A letter to the Gazette on 15 October 1917, by “DJM”, Donald J Macleod, Inspector of Schools (not DJ Maciver as previously indicated.)
‘Neiseach’ [from a previous correspondence] maintains there are no pre-Norse Celtic remains in our island. That is not so, I may be able, in a limited way to illustrate at first hand. In 1915, I was fortunate enough, with the aid of a friend, to recover certain articles of antiquarian interest from a Viking grave at Valtos, Uig. These included two large oval Scandinavian brooches of brass, a connecting chain of the same metal, an amber bead, a fairly large heavy circular bronze ornament with raised centre and surface decorated with incised looped cords characteristically Celtic, a Celtic penannular brooch of bronze, a buckle and belt mounting also of bronze, with what Mr Curle, of the Scottish Museum, to which they were sent for expert examination, termed “double interlaced knotwork typical of the Celtic manuscripts of the best period. Also an iron knife and socket spear-head much corroded. A full description, with figured plates, will be found in the last volume of the Transactions of the Scottish Antiquities Society. It will be noted that all (and only) the bronze articles are indubitably Celtic. Mr Curle places the state of the burial about 850, and the fashioning of the ornaments at a very much earlier date. Of course, if may be suggested that they were the spoils of a Viking raid in Ireland, but the much more probably explanation is that these ornaments were secured from some Lewis source, probably a native family of distinction. In any case they are remains of an early age, found in Lewis, and as Celtic as any ever discovered from Cape Clear to the Butt.
Highland News, Monday 13 October, 1884:
The Northern Chronicle publishes the following sensational statement which we trust is somewhat exaggerated:– Mr Wm Mackay, Chamberlain of the Lews, has for some time back been engaged in visiting the different parts of the island for the purpose of collecting rents. On Monday last week [30 September 1884] he left for Uig, the people of which district were expected, as customary, to come forward and pay their rents on the following day. The Chamberlain was at Miavaig on Tuesday, to which place a large gathering of crofters and young men marched in a body carrying two banners, on one of which was written “Down with the Landlords” while the other had inscribed on it a Gaelic motto to the effect that the people were stronger than the proprietors. These banners were conspicuously planted in close proximity to Miavaig House, while the people all clustered together on a hillock within a short distance of the road.
The crofters were repeatedly asked to come forward to explain the object of their demonstration, but none answered to the call, until Mr Mackay, recognising one of the men, called him by name, when he came forward and handed the Chamberlain a paper containing requests to the effect that they (the crofters) required all the squatters in the Uig district to be removed off their lands and provided with lands elsewhere; also, that statements be furnished accounting for the expenditure of the school rates, taxes, and road assessments collected for a number of years back; and further that the present holdings of the crofters be increased to the same extent as those occupied by their fore-fathers, and to be held at the old rents.
Màiri, born 1841, was a daughter of Murdo Maciver and Mary nee Morrison, of Pabbay, 11 Kneep and later 25 Valtos. She emigrated to the United States and while there suffered greatly with homesickness and composed the song Och nan och, tha mi fo mhulad. According to tradition she lost her sight with the associated weeping but it is more likely that her blindness was caused by some substance used in her daily work in a laundry. Màiri did eventually return home to Uig. Her grandfather Norman Morrison was also blind, a consequence of his service in Egypt with the Ross-shire Buffs (78th).
Does anyone know more verses than these nine?
Nuair a rinn mi airson fàgail
Fhuair mi beannachd mo chàirdean
Ghabh mi ’n t-aiseag air a’ bhàt’
Gu ruig’ sàil nam beann mòr.
Och nan och, tha mi fo mhulad
Dhomhsa tha mo chòmhradh duilich
’S cruaidh an càs ach ’s fheudar fhulang
’S mi fuireach ann an coille mhòir.
Nuair a thàinig mi air fòrladh
A dh’Amearagaidh a chòmhnaidh
Chunnaic mi a’ sin luchd eòlais
Anns gach dòigh sa robh iad ann
Excerpts from Stornoway Gazette, Local and District News (Uig)
April 5th, 1918
FRIENDS FROM ACROSS THE SEA: One of the few pleasurable results of this terrible and miserable war is the occasional opportunity offered to friends and relations at home of meeting and welcoming friends and relations from beyond the seas – friends whom, in the ordinary course of events, they might never have then chance of seeing. Long ago many families from Uig and elsewhere were forcibly and unjustly ejected from their happy, if humble homes, and banished to far-off lands in order to make room for sheep and deer. The descendants of those evicted, disregarding the injustice and the wrong so glaringly inflicted upon their ancestors, listened to the call of duty, took up arms in defense of the Mother Country, and offered their services -their lives possibly – in order to help and save her from the tyranny of a treacherous and cruel foe. These come in their hundreds and thousands from all quarters of the globe – from the far West of Canada, to the Far East of Australia and New Zealand, and all the Colonies in between. Ties “lighter than air but stronger than iron bands”, bind these Colonists to the home country, and particularly to the “old haunts” of their forebears, and during their respite from military duties they take the opportunity of visiting these scenes and seeing the descendants of their forefathers’ compatriots. We also are delighted to see these scions of the old stock, and glory in the realisation of a connecting link between our own present and the past generation of old stalwarts and graceful beauties of whom we have heard so much. What also gives very great pleasure is the fact that many of these speak fluently, the old mother tongue, and, what is no less surprising, they speak it with practically the same tone and accent as if they have been born, and brought up within sound and sight of Traigh Mhoir Uige.