Isleornsay Inn


Sleat At Sea

Boatyards and Boats

At the shore below Mrs Bunty Macdonald’s house was a boatyard where Sine Macdonald’s grandfather built boats. Boats were also built at Port An Fhiona, nowadays called the Fairy Glen. This port is along the shore from Jimmy Macinnes’s house and here Jimmy’s grandfather built boats.

Some of the boats were big smacks which went to Easdale and Seil for slates, Ireland for salt, etc. The salt was stored in the Red Houses and was used for curing fish. The boats beached below Carol and Billy Currie’s house and if the cargo was fish, it was cured on the spot. One big smack, the Breaking Wave, was owned by people by the name of Gillies, who stayed in the Ferryman’s Cottage, now known as Creggan Cottage. The skipper was a Donald Macinnes from Calgary.

The shore was shared among Calgary, Newton and Ardvasar crofters. Newton’s share was in front of the hotel. Calgary’s share was from the burn in front of the Curries’ house to Creag-a-Chaim and Ardvasar’s share from that burn in the opposite direction along Rhu Dubh to the Port Mor. Most of the seaweed cutting was done by women, with their corrain (sickles) in their bare feet with their long skirts hitched up at the back. With the creels of seaweed on their backs they made their way to their crofts and spread their load on the land. Sometimes horses with creels carried the load. The late Hugh Macdonald’s mother, with her laden creel, followed the path near Porter’s Lodge, up the Smithy croft, through the Hotel croft, and so to her own land, uphill all the way.

The arrival of the cargo boat, which anchored out from the present pier, was a great occasion. There was a short pier, which can still be seen, behind Alasdair Macleod’s shop [now owned by Serena and George Smart], but the water there wasn’t deep enough for the cargo boats and so three brothers from Calgary, uncles of the late Donald Robertson, rode out in their red boat to collect the hampers of bread, barrels of biscuits with caraway seed in them (these came from Tobermory) and the usual commodities.

( From a talk by Mrs Ina Macinnes, December 1985 )