October 3rd Progress Report: how we are getting on.

The WW1 sub-group of Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist A Tuath has been busy out and about, filming interviews and capturing content both for Guthan Nan Eilean and for our exhibition and our eventual publications. So far Willie Macdonald has read some of the war poems of Domhnall Ruadh Choruna and spoken about his own relatives’ experiences of war. The Reverend John Smith, who will be opening our exhibition on November 11th, has described the Opening of the War Memorial at Clachan and has written a very moving lament of his own about war and loss. Norman MacLean is busy rehearsing a poem he has written about his grandfather saying his final farewell to his mother, when she was aged five, at the gate of Carinish School, with pupils from that school.
Cathie Laing has recorded poignant memories of her great-uncle and his suffering from the effects of mustard gas. Alec MacAulay has described an important event, one which powerfully demonstrates the effects of this war on the island, namely the Land raids. Lachie Morrison has contributed valuable documentation, photos and song about his father’s wartime experience.
More interviews with Donald MacCormick, Maggie Cooper, Isa MacKillop, Duncan MacKinnon, Ewen MacAskill and Norman Johnson, are at the edit stage, and we aim to finish the last five interviews by October 10th, leaving us one month to complete the exhibition DVD on time for the opening. We meet as a sub-group today to do our final planning for the exhibition. We will also be meeting with Simon MacQuarrie later next week to discuss the design of the exhibition. We are very grateful for the support of Proiseact nan Eilean with our exhibition. Their gift to the project of two Ipads has proved invaluable with our filming.

Norman Maclean: Òran do Sgoilearan Chàirinis

Shared from Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean

Norman Maclean’s grandfather (also Norman – Tormod Ailein) was lost at sea in the First World War, when Norman’s mother was still young.

In another contribution to the project, Mary Morrison arranged for Norman to visit Sgoil Chàirinis, where his mother was a pupil, to recite this specially composed Gaelic song, and help the children learn to sing it.

In the video clip below Norman gives a crystal clear rendition of the words.

With his kind agreement, a written version is also made available on Clilstore so you can listen and read at the same time. Click on this link – Unit 2307 – to go to the transcription.

Isa MacKillop: Companaich m’ Òige

Shared from Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean

The latest addition to the project is a song, courtesy of Isa MacKillop, well-known throughout the community for her longstanding commitment to, and support for, the passing on of local Gaelic traditions and music. As she explains in her words of introduction, the song – “Companaich m’ òige” (companions of my youth) – was composed by her paternal uncle Iain Archie MacAskill, the “Bard of Berneray”. He returned from the war, while many of his comrades did not. He later moved to Australia, and composed this song there.

The song can be found in the collection “An ribheid chiùil”, edited by Alick Morrison, published in 1961. Copies are hard to come by these days – though here’s an interesting story from another Island Voices contributor on how at least one special copy found its way back to Berneray…

This recording was made by Mary Morrison.