Past & Present

Luachair and Dìreasgal

Luchair and Dìreasgal on the shore of Loch Reasort were resettled in 1885, by people from Scarp. The islanders were by then in dire circumstances of overcrowding. The severity of the situation was finally brought to the attention of the government and the wider public as a result of the Napier Commissions meetings in Tarbert in 1883. Some proprietors, knowing that the government would soon intervene, chose to make concessions on their own terms. Sir Edward Scott had purchased North Harris in 1871 from the 7th Earl of Dunmore. In 1885 the estate was being managed by trustees, including the now-widowed Lady Emilie Scott, on behalf of her ten year old son Samuel.

Two Scarp families moved to Luachair in 1885, joining one of the North Harris estate gamekeeper’s, Angus Macleod who was already settled there. This is on the border with Lewis and their near neighbours, on the other side of two salmon rivers, were a gamekeeper and shepherd on the Morsgail Estate.

Angus Duncan was lucky enough to spend his school holidays over at Luachair in his aunt’s house. He talked of his astonishment at the quantity of hay they used to make there. The ample supply of seaweed on their doorstep with which they could fortify the land, presumably had a lot to do with that. Even to this day, when you walk the many miles across the moor through Meabhag Glen to get to Luachair, you are struck by the greenness of this beautiful place when it first comes into view.

Three Scarp families had relocated in 1885 to a spot two miles down the loch from Luachair, at Dìreasgal. When the herring came into the loch, Scarp fishermen would come and set their nets, staying overnight with their relatives in Dìreasgal or Luachair. They shared their catch with them, and with the whole population of Scarp on their return. Any surplus from the initial feed was salted down for winter stores.

There was a Sgoil nan Leddies school in Luachair, also attended by the children from Dìreasgal. Angus Duncan recalls that it was visited every year by the Secretary of the founding organisation, a Miss Christina Rainy, who would always bring specially made up bags of sweets for each child, along with the school prizes. A path had almost been completed between Dìreasgal and Luachair, by the villagers for the schoolchildren, when the people were cleared from Dìreasgal in 1900.

By Joan Cumming, 2014