Broadford, Skye, 16 May 1883 - Kenneth Mcrae

KENNETH M'RAE, Fisherman, Dunan (54)—examined.

4953. The Chairman.
—Are you a cottar ?
—I have a lot, but it is not a lot. It was taken from me, but my name is in the books yet. The schoolhouse, of which the former delegate spoke, was built on the half lot which I had, and the best part of the lot was taken from me—the part in which I used to plant potatoes, which I have been doing fer twenty years without changing seed. There was no other part of my lot cultivable except gennett what was built upon for the schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was placed on it, and other land was promised me, but I never got it; and what was left of the lot to me. There are three gates on the schoolhouse wall. There are two gates to the roadway. The school enclosure was built so near to the sea that the people going that way cannot pass except through the school ground, and they break the wall for the purpose. It used to be a place for sheltering boats in —both boats of the natives and boats of strangers, and now they cannot save a boat at all.

4954. What do you pay for your little plot ?
—£1 of rent. That is not a big rent, if one had value for it.

4955. What area of ground have you with your house?
—I can plant two bushels of seed oats in it and a barrel of potatoes ; and I have to carry half of the soil I need to cover the sea-weed with which I manure the ground. The greatest depth in any two square yards of it is not 6 inches—the substratum being rock.

4956. But what do the other people generally complain of in Dunan?
— I have nothing to say about these further than what is stated in the paper which was sent in for them, but they are fishermen altogether. It is as follows :
—'Unto the Honourable the Royal Commissioners for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland: the following petition, from the crofter-fishing population resident at Dunan, humbly showeth the grievances they have to complain of.
First, the amount of ground they at present possess is insufficient to maintain the population for three months in the year.
Second, a part of land was taken from us some years ago to form another croft, for which rent is now paid, but no allowance has been made to us for it. Instead of a reduction being made on our rents, they were raised.
Third, There are as many cottars crowded on the land as there are crofters.
Fourth, We have to buy all the sea-ware we put on our land from the large tenant farmers.
Fifth, The ground is so poor that there hasn't been a stone of meal made from all the corn grown on it for the last twenty years.
Sixth,That there is no place of refuge for our fishing boats.

4957. Do the large farmers charge money for seaweed?
—Yes ; we always pay for the sea-weed, but we have not paid for this year's sea-weed yet.

4958. Are the farmers severe in exacting the payment, or do they let you off sometimes?
—Sometimes they let us off without payment.

4959. You say you complain of having no pier or harbour. Is there a suitable place for building a pier or harbour ?
—I know of no place about more capable of it.

4960. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Is the sea opposite one of the best places for herring all about Skye?
—Branches of it.

4961. The Chairman.
—Could a pier be easily built?
—Yes, the most convenient place about for the purpose.

4962. What sort of pier do you want,
—merely a straight jetty out into the sea, or a quay along shore?
—A quay extending out, and a breakwater at the end.

4963. How far would it run into the sea?
—About 50 yards would do, or maybe less than that.

4964. Did you make a good fishing last year?
—Yes, but I lost my nets at Loch Hourn; and I was only three nights at that fishing.

4965. How did you lose your nets ?
—I took too much herring.

4966. Have you anything more to say ?
—There is a burn between us and the neighbouring township, and when the burn is in flood it is very dangerous for the children in the neighbouring township to cross to school. Their parents must meet them coming or going; and when the school skails, I cannot tell how many tracks they have through my cultivated land,

4967. Could you put up a foot bridge over the burn?

4968. Did you ever ask the factor?

4969. What did he say ?
—The factor granted us wood for the purpose, and the people were not able even to bring wood to the place or to erect the bridge.

4970. Why ?
—Because they can only get from the factor heavy trees to span the burn, and they have to lay stobs across this, and cover them with earth.

4971. Did you really try to bring the wood, or were you idle about it?
—We were both idle and lazy about it. We are not complaining.

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