Friday had even seen some folk leaving the island, but most folk seemed to be going on the Saturday afternoon ferry. In the morning it was too wet to do the usual massed choirs parade through the town. Instead we were all instructed to gather at the school for a big sing! Those who were left filled the hall and enjoyed an hour or so’s singing – Sine Bhan, Gleann Bhaile Chaoil, Illean Bithidh Sunndach, Suas leis a Ghaidhlig, etc.….each song conducted by a different choir master, and with a lot of humour from the master of ceremonies! This is Catriona our Gaelic tutor with some faces you have seen before. Catriona has just celebrated her 90th birthday. She comes from Eriskay, which is where the SS “Politician” carrying crates of whisky to America, went aground in 1941, giving Compton Mackenzie the story of Whisky Galore. Apparently Catriona’s father was one of the main characters in the real story. She can tell a few stories of the goings-on to save the ship’s cargo, and evade the excisemen.
And here are my wee cousins with Lisa, their mum. Not only was Lisa conducting her choir but Nuala was competing in her first Mod – AND she was second in her competition!!! First next year?
So everyone then began to disperse, and I found Catriona wandering around looking quite lost – not like Catriona. She’s as with-it and as fit as someone half her age. She was looking for Jackie and May so I offered to help her find them – which we never did, due to mobile phone batteries fading and others switched off! However I spent the afternoon with Catriona, drinking wine and tea at the County Hotel, hearing some of her stories and getting a couple of Gaelic lessons forbye! Soon it was time to get her to the ferry terminal , which was where we eventually found Jackie and May.
We all said goodbye as they and several others from our choir went for the boat. I was booked for the next day but in the meanwhile was going back to Shawbost. Tim, Maddy, Jennifer and I paid a farewell visit to Ann next door before heading out to a Beer Festival Tim had heard about! As it happened, when we got there we found that the cost for the evening was astronomic so in the end we about turned and came home.
On the Sunday morning Tim and Maddy left early. bound for Harris for the ferry to Skye. Jennifer went to church, and I packed up my car and headed back to Stornoway again to wait in the queue for the boat. Jennifer would be along later. The ferry was late in, so there was plenty of time for a look around the terminal building with its amazing batik banners hanging round the octagonal cupola. That’s the ferry terminal in the background, behind the other fishwife statue I mentioned the other day.
You really will have to click them to see them clearly.
Incidentally, I forgot to show you a fabulous Harris tweed wall hanging in the centre where we sang on Friday. While we’re on the subject of artworks I’ll show you now, with some close-ups of some of the motifs. It was specially made by Isle of Lewis Quilts for the Mod and not only celebrates it but also the hundredth anniversary of the Harris tweed logo – the famous orb. There was a map of the islands - Lewis being the top part of the most northerly island - gannets flying high above. You’ll recognise the standing stones, and a Celtic cross, and below is one of the hoard of chess pieces found buried on a beach on the Lewis west coast, in the 19th century.
I just loved this, and the talent of the needlewomen.
The prow opened like a giant mouth and soon the arriving traffic was being disgorged. There wasn’t much of it. The Sunday sailing is quite a recent innovation and still many of the islanders don’t use it as they are against breaking the Sabbath. The Stornoway streets were quite deserted, not a shop open, as I took my final look around. Just a few views of the town before the ferry journey…..
the Town Hall, where we sang our first competition on Friday morning…..
At last we were directed onto the boat and finally set off for Ullapool.
We’ll be back! In a few years…. after the Mod has been in Dunoon, Paisley, Oban….
Talk again soon.