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17 October 2014


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Mullach na Beinne

Amazing weather over the last few weeks. Best place to be!

Posted on Molinginish at 12:46

Aig mullach na bealaich

The North Harris Trust have carried out a huge operation to renovate the track all the way from Urgha to Reinigeadal and the track is now better than it ever was in living memory. At the junction where the track to Molinginish leaves the main track they have erected this beautiful direction stone. Commissioned by the Trust and executed by the now famous Jon Hearach it was lifted by helicopter earlier this year and set in position where it will remain for many a year to come. No excuses for going astray now!

Posted on Molinginish at 00:39

Sron an t-Siorraim

A view across Loch Trollamarig from above Molinginish. If you look closely left of centre - it becomes clearer if you enlarge the relevant area - you can see a shadow cast against the hillside which looks like the profile of the face of a man with a prominent nose. The protruding ridge just to the left of this is what produces the shadow in the evening light. This ridge, marked on the OS map as 'Kerram' is known locally as Sron an t-Siorraim (the sheriff's nose). The reason for this name is only apparent from the Molinginish side of the loch and only in the right conditions. Who the sheriff was nobody can tell me - whoever he was he had a nose to be proud of. (With thanks to Caz for noticing this).

Posted on Molinginish at 23:43

Tigh Amhlaidh Mor

So far as I can tell Amhlaidh Mor (Aulay MacLeod) was not related to Ruaraidh Mor. His first appearance in the official record is in the Molinginish census of 1841 aged 25 and married to Christina (or Chirsty) with a 6 year old son Angus. He does not seem to have had any land and is variously described as a fisherman, a cottar (ie a landless occupier of a house) and a boatman. His house is right out at the far end of the village, in the shadow of a high cliff, between two burns and just above the high water mark, as if thrust out to the uttermost edge. On a stormy night with a high surf roaring on the beach and the burns thundering down on either side, they must have felt at the mercy of the elements. The house is barely bigger than what would be regarded as a small room nowadays, but here Amhlaidh and Chirsty raised six children. A flat stone projects from the seaward corner of the house at seat height. I imagine Amhlaidh sitting here of an evening puffing on a pipe of black twist. It must have been a pretty hand to mouth existence though. His son Seonaidh Amhlaidh (John) told his own grandson (now a retired headmaster) that when he was a boy, his mother would give him an oatmeal bannock and a bottle of milk and would tell him to go down to the shore at low tide and help himself to whatever he could find. By 1871 the family had left Molinginish and moved to the head of Loch Shell in Lewis. A small landslide seems to have inundated the ruin at some time. Amhlaidh passed away a widower in Tarbert, Harris in December 1897 aged 82. His many descendents prospered and are to be found today in various parts of the islands as well as further afield.

Posted on Molinginish at 23:22

Am Balbhan

Ruaraidh Mor had two sons called Donald, Domhnull Mor born about 1828 and Domhnull Beag born about 1857. For the whole story of Domhnull Mor and his family, who spent many years living on the Shiants, see Adam Nicholson's excellent book, Sea Room. After the death of Domhnull Mor's wife Catherine in 1901, the family returned to Harris. Domhnull Mor had a son Iain (John) Campbell who being deaf from birth could neither hear nor speak and was known as Am Balbhan. He was however renowned for his skill with his hands. While Domhnull Mor lived in the Shiants, the two communities communicated with signal fires. The second photo shows the top of the ridge above the westmost houses, called Cnoc an Teine (the hill of the fire) from where a fire on the Shiants could be seen and where a fire could be lit which in turn could be seen on the islands. When Domhnull Mor's wife died all the folk in Molinginish were away at the communions in Tarbert. Realising that no fire would be seen Iain got to work and with the few tools to hand and using driftwood built a coffin for his mother. Once the Molinginish folk returned a fire was seen on the Shiants and a boat sent over. When the remains were landed in Tarbert the local undertaker who examined the coffin stated that apart from adding the handles he could not have done better in his own workshop. Iain passed away in 1926 at the age of 74.

Posted on Molinginish at 14:55

Tigh Mhurchaidh

Murchadh Beachd, Padruig's brother married Padruig's wife's sister, Effy (also known as Euphemia or Henrietta in the various records) in 1874. He built this house just across the burn from Padruig. He seems also to have prospered at the fishing - so much so that he and his wife employed a domestic servant who lived with them at the time of the 1881 census. Effy's own family had a hard life before coming to Molinginish. She was born in the island of Pabbay (pictured below - acknowledgement to Wikipedia) in about 1844, the daughter of Norman Campbell and his wife Marion Morrison. The family along with the whole of the rest of the population of Pabbay were evicted in 1846. They then moved to Berneray where Margaret, Padruig's wife was born, probably shortly after they arrived in Berneray. Norman at first had land in Berneray - in 1851 he had ten acres - but later he lost that land, as latterly he was described as a cottar. After Effy died in 1922 Murchadh, like his brother Padruig moved to stay with their neice Ann - daughter of their brother Finlay - Fionnlagh Shodhaidh - of whom more later. Murchadh died in 1926. The top end of his house was converted into a byre and the stone taken from the other walls for this. At the bottom end of the house and obscured by trees is the little house built and occupied by his nephew John Campbell - Am Balbhan, after his moving from the Shiants - of whom also more later.

Posted on Molinginish at 22:21

Tigh Phadruig

Padruig (Peter) Campbell was the tenth child and sixth son of Ruaraidh Mor (see blog of 16 January 2006). Like the rest of Ruaraidh's family he was born in Molinginish - in about 1843. He was a fisherman for much of his active life. There were nine fishermen recorded in the 1871 census in Molinginish, which with a crew of about five to a boat would have meant two boats' crews. He prospered well at the fishing and built this house, probably around 1873 when he married Margaret Campbell, who was originally from Berneray, but by this time lived with her sister in Kyles Scalpay. Padruig's brother Murchadh married Margaret's sister Effy the following year. Tradition also says that the two brothers used to row all the way to Berneray to visit the girls - and apparently they knew the way so well that they did not need to turn around until they arrived. Neither couple had any children. Padruig's house was advanced for its day in such a remote location. Built of stone and lime with tall casement windows and a felt roof and with chimneys at either end it was the last word in comfort in its day. Padruig was well known as a genial friendly man who could be relied on to help out in time of need. A religious man, he was well known in his day for the composition of spiritual songs. In his old age Padruig moved to Tarbert where he passed away, at the stated age of 88 in 1933. His neice Catriona Dhomhnuill Bhig and her husband and family moved into the house for a time before they moved to the Bays. It then fell into disrepair. Later, one of the remaining people in the village knocked down the eastern gable and constructed a byre inside the house. The remainder of the house stands today as a testimony to Padruig, his hard work and his long life.

Posted on Molinginish at 22:22

Beinn a Chaolais

On top of the high ridge between Molinginish and Caolas Scalpaigh is the summit cairn of Beinn a Chaolais. On a clear day you can see to Uist, Skye, Applecross, Torridon, and so on north along the mainland coast. Across to the north are Reinigeadal and the mountains of Pairc and Harris. This view taken on a fairly hazy day looks out south eastwards over the mouth of East Loch Tarbert with the island of Scalpaigh to the left and to its right the maze of islands through which the ferry to Skye threads its way.

Posted on Molinginish at 00:48

Four legs good three legs better

Bonny in her favourite element

Posted on Molinginish at 17:05

Autumn begins

Saturday 30 September was like many other days this long summer. Warm, sunny, butterflies about. The night was amazing - calm and mild at first then becoming a bit chilly when the stars came out. Significantly, there were no midges. At last. Come Sunday morning, the first day of October and things had changed. The wind had gone to the north, there was a definite chill in the air and a swell began to rise and break on the beach. A gentle start to autumn.

Posted on Molinginish at 17:37

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