Farewell oh Suilven

26 11 2015

Poor Suilven, worthy/infamous Stornoway ferry of yore.

Your demise reminds us of the words of Calum Ossian…..

Farewell Suilven, you’ve met your fate

After forty years of carrying freight

Cars and lorries, box and crate

Squeezed on the car deck by the Mate.
And passengers by the rope would wait

Until the gangway was lined up straight

Then single file they would locate

To the lounge or bar at a steady rate

And sprawled out sleepers then berate

For taking up the best real estate

Then queuing up with tray and plate

For the full cooked breakfast many ate

When you broke down we got irate

And we’d ring Calmac for an update

The weather often made you late

Cos when the Minch was rough it would undulate

But once those waves did dissipate

You took us over at a steady rate

For work or hols or further educate

And plenty folk who did migrate

But there were crossings you’d navigate

Like a summer evening that was sedate

When seeing the town would generate

An increase in your eyes lubricate

(You also plied across Cook Straight

That YouTube clip made us nauseate)

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Rabbie Burns in Storn o’way

13 08 2009

Rabbie Burns

As many of you will be aware, Rabbie Burns worked as a Customs and Excise Man for several years before finding fame and fortune as a National Bard.

As part of his training for the Customs job, he was dispatched to various parts of Scotland, to gain experience of the varied and many types of smuggler he may come across.

The young Burns found himself posted to Stornoway in 1779 for a six month period, armed with only his quill and inkpot. He worked from the old Custom House on the pier (where the present day Custom House now stands) as part of a counter-smuggling squad. The squad would spend the day sailing up and down the Minch catching guga smugglers and ensuring that the excise Duty on Uig chessmen sets was being paid.

During his time off, Burns explored the island of Lewis and must have gained inspiration from the Hebrides (and from its womenfolk) for many of his most famous poems and songs. It is understood that Burns composed many of his early drafts whilst living in his digs on Kenneth Street, where his mews drew on the many characters and events that the town of Stornoway had to offer. These first drafts formed the basis for Burns more famous poems and songs which gradually saw the light of day as his fame grew.

His early drafts included:,

Address to a Marag

Tam O’Shader

A Coves a cove for a’that

The Rigs o’ Charlie Barley

The Twa Sheep Dogs

Tam O’Shader (Barvas)

When all the Siarochs leave the street
And go to Charlie Barleys for some meat
As all the shops are closing down
And maws begin to leave the town
While we sit boozing in the Star
And getting drunk after many’s a jar
We think not on the long Barvas Road
The moor and bog with heavy load
That lies between us and our home
Where sits our grumpy, frumpy, blone
Gathering her wool from her flocks
Busy knitting bobban socks