A Look Back on Cuidinish (part 1)

A Look Back on Cuidinish (part 1)


with Neil MacCuish, Horgabost

The Light at Calum MacLeod’s House

Calum MacLeod’s house was far from the main road at Cnoc Esgan, and, the time we were seeing the light there, there was just a track down through the village. It was in 1939 that they got the footpath through. I was working on Calum’s road – six pence halfpenny an hour. You got paid once a fortnight – and it seemed a lot!

You would leave Flodabay behind and come towards Cuidinish along the main road. You would break off at the road end, where the road comes today, and you would go down there, to where Calum’s land began. He had more than eighty acres, but it was a dreadful patch of moorland. You went down further and Calum’s house was on the left-hand side. The sea was in front of it – the Minch – a beautiful place in the summer. You get a good view of his house from Manish, from the Carnan Mor. We used to go down there in the winter on bicycles.

I was there one night anyway, and I was looking at it from the top of the Carnan there and down to where you break off to the Manse – the Church of Scotland Manse – and we stopped there, with James, Calum’s boy, at my side, and we saw the light. Nobody said anything, because the boy was with us. There was the light, and at that time it was just a little bright patch, and you would have said that it was someone going back and forward past a light. It was as though you had a fire outside at night and the wind was blowing it into a flame. Sometimes you would see it going down to the shore. It went down to the very edge of the shore. Then it would become a big light and you could see the rocks and everything on the shore. Then it came back up and went back to the same place, to the bottom of the window where they were living.

Others saw it coming as far as the high road. I saw it one night coming out and I said to myself, “It will be at the main road when I go past,” but there was nothing there. It was like that for many years, but then the people there died, and they never saw it anymore. Some were saying that the family themselves never saw it, but there was no way that the boy could have not seen it that night, along with me and right at my side. I did not like to ask him if he was seeing it, but Calum himself used to ask, “Did you see my light?”

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