Isolation is bliss. The wordisolation is often known to have negative connotations along with the word.However, to some, isolation is like living in a dream.
A dream with vibrantgreen, rolling hills decorated with mist. With jagged peaks on the BlackCuillin mountains that tower over the mysterious, lush forests and rushing waterfalls.With a bright, refreshing coastline drifting off into the clear blue depths of theNorth Atlantic Ocean seen from the famous Neist Point Lighthouse. The beautifulisolation captured here is known to the few inhabitants and visitors of Skye. TheIsle of Skye, otherwise known as an t-Eilean Sgiathanach in Gaelic, or theMisty Isle, is located in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland where it boasts itsbeauty for all of the United Kingdom to see.
The Isle of Skye has aninteresting history, culture/heritage based current events, and wondrous literaryhistory.To start off, Skye’s most basic history will bring abetter understanding of its origins and in becoming what it is today. Accordingto John Allen from TheSkyeGuide.com, “The name ‘Skye’ is probably from the Norsewords Ski (cloud) and Ey (island)” (Allen). Which refers to the mist that oftencovers the Cuillin Hills. Norwegian settlers first arrived in Skye around 875AD and by 907 the islanders have become a Celtic-Norwegian mix because of intermarriage.
This is most likely how the Isle of Skye got its name. It is alsocalled The Misty Isle again because of the mist. However, in Gaelic, asmentioned before, the isle is called an t-Eilean Sgiathanach. This istranslated to be “The Winged Isle” from the winged like shape of the island’speninsulas. It is seen in the many names of the island itself that there is aninteresting history found here.
Goingdeeper into Skye before its name, we find its first settlers. ScottishAccommodationIndex.comreveals that, “Mesolithic man arrived in Scotlandaround 6000 BC” (“Welcome to Isle of Skye”). They were nomadic and depended onfishing which Skye happened to be a big part of. And although no proof has beenfound yet that links Skye directly to these nomadic hunter gatherers, it is highlysuggested that they used these fishing grounds. Fast forward to 794AD duringthe first Viking attack on Skye. We found earlier that the name Skye comes fromthe Norse language and of the Norwegians settling. A quick sum up of thehistory of Skye starts with the end of the Battle of Largs in 1266 when theScottish crown won back the Isle of Skye which had been a Norwegian territorysince 1098.
The islanders were used to their independence which resulted intheir aiding of the uprising of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Listen to this, a Prince of England, PrinceCharles Edward Stewart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) was on the run in 1746 from noneother than England in his Jacobite rebellion. He wanted the crown for hisfather and tried to rebel against the Crown. He was driven back to Scotlandwhere he got support from the Highland and Island rebellion but was defeated in1746 in the Battle of Culloden and was forced to flee.
He came across FloraMacDonald who offered to row him to the Isle of Skye to escape. They werecaught at landing when soldiers showed up and since it was treason Flora wentto prison and the uprising was put out. Because of the rebellion against the crown, “Flora MacDonald’s crossing in her boat is also seen as one ofthe last images from an old Gaelic sea world before it was swept away, being atthe forefront of government persecution which sought to destroy the culturewhich had played host to its enemies” (“Welcome to Isle of Skye”). Howinteresting is that? The Gaelic culture was suppressed by the government justlike here in Hawaii. Connections can be made from our small islands to theirsin the form of suppression of our cultures.
After the rebellion wascrushed, the clan leaders in Skye were killed and those who were “loyal” to thecrown took charge and decided to kick out tenants to make profit from sheep.This resulted in ‘The Clearances’ which took place in 1840 – 1880. This iswhere most people moved to the United States, or other areas in the worldbecause they were put out of work. This cause many inhabitants to leave whichalso resulted in crop failure and famine which drove more people away. However,those who are left survive from the success of fishing and tourism in Skye. Themost interesting parts of Skye’s basic history is of the mixed cultures, the suppressionof culture from government similar to Hawaii, and the rebellion of such a smallarea but so strong nonetheless to go up against the Crown. Now that the basic history of theIsle of Skye’s has been introduced, let us continue to the history of Skye’sclans. Emma O’Neill, a reporter from the Scotsman Newpaper writes about the historyof Scottish surnames deriving from the Isle of Skye and observes, “The most famous clans of the time were the MacLeods and MacDonalds, withthe lesser known clans of MacKinnon and Budge also playing an important role inshaping the history of the area” (O’Neill).
The MacDonalds are called ‘The MacDonaldsof Sleat’ and was founded by “Ùisdean, or Hugh, a 6th great-grandson ofSomerled, a 12th-century Lord of the Isles (Rì Innse Gall)”(O’Neill). Tradtional Clan Donald can be traced back to Ireland but because ofthe clan’s early rise to power, it’s hard to tell for sure. The MacDonalds andMacLeods have had an ongoing feud which has led to the deaths of many clanmembers. The MacDonalds were known to support the Jacobite’s in the rebellionagainst the Crown in 1715 but refused to support Bonnie Prince Charlie when heescaped to Skye because they feared punishment for treason. Eventually Afterthe rebellion the clan took a dark turn and started to kick out tenants toraise sheep for profit and even become, “part ofa plot to sell tenants into slavery to the American Colonies, the chieftainsalienating themselves from the common clansmen, who then cleared them off theirlands” (O’Neill). The history of the clans, specifically the MacDonald clan notonly helps shape Skye’s history, but also the history of many immigrants fromScotland in which our family name, McDowell, derives.All this history comes with itspeople’s culture which is still evident in today’s current events. In Skye, oneday a year is set aside for the Isle of Skye Highland Games.
The Skye HighlandGames official website states, “The Gameswere inaugurated in 1877 by the Skye Gathering Committee, who also own thefield and still support the Games. Except during the World Wars, they havetaken place annually in this natural amphitheater from which some of the stonesused to build the Gathering Hall were quarried” (“History”). The games include Athletics,Heavy Field Events, Piping and Highland Dancing which are unique to theScottish Highlands. This shows how in touch the people of the Island of Skyeare with their culture. It also goes to prove that even with the suppression oftheir Gaelic culture, they were still able to save some of it and make a dayout of it in which all the islanders and highlanders as well as others can participatein.
Even in the current day, the culture of the islanders is preserved.The culture of Skyeis kept alive by its inhabitants and their heritage. In an article from aScottish tabloid newspaper, the Daily Record, Torcuil Crichton wrote about the younggeneration in the Scottish Highlands and how they are unable to live where theygrew up because of the rising prices in house building and getting property.· The young people of Skye knowing most about itsculture and want to stay· Cannot stay because prices going up on housingespecially now times· Skye’s label is part of cause· Home prices not the whole problem but also lossof its inhabitants and localsThe Isle of Skye’s history and current events are just partof the whole of the isle.
Another great part of the Isle is its literaryhistory.· Skye mentioned as a romantic island “quote fromhistory sight”· Book to the Lighthouse description of SkyeLiterary also based on ancient folkloreof the highlands.· Most told in Gaelic which is dying out· A folklore about highlandsLiterary history of the isle of Skye is indeed wondrous in many ways alongwith its history, and current events which brings out the beauty of thisScottish island.The Isle of Skye has an interestinghistory, culture/heritage based current events, and wondrous literary history.