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The Day of the Whale
The Day of the Whale
Translated from the Gaelic, from Sanais, 1988
The time would have been in the 1880s. There was a whale floating, down by the coast between Breanish and Islivig. It looked as if it was lost from a whaling ship. It was dead and was drifting on the surface of the sea. The bodaich from Islivig put out from port and were the first to get there. They had got started on it when the bodaich of Breanish arrived.
As it happened the whale was out from the blowhole that was just at the boundary between the two villages. The Islivig folk claimed that they were there first and it would be taken to Mol Islivig. The Breanish men didn't want this at all. They were saying that it was on the boundary and they were entitled to it, just as much as the Islivig men.
The argument started and in no time at all it was a row. It wasn't long before it was more than a row. The Breanish bodaich got a line on the whale and it became a battle of the strength of arms. Out on the sea with both sides with their sails up the two boats started to pull and drag against each other. We can imagine the activity; all the noise; the tussling; the splashing of each other; shouting; swearing and bad language.
The struggle went on for some time until the Breanish men had the upper hand and the Islivig men were losing. Bit by bit the Breanish crew took the Islivig boat and the whale with them. They pulled them from the Blowhole to Seobachd. The Islivig men lost the day completely. They were just not strong enough. One of the Islivig men took a cheese from his scarf and shared it out with the rest of the crew. This was as you would say, "we have lost but we'll make the best of the day as much as we can."
When they all got ashore, it was then that the fight started in earnest. They got together in a proper place to make a day of it. There was a powerful fight - falling and getting up again, striking and striking well, and every other thing that is in a fight. But at the end of it all the Breanish men came and said that they would make a share of the whale, and everyone would get a fair share. The Islivig men would not accept that and left them. The Islivig men had two powerful shopkeepers in Stornoway at the time and they were talking about taking it to court. But supposing there was talk of it, it was never thrashed out.
Aonghas Macleoid (Aonghas Thormoid Dhomhnaidh)
Calum MacAmhlaidh ( Calum Mor) No 2
Iain Bochannan (Iain Mor) No 6
Naill Bochannan (Naill Eoiridh )
Eoghainn Bochannan (Eoghain Iain 'ic Neill)
Seoras Macleoid (Seoras Dhomnill Fhionnlaigh) No 27?
Tormod Macleoid (Am Morair)
Domhnall MacAmhlaidh ( Am Poidsear) No.1
Domhnall MacGhilleathainn ( Domhnall Chalum Bhig) No 5
Domhnall MacAmhlaidh ( Domhnall an Tailleir) No 7
Murchadh MacAmhlaidh (Murdach an Tailleir) No 7
Tormod MacAmhlaidh (Hiucaidh) No 4
Tormod MacAmhlaidh (Tod, mac Hiucaidh)
Aonghas MacAmhlaidh (brathair a'Phoidsear)