Aonghas nam Beann

Angus nam Beann was a well-known figure in Uig at the time of the Revivals, and ever since.  The following is from John Macleod’s History of the Church in Uig.

Angus MacLeod’s father was a shepherd in the hills of Uig towards the border with Harris, and this is where Angus was born. So it is not difficult to understand why everybody in the area knew his as Aonghas na Beann, Angus of the Hills. Angus was caught up in the great Revival in Uig in the Rev Alexander Macleod‘s time. He was a simpleton who could not even count his fingers, yet when he engaged in public prayer hardly any trace of lack of intellect was noticeable. What was noticeable about him was the Spirit of reverence of one who practised the Presence and whose prayers surprised, affected and moved the hearer.

He was held in high regard by the minister who engaged a teacher to teach him reading – without success. Yet when he applied to the minister for the privilege of sitting at the Lord’s Table, he was refused on account of his lack of intellectual capacity. Angus must have been deeply hurt; and it appears that the minister and Kirk-session must have relented at a later date, for the tale is told that Angus at one time dropped his communion token and could not find it. Someone seeing him searching asked:

Na chaill thu am comharra Aonghais?

Cha do chaill, ach chaill me am pios luaidhe thug iad dhomh!

[Did you lose your token Angus? No, but I lost that piece of lead they gave me.]

Tales of Aonghas nam Beann remain in oral tradition and are still related in the Parish. At a communion season in Uig a visiting minister noticed Angus talking with a group of people at the church after the service. He told Rev Alexander that he was going over to the church to see what was going on, and was advised to stay where he was. However he insisted and he arrived to hear Angus, who had noticed his approach, say:

“Bha fios agam gu robh ni math againn ‘s nach fhada gus am biodh an Satan an torr oirnn”

[I knew we had something of spiritual worth and that ere long Satan would attempt to spoil it.]

The minister beat a hasty retreat to the manse, where he was was asked how he got on. He replied, “I was castigated as an instrument of Satan.”

Angus was a frequent and welcome visitor at communions, and it is probably that his death occurred during such a visit to a communion in Skye. There he was buried in the cemetery at Uig (Skye).

In The Skye Revivals, Steve Taylor reports that once Angus discovered Skye he was rarely away from it. He also gives further stories of Angus in Skye and Lochs:

On one occasion Angus was attending communion services in Snizort in Skye when the Rev Roderick Macleod invited him to the manse. During the meal Roderick said, “Angus, has not grace greatly honoured you when it brought you to my table?” Angus replied, “And did not grace greatly honour yourself, minister, when you invited me?”

The Rev Robert Finlayson of Lochs was interviewing three women on one occasion who were seeking admission to the Lord’s Table. One had been convertedas a result of hearingAngus in prayer, the second on hearing a neighbour repeating on of Angus’s private prayers, and the third under Finlayson’s own preaching. “I see,” said Finlayson, “thatI have only one share in this work.”

It was the testimony of Rev Murdo MacAskill [Dingwall, in 1885] when speaking of Angus that “this poor witless man could claim more spiritual children in the parish of Lochs than all the ministers who had preached there in his generation.” No one who met him was allowed to walk away without an answer to the question, “Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?” All who came into contact with Angus were aware of an indescribably power and influence.

More tales of Angus nam Beann are here.