Comann Eachdraichd Uig

Long an Iaruinn: the Ship of Iron

Sgeir an Iaruinn

Dolly Doctor, in Tales and Traditions, tells of the wreck of a ship at Carnish in 1775. In the picture Sgeir an Iaruinn is the small island in the middle of the picture, with Shielibhig in the distance on the far left.

All night the people round Uig Bay had listened to the cries of woe and frightful screaming from the crew of the ship gone aground, as piece after piece broke away from the ship and the crew were being washed overboard; but they could do nothing to help them, for no boat could live in those awful waves and the night was inky black. She was a big ship, and had come into Camas Uig the evening before, seeking shelter in the lea of Sgeir Sheilibhig, putting out two anchors for futher safety. The wind began to get stronger as night came on, and by midnight it was blowing a howling gale right into Uig Bay. She began to drag the two anchors until she scudded before it, gaining momentum all the time, until she struck on a sunken bogha with such for that she gave off a loud clang as of metal being struck, so that all the houses in Carnish and Crowlista heard the noise. This was a mortal blow for it ripped part of her timbers off, then she scurried with renewed force onto the sharp fangs of the skerry at Carnish Point, where the mighty billows kept on tearing her asunder, but she was well out from the land and no human being could get to her on such a night of doom.

Intolerable Postal Facilities, 1920

Stornoway Gazette
Friday, 16 January 1920


At a meeting held in Crowlista Public School, Miavaig, Lewis, on Tuesday, 30th December 1919 presided over by Col. Lindsay, Morsgail Lodge,Lord Leverhulme’s representative here, and attended by representatives from all the townships of West Uig, it was resolved to lay before the Postmaster General, their grievances and complaints with regard to the very unsatisfactory state of the mail service to and from Miavaig and Callanish.

This is a grievance of long standing, but during the war inconveniences were borne without complaint. Now that the war is over, postal facilities should be improving, but instead, they are actually getting worse, and becoming intolerable.

In November last, the motor launch, that carried the mails between Callanish and Miavaig (being far too small and inequal to the difficulties and dangers of that passage) was disabled and cast upon a desert island, where fortunately, the men, at great risk and peril of life, were able to save themselves, but some of the mails were badly damaged. Since then the conveyance of the mails is dependant on the occasional passage which a sailing boat can effect across the dangerous sound. Owing to rough weather, with contrary winds, tides, etc. it is often unable to make the crossing, consequently great inconvenience, dissatisfaction, delays and losses are caused. 

An Saighdear Chaluim Bhain

Donald Matheson, an Saighdear Chaluim Bhain, was a son of Malcolm Matheson (Calum Bàn) of Valtos and Crowlista.  (Calum Bàn has some interesting ancestors who can be found by following the lines back via Hebridean Connections.)  Donald was born in the 1740s and joined the army, serving at the siege of Louisbourg in 1758, and later with the 78th Seaforth Highlanders in India and Ireland. He returned to Uig where he married Chirsty Macdonald and had a large family.

One of their children, also Donald, joined the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1815 and was offered land in Manitoba, but came back to Lewis in 1821.  He married Helen Maciver of Carnish and lived in Timsgarry until they emigrated to Nova Scotia; three of their children were born in Lewis and nine more in Canada.  After Donald Sr. died in 1831, his widow Chirsty joined the rest of the family across the sea.

The following song, An Saighdear Chaluim Bhain, is said to have been written for Donald Sr during his time as a soldier in Ireland, though whether by Chirsty is unknown.

Hi horaibhe hoirinn hoirinn
Hi horaibhe hoirinn ail
Hi horaibhe, och is eileadh
Leamsa b’eibhinn d’fhaicinn slan.

Chuir iad thu air tìr an Eirinn
‘S aotram bha do cheum air sràid
Chuir iad umad dèise an t-saighdear
Bu fhèin an diaman a-measg chàich.