Iain Dubh Chraidhig at the Fishing

In Rev William Matheson’s examination of the history of the Smiths of Uig he explored some possible origins of the family, beginning with Iain Dubh Craidhig who it seems came to Uig as a child with his mother and father on board a ship.  They were said to have originally been Mackinnons from Barra, Uist or Harris, and were given land in Brenish by Dòmhnall Cam, who took Iain on as a sort of assistant and trainee.  Rev Matheson relates the following rather grisly tradition (as does Dolly Doctor in Tales and Traditions):

A number of traditions are preserved in the Morrison manuscripts, but as they have already been published the need not be detailed here.  As a young lad Iain Dubh Chraidhig was Donald Cam Macaulay’s personal attendant (gille cas fliuch).  This was when the latter was under the ban of the Privy council and had to withdraw to such places of refuge as Staca Dhòmhnaill Chaim and the ‘dun’ on the islet in Loch Bharabhat.  One story about Iain Dubh is that in a year of scarcity he repaired to the Sound of Shiant to fish, accompanied by his aged mother.  The fishing proved to be good, but unfortunately his mother died, and he was faced with the necessity of taking her body back for burial in Uig.  The laying by of a sufficient supply of dried fish, however, was a matter of urgency; and he is said to have solved the problem by resorting to what may be briefly described as a crude embalming process.  This enabled him to go on with the fishing, and he took his mother’s body back home for burial when the season was over.