Country and County: Western Isles
THERE was a herd’s wife in the island of Sanntraigh, and she had a kettle. A woman of peace would come every day to seek the kettle. She would not say a word when she came, but she would catch hold of the kettle. When she would catch the kettle, the woman of the house would say–
"A smith is able to make
Cold iron hot with coal.
THERE came a woman of peace (a fairy) the way of the house of a man in the island of Pabaidh, and she had the hunger of motherhood on her. He gave her food, and that went well with her. She stayed that night.
In ‘Tales From Old Barra, Told by the Coddy’ (1960) (John MacPherson, Northbay, Barra, 1876 · 1955) a haunted ruined sheiling at Hartavagh Bay is mentioned. Here some fishermen would spent the night whilst out on fishing trips.
Raymond Lamont Brown gives the following account of a ghost ship in his ‘Phantoms Legends, Customs and Superstitions Of The Sea (1972)’. ‘Spectre ships have been long seen on the coast of Uist (Outer Hebrides, Inverness, Scotland)’, and one particular story was often related by Shony Campbell (Seonaidh Caimbeul)* the famous storyteller and Gaelic poet.
The Brahan Seer is undoubtedly the most famous of all Celtic seers although the reality of the 17th Century Coinneach Odhar Fiosaiche or Kenneth Mackenzie is hidden deep in legend. The roots of these legends may have come from a holy man in the 1600’s, about whom legends have grown with the years.
According to folklore, a family of werewolves used to live on an island on Loch Langavat. The story suggests that the now dead werewolves would return should their graves be found and disturbed.
The creature, possibly a water horse of Loch Suainbhal is referred to as the Searrach Uisge. The creature was said to inhabit the loch for over a century and in the nineteenth century it was described as being like an capsized boat when it was seen swimming around. Another description has it being forty foot long and eel like.
Loch Uravel or Urabhal in Gaelic is a small body of water roughly 2 miles north of Achmore. On 27 July 1961 two teachers fishing at the loch had a strange experience. Thirty five metres from their boat they reputedly saw a two headed, single humped creature swim by.
In the early 1990’s a twelve foot carcass covered in sand and seaweed was discovered on a Benbecula beach by 16 year old Louise Whitts.
A geological feature created through coastal erosion, the Eye of Lewis is a hole through an outcrop of rock. Local legend suggests that a giant used a hook and this hole to enable him to draw the Isle of Lewis to it’s current location. This tale was passed on through word of mouth and if anybody knows any other details of this folk tale then we would love to hear more.