With Mrs Chirsty MacLean (daughter of Neil son of Alex son of William)
It was working on the land that was the livelihood of the crofters in Ahmore. The children would be helping, looking after the animals, milking, clearing the byre, going out to the back of the hill looking for the animals in the summer, working on the harvest, lifting potatoes. There were peats and water to be brought home. But things have changed greatly today, and there is no heavy work for the children to do. Orinsay was under crofters too, where they were working the land. There were families living on Orinsay – Aonghas Mor, my grandmother’s brother, himself and his wife, Ailig MacCorcadail and Domhnall mac Aonghais Ruairidh, themselves and their families. They were farm-servants there, when Orinsay belonged to Balranald, then Iain Tailleir, then Uilleam Thrumaisgearraidh.
There was a treasure in Orinsay too! It was shepherds at Ahmore who found it – some MacKenzies. I heard that they were from Inverness way. One day my father, Padraig Dughlach, was working in Orinsay. One of the shepherds came to him, asking “Padraig, do you have a spade?”
“Yes”, he said.” One of my sheep died here and I am going to bury it.” But what was he doing but going after the treasure, and they found the treasure, and not a living soul in Uist heard that they found it. But it wasn’t long before they left being shepherds and bought themselves a farm outside Inverness way. They went to a jeweller in Inverness, and he didn’t have enough money to pay them its value.
We had old customs at Hogmanay, but we didn’t keep Hallowe’en ever. Weddings were usually on a Thursday. We would have a house-wedding on the Friday for those who were helping with in the wedding. For days before the wedding the people of the place would be coming with hens and meat. Everybody helped. When there was a death in the township, none of the neighbours would do any outside work until the funeral was past. There would be a ‘watchnight’ in the house until the funeral was past.
People told stories and sang songs. My father used to sing ‘Banais Mòr Chamshroin’ and ‘Oran na Camairt’. Alasdair Ruchdaidh was good at making songs, and so was Iain Stiubhart, and Uilleam a’ Chaolais.
The Sabbath was kept very carefully, and everyone would go to Church every Sabbath.
The cattle sales began in Ahmore in 1922. They would come from Berneray, Loch Portain, Lochmaddy and Sollas. Drovers would come home to buy the cattle.
There was a man they called Eachann Moireasdan who left a lot of money, and the interest from it was shared out among ten poor people between Sruthan Ruadh and Port nan Long. Ceit, my mother’s sister was getting it.
She also took the letters around the houses in Ahmore. Alasdair a’ Ghobha would leave them with him on his way from Lochmaddy. Her father and her grandmother were doing that job too.