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Story about how kelp-making came to North Uist, 20 January 1871

Identifier: Coll-97/CW116/165

Scope and Contents

Story collected from Alexander MacDonald, Cladach Chirceboist/Claddach Kirkibost, Uibhist a Tuath/North Uist about how kelp-making came to North Uist. The story tells how when Am Moraire Ban [Am Morair Bàn] came to North Uist he brought his wife, three children and factor, called Kingsburgh, and they lived at Sollas [Solas]. They met a crofter at Bailemhartain whose animals were emaciated whereupon Kingsburgh told the man that Lady MacDonald had come among the Uist tentantry for assistance to enable her to educate her child and that she expected five shillings from each crofter. The crofter said that there were only three pounds in the whole island and that this was sent for use from one person to another. He told them who had the money at that time. Lady MacDonald wept and said that she could not expect money from people who were so poor. Kingsburgh then asked if the man would make kelp as there was 'plenty of gold on the shores & rocks of Lochmaddy' [Loch nam Madadh] in the form of kelp. He explained that it was possible to get a pound a ton of kelp from which Lady MacDonald could receive her five shillings. Twelve Irishmen then came in a boat to Lochmaddy to show the local men how to make kelp. The people from the west side of the island heard about this and so went to see the kelp kilns in operation. The Irishmen attempted to burn and frighten the locals by pouring water on the kelp kilns after which they 'progged the burning kelp with their long oak cabers'. Instead the burning kelp flew out of the kiln in all directions severely injuring eleven of the twelve men, the locals remaining unharmed. The unharmed Irishman had to carry his companions to the boat 'where they lay a long time a deaths door'. Carmichael makes a note of the previous entry in his notebook about kelp manufacturing coming to North Uist.


  • Creation: 20 January 1871

Language of Materials

Gaelic English

Conditions Governing Access

This material is unrestricted.


From the Series: 64 folios ; 19.5 x 23 cm