A new addition to the museum this month is the bell from the shipwrecked Esra, kindly loaned by John Murdo Mackay, 1 Carishader. The bell was used at Buth Iain Uisdean, his grandfather’s shop. When Iain Uisdean came back from working with the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada, he had a little money and started the shop on the family croft at 2 Carishader. The croft was crowded, and when the Macneills at No. 1 emigrated, he had first refusal on their house and croft and moved in there. The shop remained at No 2, roughly on the site of the Hayes’s shed, and the bell was hung for attracting the attention of the shopkeeper.
The Esra was a 412-ton, three-masted wooden barque from Norway and sailing with a cargo of timber and one passenger from Sandavall to Belfast. She was wrecked on Traigh na Clibhe on 3 November 1898 during a storm. The 11 aboard were rescued by local men and the remains of the hull can still occasionally be seen in the middle of the beach at certain tides.
Wood from the ship was used throughout Uig, in Baile na Cille church, in fanks and houses and in fencing the whole of Ollashal, the hill behind Carishader which was used as grazing for Kneep. How the bell came to be in the possession of Iain Uisdean isn’t clear. If he hadn’t had it straight from the wreck, there would have been ample opportunity to trade for it, wherever it was in the district, as his brother Donald was travelling as far as Breanish with a horse and cart full of provisions.