This autumn will see the publication of new poems by poet Donald S. Murray entitled ‘Weaving Songs’
I got a sneak preview of his writing earlier this year and it’s great.
In the prelude to the poems, Donald tells of the memories of his father and the other crofter/weavers working in the area;
‘The presence of looms provided the village of my childhood with much of its energy and vitality.
Even as I walked along its road, their noises seemed to provide me with some kind of soundmap to the area. At the most southerly end, Aird Dell, there was Dòmhnall Barabal working on his machine. At the other, near the river, there were Murchadh Dhodu’s feet clicking on the pedals. And in between, there were others, men like Iain Mhurchaidh Bhig, Donaidh Timotaidh, my own father, Aonghas Dhòmhnaill Stufan. Each one of these men seemed to possess a Hattersley loom with its own unique set of sounds, its own beat, even its own hours when its clack and rattle were to be heard. Donaidh, for instance, was a man who worked late at night; my Dad preferred to be out and about in the early morning. The evening was set aside for Church, faith and family.
And so it was throughout the islands of Lewis and Harris at that time – the same rhythms and music echoed from Rodil in the far south to Port of Ness in the north. Working on the loom had more than its share of advantages for the crofter. It allowed him (or in rare cases, her) to work the land, look after sheep, cut peats, while at the same time obtain a relatively regular income from the tweeds which the mills delivered in their lorries to the crofthouses on the island. The fact that there were no regular hours to follow was an advantage to the weavers. It allowed them to take time off to attend sheep-fanks and cattle-sales, harvest a field of oats or spend an evening fishing. Such precious freedoms were possible in the sheds and outhouses in which the music of the loom could be heard.”