Extracts from the Evidence presented to the Dewar Commission in 1912, regarding medical service in the Highlands and Islands. Among the people interviewed was Dr Victor Alexander Ross, doctor at Garynahine who served Uig from 1900. The commission was chaired by Sir John Dewar MP (he of Dewar’s whisky) and included Charles Orrock, Chamberlain of the Lews. This interview took place on Saturday 12 October 1912 at the Garynahine Hotel; the questions are put to Dr Ross by the Chairman.
You might give us an indication of the extent of the territory you have to cover. Can you give us the acreage? – About 40,000 acres
The population is 4462? – Yes, of course it varies considerably at different times of the year.
Is it very much scattered, or are the people in townships? – In townships.
The townships, I suppose, are very widely scattered? – Yes, the farthest off one is thirty miles off.
Is that a considerable township or a small one? — A small one with about 200 inhabitants.
You are unable to give the proportion of patients at the various distances from you. Are there any within three miles? Have you a township within three miles? — Yes
What is the population of that township? — About 300.
On Saturday, 12 March, 1932, a north westerly gale was blowing and a heavy Atlantic swell was running. When Angus MacKinnon, skipper of the lobster boat, Margaret, saw the inclement weather conditions, he woke his father, Cain, and requested his assistance as an extra hand on the boat. Though retired from fishing, Cain agreed. Angus’s younger brother Calum was also a crew member, but his father decided that he should not accompany them.
At daybreak on that fateful morning, two Brenish boats were launched at Molinish. Strong arms and robust backs were required to haul the boats down the shingle beach and out into the Atlantic swell. With their sails unfurled, one boat headed for the lobster pots they had set opposite Brenish while the Margaret headed in the opposite direction to their pots behind Eilean Mealista.
The Margaret was seen dipping in the heavy swell and about to round Eilean Mealista but was never seen intact again. Paradoxically, the bad weather only lasted for a couple of hours and the rest of the day was calm.
As told by Rev Donald Macaulay. English text follows the Gaelic. Photo of Brenish by Chris Murray.
Bha an cogadh a dol bliadhnaichean agus am màrbhadh eadar Clann ‘ic Leòid, Clann Choinnich agus na Moireasdanaich agus an deidh dha Clann Choinnich an t-eilean fhaiginn mu dheireadh dhaibh b’fhèin agus thàinig siothladh de shìth anns an eilean an uairsin. Ach cha tugadh fìr Ùig gèill do chlann Choinnich idir gu h-àraidh am fear a bh’air an ceann – Dòmhnall Cam. Cha b’e Sìthphort a bh’ann ach MacCoinnich eile – bha Sìthphort airson sìth anns an eilean. Bha Oighreachd mhòr aige air a’mfor-thìr agus ‘s e a’siamarlan a bh’airge air a mhor-thìr duine uasal eile ris an canadh iad Alasdair MacCoinnich, Achilty de theaghlach uasal. ‘S e daoine de’n seòrsa sin gle thric a bha nan siamarlan, gu h’araidh anns na h-oighreachdan mòra. Bha Sìthphort agus clan Amhlaigh air a bhith cogadh cho fada agus mu dheireadh thainig e gun cho-dhùnadh nach dèanadh iad rèit a chaoidh. Thug e a nall Alasdair MacCoinnich gus an tigeadh e gu Dòmhnall Cam airon Cùmhnant sìth a dhèanamh ris.
‘S e an cumhnant a bha e a’dol a dhèanamh ri Dòmhnall Cam gum faigheadh a h-uile duine a bh’ann an Ùig an talamh mar a bha iad roimhe sea bho Mhacleòid agus nach cuireadh duine dragh orra a chaoidh fhad’s a dheanamh iad síth ri Clann Choinnich. A thilleadh air a sin, gu’n toireadh Achilty a nighean aige do mhac Dòmhnaill Chaim airson a pòsadh. ‘S i seo Anna.