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TITLE
Life in the Western Isles (2 of 3)
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_FREDMACAULAY_02
PLACENAME
Sollas
DISTRICT
North Uist
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: North Uist
PERIOD
1980s
CREATOR
Fred MacAulay
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1618
KEYWORDS
Outer Hebrides
crofters
crofts
crofting
bartering
broadcasting
audio

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Fred MacAulay was born in Sollas, North Uist, in 1925. Educated at Inverness Academy and Edinburgh University, he went on to become Senior Gaelic Producer of BBC Scotland in 1964, and Manager of BBC Highland in 1979. An active campaigner for the continuation of the Gaelic language, he was one of the most distinguished Gaels of his generation and made a lasting contribution to Gaelic culture. He died in Inverness in 2003, aged 78. In this audio extract, originally recorded for 'Moray Firth People' in 1983, Fred talks to Sam Marshall about life in the Western Isles.

Interviewer: Did each person help their neighbour?

It, it was like that right through my boyhood, you know, the neighbourliness was of a very high standard. And you can understand it, it had to be, because they were tremendously dependent on one another. It's only since, well, after the war that things changed to that extent. Prior to that they really were neighbourly in the old-fashioned sense of that.

Interviewer: From day one?

From day one. Yes.

Interviewer: You mentioned cattle. Wasn't that one of the most important parts of the economy?

Cattle and sheep. Yes. In Sollas at that time each croft had an average of six milking cows and a couple of horses, and the followers as well; the calves and followers and sheep. They didn't in my younger days; there was assuming. you know. this pattern by which you were limited to so many of each, but they didn't seem to follow it very much with the result that some were tremendously well off, as far as sheep were concerned, and others, like my poor father, could manage to get about ten together, you know, and that was it.

Interviewer: You mentioned to me that money didn't play a big part in the economy of the area. How did they get on?

Well, they - they got on, on the barter system, you know, any-, anybody say like my father, who was rather good at potato growing, he always had a surplus of potatoes and on occasion a surplus of corn so he, he would sell that off or exchange that for something that he needed, like possibly labour. There was no cash at all except in June of each year when the cattle sales took place, and whatever you got from the cattle sales that year, that had to last you till the next.

What did you do if you ran out of money? Apart from barter.

Interviewer: Well, you had a very good local shop, with its little black book. And if you couldn't meet your bills for that year, it just got entered in the black book in the hope that the next June you'd have a surplus.

One asks oneself what he did for money?

Interviewer: Well, merchants even, even in these areas, you know, they always seem to manage. I think it's called a mark-up

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Life in the Western Isles (2 of 3)

INVERNESS: North Uist

1980s

Outer Hebrides; crofters; crofts; crofting; bartering; broadcasting; audio

Moray Firth Radio

MFR: Fred MacAulay

Fred MacAulay was born in Sollas, North Uist, in 1925. Educated at Inverness Academy and Edinburgh University, he went on to become Senior Gaelic Producer of BBC Scotland in 1964, and Manager of BBC Highland in 1979. An active campaigner for the continuation of the Gaelic language, he was one of the most distinguished Gaels of his generation and made a lasting contribution to Gaelic culture. He died in Inverness in 2003, aged 78. In this audio extract, originally recorded for 'Moray Firth People' in 1983, Fred talks to Sam Marshall about life in the Western Isles.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Did each person help their neighbour?<br /> <br /> It, it was like that right through my boyhood, you know, the neighbourliness was of a very high standard. And you can understand it, it had to be, because they were tremendously dependent on one another. It's only since, well, after the war that things changed to that extent. Prior to that they really were neighbourly in the old-fashioned sense of that.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: From day one?<br /> <br /> From day one. Yes.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: You mentioned cattle. Wasn't that one of the most important parts of the economy?<br /> <br /> Cattle and sheep. Yes. In Sollas at that time each croft had an average of six milking cows and a couple of horses, and the followers as well; the calves and followers and sheep. They didn't in my younger days; there was assuming. you know. this pattern by which you were limited to so many of each, but they didn't seem to follow it very much with the result that some were tremendously well off, as far as sheep were concerned, and others, like my poor father, could manage to get about ten together, you know, and that was it. <br /> <br /> Interviewer: You mentioned to me that money didn't play a big part in the economy of the area. How did they get on?<br /> <br /> Well, they - they got on, on the barter system, you know, any-, anybody say like my father, who was rather good at potato growing, he always had a surplus of potatoes and on occasion a surplus of corn so he, he would sell that off or exchange that for something that he needed, like possibly labour. There was no cash at all except in June of each year when the cattle sales took place, and whatever you got from the cattle sales that year, that had to last you till the next.<br /> <br /> What did you do if you ran out of money? Apart from barter.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Well, you had a very good local shop, with its little black book. And if you couldn't meet your bills for that year, it just got entered in the black book in the hope that the next June you'd have a surplus.<br /> <br /> One asks oneself what he did for money?<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Well, merchants even, even in these areas, you know, they always seem to manage. I think it's called a mark-up