The People of Luachair and Crola

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Kinresort is the area on the border between the Isle of Lewis and Harris and the head of Loch Resort. On the Lewis side is the hamlet of Crola in Uig and the hamlet of Luachair lies across the river in North Harris. This area was the focus for several other small settlements along the coast.

Lily Macdonald (nee Ferguson) born in 1918 remembers the community of Kinresort, having been born there while her father was an under keeper for the estate of Morsgail. Morsgail Estate covers the area from Loch Vosimid to the river at Crola. Those isolated hamlets have all been uninhabited for over thirty years.

I remember there was a gamekeeper’s house on each side of the river with five people in each. Our house was on this side and in Luachair the gamekeeper Aonghas Og and his wife and their family Seonaidh, Ruaridh and Seonaid.  There were two blackhouse at the shore.  One was where Malcolm Macaskill, lived with three of his sisters:  Anna, Cairstiona, and Mary. Malcolm Macaskill the postman, walked his route between Luachair and Morsgail, six days a week for forty years. He was awarded the BEM. He preferred the rain and inclement weather. If the day was hot and dry he would say “Tha i dona air do chnàmhan an-diugh“. Malcolm Macaskill created the postman’s track. The stone cairns creating way markers that begin at the beehive dwellings at Morsgail and you can follow them all the way to Kinresort. The other blackhouse at the shore was Finlay Ruadh and Kate Anna.

At Crola on the Uig side of the river was Calum Crola whose wife was from Callanish. Calum Crola had a son Murdo and a daughter Kate and they lived with their widowed father and his three sisters. One of Calum’s sisters looked after the house, another sat at the spinning wheel all day. Calum Crola was very talented with his hands – he made by hand all the furniture in the house. It was all made from driftwood he had gathered from the shore.

His sister Mòr was the housekeeper and everyday she took sand up from the shore and scrubbed the furniture with it. Everything was sparkling white. I loved to help her and still remember the joy of it. Murdo had even made a folding table which was put away after every meal. He made a lantern with wax which had been washed up on the shore.

Calum’s daughter Kate was very intelligent; she had gone to school in Scarp for a while and was about thirty when I remember her in Crola. When everyone else had died she left Crola to go to live in Kinresort, in an extension to the old school house. Then she went to An Grianan to live with a cousin from Scarp, the blind Catriona na h-Airde Bige. Calum’s son Murdo was extremely gifted and though he never went to school his sister Kate taught him the little she had learned in her brief time in school in Scalpay. John Smith the headmaster in Crowlista who later went to teach at Sandwick School used to send Murdo books through the post.

Lily Macdonald was interviewed by Maggie Smith for Hebridean Connections.