1947 January 7 Orkney Herald
ORKNEY STORM-SWEPT. – Furious southerly gales have swept Orkney during the past week. Kirkwall’s New Year’s Day ba’ was fought out in fierce biting winds. Sea and air services have been affected, but no damage due to the storms has been reported. The St Magnus, southward bound, was unable to leave Kirkwall on Friday, and waited till the sea moderated somewhat on Saturday morning. The lull was short-lived, however, and yesterday the St Magnus was still storm-bound at Aberdeen. The St Clement, due to sail from Kirkwall to Aberdeen last night was unlikely to leave when we went to press. R.M.S. St Ola did not make her daily trans-Pentland crossing yesterday. Orkney Steam Navigation Company’s steamer Earl Thorfinn was unable to make her scheduled trip from Westray to Kirkwall yesterday, and the Earl Sigurd did not make her usual Monday trip to Rousay, Egilshay and Wyre. Gale conditions forced both Scottish and Allied Airways to operate curtailed services, but on no day did either company cancel all services.
1947 January 14 Orkney Herald
STROMNESS – THE STORM. – The great storm of south-east wind which blew across Orkney last week did its quota of damage in Stromness. Wireless aerials were blown down in great quantities, at least one motorboat was sunk, great stones were torn off piers, and the town clock on Peter’s Church steeple stopped at the hour of twelve, the hands having got twisted and jammed. People who ventured out on any of the three last days of the storm got blown about like autumn leaves. The east wind is always by far the cruellest wind in Stromness. There is an old Orkney proverb which says: “The east wind’s good neither for man nor beasts”; the truth of which is amply proven by the great numbers of local people at present nursing cold and rheumatic afflictions in various parts the body. The present winter is the severest in these parts for a good few years now, and it is far from cheering to realise that snow is the next weather phenomenon which will put in its appearance.
1947 January 28 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY CHILDREN AND SEAFORTH FUND
A children’s concert, followed by a dance, was held in Frotoft School on 10th January, in order to raise funds for the Seaforth Highlanders Memorial Fund. In spite of the stormy weather a large company assembled at 8 p.m. in the school.
Mr D. Turner, Avils, was chairman. In his opening remarks he paid tribute to local men who had served in the forces during the war, and thanked the Frotoft Committee for helping such a worthy cause.
At the close of a long and varied programme votes of thanks were given to the chairman, the teacher, Mrs [Kathleen Mary] Harcus, to her pupils and committee, and to all who had sent in baking. The committee take this opportunity of thanking all who baked, sent gifts of tea, sugar, butter, jam, milk, and donations of money. They also thank Mr R. Johnston, Trumland, for supplying music for the children’s dancing, and the band who gave their services free of charge for the dance.
The total sum raised, £17 1s, has been sent to Major Bruce, Bank of Scotland, Kirkwall. In acknowledging the money Mr Bruce writes of Mrs Harcus :—”This is a very substantial addition to the Orkney effort for the Seaforth Highlanders Memorial Fund, and I can assure you that our local Committee are most grateful to you, your brother Sergt. Gibson, and to the people of Rousay who have so handsomely helped the fund in Orkney. Kindly convey our thanks to all concerned in Rousay.”
The following is the programme: – Welcome song; song, “Some Folks Do”; recitation, “The Enchanted Shirt,” Gilbert Pirie; song, “Let Him Go,” Eileen Mainland; recitation, “Sister Susan,” Ian Craigie; dance, “Minuet,” Rhoda Mainland and George Wm. Craigie, Heleanor Mainland and Gilbert Pirie; song, “The Grandfather Clock,” Fred Craigie; recitation, “Why the Blackbird is Black,” Tom Sinclair; play, “The Coming of Father Christmas,” Infants and Juniors; song, “Riding Down from Bangor,” Heleanor Mainland; recitation, “Jock Macoull,” Rhoda Mainland; song, “The Auld Home,” Senior boys; dance, “Gay Gordons,” Infants; song, “Poor Cock Robin”; recitation, “Fine Feathers,” Mattie Craigie; song, “Rock-a-Bye,” Mary Gibson; recitation, “Careful Benny,” Fred Craigie; dance, “The Nut,” Seniors; song, “Pum-Cat-a-Pum,” Alice Logie; dialogue, “Postie’s Dilemma,” Seniors; recitation, “The New Duckling,” Kenneth Angus; song, “The Old Couple,” Alice Logie, Tom Sinclair and chorus; dance, “Hornpipe,” Eileen Mainland, Mary Gibson and Rhoda Mainland; song, “After Tea.”
DONATIONS. – In addition to the [above donation]…Rousay folk contributed last year £9 18s 3d to the Donaldson Trust and £10 7s for the Earl Haig Fund.
1947 February 4 Orkney Herald
POST OFFICE STAFF CHANGES. – Mr John A Wood, sub-postmaster of Finstown for forty-three years, will retire on March 31. He has forty-eight years’ postal service. Mr Wood will be succeeded by Mr G. Stewart, sub-post-master, Stenness. Mr W. C. Gibson is appointed sub-postmaster of Rousay in succession to Mr J. K. Yorston, who is retiring after having held the appointment for fifteen years. These changes have been announced by Mr David Scrimgeour, Orkney head postmaster.
1947 February 11 Orkney Herald
ORKNEY HIT BY ARCTIC WEATHER. – For a week all Orkney has been white under the heaviest fall of snow for years. Compared with severe conditions in the South and the widespread dislocation of traffic there, however, Orkney has got off very lightly. Fortunately, when the bulk of the snow fell there was little wind, and, consequently, no drifting. Higher winds towards the end of last week did cause the temporary blocking of some roads, and snow ploughs were out, but there was no general hold-up of traffic. Some ploughing matches had to be postponed, and one farmer was seen delivering milk in Kirkwall by tractor and trailer in place of his van.
Until yesterday mail and passenger air services from Inverness and Aberdeen had been unaffected, but heavy snowfalls in the South delayed schedules.
Kirkwall street surfaces became treacherous, and there were several cases of broken bones through falls. Sledging was in full swing on East Road, Bignold Park Road, School Place, Palace Road, and Clay Loan, and in a sledging crash at East Road one lad broke an ankle.
Orkney has suffered no electricity cuts, and Kirkwall gas pressure has been no worse than usual!
1947 February 18 Orkney Herald
NO ELECTRICITY CUTS HERE. – Kirkwall is one of the few towns exempted from the electricity cuts now imposed over practically the whole country.
Kirkwall’s exemption was announced by Sir Guy Nott-Bower, Deputy Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel, on Friday. He said that it had been decided to issue an amending Order to cover the cases of towns where the generating stations are not powered by coal, and are independent of the grid.
At the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board’s Kirkwall station the power is derived from diesel engines. Mr Robert Wells, the Hydro-Electric Board’s Orkney manager, states that, during the short period before Kirkwall’s exemption was announced, local domestic consumers conscientiously observed the prohibited hours.
Other towns thus “freed” are Lerwick, Stornoway, Rothesay, Tobermory, Campbeltown, Thurso, Fort William and Lochaber. Also exempted are consumers who use private generating stations that are not powered by coal (including, presumably Orkney’s multitude of wind-driven generators). Previously, Ministry spokesmen had ridiculously insisted that for a consumer to use current from his private wind-driven generator during the prohibited hours was illegal.
1947 February 25 Orkney Herald
TO THE PEAT STACK
(Which stands undisturbed by cuts, crisis, and controls)
Oh! thou, my stack o’ guid blue peat,
That macks the tea, an’ cooks the meat,
That boils the spuds, an’ warms the taes,
To thee, I gie a word o’ praise.
The fuel’s cut – the news is bad –
An’ auld King Coal’s a sorry lad.
My sooth freen’s, lackin’ light an’ heat,
Wad value noo a guid blue peat!
There hae been times they’d by-pass thee,
An’ never cast a kindly e’e,
Or sling a stiff, superior nod
At thee, my stack o’ mossy clod.
But noo – Emmanuel’s cracklin’ stanes,
Ower puir tae thaw the stivven’d banes –
They’d swear it was a glorious treat
Tae get a fire o’ lowin’ peat!
So, here’s tae thee, my ain peat stack!
Tae get thee sairly tried the back,
But noo, I look – a bonnie sight –
My source o’ comfort day and night.
Officialdom’s departments queer,
An’ chitterin’ cauld, I dinna fear.
Wi’ thee, that deil, Jack Frost, I’ll beat,
Oh! thou, my stack o’ guid blue peat!
O. R. CADIAN.
1947 March 4 Orkney Herald
ISLAND DIARY. – Orkney in 1877 – what a land flowing with milk and honey it was! It seems now like a remote legendary place, half lost in the mists of golden antiquity. Yet it is only 70 years ago – the span of one’s natural life.
I got the loan of a copy of Peace’s Orkney Almanac for 1877 from the Editor for reference purposes, and quickly lost myself in it. It is a remarkable document, only 70 years old, yet revealing to us an Orkney bathed in the calm serenity of late Victorian prosperity – very different, seen from across the impassable chasms of two frightful wars, from the austere and gloomy world of the present…..
….This part of the Almanac concludes with a description of Trumland House, Rousay, which had just been completed by that insignificant but self-important little man, Colonel Burroughs, in 1875.
While on the subject of Colonel Burroughs, who proved to be one of the hardest and meanest lairds in the North Isles, it is interesting to discover, from another section of the Almanac, one of the least attractive traits of the Orcadian – viz., the constant fawning before strangers, however mean and insignificant in themselves, who happen to come to the islands. So we discover that Colonel Burroughs (whose grossly excessive rents drove Edwin Muir’s father out of Wyre) is simply peppered with appointments by the Orcadians of 1877. He was a Deputy Lieutenant for the County, a Commissioner of Supply, a Justice of the Peace, a vice-President of the Orkney Agricultural Society, an Hon. Lt.-Col. in the 1st Ad. Brigade Orkney Artillery Volunteers, and several other things too tedious to mention. But the whole matter reveals an Orkney characteristic which is not pleasant by any means, and which is far too common, even, to-day….. ISLANDMAN [aka George Mackay Brown – see April 1]
1947 March 11 Orkney Herald
AUSTERITY. – During the unfortunate period that all papers have to reduce the number of their pages, we would respectfully ask all contributors and correspondents to cut away everything inessential from their ‘copy.’ Let “Short and to the point” be the motto. Austerity must be the rule of journalists as of everyone else, until the crisis is really over. We ourselves have cut down our leaders to the bare minimum.
ISLAND DIARY. – I never remember a gruelling winter like this before. For not only has the snow lasted, off and on, for six weeks, and is still as deep as ever as I write. But ever since Autumn the prevailing wind has been the East, which, as the old Orkney folk said, was “neither good for man nor beast.” In the part of Orkney where I live the East wind is a dreaded thing. It blows sheer off an iron-grey sea, and every blast of it bites into you like a scorpion lash. It freezes the lungs and curdles the marrow in your bones, and unless you are well wrapped up against it, it can shorten your life by several years. This past winter we have learned to hate the East wind worse than poison.
SHAPINSAY – WEATHER. – Hardly ever was farm work brought to a standstill for so long, and it has been a big effort at times to get food to the animals owing to the heavy covering of snow. Roads in the island have been cleared a second time by a gang of workmen to enable supplies to be got to outlying districts.
1947 March 18 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY ACTION: DECISION. – Sheriff D. B. Keith gave his decision in Orkney Sheriff Court yesterday in the action at the instance of Alexander Allardyce Marwick, 1624 Great Western Road, Glasgow, against Robert Inkster, farmer, Cogar, Rousay, executor of the late David James Inkster, who resided at the Queen’s Hotel, Kirkwall.
The pursuer, AIexander Marwick, asked the court to grant a decree against the defender, Robert Inkster, for the payment of a sum of money for furniture, furnishings, etc., stored at Midgarth, Rousay, together with the cost of a sailing yacht.
The Sheriff has granted a decree against the defender for the sum of £60, being the value of the sailing yacht together with a moiety of damages added for its wrongful seizure. He has allowed the defender half the expenses of the case.
The agents in the action were: – For the pursuer, Mr Fred Buchanan, solicitor, Kirkwall; for the defender, Mr Jas. Flett, solicitor, Kirkwall.
[This newspaper carried no coverage of the previous proceedings of this case.]
ROUSAY EXCAVATIONS. – At a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, presided over by Dr William Angus, a paper by Professor V. G. Childe and Mr Walter G. Grant of Trumland, describing the results of further excavations in a Stone Age settlement at the Braes of Rinyo, Rousay, was read by Mr David Wilson, and illustrated by lantern slides. It gave rise to an interesting discussion, particularly with regard to the roofing of the structure and the reason for drain channels leading to the hearth. With regard to the latter the best explanation seemed to be that they were air channels to create a draught. Professor Piggott suggested that there was need of research in connection with the kinds of timber that must formerly have covered what are now treeless areas.
1947 April 1 Orkney Herald
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
PERSONALITIES OF THE EIGHTIES
SIR, – I read in Island Diary in the “Orkney Herald” of February 11th, that that honourable gentleman, Sheriff Thoms, was in his dotage when he bequeathed £60,000 to St Magnus Cathedral for its upkeep. That is not true; he was never “dottie.” I was at the Orkney and Shetland gathering in 1896, when Sheriff Thoms was in the chair, and he told us that the Shetland girls, who were at the Exhibition of that year, wanted to know whether he liked Orkney or Shetland best. He smiled and said: “I did not tell them, but the time will come when you will all know whom I liked best.” The Sheriff lived about twenty years after that. He left a hundred pounds a year to Mr Melrose, his faithful valet-servant. The Sheriff’s nephew had expected to be heir, but was disappointed. The Sheriff’s money has given work to many a man, both in Orkney and in the south country. Men have been blessed, both body and soul.
In your March 4th issue Islandman is down on General Burroughs, for being mean and little. Why, most of the greatest of men in the eighties of last century were little. The late Mr Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh was an active legislator in the House of Commons. He was an able champion of the cause of the Irish landlords. He was born without arms or legs. He is remembered as a famed yachtsman, who had the right to moor his yacht on the Thames in front of the House of Commons; also as a good horseman, who travelled on horse-back across Russia and Persia to the Persian Gulf. And with the pen, held between his teeth, he wrote a good hand. He was a lineal descendant of the last King of Leinster.
So true is that verse in the Old Book, “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.”
I am a year younger than the “Herald,” being born in 1861. – Yours, etc., ANN SINCLAIR.
1947 April 15 Orkney Herald
ORKNEY HOMES “SHOCKING.” – Shocking conditions of Orkney houses and amazing contentment of the people who live in them were referred to by Mrs Edith Maclean, headmistress of Sourin School, Rousay, at the annual conference of youth leaders from all parts of Orkney in Kirkwall on Friday. Rural depopulation, she said, was primarily due to bad housing.
She was speaking in support of Mr R. G. Scott, Rendall, who had declared that young people were finding farm work unattractive, which was not a good thing in Orkney, the most progressive agricultural county of its size in Scotland.
It was initially more serious, he said, that young people were finding their homes unattractive. Mr Scott suggested the institution in Orkney of a competition to make rural dwellings more comfortable.
The conference was attended by representatives of twenty-four youth clubs, including Rousay, Stronsay, Eday, Westray, Hoy and Flotta. It was presided over by Mr John Shearer, M.A., MSc., Director of Education for Orkney, who extended a welcome to Miss Claire E. Spence, Edinburgh, newly-appointed music organiser for Orkney, and congratulated Miss Alison Sutherland Graeme, County Guide Commissioner, on receiving the Guide Medal of Merit…..
HEATHER BURNING. – From today (15th April) onwards it is illegal (apart from certain exceptional circumstances) to burn tracts of heather. With regard to heather burning, two points not always observed, are worth emphasising. Firstly, even in the permitted period, it is an offence to set fire to heather on another person’s land, and, secondly, before setting light to heather on your own land, you are required to inform your neighbour of your intention.
1947 April 29 Orkney Herald
All Parties having CLAIMS against the late Mr WALTER G. GRANT of Hillhead, Kirkwall, and Trumland, Rousay, are requested to lodge the same with the Subscribers within 14 days from this date; and all Parties INDEBTED to the Deceased are requested to make payment to the Subscribers within the like period. T. P. & J. L. LOW, Solicitors. Kirkwall, 28th April 1947.
1947 May 27 Orkney Herald
DOCTOR AND PATIENT IN THE SEA. – A doctor and patient crossing from Rousay to Evie had an alarming experience on Thursday, when the small boat, into which they were being transferred from the mail launch, upset, throwing them into ten or twelve feet of water.
The patient, Mrs Magnus Flaws, who was suffering from a broken arm, was immediately in difficulties, and the doctor, Dr J. Gordon, Kirkwall, though hampered by a heavy overcoat, managed to catch her by the hair as she went under, and supported her until she was pulled aboard the mail launch.
Mrs Flaws, wife of the former manager of Rousay Co-operative Society, was being accompanied to hospital by Dr Gordon when the accident occurred. The transfer to the small boat was made necessary by the low tide, which prevented the motor boat approaching Aikerness jetty.
EVIE – FARM. – The sowing of the cereals having been completed, the laying down of the turnip crop is now receiving the attention of the farmer. Preparing the soil for the turnip seed is a toilsome job occupying much time, and at present the land is so dry and dusty that operations will not be easy.
SUMMER BEAUTY. – Brilliant sunshine and blue skies have graced the countryside during the past week, and everything is rejoicing in the advent of summer. In response to the touch of the sun the earth is daily putting on more colour, all dead vegetation being swamped by the onrush of a vigorous green growth. The cultivated fields, all sown and neatened – some showing fine braird, are encircled by tracts of rich verdure, studded with daisies, primroses and numerous other wild flowers, making a picture very pleasing to the eye.
PEAT CUTTING DAYS. – Peat time is here again, and during the past week there has been some stir in the moors, with the raids on the peat banks. Never has the attack of the tusker met with so little resistance, the condition of the turf being perfect for cutting operations. Peat fuel has always been preferable to coal in the country, and in these days of limited coal supply everyone is making a special effort to invade the moss-lands and obtain some turves, despite the hard work and difficulties entailed in curing and in transport. Meantime there is the promise of this being a good peat year.
LOBSTER FISHING. – Lobster fishers are now pursuing their calling in good weather and calm seas, but haven’t so far had a great measure of success. There seem to be spells of bad luck. The luxury price of lobsters at present may be needed to compensate for the loss and price of gear – the cost and maintenance of boats being now more than doubled. A veteran fisherman said, “Lobsters are queer things, very fastidious. Everything’s got to be just right for them. Baits have got to be neither too fresh nor too stale. There mustn’t be any crabs inside first, or anything to frighten them like a bit of loose ballast or a frayed rope-end flapping in the tide. A lobster won’t go into a pot if there’s white paint on the bottom boards; a bit of iron drainpipe for ballast in a pot will prevent a lobster entering.”
[How I wish the Evie correspondent lived in Rousay! By this time the Orkney Herald had doubled in size – eight pages….none of which contained any mention of goings-on in Rousay!]
1947 June 3 Orkney Herald
“PIERS IN DEPLORABLE STATE.” – All our island piers are in a deplorable state. This was asserted by Mr John G. Shearer, Kirkwall (County Council member for Eday) at a meeting of Orkney County Council on Tuesday.
Mr Shearer was moving that, in the interests of the ratepayers, representations be made to the proprietor of Eday pier for the removal of a sandbank just off the pier. The bank makes it difficult and dangerous for the mail steamer from Kirkwall to approach the pier. The motion was carried.
Mr Isaac Moar, Hoy, asked about the proposed repairs to Moaness pier, and Mr Donald Bertram (member for North Ronaldshay) referred to repairs necessary at Trumland, Rousay, and Egilshay. Other piers referred to explicitly were North Ronaldshay, Graemsay and North Faray slip-way.
1947 June 24 Orkney Herald
NEW ASSISTANT POSTMASTER. – Mr Sinclair Ross, Head Postmaster of Orkney, announced last week that Mr W. L. Marwick, the Overseer at Kirkwall Head Post Office, has been promoted Assistant Head Postmaster, Kirkwall, as from May 27 last.
Mr Marwick succeeds Mr Ross, who became Head Postmaster on the departure of Mr David Scrimgeour, now Head Postmaster of Motherwell and Wishaw.
A native of Rousay, Mr Marwick entered the Post Office service as a learner in 1913, being promoted Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist in 1914.
In 1909, when a schoolboy, W. L. Marwick was commended by Professor H. J. C. Grierson, then of Aberdeen University, for his exceptionally fine work in the Orkney and Zetland Association Examination.
His war service was mostly in France, his regiment being the Royal Engineers Signal Section. He returned from the war in 1920 and resumed work in the Kirkwall Head Post Office. Mr Marwick was promoted Overseer in 1940.
A wide circle of friends in Orkney and beyond will learn with pleasure of his elevation to Assistant Head Postmaster of his native county.
[William Leslie Marwick was born on May 25th 1895, the son of David Marwick, Quoys, Wasbister, and Ann Leonard, Treblo. In 1925 he married Lily Milne of Burray.]
EVIE – FISHING. – The sea has been favourable to fishing during the past week with plenty of fish on the grounds and suitable tides for baiting. Several good hauls of cuithes have been brought ashore. Among one lot were found a few herrings which must have wandered from their usual path. Costa boats landed some good sized haddocks in prime condition. Lobster fishers are now on the waters late and early toiling with their pots, but little news of their operations is disclosed.
1947 July 8 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY – FROTOFT PICNIC. – The annual Frotoft picnic was held at Frotoft School on Friday, 27th June. The weather was ideal and a large company had gathered at the school, when the sports began at 4 o’clock. Before this the committee had served milk, cookies and cakes, and the children had bought many “sliders” from the ice-cream stand. At the close of the adult sports tea was served in the playground. Then the company assembled in the school to hear the prize-list. Sports prizes and merit prizes were gracefully presented by Mrs R. Mainland, Nearhouse. She was accorded a very hearty vote of thanks on the call of the teacher, Mrs [Kathleen Mary] Harcus, who intimated that the children were to give a short programme before the dance.
Heleanor Mainland, the eldest pupil, acted as announcer. She said. “Before we begin our concert I would like, in the name of the pupils of Frotoft School, to present our teacher with this small present – with best wishes for her future happiness.”
Mrs Harcus, accepting a beautiful silver cake basket, replied that it was a complete surprise, and thanked the children for their kindness. She was very proud of the lovely gift. They had had some happy times together, and she hoped they would be as nice to their new teacher as they had been to her. She said she was not going far away and would always welcome them to her new home, Damaschool, Evie, especially when they were stormstayed. (Laughter and applause). She then asked Heleanor Mainland to proceed with the programme.
At the end of the concert Mr Robert Mainland, Nearhouse, chairman to the S.M.C., thanked the pupils for their fine performance. He also thanked the committee and Mrs Harcus for all their work. Referring to Mrs Harcus’s impending departure, he said they all wished her well, but were sorry to lose her. Probably she would see more of the Rousay people than she wanted when they were stormstayed in Evie, but he was sure they would all get a warm welcome. She would be remembered for her parties, her picnics and concerts, and for her many kindnesses and good deeds throughout the district.
Replying, Mrs Harcus said she had heard many folks say they were glad the new teacher was somebody they “kent,” but that a “kent” teacher had sometimes a hard time. She named some of the many duties a teacher in the country was expected to undertake, and asked them all to consider this when, at times, they were a bit hard on the poor teachers. In conclusion she thanked them all for their kindness to herself.
Mrs [Edith] Maclean, Sourin School, spoke of the close co-operation between the three teachers in Rousay. She had been very grateful for the assistance she had received from Mrs Harcus when she took up teaching in Sourin. In wishing her happiness in her new home, she hoped Mrs Harcus would enjoy her well-earned rest.
The school was then cleared for dancing. Many visitors had crossed from the mainland to attend the dance, which was kept up with great zest till 2.30 a.m. The committee wish to thank all who gave gifts of food and milk for the picnic……
1947 July 22 Orkney Herald
ALL-NIGHT SEARCH FOR MOTOR BOAT. – Stromness lifeboat carried out a night-long search for the Kirkwall motor boat Curlew, reported overdue on Tuesday night with nine passengers on board. Life-saving companies were alerted in Shapinsay, Eday and Rousay. The Curlew was discovered in dense fog at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, and was towed to Kirkwall.
She was reported to coastguards as being overdue after having left Rousay for Kirkwall. At 1 a.m. Stromness lifeboat (coxswain W. Sinclair, Jr.) was launched and made a four-hour voyage in poor visibility and freshening wind to the distress area. The lifeboat found the Curlew at 6 a.m. anchored off the island of Gairsay.
When the lifeboat arrived it was found that two of the men and the five women were ashore on the island being sheltered by Mr Girling, a naval pensioner. He and his wife are the island’s only inhabitants. The passengers were taken ashore in a small boat by Mr George T. Arthur, Kirkwall, who is on holiday at the island in his motor cabin cruiser.
Two of the passengers were Miss Olive Allan, the Kirkwall amateur actress„ and her mother, who owns the Curlew. The seven people who had been given shelter for the night on Gairsay returned to Kirkwall on board the lifeboat.
BOOKSHELF: – THE PLACE NAMES OF ROUSAY
A bit dull, you think? How wrong you are. This is a book which will be of perennial interest not only to the inhabitants of the beautiful island of Rousay, but to all Orcadians everywhere who are interested – and who is not? – in local place names.
The languages of the Picts and the even earlier inhabitants of Orkney are quite lost, but they have left other enduring monuments of their civilization – Skarabrae, Maeshowe, Brodgar, and the Broughs.
With the Norse, from whom we proudly and perhaps a little erroneously claim descent, it has been quite otherwise. Most of their buildings, their implements and ornaments, vanished: but their way of life is imperishably recorded in the Orkneyinga Saga, and though the old Norn has died out, we find, as it were, the fossils of it in the Orkney place names with which we have all been familiar from childhood. The names we know, but their meaning has been for the most part shrouded in mystery. In the present book we are likely to learn as much about them as we will ever know.
Dr Marwick has wisely decided not to cover all the Orkney place names; since such a survey, which would certainly prove a Herculean task, could not possibly be undertaken by one scholar alone. The author, however, by concentrating on one district which he knows well – his native island – has left the door open for a similar treatment of all the other place names of Orkney. This work is really a piece of pioneering. If it has succeeded – and I think there can be little doubt on that point – “The Place Names of Rousay” will certainly become the model for similar studies of this kind, both in Orkney and far beyond.
Speaking as a layman, I may say at once that this is not a dry book for scholars only. While the very exhaustive list of place names will prove of lasting interest to every intelligent Orcadian, even if he has never clapped eyes on Knitchen Hill or the Muckle Water, the long introduction is most informative and illuminating. Written in the sober, cautious, restrained style of the scholar (and an Orkney scholar at that), its discussion ranges far beyond the names and places of Rousay. It gives us a glimpse – fascinating, if only shadowy – of the unfolding of history in Rousay from pre Christian times, and expounds some of the knotty historical problems that still await solution. Occasionally Dr Marwick essays an explanation – invariably a clever and illuminating one – but he is careful to make no rash claims for his theories, quite willing to be content with the verdict of the future, which may well endorse several of his speculations.
It is, in brief, a work of fascinating and enduring scholarship. As for the volume itself, it is well produced and bound, with an attractive jacket, and most pleasant to handle. There are two maps. I don’t think you would ever be likely to regret blowing seven-and-six on it. – G. M. B. [George Mackay Brown]
“The Place-Names of Rousay,” by Dr Hugh Marwick.
Published by W. R. Mackintosh, Kirkwall, price 7s 6d.
EVIE – FARM. – Turnip-singling has been mostly completed in this district. Owing to the exceptionally fine weather throughout the early part of this month this job has proved less irksome and more speedy than usual. Cereals, are making good progress, some oat fields “shooting.” Grass and clover are now very abundant and cattle are wallowing in the rich herbage. The hay-fields are ready to cut, and farmers are busy making hay while the sun shines. Peat-carting is in progress, and the ramparts of peats arranged on the banks are gradually disappearing as the tractor-drawn lorries strip and dismantle them for transport to their destination. Moorlands were never more dry than at present, presenting little difficulty of access, and the turves are crisp and ready to burn. A good peat year in-deed!
FISHING. – There has been some good fishing lately. Sea conditions in recent weeks have been ideal for operations, and the various boats have been active pursuing their calling with splendid results. Haddock, cuithe, lythe, flounders, lobsters and partan – of prime quality – have been landed, all of which have been in great demand. Cooked direct from the sea in full savour they have been greatly relished.
1947 July 29 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY – WASBISTER SCHOOL SPORTS. – The Wasbister School annual sports was held in the school grounds on Friday, 4th July. Dull weather conditions did not mar the enthusiasm of the competitors and a large number of parents and friends turned out to witness the races. Winners were as follows: – Seniors – 1 Edna Clouston, 2 Jim Marwick, 3 Irvine Donaldson; Juniors – 1 Freda Grieve, 2 Nita Craigie, 3 Margaret Craigie. The school sports was followed by a selection of races for adults and visiting children. Thereafter tea was served by the members of the committee, who had prepared many delightful home-bakes. That was followed by the prize-giving ceremony, awards being graciously presented by Mrs S. F. Spence. The children then entertained the visitors with a varied programme of songs, dances and recitations. On the call of Rev. R. R. Davidson, Mrs Miller and the members of the committee were thanked for the afternoon’s entertainment. Mrs Harcus then proposed a vote of thanks to Mrs Miller and scholars for the delightful programme and to Mr Stanley Spence, who accompanied at the piano. The evening was spent in dancing to the music of Mr Edwin Moar, Mr Clouston, Miss Laughton, Mr Balfour and Mr Leslie.
1947 August 5 Orkney Herald
EVIE – VISITORS. – There are now a good many visitors in this district all enjoying the glories of the fine summer. Nature now in her full garb extends a rare loveliness which moists the earth with countless attractions and gives fresh hope and joy to life.
ON THE FARM. – Hay making and peat carting have kept the farmers busily engaged lately. Both jobs have been carried through with the minimum of trouble and in the shortest time owing to the continued fine weather. The hay crop is average in bulk and as the curing process has never been checked by damp conditions the hay is of first-class quality. Peats have all been removed from the moors and almost every home can boast of a peat-stack this year. A slack time follows now, which gives the farmer opportunity to prepare for the shows.
1947 August 12 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY’S FINE BLOOMS
Orkney’s glorious summer of 1947 was reflected in the splendid display of flowers and vegetables at Rousay Horticultural Society’s Show at Sourin Hall last Tuesday. Entries in these sections were up very considerably over last year. In other sections – industrial work, baking and dairy produce – totals were about normal.
The judges were: – Flowers and vegetables – Mr John Slater, Kirkwall. Baking – Mr John MacGillivray, head baker with James Flett and Sons (Orkney) Ltd., Kirkwall. Handicrafts – Mrs W. Hourston, Quoyberstane, St Ola, and Mrs Frank Mackay, Wick (sister of Mrs Hourston.) Dairy Produce – Miss Tulloch, poultry instructress at Kirkwall for the North of Scotland College of Agriculture, Aberdeen. Mrs Hugh Craigie, Aberdeenshire, formerly district nurse in Rousay, handed over the trophies and other principal awards. The prize list of the show was as follows: –
VEGETABLES. Cauliflower – 1, 2 and 3 Mrs Gibson; lettuce (cabbage) – 1 and 2 Mrs Cormack, 3 Mrs Craigie; cabbage – 2 and 3 Mrs Cormack; parsnips – Mrs Cormack; parsley – 1, 2 and 3 Mrs H. I. Gibson; leeks – 1 and 2 Mrs Cormack; rhubarb – 1 Mrs Alexander, 2 and 3 Mrs R. Shearer; beet (globe) – 1 Mrs T. Sinclair, 2 Mrs Cormack, 3 Mrs A. Clouston; beet (Iong) – Mrs Cormack; shallots – 1 Mr J. Petrie, 2 Mrs H. Russell, 3 Mrs W. Alexander; potatoes – 1 and 2 Mrs Cormack, Mrs H. I. Gibson; turnips – 1 Mrs Tom Sinclair, 2 G. W. Marwick, 3 Mrs H. Russell; carrots – Mrs T. Sinclair, 2 and 3 Mrs Gibson, Lopness; peas – G. W. Marwick; beans – Mrs Gibson, Lopness; strawberries – 1, 2 and 3 Mrs Craigie, Furse; blackcurrants – 1 and 2 Mrs Craigie, Furse, 3 G. W. Marwick; gooseberries – G. W. Marwick.
FLOWERS. Alyssum – Mrs Cormack; sweet peas – Mrs Cormack; viccaria – Mrs Cormack; tansies – 1 and 2 Mrs Cormack, 3 Mrs Craigie; sweet williams – 1, 2 and 3 Mrs Craigie; stocks – 1 Mrs Hourie, 2 Mrs Craigie, 3 Mrs Hourie; Canterbury bells – Mrs Craigie; Australian honeysuckle – Mrs Craigie; candytuft – 1 and 2 Mrs Hourie, 3 Mrs Alexander; escholtzie – 1 no name, 2 Mrs H. Russell, 3 Miss Wylie; sinaria – Mrs Gibson; delphinium – Mrs Craigie: clarkia – Mrs H. Russell; Peruvian lily – Mrs Craigie; chrysanthemum – 1, 2 and 3 Mrs Hourie; blue thistle – Mrs Craigie; mignonette – Mrs Russell; bridal rose – 1, 2 and 3 Mrs Hourie; marguerite – Mrs A. Clouston; antirrhinums – G. W. Marwick; gladioli – Mrs Clouston; phlox – Mrs Hourie; wallflower – Mrs Hourie; everlasting love – Mrs Gibson; bouquet of garden flowers – Mrs H Russell; marigolds – 1 Ruth Miller, 2 Mrs Gibson, 3 Mrs H. Russell: nasturtiums – 1 G. W. Marwick, 2 Mrs Hourie; cornflower – 1 G. W. Marwick, 2 Mr Alexander, 3 Mr Russell; honeysuckle – Mrs Cormack, 2 Mrs Clouston, 3 Mrs Gibson; roses – 1 Peggy Corsie: larkspur – Peggy Corsie; campanuli – Mrs Craigie; single chrysanthemum – Mrs Gibson; rambler roses – Mrs Cormack; shirley poppies – 1 and 2 Mrs Gibson, 3 Mrs Russell; bouquet of wild flowers – 1 Ruth Miller, 2 and 3 Ronald Shearer. Mr John Sclater’s rose-bowl for most points in flower section – Mrs Hourie.
BAKING. Bere bannocks – 1 Mrs Gibson, 2 and 3 Mrs Shearer; oat bannocks (thick) – 1 Mrs J. S. Gibson, 2 and 3 Mrs R. Shearer; oat bannocks (thin) – 1 Mrs A. Harcus, 2 Mrs W. A. Grieve, 3 Mrs E. M. Hourie; flour bannocks – Mrs J. S. Gibson, 2 Mrs H. Gibson, 3 Mrs Flaws; oven scones – 1 Mrs L. Miller, 2 Mrs A. Harcus, 3 Mrs W. Mainland; drop scones – 1 Mrs R. Shearer, 2 Mrs A. Harcus, 3 Mrs W. Mainland; fruit cake – 1 Mrs Flaws, 2 Miss M. Grieve, 3 Mrs L Miller; sultana cake – 1 Mrs Wilson, 2 Mrs Shearer, 3 Mrs E. M. Hourie; Madeira cake – 1 Mrs R. Shearer, 2 Mrs E. M. Hourie, 3 Mrs L. Miller; gingerbread – 1 Mrs A. Harcus, 2 A. Inkster, 3 Mrs Cormack; sponge sandwich – 1 Mrs E. Marwick, 2 Mrs E. M. Hourie, 3 Mrs Flaws; Victoria sandwich – 1 Miss Edna Clouston, 3 Mrs Evelyn Marwick, 3 Mrs E. M. Hourie; Scotch bun – 1 Mrs Flaws, 2 A. Inkster, 3 Mrs Cormack; fruit tart – 1 Peggy Corsie, 2 Mrs E. Shearer, 3 Mrs Flaws; cheese cakes – 1 and 2 Mrs R. Shearer, 3 Peggy Corsie: queen cakes – 1 Mabel Grieve, 2 Mrs R. Grieve, 3 no name; rock cakes – 1 Mrs Seatter, 2 Mrs H. Gibson, 3 Mrs Cormack; melting moments – 1 and 2 Miss D. Mainland, 3 A. Inkster; shortbread (thick) – 1 and 3 Miss D. Mainland, 2 Mrs W. A. Grieve; shortbread (thin) – 1 Mabel Grieve, 2 Miss D. Mainland, 3 Mrs W. A. Grieve.
DAIRY PRODUCE. Rhubarb jam – Mabel Grieve, 2 and 3 Dorothy Mainland; strawberry jam – 1 P. Corsie, 2 and 3 Mrs H. I. Gibson; gooseberry jam – 1 Mrs T. Sinclair, 2 Mrs Cormack, 3 Mrs Sinclair; black-currant jam – 1 P. Corsie, 2 Mrs W. A. Grieve; apricot jam – 1 and 2 Dorothy Mainland; marmalade – Mrs T. Sinclair; any mixed jam – 1 and 2 Mrs T. Sinclair, 3 Mrs J. S. Gibson; duck eggs – 1 and 2 P. Corsie; hen eggs – 1 and 2 Mrs R. Shearer, 3 Dorothy Mainland; sweet milk cheese – 1 Mrs W. Alexander, 2 and 3 Mrs R. Shearer; fresh butter – 1 Mrs Cormack, 2 Mrs Shearer, 3 Mrs G. Reid; salt butter – 1 Mrs G. Reid, 2 and 3 Mrs Cormack; table butter – 1 Mrs Seatter, 2 and 3 Dorothy Mainland. Cumming and Spence’s Cup for best butter – Mrs Cormack.
ISLAND CATTLE – COMPETITION AT SOURIN.
Uniformly high quality in many classes set the judges some problems at Rousay Agricultural Society’s show on Tuesday. The show was held in glorious weather in the usual field at Banks Farm. The Judges were Messrs J. Learmonth, Saither, Dounby, and Thomas Flett, Millhouse, Harray. At the close of the show trophies were presented by Mrs Hugh Craigie, Rousay’s former district nurse, on holiday from Aberdeenshire.
PRIZE-LIST. Section II – Cattle. – Calf, calved on or after October 1, 1946 – 1 Mrs Inkster, Woo; 2 and 3 D. Moar, Saviskaill. Calf, calved on or after 1st March 1947 – 1 Mrs Inkster, 2 R. Seatter. Cow in milk or in calf – 1, 2 and 4 R. Johnston, 3 W. Corsie, 5 James Lyon. Cow, three years old – 1 R. Johnston, 2 W. Alexander, 3 Inkster Bros., 4 J. Seatter. Heifer in calf – 1 and 2 R. Johnston, 3 and 4 W. Alexander, 5 and 6 R. Seatter. Heifers two years old – 1, 4 and 5 Inkster Bros, 2 and c R. Johnston, 3 R. Seatter. Heifer, one year old October 1 – 1 D. Moar. Heifer, one year old 1st March – 1 W. Alexander, 2 James Seatter, 3 R. Seatter, 4 Charles Flett, 5 W. & T. Inkster, 6 James Russell. Steer, two years old – 1, 2 and 3 R. Johnston, 4 W. Alexander, 5 James Russell. Steer, one year old 1st October – 1 W. & T. Inkster, 2 and 3 R. Johnston, 4 W. Alexander, 5 James Lyon. Steer, one year old 1st March – 1 and 2 R. Johnston, 3 R. Seatter, 4 W. Alexander, 5 and 6 D. Moar. Cow in milk or in calf – 1 Mrs Mainland, Hurtiso. Cow, three years old – 1 R. Johnston, 2 W. Corsie. Heifer in calf – 1 W. Alexander, 2 R. Seatter, 3 J. R. Lyon. Heifer, one year old 1st October – 1 James Russell, 2 W. Alexander. Steer, two years old – 1 W. Alexander, 2 R. Seatter, 3 James Lyon, 4 James Marwick, 5 W. & T. Inkster. Steer, one year old 1st March – 1 James Seatter.
Section III – Horses. Draught mare – 1 R. Johnston. Filly, three years old – 1 J. Russell. Filly, two years old – 1 R. Johnston. Draught gelding – 1 James Marwick, 2 W. & T. Inkster. Gelding three years old – 1 J. Seatter. Garron (any age) – 1 W. & T. Inkster, 2 T. Donaldson, Wasdale, 3 J. Russell. Dog Race – 1 Wm. Corsie, Glebe; 2 R. Seatter, Banks; 2 W, Alexander, Scockness; 4 A. Harcus, Knapper.
Section IV – Special Prizes. Department of Agriculture’s prizes for best cow or heifer over two years old in milk or in calf, confined to smallholders – 1, 2 and 3 R. Johnston. Cup presented by Rev. R. R. Davidson, for best animal in cattle sections – 1 R. Johnston; reserve – W. & T. Inkster. Cup, presented by Messrs P. C. Flett, for best cow in yard – 1 and reserve, R. Johnston. Cup, presented by Mr Geo. Johnson, M.R.C.V.S., for best shorthorn cow – 1 R. Johnston; reserve, Mrs Mainland. Cup, presented by Messrs T. Smith Peace, for shorthorn under 2½ years – W. Alexander; reserve, James Russell. Cup, presented by the Northern Co-operative Society for best pair yearlings – 1 and reserve, R. Johnston. Silver rose bowl, presented by O.A.D.S., for best four cattle drawn from any section – R. Johnston; reserve, W. & T. Inkster. Cup, presented by Dr Paterson, for best cog-fed calf – 1 and reserve, Mrs Inkster. Medal, presented by Alex. Heddle, for best calf in yard – 1 and reserve, Mrs Inkster. Medal, presented by A. W. K. Baikie, for best butcher’s animal – W. &. T. Inkster; reserve, R. Johnston. Medal, presented by Mr Wm. D. Reid, for best animal in cattle section, £20 rental and under – R. Grieve, Cruannie; reserve, A. Clouston, Upper Knarston. Medal, presented by Mr Linklater, for best animal in cattle sections £12 rental and under – R. Grieve; reserve, A. Clouston. Silver cup, presented by the late Mr Grant, Trumland, for best animal in horse sections – 1 and reserve, R. Johnston. E.P.N.S. vase, presented by Mr Wm. Shearer, seed merchant, for best gelding – James Marwick; reserve, W. & T. Inkster.
1947 August 26 Orkney Herald
ISLAND DIARY. – In the half hour at their disposal, the Orcadians in “Country Magazine,” the other Sunday afternoon, performed miracles.
I suppose much of the credit is due to the producer of the programme. The picture of our islands which he elicited from those contributing to the programme was marvellously rounded and complete. Without the shadow of a doubt what emerged was a true and balanced reflection of Orkney. It could hardly have been done better.
Many of us were delighted to hear original Orkney poetry like the “Seal Man of Suleskerry,” preserved in the memory of Mr Peter Leith of Stenness, and the Rousay Rhymes that have an even remoter origin, spoken by Dr. Hugh Marwick.
Is it not high time that strenuous efforts were being made to preserve this native folk literature of ours? Another generation, and the vast bulk of it will be lost. It is certain that quantities of it have vanished from mortal ken already.
I must say it was news to me also that Colonel Balfour, in the last century, succeeded in preserving a lot of Orkney folk songs and tunes. Was this collection ever published, and where may one expect to see a copy?
Of all those who contributed to the making of such an excellent programme, I think perhaps Mr John Mackay, of Sanday, was the star.
Not only did he speak in the soft balanced accents of the educated Orkneyman (than which there is no tongue more pleasant), but the story he had to tell of his almost legendary struggle to obtain education as so typical of the situation of so many young Orkneymen, that it was probably the most valuable contribution to the programme. In addition to which, it was related with a characteristic quiet wit – wholly delightful.
It was, altogether, one of the most enjoyable pieces of listening that we have got this summer from the B.B.C. – ISLANDMAN
1947 September 2 Orkney Herald
MOTOR BOAT “OTTER” FOR SALE
32 feet overall, 7 feet 6 inches beam. Carvel built and partly decked and fitted
with mast. Brooke engine. Can be seen at Trumland Pier, Rousay.
Offers should be sent to T. P. & J. L. Low, Solicitors, Kirkwall,
on or before 30th September 1947.
1947 September 30 Orkney Herald
ISLAND DIARY. – There is a lost island in Orkney. Famous for evermore shall be the man who wins it back for humanity. It goes by the rather strange name of Heather-Bleather.
It is the sister island of Eynhallow, that beautiful, bird-haunted skerry between Evie and Rousay. Once Eynhallow was a lost island too, like Heather-Bleather (which lies not far from it, but further out towards the Atlantic) it rose out of the water at certain periods, and then vanished as suddenly, like a mist.
There was in the Orkney of that time a legend that if any man was bold enough to take steel in his hand, and, looking neither left nor right, sail his boat straight for Eynhallow and jump ashore, it would never disappear again.
A score of brave fishermen tried the adventure at different times, and were either drowned in the ferocious roost or swallowed up forever in the thick fog-banks that used to descend and blot out the island. At last the hour and the man came. His name is forgotten; but he fulfilled all the conditions, so that to-day Eynhallow is safely in the Orkney group.
There remains Heather-Bleather. Unfortunately this island has not been appearing quite so often lately as it used to. Or else (as you may perhaps discover later on in this Diary) it has changed its position.
But make no mistake about it – Heather-Bleather exists as surely as Hoy or Westray. The only difference is that it is inhabited by the sea-folk, who naturally want to retain sovereignty over it for as long as possible. The sea folk don’t want their precious island (about the last territory now in their possession) to be invaded by hordes of human settlers.
Yet the sea-folk who live on Heather-Bleather are a gentle, kindly race. One fine summer morning, long ago, a Rousay girl was down at the beach looking for whelks. The sea-folk saw her and fell in love with her. They carried her across the sound to Heather-Bleather.
When she never came home her family mourned for her as dead. It was thought she must have been drowned in the rising tide.
Years afterwards the girl’s father and brothers were out fishing, when a dense fog descended and blotted out everything. They sailed their boat blindly for a space, and at last grounded her safely on an island which they took to be Eynhallow.
But the shape of the island and the houses were strange to them. They knocked for admittance on the door of a small white house. The gentle-faced woman who opened to them was the long-lost girl, their daughter and sister. She welcomed them gravely. Soon her husband and his brother returned to the house, swimming ashore in the guise of seals. But when they came to land they laid aside their seal-skins, and the Rousay men saw that they were the simple and kindly sea-folk.
The fishermen received bountiful hospitality from the sea-folk. At last they rose and said they would have to be getting back to Rousay, as the fog was rising. The woman wept to see her father and brothers going away. She refused to go with them, saying how happy she was living among the sea-folk of Heather-Bleather. As they were going through the door she went on a moment’s impulse to a drawer, and brought out a knife. She put it in her father’s hand, and whispered to him that as long as he kept it he could always return to Heather-Bleather and see her. As the old man was pushing off his boat from the beach the knife slipped through his fingers into the water. Nobody has ever set foot on Heather-Bleather since that day.
For decades it remained hidden. People who ought to know better began to sneer at the very notion of a vanishing island, though Eynhallow is there to confound them.
Quite suddenly and dramatically, within the last five years, Heather-Bleather (or another vanishing island of the same kind) has made its re-appearance. It is now no longer in Rousay Sound: it lies to the west of Hoy.
The first person of our sceptical generation to see it is a young lady from the South. Coming to Orkney by air, she saw distinctly beneath her, to the west of Hoy, a small green island with one white house on it. She swears it was not Graemsay. She looked at her map and saw no island marked where this one was. It was rather puzzling. She mentioned her experience to a few of her friends on landing at Kirkwall. This happened only a few years ago.
Not long afterwards her story was dramatically confirmed. A sober Kirkwall business man on an air trip either to or from Orkney (I forget which) saw a small green island with a white house on it lying far beneath him, to the west of the dark island of Hoy. It was not a case of wishful thinking, for It seems he had never heard of the girl’s exactly similar experience of a few weeks before.
So, after having been lost for centuries, Heather-Blether (or some kindred island of the sea folk) has been sighted by two mortals in the past few years.
Keep a good look-out for it, you air travellers. If Heather-Bleather materialises it will be the biggest news sensation of this century.
As for me, I’m glad that the gentle sea-folk still have somewhere to lay their weary heads. ISLANDMAN.
1947 October 7 Orkney Herald
PREMATURE. – We tender apologies to any reader who may have been deluded into spending an illicit extra hour in bed on Sunday morning by the premature announcement in “The Orkney Herald” and other newspapers last week of the end of summer time. B.S.T., in fact, continues in force for four weeks yet, until Saturday night, 1st November. The mistaken belief that Winter Time was due to commence last weekend was widespread throughout the country, and to correct it special announcements were broadcast on Friday and Saturday.
NOVEL ROUSAY CONCERT. – Never has Rousay Recreational Hall been packed so full as it was last Friday week, when James Smith – recent Kirkwall broadcasting soloist – brought his talented party of Kirkwall artistes (including the full and original cast of the “Minister’s Keg”) to the “Island of the Mares.”
The audience thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the varied programme while the artistes, on their part, avowed their stay was all too short, leaving Rousay with evident regret in the early hours of the Saturday morning. As a matter of fact they were lucky to get across to Evie when they did, as the weather was worsening.
The Kirkwall party had been invited to the island by the Rousay Amateur Dramatic Society. Proceeds of the concert and following dance amounted to the most gratifying sum of £35 gross, and will go towards the Rousay Amateur Dramatic Society’s funds.
The artistes crossed over from Evie in Sinclair’s trustworthy post-boat. When they arrived at Rousay, six motor cars, including a Humber Snipe, met them at the pier and they were at once whisked away to the school, where a really sumptuous tea was waiting. The tables literally groaned under the weight of good Orkney fare. The tea was provided and served by the ladies of the R.A.D.S.
The concert began at 8.30 p.m., and lasted until well after 11. Mr Bob Johnston of Trumland Farm, on behalf of R.A.D.S., introduced the concert party.
Several folk present had even made the trip by boat from the neighbouring islands of Egilshay and Wyre.
At the close Mrs E. McLean warmly thanked Mr Smith and his talented party for the excellent concert they had given that evening. Compere David Dunnet, on behalf of the concert party, then thanked the Rousay folk for their great hospitality.
After the concert, the floor was cleared for the dancing, which was carried on, with vim and vigour, until the “wee sma’ ‘oors” of Saturday morning.
The concert and dance then but a pleasant memory, the members of the company were dispersed, two at a time, to several farms and homes all over the island. Tired, but happy, sleep came to all without any wooing.
1947 November 4 Orkney Herald
REMEMBRANCE DAY. – Under the auspices of the British Legion, a brief ceremony will be held at Kirkwall War Memorial at 10.30 on Sunday morning (Nov. 9th), when a wreath of poppies will be laid in remembrance of those who gave their lives in both world wars. Although there will be no parade, it is felt that many local ex-servicemen will wish to join in paying tribute to their fallen comrades, and all who would like to attend are asked to assemble at the Masonic Hall at 10.20. There will be ample time available after this ceremony to allow those taking part to attend services of remembrance in their respective churches if they wish to do so.
1947 November 11 Orkney Herald
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY. – Churches throughout Orkney honoured on Sunday the memory of those who fell in the two great wars. In St Magnus Cathedral the morning Remembrance Day service coincided with the “kirkin” of Kirkwall Town Council. The congregation was a large one, greater, probably, than at any time since the Octo-Centenary celebrations ten years ago. The service was conducted by the Rev. G. Arthur Fryer, M.A., B.Sc., H.C.F., who delivered a powerful address on the theme “Freedom and Citizenship.” The two minutes’ silence was observed at 11 o’clock, the congregation upstanding. Young Piper James Robertson played the “Flowers of the Forest,” and the Last Post and Reveille were sounded by Bandmaster Buchan. S.A.
1947 November 18 Orkney Herald
WEATHER FREAKS. – Unless it has still to come (which is doubtful) there will have been no “Peedie Summer” in 1947. Or rather, the “Peedie Summer ” and the “Muckle Summer” ran into each other, which goes far towards explaining the long weeks of golden weather in July and August.
As if in revenge for the nonpareil of summer which we have not Iong left behind us, winter has descended swiftly and cruelly. Stromessians woke shivering last Friday morning to discover the Hoy hills wearing a mantle of snow, and showers of flakes feIl during the day. The local weather prophets say that a wintry winter is likely to follow a summery summer.
At a measure of recompense for the’ chilly weather, we have been having spectacular displays of the Aurora Borealis last week.
BOOKSHELF – AN ORKNEY SONNET ANALYSED
‘SONS OF THE ISLES’
There is a spell woven by restless seas,
A secret charm that haunts our Island air,
Holding our hearts and following everywhere
The wandering children of the Orcades;
But still, when sleep the prisoned spirit frees,
What dim, void wastes, what strange dark seas we dare,
Till where the dear green isles shine low and fair
We moor in dreams beside familiar quays.
Sons of the Isles! though ye may roam afar.
Still on your lips the salt sea spray is stinging,
Still in your hearts the winds of youth are singing;
Though in heavens grown familiar to your eyes
The Southern Cross is gleaming, for old skies
Your hearts are fain and for the Northern Star.
Duncan J. Robertson
This beautiful sonnet, which every Orkney school child ought to know by heart, is only one of many fine poems by this writer. If Duncan J. Robertson had had more time to devote to literature, he had it in him to become a great writer. Writing seems to have been only a hobby with him, consequently his reputation is purely local.
The structure of the poem is as perfect as can be, as all readers of sonnets will know. The theme is a common one – that the love of Orkney follows Orcadians wherever they go over the face of the earth. That is all the poem says, and there is surely nothing very extraordinary in that. What is extraordinary is the power and serenity with which the poet expresses this feeling which is common to all Orkneymen who have left the islands.
The octet (the first eight lines) moves in a kind of trance or dream, and soft dream-like language is used. Note the abundance of words and syllables containing the letters l, m, q – all ministering to the mood of rest and quietude. And notice, too, what is even more insistent, the soft surge of the letter s sounding over all, like the distant wash of the sea which we hear in Orkney on summer evenings, when we are inland.
There is nothing violent or disturbing about the imagery. All is serene as a child’s innocent sleep. Notice how calmly and surely the phrases come out, each perfectly in its place, dovetailing into the next, till the heart of repose is reached in the octet’s last two lines:
Till where the dear green isles shine low and fair
We moor in dreams beside familiar quays.
Strand after strand of wistful memory has been woven, until the ultimate contentment has been realized. Surely nothing is possible after this?
The poet blows a stirring clarion call, and the poem, which has hitherto been like a drowsy anodyne of memory and forgetfulness, is shaken into life. Splendid ringing phrases sound from the poet’s lips. Notice, in the first three lines of the sestet, the wide open vowels with the great winds of far horizons blowing through them. The absolute confidence and sureness of touch of a craftsman on top of his job are still apparent.
The poem ends on a quieter note. We have seen the splendid galaxies of the Southern Hemisphere, but still our hearts are fain for the old skies and for the Northern Star of home. The last line, with its lovely intimate cluster of sounds, brings us home again to where “the isles shine low and fair.” So the cycle of the poem is completed: we rise from contemplation of it rewarded and satisfied.
Notice, too, how the poem gains by taking as its subject one of the timeless aspects of Orkney life: the wanderlust that has always been there, generation by generation, since the days of the eighth century Norsemen.
The striking poise and balance which the poem achieves is due to the perfect contrast between repose and action, dream and reality, age and youth. – G. M. B.
1947 November 25 Orkney Herald
WEATHER CONTRASTS. – Snowbound roads, frozen lochs, the earliest considerable snowfall since 1903. That was how last week opened.
Two days later Orkney folk were sweltering almost in the breath of an unseasonably warm, humid breeze. Heavy condensation caused by this sudden reversal of conditions made walls and furniture damp and clammy.
Our Orphir correspondent’s account of the snow of the beginning of the week is typical of those received from all parts of Orkney: –
“On Monday Arctic conditions prevailed and the blizzard of the previous day had caused numerous wreaths of snow which threatened to block public highways. Snowploughs were in action on several days averting stoppage of traffic.
“The weather was bitterly cold for four days and outside work on the farm was at a standstill.
“For weather of comparable severity so early in the season, we must go back to 1903, when the closing weeks of November saw a snowstorm which blocked the roads for about a fortnight.”
1947 December 2 Orkney Herald
MARRIAGES. – GIBSON – GIBSON. – At St Magnus Cathedral, on 19th November, 1947, by Rev. G. Arthur Fryer, M.A., B.Sc., H.C.F., David Norman Slater, youngest son of James S. Gibson and the late Mrs Gibson, Hullion, Rousay, to Edith Harrold, younger daughter of Mr and Mrs John Gibson, Avelshay, Rousay.
ROBIN REDBREAST. – Are we to have a winter more severe this year than ever? Old folks well versed in weather lore and reading the signs of the last few weeks say we are. One of those signs is the early appearance of that friendly little bird, the Robin Redbreast. I saw one on Sunday, says our correspondent. His coat of brown and ruddy breast were un-mistakable. Have you seen one? If you do, remember he is a friend in need, and throw him a crumb or two. He is the bird “who has so great an affection for our kind that in woods and desert places he will strew leaves over friendless bodies of unburied men.” Pinching times are here! Remember Robin!
1947 December 23 Orkney Herald
OLD MAN OF HOY. – The world-famed Old Man of Hoy, a 430-foot-high pillar of rock on the Atlantic coast of Orkney, has changed hands. The northern portion of Hoy, the Island on which it stands, after being in possession of Mr and Mrs Thomas Middlemore of Melsetter [and earlier Westness House, Rousay], for just over fifty years, has been bought by Mr Malcolm Stewart, of Hawridge Court, near Chesham, Bucks. Mr Stewart during the war served in the Royal Navy, and was stationed for a period at Hatston Naval Air Station, Kirkwall.
DWARFIE STONE, TOO. His love for Orkney has decided him to settle in the islands and to acquire this portion of Hoy, which includes another famous landmark, the Dwarfie Stone, a pre-historic and legendary habitation cut from a huge sandstone boulder. The price paid has not been disclosed.
1947 December 30 Orkney Herald
ORKNEY VERSE QUERY
To the Editor of the “Orkney Herald“
SIR, – I am trying to trace the author and source of the following verse:
Eynhallow stands in the middle of the sea.
With a roarin’ roost on every side
Eynhallow stands in the middle of the tide.
Could any readers of “The Orkney Herald” help me, through the medium of your columns? – Yours, etc., (Miss) L. B. Russ, 6 Westbourne Terrace, Glasgow, W.2.