2021 An Dùbhlachd: Turraisg gheal na Nollaig / Dec. White Christmas Pudding

Le seaboardgàidhlig

Turraisg gheal na Nollaig / White Christmas pudding

Taing do Janet, caraid dhomh ann an Liverpool, airson an reasabaidh seo. Rinn i an turraisg shònraichte seo do bhuidheann chàirdean gach Nollaig fad bhliadhnaichean, agus am bliadhna fheuch mi fhìn oirre – agus bha i blasda fhèin! Tha i math mar roghainn eile ma bhios tu sgìth den turraisg na Nollaig àbhaisteach, agus tha i fada nas fhasa ri dèanamh. Ach tha i ceart cho sàthach!

Grìtheidean (do mu shianar)

150 gr spuinnse thioram (leithid trifle no cèis flan), air a briseadh ann am pìosan glè bheag

1 no 1 ½ tiona orainsearean mandarin, gun sùgh!

75 gr measan tioram measgaichte

100 gr siristean glace

50 gr cnòthan-almoin bleithte

50 gr siùcar-fùdair

50 gr ìm, air a bhogachadh

1 spàin-bhuird sherry

Dòigh

Buail an t-ìm agus an siùcar gus am bi iad nan uachdar agus paisg na cnòthan-almoin a-steach dhan mheasgachadh. Cuir an sherry ris.

Measg a-steach, beag air bheag, na pìosan spuinnse, na measan tioram agus na siristean.

An uair sin cuir an darna leth de na h-orainsearan mandarin (air an deagh thraoghadh!) ris, agus measgaich gu math a-rithist. Thèid na pìosan a bhriseadh – tha sin ceart gu leòr, bheir iad taiseachd dhan mheasgachadh.

Aig an deireadh cuir an leth eile de na mandarins ris, gu cùramach, gus nach bris iad seo.

– Ma bhios am measgachadh ro thioram, cuir barrachd mandarins ris; agus ma bhios e ro fhliuch, barrachd spuinnse. Feuch blasad agus cuir barrachd siùcair no measan ris ma thogras tu, a-rèir do bhlais fhèin.

Cuir ann am bobhla-milseig e agus brùth am measgachadh sìos. Cuir film-còmhdachaidh air an uachdar agus fàg tron oidhche anns an fhrids e.

Mus cleachd thu an turraisg, tionndaidh a-mach air truinnsear i, agus sgeadaich i le “sneachd” siùcair-fhùdair agus measan no dearcan air a’ mhullach, no cuileann, agus ith le uachdar no reòiteag i. No ma bhios tu ag iarraidh turraisg fìor gheal, faodaidh tu a còmhdachadh le uachdar dùbailte no uachdar air a bhualadh.

Nollaig chridheil dhuibh uile!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

White Christmas pudding

Thanks to Janet, a friend of mine in Liverpool, for this recipe. She made this special pudding for a group of friends every Christmas for many years, and this year I gave it a try myself – and it was delicious! It’s a good alternative if you’re tired of the regular Christmas pudding, and is much easier to make. But it’s just as filling!

Ingredients (for approx.. 6)

150 gr dry sponge-cake (e.g. trifle sponges, flan case), broken into very small pieces

1 or 1 ½ tins mandarin oranges, without the juice!

75 gr mixed dried fruit

100 gr glace cherries

50 gr ground almonds

50 gr icing sugar

50 gr butter, softened

1 tablespoon sherry

Method

Cream the butter and icing sugar and fold in the ground almonds. Add the sherry.

Gradually work in the sponge pieces, the dried fruit and the cherries.

Now add half the mandarin oranges (well-drained!), and stir well in. The pieces of mandarin will break up – that’s OK, as they give moisture to the mixture.

At the end add the rest of the mandarins carefully, so these don’t break up.

– If the mixture is too dry, add a few more mandarins. If it’s too wet, add more sponge. Taste it and add more sugar or fruit if wished, to your own taste.

Put into a pudding-basin and press the mixture firmly down. Cover the surface with cling-film and leave in the fridge overnight.

Before serving, turn out onto a plate and decorate with icing-sugar “snow”, and fruit or berries on the top, or some holly, and eat it with cream or ice-cream. Or if you want a completely white pudding, cover it all over it in double cream or whipped cream.

Merry Christmas!


Tadhail air seaboardgàidhlig

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2021 An Dùbhlachd: Turraisg gheal na Nollaig / Dec. White Christmas Pudding

Le seaboardgàidhlig

Turraisg gheal na Nollaig / White Christmas pudding

Taing do Janet, caraid dhomh ann an Liverpool, airson an reasabaidh seo. Rinn i an turraisg shònraichte seo do bhuidheann chàirdean gach Nollaig fad bhliadhnaichean, agus am bliadhna fheuch mi fhìn oirre – agus bha i blasda fhèin! Tha i math mar roghainn eile ma bhios tu sgìth den turraisg na Nollaig àbhaisteach, agus tha i fada nas fhasa ri dèanamh. Ach tha i ceart cho sàthach!

Grìtheidean (do mu shianar)

150 gr spuinnse thioram (leithid trifle no cèis flan), air a briseadh ann am pìosan glè bheag

1 no 1 ½ tiona orainsearean mandarin, gun sùgh!

75 gr measan tioram measgaichte

100 gr siristean glace

50 gr cnòthan-almoin bleithte

50 gr siùcar-fùdair

50 gr ìm, air a bhogachadh

1 spàin-bhuird sherry

Dòigh

Buail an t-ìm agus an siùcar gus am bi iad nan uachdar agus paisg na cnòthan-almoin a-steach dhan mheasgachadh. Cuir an sherry ris.

Measg a-steach, beag air bheag, na pìosan spuinnse, na measan tioram agus na siristean.

An uair sin cuir an darna leth de na h-orainsearan mandarin (air an deagh thraoghadh!) ris, agus measgaich gu math a-rithist. Thèid na pìosan a bhriseadh – tha sin ceart gu leòr, bheir iad taiseachd dhan mheasgachadh.

Aig an deireadh cuir an leth eile de na mandarins ris, gu cùramach, gus nach bris iad seo.

– Ma bhios am measgachadh ro thioram, cuir barrachd mandarins ris; agus ma bhios e ro fhliuch, barrachd spuinnse. Feuch blasad agus cuir barrachd siùcair no measan ris ma thogras tu, a-rèir do bhlais fhèin.

Cuir ann am bobhla-milseig e agus brùth am measgachadh sìos. Cuir film-còmhdachaidh air an uachdar agus fàg tron oidhche anns an fhrids e.

Mus cleachd thu an turraisg, tionndaidh a-mach air truinnsear i, agus sgeadaich i le “sneachd” siùcair-fhùdair agus measan no dearcan air a’ mhullach, no cuileann, agus ith le uachdar no reòiteag i. No ma bhios tu ag iarraidh turraisg fìor gheal, faodaidh tu a còmhdachadh le uachdar dùbailte no uachdar air a bhualadh.

Nollaig chridheil dhuibh uile!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

White Christmas pudding

Thanks to Janet, a friend of mine in Liverpool, for this recipe. She made this special pudding for a group of friends every Christmas for many years, and this year I gave it a try myself – and it was delicious! It’s a good alternative if you’re tired of the regular Christmas pudding, and is much easier to make. But it’s just as filling!

Ingredients (for approx.. 6)

150 gr dry sponge-cake (e.g. trifle sponges, flan case), broken into very small pieces

1 or 1 ½ tins mandarin oranges, without the juice!

75 gr mixed dried fruit

100 gr glace cherries

50 gr ground almonds

50 gr icing sugar

50 gr butter, softened

1 tablespoon sherry

Method

Cream the butter and icing sugar and fold in the ground almonds. Add the sherry.

Gradually work in the sponge pieces, the dried fruit and the cherries.

Now add half the mandarin oranges (well-drained!), and stir well in. The pieces of mandarin will break up – that’s OK, as they give moisture to the mixture.

At the end add the rest of the mandarins carefully, so these don’t break up.

– If the mixture is too dry, add a few more mandarins. If it’s too wet, add more sponge. Taste it and add more sugar or fruit if wished, to your own taste.

Put into a pudding-basin and press the mixture firmly down. Cover the surface with cling-film and leave in the fridge overnight.

Before serving, turn out onto a plate and decorate with icing-sugar “snow”, and fruit or berries on the top, or some holly, and eat it with cream or ice-cream. Or if you want a completely white pudding, cover it all over it in double cream or whipped cream.

Merry Christmas!


Tadhail air seaboardgàidhlig

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Tha Loidhne Dartmoor air fosgladh – tha iomairt air tòiseachadh gus a leudachadh dhan Chòrn

Le alasdairmaccaluim

Dh’fhosgail rathad-iarainn ùr ann an Devon Disathairne sa chaidh.⁠⁠
⁠⁠
Seo “Rathad-iarainn Dartmoor” eadar Exeter agus Okehampton ann am Pàirce Nàiseanta Dartmoor. Loidhne a tha 14 mìle a dh’fhaid.⁠⁠
⁠⁠
Chaidh an loidhne a dhùnadh do luchd-siubhail bho chionn cha mhòr 50 bliadhna ach lean seirbheisean bathair gu na 2010an agus bha rathad-iarainn glèidhichte air pàirt den t-slighe cuideachd bho 1997 air adhart.

Bha a’ chomhairle ionadail agus ùghdarras na Pàirce Nàiseanta fada den bheachd gum bu chòir dhan loidhne ath-fhosgladh air adhbharan àrainneachdail agus eaconomach le cho dona ’s a tha an trafaig anns a’ Phàirce Nàiseanta agus mu dheireadh fhuair iad maoineachadh tro iomairt “Reversing Beeching” aig Riaghaltas na RA.

Chaidh an trac agus am bun-structar air fad ùrachadh agus tha an loidhne a cheart cho spaideil ‘s a bha i nuair a dh’fhosgail i an toiseach bho chionn 150 bliadhna.
⁠⁠
Bidh an stèisean ùr gu math goireasach ma tha thu air ùr thighinn a-mach à Broadmoor no ma tha thu a’ teicheadh bho Chù nam Baskerville! Bidh e feumail cuideachd ma tha thu dìreach a’ dol dhan Phàirc Nàiseanta – ach chan eil sin buileach cho inntinneach….
⁠⁠
Bha an loidhne seo mar phàirt de loidhne na b’ fhaide uair – a’ dol cho fada ri Bude air costa a tuath na Cùirne.

An t-seann loidhne eadar Okehampton agus Bude

Tha iomairt a’ dol air adhart gus an loidhne a thoirt air ais fad na slighe gu Bude leis a’ bhuidhinn Connect Bude. Gur math a thèid leotha.

Alasdair


Tadhail air Trèanaichean, tramaichean is tràilidhean

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Gaelic Word of the Week blog – Book – Leabhar

Le Oifigear Gàidhlig

Each week we publish the text of our Gaelic Word of the Week podcast here with added facts, figures and photos for Gaelic learners who want to learn a little about the language and about the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. This week our word is leabhar – book. This week is Books Week Scotland, … Leugh an corr de Gaelic Word of the Week blog – Book – Leabhar

Tadhail air Blog Pàrlamaid na h-Alba

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Hebridean Dijitaizieshan Senta

Le Gordon Wells

DijiSentaWahn shaat flim ina di Jamiekan langwij bout di Tobar an Dualchais (Well of Heritage) Dijitaizieshan Senta ina South Uist, ina di Outer Hebrides ina Scotland.

We were pleased to get Island Voices representation on the Digital Museum’s truly continent-spanning special event on International Mother Language Day this year. Starting in Bangladesh, where the movement began, the various sessions crossed Asia, Europe, and Africa, before finishing up with speakers from the Americas.

Gaelic was presented alongside Jamaican, and from that initial contact an exciting collaboration is growing up between the University of the Highlands and Islands Language Sciences Institute and the Jamaican Language Unit of the University of the West Indies Mona Campus. This is being developed through the enlargement of the inter-university Mediating Multilingualism project, which was already linking UHI with Indian partners.

The Jamaican Language Unit conducts research on the Jamaican language, and advocates for the recognition and officialisation of the language, and its teaching to native and non-native speakers. As part of Mediating Multilingualism it will oversee the creation of audio and audio-visual materials in the Jamaican language, the provision of transcripts, translations, and related lexicographic work, plus compilation of a 500,000-word corpus.

Test Clilstore units are now coming through, based on Island Voices documentary material, making use of the same Custom Wordlist function first tested out on Okinawan. Here’s an early sample, adding yet another language to our Other Tongues collection. The Tobar an Dualchais film was first made in Gaelic and English for Series Two Enterprise, with a Scots version following later. Many thanks to Hugh Campbell and the Jamaican Language Unit for this new production!

Hugh’s voiceover narration has been transcribed using the approved Cassidy-JLU orthography for the Jamaican language. Here’s the wordlinked Clilstore unit, with every word clickable for a Jamaican to English translation: https://clilstore.eu/cs/9897


Tadhail air Island Voices – Guthan nan Eilean

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Aonghas MacLeòid

Le comanngaidhligghlaschu

Às a’ Chamhanaich

An ath choinneamh o Chomann Gàidhlig Ghlaschu Diardaoin sa tighinn.  An aire nach urrainn don Dr Emily McEwan a bhith còmhla ruinn mar a bha an dùil ach tha sinn an dòchas gun cluinn sinn bhuaipe an ath bhliadhna. An àite sin bidh Aonghas MacLeòid o Cheap Breatuinn tighinn a’ bhruidhinn ris a’ Chomann mun nobhail grafaig ùr aige, Às a’ Chamhanaich. Tha sinn fada an comain Aonghas airson bhith deònach tighinn thugainn. An dòchas ar faicinn an sin. Bheiribh an aire gur ann aig 8.00f uairean (àm Ghlaschu), oidhche Dhiardaoin sa tighinn (18/11/2021) a bhios a’ choinneamh a’ tòiseachadh, leth-uair a thìde nas tràithe nan àbhaist.

Àm: 8.00f, Diardaoin 18ᵐʰ dhan t-Samhainn
Àite: Coinneamh tro mheadhan Zoom. Facal-faire: 885137coinneimh
Cànan: Gàidhlig

Our scheduled speaker, Dr Emily McEwan wont be able to make it (though we hope to hear from her next year). Instead, we will be joined next Thursday (18th November) by Aonghas MacLeòid, Cape Breton, who has kindly agreed to step in and will be talking to us, in Gaelic, about his new novel, Às a’ ChamhanaichPlease note the earlier starting time of 8pm (Glasgow time).

When: 8.00pm, Thursday 18th November
Where: Via Zoom meeting. Password: 885137
Language: Gaelic

Tadhail air Comann Gàidhlig Ghlaschu

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Oh the humanity! Trèanaichean hàidhdreaidein (agus bataraidh) aig COP26 #gàidhlig

Le alasdairmaccaluim

Bha tòrr a’ dol ann an Glaschu a thaobh còmhdhail sheasmhach an t-seachdain seo rè COP26.

Tha gu leòr air a bhith ag ràdh nach robh ann an COP ach cop agus nach deach gu leòr a dhèanamh. Nuair a sgrìobh mi seo bha sinn fhathast a’ feitheimh ris an aonta mu dheireadh.

Ach bha COP26 math air co-dhiù aon rud – a’ taisbeanadh còmhdhail sheasmach den t-seòrsa a bhios a dhìth oirnn san àm ri teachd.

Tha an Riaghaltas ag amas air lìonra rèile na h-Alba air fad a dhì-charbonachadh ro 2035. Nì iad seo tro bhith a’ cur uèirichean dealain an àirde airson a’ mhòr-chuid de na loidhnichean ann an Alba. Ach gus an tachair sin, agus airson nam beagan loidhnichean far nach biodh sin prataigeach (Loidhne na Gàidhealtachd a Tuath, Loidhne a’  Chaoil is Loidhne na Gàidhealtachd an Iar), bithear a’ cleachdadh trèanaichean dealanach le bataraidhean agus trèanaichean hàidhdreaidein.

Clas 230 BEMU (‘Battery Electric Multiple Unit’), Crois mo Liubha, Glaschu

Bha an dà chuid trèana dhealanach agus trèana hàidhdeaidein gan taisbeanadh aig Stèisean a’ Mheadhain rè COP agus rinn iad tursan gach latha airson daoine aig COP26 airson sealltainn dhaibh mar a bha an teicneòlas ag obair.

Cha robh mi cudromach gu leòr gus cuireadh fhaighinn airson a dhol orra ach chaidh mi a-mach air safari rèile gus am faicinn.

Seo an trèana hàidhdeaidein “Hydroflex” air Cearcall Cathcart agus seo an trèana bataraidh (D-train – seann trèana tiùb Lunnainneach ’suas-chuairtichte’) ann an Crois mo Liubha.

Clas 799 (HMU – Hydrogen Multiple Unit)

Ann am meadhan a’  bhaile, bha tòrr bhusaichean dealanach rim faicinn, a’  gabhail a-steach busaichean shuttle gu COP26 agus am bus eadar na stèiseanan uile. Chaidh mi air a bhus eadar Stèisean a’ Mheadhain agus Stèisean Sràid na Banrighinn agus bha e samhach, luath is spaideil.

Tha e math adhartas fhaicinn. Thathar a’ dealanachadh loidhne Chille Bhrìde an Ear an-dràsta fhèin is tha an Riaghaltas dìreach air aontachadh loidhne Barrheid a dhealanachadh cuideachd. Agus tha busaichean dealanach air fàs gu math cumanta sa bhaile a-nis cuideachd. Thòisich busaichean dealanach aig First Bus gu Milton bho chionn cha mhòr dà bhliadhna agus sna beagan sheachdainean a dh’fhalbh tha iad air fàs tòrr nas cumanta le tòrr aca a-nis aig companaidh busaichean McGills ann an Glaschu is Schd Rinn Friù.

B’ fheàrr leam gun robh adhartas cho mòr is cho luath seo ga dhèanamh air a h-uile rud eile sa cho-labhairt!

Alasdair


Tadhail air Trèanaichean, tramaichean is tràilidhean

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Gaelic Word of the Week – Cothrom na Fèinne – a fair chance

Le Oifigear Gàidhlig

Each week we publish the text of our Gaelic Word of the Week podcast here with added facts, figures and photos for Gaelic learners who want to learn a little about the language and about the Scottish Parliament – Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. This week our word is Cothrom na Fèinne – a fair chance or fair … Leugh an corr de Gaelic Word of the Week – Cothrom na Fèinne – a fair chance

Tadhail air Blog Pàrlamaid na h-Alba

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2021 an t-Samhain: Hiort (2) / Nov. St Kilda (2)

Le seaboardgàidhlig

Chunnaic sinn am mìos sa chaidh mar a dh’fhalbh na Hiortaich mu dhèireadh ann an 1930. San latha an-diugh chan eil daoine ann a’ bhios a’ fuireach anns an eilean ach buidheann luchd-obrach anns an stèisean beag an airm, feadhainn eile ag obair airson an Urrais Nàiseanta, agus bho àm gu àm luchd-saidheans tadhalach.

Bha ceangal ann eadar Hiort agus na Feachdan aig àm a’ Chogaidh Mhòir, mar a chunnaic sinn, le stèisean-siognail an nèibhidh 1915-19, agus bha fiù ‘s ionnsaigh le U-Boot ann an 1918, a rinn cròn mòr air an stèisean agus gu ìre air cuid-seilbhe muinntir an eilein. Ach cha robh uidh idir aig am MOD ann an Hiort anns an Dàrna Cogaidh agus cha b’ ann ach sna leth-cheudan, tron Chogadh Fhuar, a thàinig an t-arm gus stèisean eile a thogail – an turas seo stèisean-radar gus na rocaidean bhon rainse ùr ann an Uibhist a Deas a thracadh.  Tha iad anns an eilean a-nis o chionn 1957. Agus tha ceangal Seaboard ann – cò eile a bha an sas anns a’ chiad ìre-thogail ach Geordie Oliver againn fhein, aig an àm sin a’ dèanamh greis san RAF!

Bhon a’ chiad champa shimplidh, is iad a’ cleachdadh na h-eaglais mar sheòmar-bidh agus thaigh-dealbh, bha iomadh leasachadh ann, gu h-àraidh sna trì-ficheadan. An ceann ùine dh’fhàs e gu bhith na ionad steidhichte leis a h-uile goireas, fiù ‘s taigh-seinnse beag air a bheil The Puff Inn. A-nis tha iad dìreach ga ath-thogail ann an cruth nas fheagarraiche dhan eilean, togalaichean ìosal le còmhdach fiodha agus mullaichean sgratha, agus stuth-togail is uidheam gan toirt air tìr le soithichean-landaidh, mar aig an toiseach. Tha raon-laighe heileacoptair ann cuideachd a-nis. San eadar-àm ‘s e QinetiQ, fo-chùmhnantair ùghdarraichte den MOD, a bhios a’ ruith an ionaid.

Tha an làrach air mhàl fad-ùineach dhan arm bho Urras Nàiseanta na h-Alba, aig a bheil na h-eileanan o chionn 1957, agus tha an com-pàirteachas seo annabarrach feumail dhan Urras. Bidh taic leis an obair aca ri fhaighinn, co-chleachadh nan goireasan (m.e. dealan is cian-chonaltradh, còmhdhail, an t-ionad-slàinte – agus am Puff Inn) agus bidh iad a’ co-roinn cuid mhòr de na cosgaisean. Tha an t-Urras ag obair bho sheann taigh a’ mhinisteir, ri taobh na h-eaglais agus bho sheann taigh no dhà san t-sràid. Is obair an Urrais a bhith a’ coimhead às dèidh an dà chuid an dualchas eachdraidheil agus an àrainneachd. ‘S e Làrach Dualchas na Cruinne dùbailte a th’ anns na h-eileanan Hiortach.

Agus bidh luchd-saidheans ann gu cunbhalach, sa mhòr-chuid gus na caoraich Shòthaigh a sgrùdadh. Tha na caoraich seo air feadh an eilein, agus ‘s ann gu tur fiadhain a tha iad. Cha bhithear gam biadhachadh no gan rùsgadh. Tha iad uabhasach brèagha, nas lugha agus nas caoile na an co-oghaichean air an tìr-mhòr, agus a’ mhòr-chuid donn, dorch no soilleir. Ach chan e an fheadhainn seo a bha aig na Hiortaich – chaidh na caoraich bheannach (Hebrideans) acasan a reic leis an riaghaltas mar lach ri cosgais na h-imrich. Chaidh na caoraich fhiadhain Shòthaigh a thoirt a Hiort às dèidh an fhalamhachaidh, gus an fhàs-bheatha a cumail sìos airson nan eun beaga eileanach, anns an robh ùidh mhòr aig an t-sealbhadair ùr, Diuc Dhùn Phrìs. Bha fiù ‘s aige ri cuid de dh’fhir nan creagan a thoirt air ais gus na caorach a thogail bho chas-chreagan Shòthaigh gu Hiort (cothrom-tillidh sealach a chòrd riuthasan gu mòr, a rèir coltais).

Tha dà bheathach sònraichte eile ann an Hiort, nach eil ri lorg ann an àite sam bith eile – an dreathan donn Hiortach agus an luch Hiortach, an dà chuid nas motha na am bràithrean air an tìr mhòr. Bha sinn fìor thoilichte dreathann donn fhaicinn, ach dh’fhàn na luchan am falach. (Bha ar ceapairean-càise sàbhailte!)

Chan fhaod mi falbh gun iomradh air eòin ainmeil nan creagan is stacannan seo. Tha iad timcheall ort fad na h-ùine ann an Hiort fhèin, air iteig gu h-àrd no a’ dàibheadh gu grad anns a’ mhuir, ach air an t-slighe air ais dhan tìr-mhòr, rinn ar bàta cuairt fad uair a thìde timcheall air Eilean Bhoraraigh agus na stacannan-mara ri thaobh, Stac an Armin agus Stac Lì, agus bha sin dìreach mìorbhaileach. Mìltean thar mhìltean de dh’fhulmairean, shùlairean agus aileanan bod-àtha, agus na creagan-mara as àirde ann am Breatainn, aig amannan a’ dol à sealladh sna sgòthan siùbhlach. Bha na speuran agus na creagan loma-làn dhiubh, agus lìon an glaodhadh an t-adhar os cionn fuaim bàrcadh nan tonn air a’ creig – chan urrainnear samhla-sùl’ a dhèanamh dheth gun a bhith ann. Gu mì-fhortanach bha na buthaidean air falbh mar-thà, ach bha tuilleadh is gu leòr ann ri fhaicinn às an aonais. Doirbh ri chreidsinn gun do dhìrich na Hiortaich suas gu mullaichean nan stacannan dubha ud, fo ionnsaigh nan eun, air an sgailceadh leis na gaothan, agus creagan geura agus anfhadh na mara fada fada fohpa!  Agus tha caoraich fhiadhain air Boraraigh cuideachd, cho sgileil air na slèibhtean casa, faisg air inghearach, ri fir nan creagan fhèin. Seallaidhean nach gabh dìochuimhneachadh!

B’ fhiach dhomhsa an turas-mara agus an latha fada – trì uairean a thìde gach slighe às an Tòb anns na Hearadh, 4 ½ uairean ann an Hiort fhèin, agus uair eile aig na stacannan – agus a’ phrìs (barrachd is £200 gach neach) gus sin uile fhaicinn. ‘S e rud nach dèan a’ mhòr-chuid barrachd is aon uair, agus dhan fheadhainn eile chan e ach bruadar a bhios ann. Àite dìreach sònraichte, agus fèin-fhiosrachadh air leth. Mholainn e!

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Last month we saw how the last St Kildans left in 1930. Nowadays no one lives on the island but the staff of a small army base, a few others who work for the National Trust, and the occasional visiting scientist.

There was a link between the island and the Forces in World War I, with the navy signal-station there 1915-19, and there was even a U-Boot attack which badly damaged the station and some of the islanders’ property. But the MOD had no interest in St Kilda during World War 2, and it wasn’t until the 1950s and the Cold War that the army came back to build another base, this time a radar tracking station for the new rocket range in South Uist. They’ve been on the island now since 1957. And there’s even a Seaboard link – who should be involved in that first building phase but our own Geordie Oliver, who was doing a stint in the RAF at the time!

From that first very simple camp, with the soldiers using the old church as a dining-room and cinema, there have been various developments in the base, particularly in the 1960s. Over time it has grown into a permanent base with every facility, even its own wee pub called the Puff Inn. Now they are just re-building it in a form more appropriate to its island setting, low buildings with wood cladding and turf roofs, the building materials and equipment, as ever, brought in by landing-craft. There’s a helicopter landing-pad today too. In the meantime it’s the MOD-approved sub-contractor QinetiQ who are running the base.

The army has the site on long-term lease from the National Trust for Scotland, who’ve owned the archipelago since 1957, and this partnership has proved extremely useful for the Trust. They get help with their work, share the use of the facilities (e.g. electricity and telecommunications, transport, the medical unit – and the Puff Inn), and also share many of the general costs. The Trust works out of the Old Manse, beside the church, and a couple of the restored Village houses. The Trust’s job is to look after both the historical heritage and the natural one.  The St Kilda archipelago is a double World Heritage Site.

And there are also scientists who regularly visit the islands, mainly to study the Soay sheep.  These sheep live all over Hirta, and are completely wild. They’re neither fed nor shorn. They’re really pretty animals, smaller and slimmer than their mainland cousins, and most of them are brown, either dark or light.  But they’re not the ones that were kept by the St Kildans themselves – these were Hebridean sheep, not Soays, and were sold by the government to help offset the cost of the 1930 move. The wild Soay sheep were brought over from the island of Soay after the evacuation to help keep down the vegetation for the sake of the small birds of the islands, which were of great interest to the new owner, the Earl of Dumfries. He even had to bring back some of the cragsmen to lift the sheep off Soay’s steep precipices and bring them over to Hirta (a very welcome if temporary return for the men, by all accounts).

There are two other animals peculiar to Hirta – the St Kilda wren and the St Kilda mouse, both larger than their mainland counterparts. We were delighted to see a wren, but the mice stayed hidden. (So our cheese sandwiches were safe!)

I can’t close without mentioning the famous birds of these cliffs and stacks. They’re around you all the time on Hirta itself, soaring high or swooping straight down into the sea, but on the way back to the mainland our boat took a trip of a good hour around the island of Boreray and its neighbouring sea-stacks Stac an Armin and Stac Lì, and that was absolutely breathtaking. Thousands upon thousands of fulmars, gannets and skuas (also known as “bonxies”), and the highest sea-cliffs in Britain, at times disappearing into the swirling clouds. The skies were full of birds and so were the cliffs, their calls filling the air over the sound of the waves crashing on the rock – impossible to imagine without experiencing it. Unfortunately the puffins had already left, but there was more than enough to see without them. Hard to believe that the St Kildans actually climbed all the way up to the tops of these black stacks, dive-bombed by birds, buffeted by winds, and the raging seas and sharp rocks far, far below! And there are wild sheep on Boreray too, as skilful on the precipitous, almost vertical slopes as the cragsmen themselves. Sights too vivid to forget!

For me the sea-trip, the long day (3 hours each way from Leverburgh in Harris, 4 ½  hours on Hirta, and another hour at the stacks) and the price (over £200 per person) were definitely worth it to see all we did.  It’s something most people only do once, or indeed only dream of. A very special place indeed, and a unique experience. Highly recommended!


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Change the world through Gaelic! Session for Gaelic learners 12/11/2021

Le Oifigear Gàidhlig

Are you learning Gaelic or interested in Gaelic? Would you like to make your voice heard in the Scottish Parliament? If so, why not come along to our session being held as part of Seachdain na Gàidhlig – Edinburgh’s Gaelic Festival which is taking place on November 12th from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm The session aims … Leugh an corr de Change the world through Gaelic! Session for Gaelic learners 12/11/2021

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