Father Calum MacLellan

“People on Eriskay had to do things for themselves. Most were fishermen and seamen but they could make their own nets and mend their masts. They could make hooks for catching fish. They could make masts for sailing boats and repair steering gear.

 When it came to the ponies to be efficient the ponies required carriers – creels we called them. Bundles of willow were bought from the mainland and my father had a sort of template for making creels – and he just made them.

When he got good strong wood he made a s’rathair. It was easily enough made. It had to be made from strong wood because it needed to take a fair weight. My father made ours and everything needed for the pony.

He also made a ‘bodrachan’ which went under the tail to stabilise the creels, especially downhill. The ‘bodrachan’ resembled a handle of a brush and in other places would have been made of leather.

The plad was made from ‘shiaman ruadh’ and involved very intricate weaving and strengthening because it had to be thick enough to guard the pony’s back.”

Until recently parish priest on Eriskay, Fr Calum is now retired on the island and was for a number of years Honorary Secretary of our Society.

Plad Weaving, Pictures above and below courtesy of the School of Scottish Studies Archives, University of Edinburgh
Peat Carrying