Allan Campbell – Thursday December 30, 2021

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“’S iad gillean mo rùin a thogadh mo shunnd, gur seo a’ Bhliadhn’ Ùr thug sòlas duinn, ….!” Sin fear de na h-òrain air am biodh nàbaidh bhom òige a’ toirt langan madainn na bliadhn’-ùire, ged nach b’ è seinneadair a bh’ ann idir! Mun àm sin, tràth ann an caogadan naodh-deug, bha an ceud, ceathrad is seachd croitear air Oighreachd Ghleann Dail an Eilein Sgitheanaich an impis na cuibhreannan mu dheireadh a phàigheadh den iasad a thug an riaghaltas dhaibh ann an 1905 gus an oighreachd a cheannach, agus an cuid chroitean fa leth mar phàirt den sin. B’ e toradh ris nach robh dùil a bh’ anns an tairgse iasaid sin nuair a thàinig e, agus cha b’ iongnadh fìor theagamhan agus iomagain a bhith air coimhearsnachd le gann dà sgillinn a shuathadh iad ri chèile. Dh’fhàg an dragh sin gun robh buidheann beag de na teaghlaichean a roghnaich an oighreachd fhàgail seach a dhol ann am fiachan airson caogad bliadhna, ach ghabh an 147 eile ris agus ged nach robh mise a’ tuigsinn chùisean aig an àm ’s neònach mura robh na croitearan sin uile a’ cur luach nach bu bheag air a bhith an impis an cuid dhachaighean is chroitean a bhith pàighte ’s gun iad an eisimeil neo fo spòig uachdarain neo bàillidh tuilleadh. Bha iad air a bhith a’ ruith na h-oighreachd bho 1905 le taic is stiùir Roinn Àiteachais an Riaghaltais, agus ’s iad na seirbheisich chatharra sin a bu choireach dha na h-uireasbhaidhean a th’ air bonn-stèidh Oighreachd Ghleann Dail chun an latha an-diugh.

Ach a dh’aindeoin an eagail a bha na lùib ghabh na daoine ris an dùbhlan agus ann an 1905 b’ iad croitearan Ghleann Dail a’ chiad fheadhainn a fhuair sealbh air an cuid fearainn fhèin, gann fichead bliadhna an dèidh dhan t-Siorram Ivory caismeachd a-staigh dhan Ghleann air ceann feachd phoileas agus shaighdearan. Abair dà latha, ann an ùine cho goirid! Fhuair Croitearan Oighreachd Ghleann Dail an tèarainteachd cha mhòr do-chreidsinneach seo gann trithead bliadhna bho 1876 nuair a thachair an geama iomain air Pàirc na Banrigh ann an Glaschu mun do sgrìobh Màiri Mhòr nan Òran, agus ged a bha i fhèin agus càch a bha an làthair aig pàirc a’ chluiche aighearach bha gu leòr feadh na Gàidhealtachd aig an àm sin fhathast a’ fulang geur-leanmhainn gun lasachadh, agus a dhùisg strì an fhearainn. A’ coimhead air ais saoilidh mi gun robh muinntir na sgìre san do thogadh mi, a’ dh’aindeoin ’s gun robh iad fhathast gu math bochd, moiteil às an cuid athraichean a ghabh an ceum eachdraidheil a thug dìleab cho susbainteach, agus iomadh Bliadhn’ Ùr shòlasach dhaibh!

Ged a tha mòran choigrich san àite a-nise tha sliochd nan ceatharnach a rinn an t-strì fhathast mothachail agus moiteil à gaisge nam feadhainn a chaidh romhpa, agus a tha, mòran dhiubh, aig fois ann an Cladh Chille Chomhainn sa Ghleann. Tha mi a’ guidhe sàr Bhliadhn’ Ùr shòlasach dhuibh uile!

 

In 1876 the famous Gaelic bard Mary MacPherson, from Skye, attended a New Year shinty match at Glasgow’s Queens Park subsequently marking the occasion with the composition “Camanachd Ghlaschu” (Glasgow Shinty). The stirring first line of the poem sets the pre-match scene admirably ‘My favoured lads so raise my spirits; this is a joyous New Year…!’

Growing up in a village in northwest Skye in the early 1950s, I recall a neighbour, tunelessly but with real feeling, regularly belting out this line each New Year’s morning!  Looking back, I now realise that the 147 crofter shareholders in the Glendale Estate were then approaching the final repayments of the 50-year government loan which in 1905 enabled them to become the first crofter owner-occupiers in Scotland, and they must have been excited at the prospect of receiving full titles to their properties in 1955.

When the 1876 shinty-match took place many crofters were suffering extreme hardship, rack-renting, and constant threat of eviction, a situation which erupted into the crofter land-struggle of the 1880s and 90s. Established in 1882 the Glendale branch of the Land League and its rent-strike led to several confrontations with police reinforcements brought to the island from Glasgow, and in 1883 the infamous Sheriff Ivory led a detachment of police and Royal Marines into the Glen to serve summonses and arrest protest leaders.

As an eight-year-old schoolboy my grandfather witnessed that day’s events and he frequently told me of it as I grew up.

Extraordinary to think that twenty years later these same crofters were offered a government loan with which to purchase the Glendale Estate and their individual croft holdings, and it is not surprising that these penniless crofters might have been suspicious and extremely nervous of incurring such debt. Some chose to relocate, but 147 took the historic gamble and in 1955 they, and descendants, must have celebrated.

I can now appreciate how, for our neighbour and his fellow shareholders, each year-end leading to final settlement of the debt must have been “ joyful”, and I now wish you all a similarly “joyful New Year”!