with Torquil MacRae
I began my life on this very croft. I was born on 21st July 1923, and there was no minister here at that time. It was in 1924 that Malcolm MacIver came, and it was Rose who was here in 1923, so I was more than a year old before I was baptised. Now, nobody believes it, but I can remember my own baptism. I was only a little over a year old. There was only one school-room and it was so high. It is the size of the room that I remember. Malcolm MacIver the minister – Calum Beag – was related to my father. There wasn’t much money around, but he never saw me without giving me a sixpence. We had the weekly meetings in the school-house on Thursday evenings before they built the meeting-house.
When I went to school, there were thirty-three children in it. When I began to walk there was something in my blood that drew me down to the shore. They were sure that they would find me drowned sometime.
I had two brothers and three sisters. My three sisters are living still, but my older brother is dead. It was in our grandfather’s house that he was brought up. At that time there was plenty fish around the shore. The herring were coming inshore every Spring. They were so full of liver that they stayed on the surface. It was the same with the salmon – they were coming down, the stream at Ceann Thurnabhagh. I remember the first salmon that I got in the stream. I was only nine years old when I saw it. I did not know how to catch it.
Peigi Chailein’s father and mother were there, lifting potatoes, and I heard him shouting, “What have you got there, Donald?”. “A salmon”, I said. “Don’t scare it – wait till I come” He came with the fork, stuck the fork through it, and lifted it up on it. He brought it up a bit, and the salmon was so big – bigger than I was anyway – and its tail was sweeping the ground as I took it home – and that was the first salmon that I got. Many a one I got since then, in various ways! We do not need to go in to that now! There was peat on our croft. When I was young, I got carried out there in the creel. The creel was full of peat on the way home. When we went out the peat road, we took the horse and cart. We used to go out in the cart, then run back home to get a lift out in the next cart.