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TITLE
Peat - part 2
EXTERNAL ID
PC_SEANCHAS_ILE_PA003(1)_2
PLACENAME
Islay
DISTRICT
Islay
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ARGYLL: Killarrow and Kilmeny
DATE OF RECORDING
2007
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Lena McKeurtan
SOURCE
The Columba Centre, Islay
ASSET ID
2720
KEYWORDS
energy
fuel
oral history
island life
audio

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Islay resident Lena McKeurtan (LM) talks to Emily Edwards (EE) about the tradition of peat cutting. The interview, which is in two parts, is in conducted in Gaelic.

The following is a transcription:

LM: So, there you have it. Well, you leave it there on the - Well, it depends on the weather. If the weather is good and it can get a good drying there, well, maybe two or three days. If it is getting pretty dry and the turf is drying out, if the top is dry, the bottom is always wet, you stand them up like wigwams.

EE: Oh, aye.

LM: Like wigwams. And if it is really wet, the odd time it can't stand and you make boxes out of them, a pair like that, a pair like that. You make boxes. But that's the lazy way, as we say (laughing). It dries better. That takes a week or something. Just if the weather is good off the peat-bank again and trying to get a good drying. If it is drying we didn't change it and we'd put them together on the ground but if it is wet we put it up above. And then you make it into, ricks they are, small ricks and then it dries and then you need large ricks. You leave it on the peat-bank until they are all large ricks. That gets, well, we used to have a horse and cart but now it's tractors. But, well, now there they have a machine and the machine cuts the peat, they don't use a peat-spade but we don't -

EE: Do they have that in Islay?

LM: The cutters here don't dirty hands, their hands. The Lewis people, they lift the peat there. The cutter cuts the peat with his foot, and the peat falls down at his foot. You know there is a stepper we call that. If you have to lift the peat like that, someone that can't lift the peat, that can't cast the turf from the top of the peat-bank. Oh, you need a stepper, someone to lift the peat for you, do you understand? And, you dirty your hands then but you don't need to dirty your hands cutting peat. You can use your hands - It's not - The peat-spade is clean. And, there is a horn at the end. It's, it's like that. There is iron like that, and there is a piece like this and that is joined to a piece of round wood and on the top of the round wood there's a cow's horn. Usually it is a bull's horn or something round like that. You take a hold of that with your hand and push it down but the Lewis folk have put a foot on it, on the spade, and we didn't have a foot on it. They don't lift the peat, the stepper does it, [lifts] the peat. But the peat they have is small and square. The kind we have is likes sausages. There was a man from Lewis down here and he says that peat you have there is sausages (laughing). They were long and thin. The odd time they are wider but sometimes they aren't. They are nice, they were the right size, to cut.

EE: And who used to go? Did you go with your family or your...?

LM: Oh yes, yes. Usually someone would help you and you would help them and usually it wouldn't take long. Everybody used to help each other and we'd cut the peat. Someone cutting and an extra person. You would help everyone. We would eat our food on the hill. And the food always tasted the best if I think about it, the best taste (laughing). You'd sit in the heather and there was no hygiene, nobody thought about hygiene.

EE: no!

They'd put the bread on the heather whilst they ate. The odd time they would. You didn't have table napkins. The odd time you did. Now, Oh, it isn't healthy if you work like that. Anything you had on the table. We were, heather... and grass. There was always a well close to the peat, there was always a water well you could drink from and we'd fill the kettle, the kettles. What's Gaelic for kettles?

EE: Kettles.

LM: One kettle, two kettles, three kettles (laughs). Kettles, no?

EE: Oh, aye.

LM: And you'd have to take care that the smoke didn't get in it. We wouldn't like the taste of smoke on tea. We wouldn't like that. But there were some, they didn't mind but I wouldn't like it when the smoke would get into it but it didn't often get in. I think they had the small pans, the small pans. We had an old kettle, boiling the water and putting the tea in the kettle and passing it about...

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Peat - part 2

ARGYLL: Killarrow and Kilmeny

2000s

energy; fuel; oral history; island life; audio

The Columba Centre, Islay

Seanchas Ìle

Islay resident Lena McKeurtan (LM) talks to Emily Edwards (EE) about the tradition of peat cutting. The interview, which is in two parts, is in conducted in Gaelic.<br /> <br /> The following is a transcription:<br /> <br /> LM: So, there you have it. Well, you leave it there on the - Well, it depends on the weather. If the weather is good and it can get a good drying there, well, maybe two or three days. If it is getting pretty dry and the turf is drying out, if the top is dry, the bottom is always wet, you stand them up like wigwams.<br /> <br /> EE: Oh, aye.<br /> <br /> LM: Like wigwams. And if it is really wet, the odd time it can't stand and you make boxes out of them, a pair like that, a pair like that. You make boxes. But that's the lazy way, as we say (laughing). It dries better. That takes a week or something. Just if the weather is good off the peat-bank again and trying to get a good drying. If it is drying we didn't change it and we'd put them together on the ground but if it is wet we put it up above. And then you make it into, ricks they are, small ricks and then it dries and then you need large ricks. You leave it on the peat-bank until they are all large ricks. That gets, well, we used to have a horse and cart but now it's tractors. But, well, now there they have a machine and the machine cuts the peat, they don't use a peat-spade but we don't -<br /> <br /> EE: Do they have that in Islay?<br /> <br /> LM: The cutters here don't dirty hands, their hands. The Lewis people, they lift the peat there. The cutter cuts the peat with his foot, and the peat falls down at his foot. You know there is a stepper we call that. If you have to lift the peat like that, someone that can't lift the peat, that can't cast the turf from the top of the peat-bank. Oh, you need a stepper, someone to lift the peat for you, do you understand? And, you dirty your hands then but you don't need to dirty your hands cutting peat. You can use your hands - It's not - The peat-spade is clean. And, there is a horn at the end. It's, it's like that. There is iron like that, and there is a piece like this and that is joined to a piece of round wood and on the top of the round wood there's a cow's horn. Usually it is a bull's horn or something round like that. You take a hold of that with your hand and push it down but the Lewis folk have put a foot on it, on the spade, and we didn't have a foot on it. They don't lift the peat, the stepper does it, [lifts] the peat. But the peat they have is small and square. The kind we have is likes sausages. There was a man from Lewis down here and he says that peat you have there is sausages (laughing). They were long and thin. The odd time they are wider but sometimes they aren't. They are nice, they were the right size, to cut.<br /> <br /> EE: And who used to go? Did you go with your family or your...?<br /> <br /> LM: Oh yes, yes. Usually someone would help you and you would help them and usually it wouldn't take long. Everybody used to help each other and we'd cut the peat. Someone cutting and an extra person. You would help everyone. We would eat our food on the hill. And the food always tasted the best if I think about it, the best taste (laughing). You'd sit in the heather and there was no hygiene, nobody thought about hygiene. <br /> <br /> EE: no!<br /> <br /> They'd put the bread on the heather whilst they ate. The odd time they would. You didn't have table napkins. The odd time you did. Now, Oh, it isn't healthy if you work like that. Anything you had on the table. We were, heather... and grass. There was always a well close to the peat, there was always a water well you could drink from and we'd fill the kettle, the kettles. What's Gaelic for kettles?<br /> <br /> EE: Kettles.<br /> <br /> LM: One kettle, two kettles, three kettles (laughs). Kettles, no? <br /> <br /> EE: Oh, aye.<br /> <br /> LM: And you'd have to take care that the smoke didn't get in it. We wouldn't like the taste of smoke on tea. We wouldn't like that. But there were some, they didn't mind but I wouldn't like it when the smoke would get into it but it didn't often get in. I think they had the small pans, the small pans. We had an old kettle, boiling the water and putting the tea in the kettle and passing it about...