A Look Back on Cuidinish (part 2)

A Look Back on Cuidinish (part 2)


with Neil MacCuish, Horgabost

House weddings

When you came in to the far end of the Cuidinish road there was a branch going up to the MacLennans’. That was where the Poll Garbhadh people came from, down at the head of the sea. When you turned left, there was a big house – a big long house with two families in it – Big Angus and Little Angus. Little Angus went to Cheesebay and married Rachel Morrison there. Big Angus came to Pairc an t-Srath at Borve after his father died.

The road into Cuidinish was made after the war. The first wedding after that was “Robert” – Iain Morrison – and Mary MacKinnon, and after them Donald Morrison and Kate MacKay – they came one after the other. Then John MacLeod and Kate – they got married on the mainland. Dougald MacKay and Rachel, Mairi’s aunt, and then Donald MacLean and Sheila – they were married in Cuidinish.

The weddings were in the houses. There was the reiteach first and after that the wedding itself. The weddings were good. The reiteach was about three weeks before the marriage. Not so many went to the reiteach. The women would be apart in the small room and the men sitting at the table. The man who was looking for the wife would be seated at the head of the table. But it wasn’t him that was in the chair at all. They would say that they had come this night and they were wanting something particular. They would say that they didn’t think that he would find anything there that night. Then he would say that he was looking for a wife for this man. Someone would say that there were plenty looking for a wife.

They would bring out the first girl, and he would look her up and down. “O, I won’t take her at all,” he would say – and she was a reject! She didn’t make the grade! The next girl, and the third, and so it went on – talking and arguing for a long time! At last someone would come in with the bride-to-be. She would suit him very well. “You won’t get her at all,” came the answer. “That’s the one I want,” says the suitor. “Have you no shame?” the man at the head of the table would say, “You aren’t going to get a good woman like that!” At last they would ask her if she would have him, and she would say yes. They would take her then and set her beside the bridegroom-to-be. It was great fun. There was always someone who would get the others going. Calum MacLeod from Cnoc Esgan was always there – he was very witty.

The drams would start going round and the plates would start to clatter in the kitchen. Then they were brought in with the food, and then the songs would begin. Before the wedding, the women killed hens, plucked them and cooked them. The couple went around the houses inviting people.

We had a saying, “Donald is going to marry”. Paddy was going to marry, and he came to our house. I remember him saying to my father: “Well, Iain, did you hear about Donald?” My father understood that he meant himself, and said that he had! They felt so awkward going round inviting people.

They would walk to Manish for the wedding to the Church there. Mr Kennedy was the minister then. Some asked the minister at Tarbert to marry them. Then they would set of home, singing, “I am coming home, and I’m married to her…!”

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