Old Skye Tales: Traditions, Reflections and Memories


by William Mackenzie

‘To my fellow Skyemen, at home and abroad, I dedicate these few pages, and especially to my friends of Trotternish…many of the youthful companions of those far-away times are exiles in distant lands, and many, alas, have passed the borne whence there is no return. To those exiled from the old homes, these pages, may, perchance, enable them in fancy to tread again the hills and glens they trod in vigorous youth, mu’n do chuir iad cul ri Eilean a’ Cheo (‘before they turned their back on the Isle of Mist’). Perchance [there] may be a magnet attracting irresistibly the exile across seas and lands to visit in person the surroundings of the old home…[and to] feast upon the old familiar landscapes, recalling the weird tales attributed to haunted mountain, glen and corrie, visiting the fairy knolls, and dark lochs harbouring their monsters, treading a land storied with the ghostly past’ – from William Mackenzie’s original prefaces, 1930

Paperback: 163 pages

Publisher: Birlinn Ltd., 2002 (new edit. 2019)

Language: English

Out of stock

William Mackenzie (1851-1935) records a world of local legend, folklore and superstition, and charts the changes he saw in his lifetime in agriculture, education, the Church and, of course, through emigration.

He recounts the history of the leading families of Skye and also the lives and experiences of the crofters, for whose rights he actively campaigned in the 1880s. Old Skye Tales is a unique and valuable record, written by a man of intelligence and sensitivity.

William Mackenzie was born in 1851 in Melness, Sutherland though moved to Skye at an early age. He began teaching in Uig and in 1879 was appointed headmaster of Valtos in Staffin. He became active in the crofter agitation of the 1880s and was one of the crofters’ representatives at the Napier Commission of 1884. He retired in 1915 and began to write his reminiscences, which were published in two books in 1930 and 1934. The present volume is an edited compilation of these two works.

Additional information

Dimensions 13.1 × 1.4 × 19.1 cm

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