then to load them onto lorries that were going down to the barracks. And when all that was done, we were then marched to Telford Barracks and we were then getting our own clothes and removing our soldier’s uniforms. The uniform we had in the Militia was a white and a red jacket and in that year there was a big bonnet which was called in English a feather bonnet and it had a big, white feather on the side and we had to take good care of it all the time and that was no easy task. It used to be hung up behind every man in the tent all around. And we had a kilt made of the Cameron tartan just as they had in the regular army as well as a great coat, a dark great coat. Everything that a regular soldier had we also had. But anything that was lost that belonged to the army then we would have to pay for it. And I think that we got to take home with us a pair of shoes and one of the shirts. We got that to take home with us and if we had a surplus of odds and ends, we got to take it home. And I think that all the twenty-seven days, you know, I had upwards of £3 to get when I was paid from the new barracks. When we got our own clothes and we gave the soldier’s uniform back. Then we went to a door or window, that was it, and a sergeant inside from whom we would get our pay. But in any event that night we had to stay in Inverness before we would get the train to the Kyle of Lochalsh. And we got lodgings in Inverness that night and the next day we got up and we went to the station and we purchased tickets for Lochmaddy at eight or six shillings, every one of us. Aye, from Inverness to Lochmaddy. And we went on the train then to the Kyle of Lochalsh where the boat was waiting and we boarded. And she left with us and she went straight to Harris at first and she put out the Harris lads. And she went then to Lochmaddy and she put out the all the Uist lads there. And I had only then to put my face from Lochmaddy to the South End. And it the North Ford was the first ford that I went through and it was not the South Ford. And I walked all day down until I reached home. And I and the lad who left along with me in Stilligarry and we got tea there and indeed that was good for us. And I can’t say whether we had tasted tea since leaving Inverness until that very time. Perhaps we got a bit of loaf or something. But in any case about two o’clock in the afternoon I reached home in Snishival and I can’t say just now that I was tired at all. And that was in 1902.
I came home out of the Militia in 1902 and I was working on the croft at home with my father and my younger brother was working on a farm close by to us. And when next summer in 1903 and when the work was finished I left to undertake a second training regime in the Militia. And we were that year in Hawick. That’s were our camp was. And were we spent twenty seven days there before we came home. And I was working at home all that year again to 1904 and I left again to go to the Militia in June. And we were only in Fort George that year. And I grew ill that year in the Militia and I received a discharge. I didn’t come back home at all but I took a labouring job at a farm in Inveraray and the man’s name was MacKinnon and the name of the place was Carnlonan Farm, Inveraray, and I spent a good while working for that man. I was working on the land during that Summer and when the Autumn came I left and I went to Oban and I got work with another man there in Bràighe a’ Ghlinn Bhig and I was there working during the Autumn until the Autumn work was finished and I would have taken work there all winter too but the wage was too meager. It was a pound a week as well as bed and breakfast all the time there when the days were long in the Autumn. But now when the winter was coming, they were giving me eleven shillings a week and bed and breakfast. But I decided to come home and I went home.
Then in 1905 my two other brothers enlisted in the Militia and I stayed then to be involved on working the croft along with my father. We were in Snishival on the old croft that my father had. And then in 1906 before my brothers came home from the Militia on their second trip I went on a labouring job to a farm nearer us, a man called John Ferguson in Drimisdale and I spent one and a half years there. And in 1907 Peninerine and other little tacks were broken up and crofts were made out of them and it so happened that one came up of the Peninerine crofts came to our attention. And I came home then from Drimisdale and we went to Peninerine. And we had three cows that moved to Snishival and two horses and a heifer or two and some sheep. And now there was a big, big difference between the two lands, the land we got in Peninerine and the land we were leaving in Snishival for the Peninerine land was closer to the shore and was better in every way. It was smooth and dry. But we had houses to build. We had to built a dwelling house and a barn, a stable and a kiln and we he had to leave these behind us is Snishival. But it was assessed and the man who came to take our place had to pay us for it. But that was not excessive. The houses were not assessed, nor the level walls were assessed at £12. But the man who came in complained a lot about it. But, anyway, because my father was a former stonemason we began to build the houses and I had a great interest in masonry and it wasn’t difficult for me to learn and I started to help my father and as we built each barn, kiln and dwelling house and I was never again frightened at all to build any house. And I built other houses the very minute that our houses were ready and completed and I have kept on with this since then until I stopped when I was sixty-five years of age. There is not scrap of land between the Ford at Benbecula and the south of Lochboisdale in which I have not built house and also one at Loch Skippart. I built a house on the south side of Lochboisdale, taigh Pheadair Mhòir; taigh Aonghas ’ic Dhùghaill ’ic Ìomhair; taigh Raghnaill ’ic Iain ’ic Uilleim; and some of the work on taigh Tàilleir Ruaidh Mhic Iain ’ic Fhionnlaigh; and moving further in land again to Lethmeanach taigh Gille Bàn Chaluim; and I did some of the work on taigh Iagan Nìll and I built taigh Mac Dhòmhnaill Bhàin ’ic Phàdruig by myself, every stone of it in Boisdale; and I built a house for with Lachlainn Iain Mhòir ’ic Eachainn Ruaidh in Boisdale; and I built a house for Iain Aonghais ’ic Iain ’ic Aonghais in Boisdale. And I finished taigh Aonghais ’ic Dhòmhnaill ’ic Iain ’ic Ruairidh in Daliburgh. And again I built house for Fionnlagh MacAoidh in Ormaclete; and I built a house for bean Dhòmhnaill ’ic Ruairidh in Ormaclete; and I built a house in Stoneybridge for Iain mac Alasdair ’ic Ruairidh; and I built a house in Peninerine for Raghnall mac Dhòmhnaill ’ic Chaluim; and I built a house in Howbeg for Eairdsidh mac Iain Mhaoir; and I built a house in Howmore for Dòmhnall a’ Mhuilich and I built a house in Drimisdale for Aonghas mac a’ Phosta Bhàin, that was what we would call him; and I built a house in Caran an Ìochdair for the Muillear Ruadh that went over to Eochar from Benbecula, mac Dhòmhnaill ’ic Iain ’ic Dhonnchaidh he was called and I built a house in Caolas Liabhrasdaidh for Iain Mòr mac Dhòmhnaill ’ic (?) Òig; and also in Caolas Liabharsaidh for Niall Mòr mac Alasdair ’ic Theàrlaich – and every one of them was a white house and a lot of other work in addition to that between organising everything around the house; and I built all those houses.
NFC 1180, pp. 111–256
Duncan MacDonald, 1951, Peninerine, South Uist by Dr Werner Kissling. By courtesy of the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh
Duncan MacDonald, 1951, Peninerine, South Uist by Dr Werner Kissling. By courtesy of the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh