Recipes from Pairc from the 70's

A new addition to our publications, this recipe book was originally compiled by Pairc Community Association in the late 70’s and is now reprinted by Pairc Historical Society.

  The book has 44 pages of recipes including a small number in Gaelic. The recipes relate to a time when there were far less choice of ingredients that we have today. Recipes include Ceann Cropaig, stuffed fish heads, Marag Dhubh and many other local delicacies.

Kershader man shot

Attacked on Street
Murdo Macleod, a native of Kershader Lochs, who for some time was employed in the Labour Exchange at Stornoway, and is presently a supervisor in the Castleford Labour Exchange, was last week shot in the thigh at Leeds, and had to be removed to the General Hospital there. In connection with the affair, Frederick Darbyshire, miner, was arrested, and was afterwards charged with shooting Murdo Macleod, with intent to kill.
Superintendent Fairburn related that at the sub-office of the Exchange at Whitwood there was some altercation between Macleod and Darbyshire. The police were called in, and Darbyshire left the premises. Later Macleod and other members of the staff were standing outside the building waiting for a bus to Castleford, when Darbyshire came up, produced a German automatic pistol, and shot Macleod.
Darbyshire is an ex-serviceman and an unemployed miner. Short of stature, but sturdily built, he stood to attention before the magistrates at the Castleford Court while he was being charged with shooting with intent to kill Macleod.
Macleod, who was operated on for a fractured thigh, is progressing favourably, but will not be fit to resume duty for at least a couple of months.
Extract from Stornoway Gazette 2nd December 1927.

Gaelic students visit Gravir Museum

A group of Gaelic students spent an interesting week in the Pairc community as part of a new initiative by Co-Chomunn na Pairc.


The residential course was based at Ravenspoint in Kershader with students staying in the on-site hostel. Each day the students had a Gaelic class in the morning and in the afternoon they visited Gaelic speaking homes to allow them to join in Gaelic conversation. In the evenings they visited locations like the Gravir Museum where members of the Comunn Eachdraidh described many of the artefacts and their uses in Gaelic. Local artists provided the entertainement for a celeidh on the final evening.

Lemreway and the Puffin Hunt, 1958

by Donald Mackay, Kershader, in 1958-59
Lemreway was one of the villages affected by the Park clearances. It was resettled in 1861 when those who were removed from Brollum to Stiemreway were in that year removed to Lemreway on the outskirts of the Park sheep farm. None of those who had originally been evicted from Lemreway in 1841 returned to it in 1861 except one man, a Macaulay from Crossbost. There are no Macaulays in Lemreway today but certain Nicolsons are descendants of the Macaulay mentioned. The population of the village is 150 persons normally at home and of those there are only four males between the ages of 18 and 30 years.


At one time the inhabitants of Lemreway and other neighbouring villages made visits to the Shiant Isles for puffins. The grounds of the Shiants is pockmarked with holes, the nesting place of the puffins, and the villagers used to bring home boatloads of dead birds which were valued for their feathers. They also enjoyed big pots of boiled puffins as a welcome change from their usual fish diet.

A day was chosen when there was a strong breeze blowing against the steep braes where the puffins nest and breed. The young men lay down on their backs on these slopes, holding up by the butts fishing rod lines of 9 or 10 foot in length. Holding them with both hands they whacked the puffins as they flew past them, quite low, in their hundreds. Whether the puffin was killed outright or merely stunned, it rolled down the steep slope to the shore or to the sea, and the rest of the crew were kept busy gathering bodies into the boat. The spreading of a herring net over the nesting ground was another method used. This custom has not been engaged in now for many a year.
There are a total of 46 houses (thatched 10, two rooms 2, three rooms 4, four rooms 23, five or more rooms 7.) One house has been built by government grant since 1918.  The school is attended by Lemreway and Orinsay children. There is a headmaster and one female assistant. The number on the roll is 35. In 1914 the number was 84. The West Coast Mission established a mission station in Lemreway shortly after 1900, and in 1938 the station was taken over by the Free Church, to which all the villagers belong.

Garyvard Village Shops in the Early 1900's

In these days when village shops are all but gone it is hard to imagine that even a small village could have half a dozen shops in the early 1900’s

Buth Dhomhnull a Gharraidh (Donald Macleod) 1 Garyvard.

After the first world war Domhnull a Gharaidh set up a shoemaking business in an extension to Seoc a Gharraidh’s old black house on croft 1 next to where Roddy and Barabells house is sited today.  Donald had served his time as a shoemaker in Stornoway. This soon became a gathering place (taigh ceilidh) for the local youth as well as those not so young.  Card games were a common part of the evenings entertainment with ‘Catch the Ten’ being a favourite with matches as stakes.  Donald soon expanded and started to trade in other commodities and eventually built a shop to sell general stores.
In 1934 he became the Postman for the area serving the villages of Habost, Kershader, Garyvard and Caversta, a service which he undertook for 28 years until he retired in the early 60’s.
By the thirties demand for handmade  footwear had fallen off, but he still did shoe repairs up until the fifties. The shop was at its busiest in the forties when people came for their weekly rations and although the shop was only a 12 X 8 shed it included a butchery section. Environmental and Health & Safety standards were not an issue in those days with meat, flour, cheese, salt herring, kippers, boots, shoes, oilcake and fluke pills all being dispensed from this small shed and especially as it wasn’t unknown for the assistant to cast aside his manure creel to go and serve a customer in the shop.

Seada Thorcuill (Torcuill Macleod) 3 Garyvard

Torcuill Shiomon as he was known was a shoemaker who worked from a shed which still stands beside the steading at croft No 3. His business was confined to shoemaking mostly in the thirties. Torcuill himself died in 1944 at the age of 60.
The family had been visited by tragedy nine years earlier when two days before Christmas 1935 the three brothers, Alasdair, Calum and Calum Alasdair were out on the Caversta river which was covered with ice. Their dog slipped through a hole in the ice and whilst attempting to rescue the dog, Calum Alasdair went in under the ice and was tragically drowned aged 10 years. Alasdair tried to save his brother and was nearly drowned himself. He later received the Royal Humane Society Bravery Scroll. The scene of the tragedy is adjacent to the present cattle grid on the main road near Lake House.

Buth Mhurchaidh Buachaile, Murdo Macleod 3 Garyvard

Murchadh Buachaile who was Murdag Shiomon’s grandfather operated a shop from the family home around the turn of the century.  Murdag Shiomon (Murdina Macleod) revived the family tradition in the late twenties and continued till the early sixties. Murdag was a true entrepreneur of her time.  She bought and sold Harris Tweed, cattle and chickens as well as the normal provisions.  She even bought a van and operated a mini mobile shop travelling throughout the local villages.  Later on she branched into drapery, hardware and crockery and bought a larger van and she built a fairly large shop cum garage on the site of the present Council houses.

Torcuil Dhomhuill Thorcuil

Torcuil ran a shoemakers shop from a steading at 6 Garyvard before marrying and moving to Crossbost where he carried on his trade and also served as a postman.

An Buidhe

In earlier times another merchant used to go round the villages selling from his boat. An Buidhe lived on his boat with a deck referred to as a ‘smack’. Very little is known of his genealogy but the older generation remember him mooring his fishing smack in the bay and selling items of grocery.  Local people still remember his boxes of Cochranes tea which must have been the popular blend of the time.

Buth Dhonnachaidh an Mhoir, Duncan Mackay 3 Caversta.

Duncan’s shop was by the river on the Caversta side on the croft at number 3 where the site of the shop and a wall can still be identified. Duncan was the father of the councillor Donald John Mackay who served the area for a good number of years.

Buth Alasdair Rhuaraidh, Alasdair Mackinnon

The shop was attached to his house, Sea Haven on croft number 1.  Like most merchants he owned a number of boats over the years to bring goods from Stornoway.  One of those was the Try Again.

The GAMA Award, 2009

The Gatliff Trust and the Angus Macleod Archive have combined forces to establish the GAMA (Gatliff Angus Macleod Archive) award, offering funds to a student or researcher at a British college or university for the summer of 2009.
The purpose of the award is to encourage research on an aspect of history, geography, culture or environmental studies, relevant to an appropriate area of the Western Isles. One successful applicant will receive a stipend and accommodation at one of the Trust properties and the resulting work will be published. For details and to apply, see the GAMA Award website; deadline for applications, 31 March 2009.
Herbert Gatliff (1897-1977), a pioneering member of the Outdoor Movement, was keen to see people, particularly the young, visit the Outer Hebrides. This enthusiasm led him to establish, in these Scottish islands, a network of crofters’ hostels which continues to thrive. Angus Macleod (1916-2002), born in Calbost in the South Lochs area of the Isle of Lewis, created a remarkable collection of material relating to many aspects of local life. This is now stored in the Angus Macleod Archive, housed at the Ravenspoint Centre, Kershader, close to his place of birth.

Memories of Caversta


Reminiscences of Ruaraidh Rob Mackinnon, 2 Garyvard, who was born in Caversta in 1909. Translated by Elizabeth MacGowan from the articles in Tional in 1992/93
It was from Cluthar in Harris that the Mackinnons on my father’s side came. Domhnull Mhaoil Domhnaich came to work in Crobeg. At that time, Caversta, Torostay, and Orinsay belonged to Crobeg. When crofts were allocated in Caversta, one of Domhnull’s sons, Ruairidh (my grandfather) got No 4.
I remember an old ruin in Caversta on croft 2 that belonged to my grandmother’s family. It is known as “Tobhtag Nic Ailean”. Anna Macsween was her correct name. She also worked in Crobeg. She originally came from Harris. I remember the ruin still with a roof on it. Many an hour myself, Nobles and Louis Fhearchair spent there. It was there that the local bull was kept. Many a night I tumbled over him making my way home in the dark. If they had not brought him in, he would lie on the road that was going down to our house.
Anna Macsween was a poor woman. I remember my father saying that when the men were landing their catch from fishing, that her share would be allocated before the share of the crew. There was another lady in Caversta called Raonaid, but she must have been there long before Anna, as her ruin had fallen down in my time.
There was another man in Caversta called Fearchair. He had a big house. It was built during the time of the fishing. It was Ruairidh Cubar from Keose that built it. They had collected all the stones for it before they left for the fishing, and the house was built by the time they came back. He got paid around four pounds for building it. I have never seen such beautiful stonework; he was a wonderful stonemason. He was well respected in those days. The house was about thirty feet long, and had a stair in it as well. Fearchair had a big family of ten, and some of them are still living.

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Comunn Eachdraidh na Pairc AGM

The Comunn Eachdraidh AGM will be held on Tuesday 3 February at 8pm at the resource centre in Kershader, and will be followed by the formal launch of this new website.
Photos from Comunn Eachdraidh outings for the last 12 years will be shown as well as many other photos and stories of local interest. All are welcome and you are invited to join us even if you are not a member.

Witness to Tragedy in Loch Erisort

On 7th December 19061 witnessed a drowning tragedy in Loch Erisort. It was during the mid-day interval at Kershader School as we gathered on the hill in between the school and the shore to watch the “TRANSIT” steaming up the Loch against a strong westerly gale force wind.
The “Transit” was a paddle driven steam pleasure-boat owned and used exclusively by the shooting tenants of Park Deer Forest and their guests. A small boat was launched from the “Transit” and it came ashore at the small jetty at the foot of the school playground One of the boatmen came ashore and called at the school-house while the other two chatted to the children.
In a few minutes the third man returned from his visit and the boat moved away from the shore to return to the “Transit”. Meanwhile, the “Transit” was slowly running before the wind heading out the loch, but the small boat was making up ground fast, driven by the strong winds.
For a few minutes we watched it tossing and diving among the waves until suddenly it disappeared out of sight. Shortly afterwards we saw an upturned boat drifting close by the steamer. Almost simultaneously we saw three men running towards the shore, carrying a pair of oars. When they arrived at the inlet where the boat was berthed they surprised the fisherman owner who was mending his nets and was unaware of the accident that had just happened out in the Loch.
The boat was launched and soon arrived at the scene of the disaster. They were able to save one of the crew while another man was rescued by a lifebelt thrown from the steamer. Despite a thorough search of the area no trace was found of the third man and it became apparent that he did not surface after the boat overturned.
During the time the searches for the men were taking place the strong winds blew the boats down the coast, past Ravenspoint and out of view of the children and adults gathered in the school playground. We followed them for a while but eventually returned late to school, although we were not punished in view of the sad and tragic event we had just witnessed.
It is ironic that of the four men who went to the aid of the stricken boatmen, only one, Donald Macleod, remained in Europe at New Year, four weeks later. John Mackay was farming in Prince Albert, Canada; Allan Macdonald was a shepherd in Patagonia and Duncan Mackay was living in Dunedin, New Zealand.
It was established later that the disaster had been caused by the boat colliding with the steamer paddles.

Dedication of the War Memorial, Kershader, 2002

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