Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Eilean Beag Donn A' Chuain

There is a recording on Tobar an Dualchais of the song Eilean Beag Donn A' Chuain (Little Brown Island in the Ocean) by Donald Macdonald Morrison (1859-1951) who emigrated to Duluth, Minnesota.

His brother Murdo Morrison left with him but returned to Lewis where he became the postmaster at Bragar, married my cousin Mary Annabella Montgomery, and erected the Whalebone Arch at Lakefield.

Lyrics from the song are engraved in glass at the ferry terminal in Stornoway, a reminder to modern day travellers of the pain of emigration felt by all who have left their island home:

Do làmh, a charaid, gu Eilean a’ chuain,
‘S a h-eallach cho cruaidh is trom.
Tha ‘m bàs le cabhaig a’ sgathadh ‘s a’ buain
Gun duine nì suas a call.
Tha ‘n òigridh sgoinneil a sheòlas na caoil
An àite nan laoch a bh’ ann,
Gun bhonaid, gun bhròig, a’ siubhal nan raon
An Eilean an Fhraoich ud thall.

Your help, my friend, to the Island of Lewis
Since its burden is so difficult to bear
Death is reaping its terrible toll
With no one to make up the loss
The upstanding youth who sail the straits
Instead of the warriors who once were there
Are without clothing or shoes, traversing the moors
In the distant Island of Heather