Readings from accounts of the Clearances follow. The information given validates the Old Man’s claims that:
it was always the women who fought back
the first blow was struck by a woman with a stick
one of the women threw herself upon the ground and fell into hysterics
fought on the sand until McBain recalled his officers and the women crawled away to bathe their bloody heads
In these factual accounts, the graphic details of the women's injuries confirm their bravery.
An account of the violence in Easter Ross describes:
the brunt of the battle
a large number of them being seriously hurt
the wounds on their skulls and bodies showing plainly the severe manner in which they had been dealt
beat and kicked [...] while lying weltering in their blood
batons tore away part of her scalp, shattered frontal and parietal bones
The horrifying accounts of the violence enacted against the women reveal the true human cost of the Clearances.
In a short fictional vignette, a Minister delivers a sermon against the women. He compares them to
sheep who have gone astray, who have wandered from the paths of righteousness. He criticises their defiance of authority, saying they have
neglected the dignity of [their] womanhood . Rather than support the women, this male representative of the Church wants to put them in their place.
Resistance to change is a key role of women explored in this play, but it is not the only female role presented.
In Scottish folk tradition, women tended to assume the role of storyteller; songs, ballads, folk tales and legends were passed on from mother to child.
The Gaelic Singer represents this important female role. Many of her songs are haunting laments for a lost culture, but many others are rousing calls to action, such as the song with which the play ends. Through characters such as the Gaelic Singer, McGrath presents the role of the women as the preserver of Highland culture as well as communities.