Side Schools in Uig II: Morsgail, Scaliscro and Linshader

More about Uig side schools, the small schools provided for a minimum of three pupils in remote parts.  From research undertaken by Maggie Smith for Hebridean Connections and the Stornoway Gazette; see also Part I and Part III.

Lily Macdonald (Lilidh Mhorsgail), born 1918, whose father Finlay Ferguson worked as under-keeper in Kinresort and then as gamekeeper on the Morsgail estate, said:

I believe there was an earlier side school when Kenneth Maciver’s (Coinneach Mòr) family lived there before the 1920s.  I went to school in 1923 and lived with my grandparents at Crulivig by Bernera until the side school at Morsgail was set up for my younger sisters, Chrissie and Kennina, and me.   Our school, in a room in our home at Morsgail, was attached to Lochcroistean school and the headmaster Donald Macarthur (Domhnall Soup) originally from Carloway came to set exams for us now and again.

When I was eleven I walked to Lochcroistean School to sit my qualifying exam and bursary exam.  On passing the exams I gained entry to the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, leaving my two sisters behind.  As only two pupils did not qualify for a side school, my father asked the estate gardener if he would be willing to allow one of his daughters to come and live with our family.

The gardener was Donald Smith of 2 Ungeshader (an Coisich) and his daughter Kenina duly went to live with the Ferguson family at Morsgail.  In 1933 Kenina returned to Lochcroistean school as the Morsgail side school ceased when the two Ferguson girls went to continue their schooling in Stornoway.

In the 1930s there was a side school at Scalisgro, when gamekeeper Kenneth Mackenzie of Achmore lived there, with his two sons Roddy and Alexander (and presumably at least one other child.)

In the village of Linshader in 1924, Donald Morrison’s three grandchildren were taught privately in the farmhouse.  Donald’s daughter Ann was married to a Lochs man in Patagonia.  The family had returned temporarily earlier that year and three girls of school age were left in Linshader with their grandparents, with their father paying for their private tuition.

In 1926 a side school attached to Breasclete school opened in a room in the farmhouse.  Here nine children, including the family of Murdo Macrae, gamekeeper at Grimersta, received their schooling.  Murdanie Mackay of Linshader who joined the school about 1937 remembers the headmaster of Breasclete School (Domhnall Caol) coming on a bicycle once a month in the summer to check on the progress of the pupils.