Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Cleits and Whisky Distilling in Achapharic
It's a lovely time of year.
Not just the frost (picture taken yesterday) and festive stuff, but those of us lucky enough to be running holiday companies have a few minutes to ponder: 2009 holidays are done and only a few people are embarked on next year's arrangements. Of course there is still plenty to do, but I allow myself to pursue the occasional 'red herring' . A Canadian client wrote:
'The reason for the Kintyre Peninsular is that my parents found our ancestors' place of residence (a ruin) on the west coast of the peninsular near A'Cleit on a visit a couple of years ago. We absolutely need to visit that place. It was called Achapharic)'.
I learned that cleit is a word that survived largely on St Kilda (before it was evacuated in 1930), meaning a stone built storehouse and I came on this wonderful picture of a man on a cleit roof holding a fowling rope. The rope would be so that a youngster would have a safety rope as he raided the nests on cliff ledges below for plump young gulls. Another picture of a cleit below.
'Achapharic' took me to stories of illicit whisky distilling to make money that was needed for ever higher rents...
In 1806 a typical rent would be one or two 3-year old wedders at six shillings each, six dozen eggs and six hens valued at four shillings plus a sum of money which entitled the tenant to a seat in church. The tenants were also bound to cart loads of turf for dyking, grow oats and bear for meal, flax for coarse linen and give the services of a man and a cart free for two to six days annually.
Living off young gulls or keeping hold of your house only by distilling whisky in the hills and evading excisemen...
We've come a long way in 200 years.
Or have we?