Comann Eachdraichd Uig

The One Night Shieling

One Night Shieling

From an article in Uig News by Dave Roberts.

It appears that shielings were constructed so that one airigh could easily be seen from another, but it is said that very often the girls from a number of shielings would sleep in one building for company. The ancient shieling grounds for Brenish, Islivig and Mangersta were way beyond Raonasgail valley, in the moors north of Loch Craobhaig, at Fidigidh. The people of Carnish had their shielings by Loch Raonasgail, and at Ceann Chuisil. There are also ruins of old shieling structures closer to home, west of Mealisval, Cracaval and Laival. In the late nineteenth, and into the twentieth century, shieling activity was largely restricted to these closer locations.

About half a mile from Tealasdale is one of the shieling grounds of Old Mangersta, situated north of Ron Beag and west of Loch Faorbh. At the west end of Tealasdale is Sgorr Reamher and Bealach nan Imrich – “the pass of the flitting”, and below the Sgorr is the ruin of a very large and well built airigh. It is marked clearly on the first edition ordnance survey map. Its location is not very inviting. It is sheltered from the easterly winds but not from the southwesterlies. Even in summer the sun does not reach it until well into the day. This is Airigh na h’Aon Oidhche – “the one night shieling”.

The Grana Rescue at Mangersta

Mangersta, Uig, Isle of Lewis, originally uploaded by rachel 79.

Christina Mackay, Uig’s Victorian heroine, was the wife of Donald Mackay, who had the farm at Mangersta after the township had been cleared in 1872 and the people resettled for the most part in Doune Carloway.

In October 1896, a gale had been blowing for days and out at sea a Danish schooner was being battered by relentless winds and raging waves. On the evening of 21st this boat was in a sorry state. It had lost its bowsprit, the starboard bow was smashed in, and the bulwark from the stem to opposite the foremast was carried away along with the lifeboats. The sails were torn to ribbons, and excessive strain on the hull had caused it to leak. The crew hoisted distress signals but no one noticed, so the Captain decided their only hope was to run ashore. He spotted a sandy creek and the whole boat was carried in on the crest of a gigantic wave. They scraped over some rocks and then hit the sand. Iain Mackay, son of Donald and Christina, was on his way home from school and . He spotted the stricken vessel being driven ashore and ran home to tell of his exciting news.