with Donald MacDonald (Domhnall Shàm), Horgabost
We came to the machair on the 28th of May 1937. I remember it as though it were only yesterday. It was two years before that that the machair was broken up into crofts. There were 8 crofts in Horgabost and 20 in Seilebost. There were so many wanting crofts that they had to put the names into a hat. My father drew a blank, and it was Domhnall Iain Mhurchaidh from Geocrab that got this croft, but he didn’t like it, and my father got it then.
We came here in Cròicean’s lorry, the lorry the Department of Agriculture had in Luskentyre, and we left Manish in that. My grandfather, myself, my mother and father and Sarah were in it, and we came around by the Uamh Ard. Didn’t my brother Calum make a song about it?
I will remember until I die
The chill in my bones
Going round the Uamh Ard
In the back of Cròicean’s lorry.
Calum and my father’s brother Calum came across the hill with a cow we had. They went out by Ceann an t-Saile, through Bealach na Ciste, until they reached opposite where Ted Cadden’s house is now.
Alasdair a’ Bhàinich’s grandmother, Margaret Ross and his mother, Beathag, were waiting for us. We were living in a hut – huts were what everyone lived in then, until they got houses built. The women gave us tea. There were no fences or anything here then, just trees, and the birds singing. It was really lovely.
We would be going across the hill to Manish now and again, and even some of the old people were getting their pensions there.
I went once with Angus, my mother’s brother, and we went down the Sgrioba Ruadh, and when we were opposite Cuidinish, we cut across to Manish. It was easier going that way. Many a time I went across to the Mill at Geocrab for my mother, through Bealach Creag an Eoin, going out where the causeway is today, and coming down to Alasdair Màrtainn’s house (at Bayhead).
They were very homesick, and so was I. Although a lot came to the machair, we were missing those we left behind, as well as the place itself. The fishing was good in the Bays. My mother would put the potatoes on the fire to boil, and my father would go out fishing for cuddies. He would be back with the cuddies before the potatoes were ready. You couldn’t do that here at all.
Even the Cluer Bard – though it was from Seilebost that his ancestors had left – didn’t want to go back there, until he would be buried there.