Thainig an gille dubh Mo ghille dubh ciar dubh A' Bhirlinn Bharrach Bhradaig dhuibh..
Alasdair Mhic Cholla Duan Nollaig PAGE 65 2 55 47 26 no The first published collection of the vocal airs of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland was that which appeared in , edited by the Rev. Patrick Macdonald, of Kilmore, Argyll. It contains over airs, the majority provided with basses for the pianoforte, and all without words. The titles only are given of the traditional songs to which the airs were sung.
In an introduction to the collection, the remark is made that " in less than twenty years it would be in vain to attempt a collection of Highland music. In the intervening century and a quarter, many collections have been published, and scores of beautiful Highland and Island airs have been popularized beyond the confines of Scotland.
In Macdonald's collection, on page 21, appears a somewhat unmusical version of " Heman dubh " see page of the present volume. Apropos of the luck of the collector in hearing the best versions of airs, Macdonald remarks that in noting the tunes, " perhaps he has not always given the best sets of them, as he may not have had the good fortune to hear those sets.
When he had frequent opportunities of hearing an air, he chose that set which appeared to him the best, the most genuine. When he had not such opportunities, he satisfied himself with writing the notes which he heard. And Art is not to be understood J- as an arbitrary, cultured, fashionably-evoked luxury, but as an inbred craving of the natural, genuine, and uncorrupted man.
And such memories, customs, tongue, genius are crystallized in their songs. Every woman with her lad at her shoulder, And my own brown-haired love afar from me. Yeats has remarked, " If men did not remember, or half remember, impossible things ; and it may be, if the worship of the sun and the moon had not left a faint reverence behind it, should we find a Celtic maiden singing: Although "Tha tighinn fodham eirigh," from South Uist, was included, and Sir Walter Scott furnished lowland singing versions of " Pibroch o' Donuil Dhubh " and the " Macgregor's Gathering," and the like, still the great wealth of Highland song was but scantily exploited.
Since those days the gathered store has gradually accumulated, but it is even yet far from complete. While there is yet time it would be wise to collect zealously in every corner preferably with the phonograph that we may save what is fast dying out.
Much has been done to re-circulate the songs among the people themselves by the publication of some of them in a cheap form, as, for instance, in the " Celtic Lyre " and the " Coisir chiuil. As for translations, did not Don Quixote trenchantly remark that they were like the wrong side of an embroidery? In the summer of I first studied Gaelic songs with Mrs. Mary Mackellar, the well-known Gaelic poetess, and from that time till the death in of my father, David Kennedy, the Scots singer, sang them literally round the world. But it was not till the summer of that I was able to carry out a long cherished scheme of myself attempting to collect, from the mouths of the reapers, spinners, and fishers of the Isles, songs that in all probability had been sung by my own foremothers and forefathers.
For even in the case of our forebears having lived on the mainland, it is to the remote Isles now that we must go if we would find the old conditions of life, the old manners and customs, the old tales and songs, with which our grandmothers were familiar. For, although many of the songs sung in the Isles are undoubtedly of Hebridean origin, there are as certainly many which have drifted thither from the mainland.
Such songs belong to all Celto-Scots — to all who have a strain of Celtic blood in their veins ; and where is the Scot who can prove that he has not! To make sure of fresh ground it was necessary to go beyond the reach of the tourist steamer, beyond that even of the small local plying vessels, and such a spot we found in the little Island of Eriskay, lying far out to the west of Oban, and less known to the outside world than the remote St. It forms one of the outpost chain of islands known collectively as the Long Island, which includes besides Eriskay, Mingulay, Barra, North and South Uist, Benbecula, the Lewes, and Harris, where the nice peat-reek smelling heather and "cnotal" coloured tweeds come from.
Eriskay, lying between Barra the largest southerly island of the group and South Uist, is reached by steamer from Oban to Loch Boisdale in South Uist, and thence by whatever means providence may send in your way. Miss Goodrich Freer, one of the few visitors to the island, who published her experiences in in the " Outer Isles," says: Although the distance across to the nearest point of Uist is probably not much more than two miles, the crossing is one not to be undertaken lightly.
Always difficult, sometimes dangerous, it is not infrequently impossible. It was early in August, , that I set out by the 6 a. Twelve hours later, at Loch Boisdale, in a dreary drizzle of rain, wet, sick and weary, I transhipped into a fishing smack which, by good luck, was leaving at once for Eriskay.
The smack in which I found myself was much smaller than those used for fishing on the east coast. The rain continued to fall, and they put me into the cabin, about six feet square, with a stove burning in the middle of it. Though weak, I had life enough in me to rebel against this, so I struggled back to the hatchway, and scrambling up on to some barrels there, sat with my head in the open, in imminent danger of having it struck by the sweeping yard-arm as we tacked out of the bay.
It was xvii a quiet night, and it took us about three hours to sail round to the island. We approached it at low tide, and as our fishers were bound for the fishing ground that night, they could not wait for deep enough water to enter the small harbour, or " Hown," and so landed us at the first convenient point. Handed ashore by the men, I set foot on what seemed virgin rock, for on scrambling up its perfectly pure white shell-fish-clad surface, no sign of pathway nor print of foot was to be seen.
We were landed a mile from the Rudha Ban, where stood the chapel, the priest's house, and the house where I was to be lodged. To reach it we had a tramp through damp grass in the rain in the gathering darkness. Making our way over slippery rocks, we at last struck a pathway the only road in the island, and that but recently made , and here and there, as though dropped at random on the bare rock, or nestling into the hillside, we came upon long, oval huts, built of undressed stone, innocent of cement or lime, and thatched with bracken, fastened by ropes of heather.
Silent figures moved quietly about in the dim, fading light, now a man, now an old woman, now a dog, all with the characteristic quiet gait of the Western Highlander, giving a dreamy character to the whole picture, a dreaminess which did not vanish, I found, even in bright sunlight, for when I woke next morning and looked from my window out on to the sea from the house on the rock, I seemed to be on an enchanted island. The shallow water round this curving coast — that very shallowness which favoured Prince Charlie's landing here, and his escape from the English man-o'-war sent to dog him on his way over from France and to prevent his landing — this shallow water reflects the most gorgeous colourings, and we had great masses of deep purple, shrill green, and soft shell pink spread out between us and the horizon.
In fact, surround the King's Park with cliffs and the sea and you have a sort of counterpart to Eriskay, except that in the island you have more of rock and less of soil than you have in the Park. It is a curious fact that the strongholds of the Celts are generally found amid such surroundings.
In describing Brittany, Renan wrote: And on this rock, with a little sandy soil in its hollows and a peat bog in one part, five hundred souls were making a livelihood by fishing, keeping a cow, a pony perhaps, and a few hens, and by growing little unfenced patches of potatoes and grain, grain which I have seen harvested by handfuls, roots and all. Looking down from our point of vantage, the life of the island unfolded itself after the fashion of a beehive with a glass top.
No fences, no roads — with the exception of the footpath — no carts, no wheelbarrows even ; burdens of all kinds were carried, exposed to the view of the interested onlooker, in creels on the backs of the people, or in panniers on the flanks of the Barra ponies. Sometimes the load would be seaweed for manure, or a particular kind of seaweed which they spread on the rocks out of reach of the sea till, sweetened by the rain and sun, it is fit to be used for bedding, and very good mattresses it makes. The peats, too, had to be carried in creels or in the horse panniers, and heather had to be fetched from a distance as there was none on the island, so boats could be seen leaving in the early morning for South Uist to fetch bracken and heather for thatching ; and, returning the same night, men and women could be seen with the laden creels, toiling up the slope with their burdens, and storing the stuff in byres, against the needful re-thatching of the cottage roof.
At all hours of the day, children, and old wives and maidens were to be seen herding, for in an unfenced world everybody's cow was always getting into everybody else's corn, and at any hour an exciting chase might be seen, when some four-footed feeder got into forbidden pasture. Then the boats, with their graceful brown wings, were a feature of the Monday mornings, going out to the fishing, and again, on the Saturdays, returning.
Occasionally a boat went round to Loch Boisdale with barrels of fish or the like, and returned with stores ; and although every morning Father Allan Macdonald held service in the little chapel on the hill, it was on Sunday mornings that the whole island turned out. Then a long procession of women, young and old, of bairns, and of great, dark, brawny men, might be seen winding up the hill, as Father Allan came out of his presbytery, and himself tolled the bell which called them to worship.
All the southern part of the Long Island is Roman Catholic, and with this conservative form of the Christian church, we find the old customs, the old tales, the old songs, and a certain old-fashioned, gracious courtesy among the people. We had elected to go to the island precisely xviii because it was Father Allan's island — Father Allan whose name is known and revered by all who take an interest in Celtic folk-lore the world over; Father Allan, the gentle enthusiast, the kindly priest, the sympathetic pastor, and Celtic dreamer, who was cut off by influenza only a few short weeks after our memorable first visit to his island.
But his spirit still lives and moves among his people, and I felt his presence as much on my second visit as on my first. Our nearest neighbours on the hill were Father Allan and his housekeeper on the one side, and the dwellers in the post office on the other. The post office was a little thatched cottage which, unlike the majority of the old " black houses," could boast of a chimney and a triple partition. Here I soon made the acquaintance of the courteous, well-informed postal official, Dugald Macmillan, and of his beautiful, dignified old sister, Mairi Mhor.
Their little clean, sanded kitchen, with its tiny home-made "dresser," adorned with fine old painted bowls and jugs, its two wooden benches along the walls with accommodation below for peats, its barrel of flour topped with the baking board serving as a kitchen table , and its bag of oatmeal by the fire, was the recognised rendezvous of the island.
There everyone was welcomed to the evening " ceilidh," and when word would go round that we were going down in the evenings, there would be gatherings of all who could sing or tell a story. The best singers on the island had remarkably low voices, and I understood that a low voice was particularly admired on the island, while high voices were preferred in Skye! One man, a young fisher, quiet in manner and dark and rather handsome in appearance, had songs that were not known to others.
Each collector who takes up work of this kind has naturally his own melodic affinities; he gathers what appeals to him most, and the tonal idiosyncrasies of this air recalled to me the character of some of the Breton airs in the unique collection made in , at the instigation of the French government, by Bourgault Ducoudray. I intended leaving the island during that week, and I knew that he might go off to the fishing that day and not return till Saturday night. There was no time to be lost. I set out before breakfast to his mother's house, a long, oblong, old-fashioned hut, standing back from the beach where Prince Charlie landed in A fairylike white beach it is, with sands that might have served for Prospero and Miranda, and where, it is said, Prince Charlie planted the creeping, fleshy-leaved, pink convolvulus which still grows there, and only there.
Gillespie's mother came to the door when I knocked, and kindly bid me " Thig a stigh. I have had to acquire what Gaelic I know, although my mother's father had no English when he was a boy, and my "forbears" on my father's side were also Gaelic-speaking. She sat me down on a low, three-legged stool by the peat fire which was burning brightly on the floor, and seated herself on another. I had learnt by the experience of semi-suffocation to prefer those low stools to the high deal chair which was always politely brought from behind the partition for the stranger's use. On the low stool one was free from the smoke which, when it reached a certain height, wandered at its own sweet will and escaped as best it might by the chinks in the " dry-stane " walls or the crevices in the roof.
The interior of the old hut was really beautiful in the morning light, which slanted down from the small, deep-set windows on the dear old woman by the fire, who did not appear to regard my early visit as an intrusion, but cheerfully and promptly set herself to entertain me. She had no English, and I had little conversational Gaelic, so we sang Gaelic songs to one another, and she was pleased, and with Highland politeness said that I had " Gaidhlig gu leor. This was getting serious. I wanted that tune. So I went to Father Allan with my tale of woe, and he listened with a glint of humour and sympathy in his eyes, and said " Come with me.
The store was locked at once, the two men got a boat, and handing me off the slippery seaweed-covered rocks in the low tide, rowed me out to the harbour. Gillespie was busy with his nets, and they chaffed him, I could see, about the strange lady who was running after him for his singing.
So I had to wait about half an hour before he would be persuaded to sing, although the men urged him with " Suas leis an oran. But at last he yielded, and having once begun, sang verse after verse, and I got it noted down. He sang it with a peculiar wood-wind-like quality of voice, which suggested a theme for orchestral treatment.
The melody is most impressive when sung at a very low pitch. Indeed, the Islanders sing most of their songs at a much lower pitch than that at which I have transcribed them for ordinary use. They have quite abnormally low voices in some of the islands, and the city-dweller cannot hope to rival them in this respect. Another of the frequenters of the post-office kitchen was Duncan Macinnes, a crofter-fisherman with a big family of bright blue-eyed boys who came to the ceilidhs in the wake of father or mother, and, perched in twos on the corner of any available stool or vacant arm of a bench, drank in with evident avidity the songs and tales of their elders.
He would repeat long Sgeulachdan with a command of breath and rapidity and clearness of articulation that were the envy of all comers. He had a rich store of old world songs and sang me one of the Duanags in which the lads, on Christmas Eve, after an old fashion, chant the story of Christ's Birth. On this night of the year they make a round of visits in the townland, collecting Bannocks of Rye and Shekel. At each house they go through certain mysterious old rites, such as moving three times in a circle round the heads of the houseman and his wife, carrying a lighted candle the while, and if the light goes out, the augury is taken as a forewarning of death.
These chants are interesting as shedding light on the manner of intoning old incantations and prayers, such as are to be found in Alexander Carmichael's " Carmina Gadelica," and I give here another, sung to me by Mrs. Cumming, an old Eriskay woman over go. We give as a final example one which he heard sung traditionally, the beautiful " Dawn Prayer " of the Clanranalds, which was wont to be chanted by the Macdonalds of the Isles, when crossing to their chiefs' mainland territories.
H E bhi ri fai-re, E bhi 'gar caith-ris. Oigh chubhr' na mara, Thu Ihn de na grasan, 'S an Righ mor-gheal maille riut, Beannaicht' thu, beannaicht' thu, Beannaicht' thu a measg nam ban ; T'anail-sa stiiiradh m'ataich, Buailidh e an laimrig gheal. Griosam, O gridsam, do Mhacan ciuin, D'an tug thu glun is cioch, E bhi mar ruinn, E bhi ri faire, E bhi 'gar caithris, E sgaoileadh tharainn a chochaill bheannaicht O ra-soluis gu ra-soluis, shoills' dg-ghil na camhanaich Gu soills' dr-bhuidh an anamuich ; 'S re na h-oidhche dubhara dobhaidh, E bhi 'gar comhnadh, E bhi 'gar seoladh, E bhi 'gar steornadh, Le h-iul agus gloir nan naoi gatha greine, Tro' mhuir, tro' chaol, tro' chumhlait, Gus an ruig sinn Muideart 'S deagh Mhac 'ic Ailein, O gus an ruig sinn Muideart 'S deagh Mhac 'ic Ailein.
Blessed art thou, blessed art thou, Blessed art thou among women ; Thy breath steering my prayer, It will reach the Haven White ; Let me beseech thy gentle Son To whom thou gavest knee and suck To be with us, To be on watch, To be awake ; To spread over us His Sacred Cowl From ray-light to ray-light, From the golden-yellow ray of twilight To the new-born white ray of dawn, And through the dark and dangerous night To succour us, To guide us, To shine on us With the guidance and glory of the nine rays of the Sun, Through seas and straits and narrows Until we come to Moidart And the Good Clanranald, O until we come to Moidart And the Good Clanranald.
The Chants and Duans that were sung on special occasions are still remembered by a few, although the old customs themselves are dying out. This mouth-music for dancing is characteristic and exhilarating in the extreme. Here is an example sung by the wife of Duncan-of-the-Sgeulachdan, the electrifying effect of which I shall never forget. Certain women were famed for it, as also for the singing of " Orain Luaidh " Waulking Songs , and were consequently much in request.
In their happy arrangements of beautiful vowel sounds and syllables which at times have no meaning save a musical one, the Celtic folk are artistically right.
For there is no reason why vocal music should not, in common with instrumental music, express emotion in purely musical terms. In some of the songs we find a preponderance of merely musical syllables with sparsely interjected sentences.
In such cases, I have tried in arranging them to render phoneti- cally with English monosyllabic words or with Italian syllables the original Gaelic sounds, and the singer should attempt the singing of them, since much of the intended purely musical effect of such songs is lost if words with a definite meaning are used throughout.
It is precisely because the Isles folk are so musical that they do not want definite literal sense to unduly deaden the more highly emotional effect of pure sound. They feel with Swinburne that the sound is the sense! And it is their feeling for orchestral colour, so to speak, in vowels, that causes them to rely rather on assonance than on rhyme in their poetry generally.
The writer on Gaelic song who has best understood the vowel-music of Gaelic poetry in its intimate relation to music proper is Thomas Pattison. Of the close correspondence between the rhythm and vowel- music of the words and the tunes to which they are sung he says, " It is as if they were the twin births of one passionate experience. Sometimes for a few lines," he adds, "it would almost appear as if it were difficult to say where the music begins and the words end — they blend and fit so wonderfully together. And even the present day folk-singers treat them as such, and in the singing of the very old people one can still trace an old time bardic freedom in the use of melody, which should put an end to all disagreements as to authentic versions of this air or of that.
In selecting from different versions, however, we should be careful to perpetuate the most strongly characteristic, the most faithful to the type, and to reject such as are at variance with the modal character of the air. Unmusical singers again, give one at times very dull versions of the most beautiful airs, and these being published are accepted as authentic.
Compare this Eriskay version of " A Mhairi bhoidheach " for instance with the published versions — the sweep of its phrases is more passionate and beautiful. I did not collect it myself — it was kindly given me by Miss Amy Murray, who happened to be collecting in Eriskay one summer at the same time as myself. We have provided English words, at times they are translations more or less literal, at times they are merely singing verses, good vocal syllables provided for singers who have not the opportunity to learn the pronuncia- tion of the original. In the cases of old songs which contain obsolete words and expressions, the Gaelic editor has provided literal translations of those for the sake of even Gaelic-speaking people who may find them difficult to understand or translate.
Both are genuine, but one is more musical than the other. In this connection the traditional version here given of the well-known " Skye Boat Song," kindly played to me by Mr. Burn Murdoch, will be interesting! The legitimate licence used by some of the older folk-singers takes the form at times of ad libitum repetitions of the easily separable motives of a tune, as for instance in this ecstatic song of eulogy sung in praise of the famous Ruary Mor Macleod of Macleod.
As sung by Kenneth Macleod. Ho ro nail-libh hiu rabhohd ro, hiu ra bho ho ro, Rua - ri, Rua - ri, Rua - ri gao-lach, Rua - ri.
Ho ro nail-libh hiu rabhoho ro. And also in this, a melody of the same class, although of an entirely different colour, the " Soul-Agony," said to have been composed by a woman who had sold her soul to the master of the black art, in order that her son might be gifted with the skill of music. Hill a bho ho ro, Chaill mi luir - ean mo chleibhe. Hill a bho ho ro m 3 times. Ho hill a bho ho ro, Hill a bho ho ro, Hill a bho ho ro, Hi leo Hill a bho ho ro. Cha till rim' bheo Cha till rim' bheo, Cha till. Again in " Kishmul's Galley," each verse is a spontaneous rebirth of the original, and no two verses are alike.
With ornament, of course, the same thing holds good, and simple and elaborate forms of the same melody are found. Father Allan did not approve of the graceless versions of many tunes as they appear in print. Here is an unornamented version of the " Love-Wandering," quite as authentic it its way, however, as the phonographed version I have given later with an accompaniment ; the grace notes in the latter are most expressive, and emphasize the passionate character of the air: As collected by John Duncan, A.
John MacNeill Father Allan's successor , to whom I owe many a courtesy and the words of many a song, kindly took my daughter and myself over one afternoon to the Uist shore, whither many of my old Eriskay friends had migrated. The Isle of Eriskay being overcrowded, many of the crofters and fishermen were glad of the chance which offered to take up new crofts on South Uist.
Among these new settlers was one of the best singers of the island, Mrs.
O'Henley, nee Penny Macdonald. I was very anxious to meet her again, as she had many fine songs. Her husband's croft lay some distance back from the shore, and to reach it we had a tramp through a cold bog and a scramble up a brae-face. As the croft was but newly taken up, the cottage was not yet built. We saw a great cairn of dry peats burning above a huge grey boulder, and were told that by to-morrow morning the rock would be split by the heat of the smouldering turf, and be ready for use in the building of the walls.
Meantime, for the summer months, the mother and bairns were being housed in a freshly put together turf sheiling, a most primitive shelter, but wherever this beautiful woman sat with a baby on her knee, there you had a living picture of the Madonna and Child. She was sitting by the peat fire, surrounded by her bairns, when we entered, and we sat on the little three-legged stool by her fire, as she crooned a number of songs to her baby and to us.
This " He mo nighean dubh " was the last she sang, and I listened with delight and astonishment as she gave the little syncopated lullaby with the perfect feeling for rhythm which comes apparently from a life-long association of music with labour. Before I could get it noted, however, our crew re-appeared, hurried us off, carried us aboard, hoisted sail and were out into the Sound before we could draw breath, The Eriskay tide waits for no man!
Some of these, the latter particularly, are most exciting. I have seen the islanders while singing them seem to get hypnotised with their own rhythm, working themselves into a frenzy with it, and no one who has not witnessed it can realise what an intoxicating power strong rhythm can exercise over the Celtic temperament. By this " tyranny of rhythm," says the Dean cf Lismore, "the folk songs of a race help to preserve its language.
Cedl bu bhin- ne: Chairdhuibhchinnduibh Io-mair e ho. Ri strath glin-ne Io-mair e ho. Clo nan gil-lean Io-mair e ho! Her period of youth would fall in the 18th century, when men still sang at their work. She remembered her mother telling her about the visit of Dr. Johnson to Ullinish, in the parish of Bracadale, in Skye, where she was in service. She was fond of commenting on the famous doctor's love of tea, and remembered how one morning this remarkable English gentleman drank eighteen cups to breakfast 1 XXV It was sung to me by Miss Frances Tolmie of Skye, to whom I owe some of the finest of the melodies included in this collection.
But the rhythms are not always those with which we are most familiar. Like the Finnish folk, who are partial to a five-beat rhythm, the Hebrideans indulge in strange combinations such as may be found in the Milking Song page 70 , which is in seven-beat time, and in the Waulking Song at page , which balances fives with threes. The seven-beat Milking Song the words of which by the way had already been collected some forty years ago by Alexander Carmichael and included in his " Carmina Gadelica" , was sung to me by Peggy MacDonald, a dame who came across from South Uist to Eriskay on a visit to her friends on the island.
She meant to stay a night or two, but was storm-stayed with us for over a week, greatly to my advantage, since living in the same house with her I was able to carry on the work of song-noting at all hours, beginning often in the morning before breakfast and filling in moments at odd times till the night was far spent. We were like-minded in our enthusiasm for Hebridean songs, and she listened with the keenest of interest to the phono- graph records of songs I had collected from others, swiftly memorizing both words and music of such as took her fancy.
She was a clever body, and justly proud of the fact that every one of her snod woollen garments was of her own carding, dyeing, spinning and weaving! Still another specimen of irregular barring and phrasing I took down by kind permission of Mr. Mac- Gregor Whyte of Tyree.
Although, as we have said, there are many variants of all traditional tunes, yet the rhythmical character as a rule, remains intact. A notable exception I found in the case of the Ballad of Macneill of Barra. After having set the first version see page 4 exactly as I had first got it, I found, on my last visit to Barra, in the spring of , that two women, Mrs. Maclean, had a version in which the time was curiously converted from its fiercely direct duple form into a sinuously curving triple form, thus: E 3 xxvi This song was made by a woman, and probably the majority of the songs in this collection have a like origin.
This Ballad of the Macneills of Barra is attributed to a Mingulay woman who lived some centuries ago. I was told by a Mingulay Fisher that the tradition runs that she had her "gift" from the Master of the Black Art. The evil one asked when bestowing it, it is said, whether she would sing to please herself or to please others. Fiercely independent, she chose to please herself. No one, said Hector Macphie, my informant, could endure her singing! But she was victorious in a song-contest between herself and a Uist woman, and this Barra Ballad was the song she sang in Uist itself.
At the end of the singing, when the vanquished singer dropped senseless from chagrin, the incensed Uist people would have bound Nic Iain Aoidh. But she escaped from them, ran to the shore where her boat lay moored, drew a knife from her bosom, cut the boat adrift, and was off to Barra before they could lay hands on her again. Song-Contests in those days did not make for an entente cor Male between rival islands!
Judging by this tradition, the fiercer version of the song must surely be the original! The milder version I got late, late one dark wet night in the house of Mrs. Johnston in the Glen, Barra. It was in the spring of I had crossed the Minch on the hunt for the words of some of the airs which I had collected there the previous summer. Unwittingly I had gone at the very busiest season of the year, when the herring-fishing and the digging over of the croft-land occupied old and young, men and women alike, and when song-collecting was out of the question till darkness drove the weary field-workers home for the night.
Maclean at Skallary remarked to me, will tell you that the islanders are lazy ; and yet, she said, look round you at this time of the year and you will see that the whole island is dug over like a garden. And as I walked back by Brevaig to Castle Bay I saw men and women toiling with the spade in the black earth — lonely figures, bulking largely in the picture — the fields were so small— and every here and there, there was a blaze of colour where a sodden black patch was being spread with the gorgeous red- brown and ivory-white seaweed which is used for manure.
The sea and land in Barra are inseparable playmates, and the sea-wrack for the fields is found close at hand and fetched easily on the back of the creel-girt ponies. Far otherwise is it in the neighbouring Isle of Mingulay, a bare rock in the swirl of the Atlantic. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.
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