Crowlista Old School

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The remains of the old school at Crowlista (with Forsnaval behind).  There is a tradition of there having been a Gaelic school in the village, and documents indicate that one was established there in 1837-8 (though we don’t know for how long), and a Sgoil na Leddies in the 1850s. The 1861 census shows several children as scholars but no teacher, at least on census night.  The 1871 census gives schoolteacher John MacRury (sometimes mistranscribed as Mackay) living in Crowlista with his younger brother John E, both born in Benbecula. We have a summary of early schools in Uig here.

After the Education Act of 1872, this school was replaced by a public school, built about 1880, on the site of what is now the community centre car park.  This blackhouse continued in use, according to tradition, as a meeting house until the 1920s.  One end is built up and served latterly as the thatched byre for over-wintering the Department of Agriculture bull.  The remaining stones may have gone into the road beside it, which was extended beyond the cattle grid in Crowlista only in the 1930s, and using entirely voluntary labour.

We know there was a meeting house in Crowlista in 1856, as when Rev Watson was discovered to have committed suicide, someone evidently ran across the sands to fetch help and broke up a prayer meeting.  This blackhouse would have been the first building they came to after crossing Traigh na Srupan, so maybe it was the meeting house as well as, or prior to, being the school.

Names have now been put to the 1937 school picture from Crowlista (new) School – thanks to Donald Maciver Crowlista.