Township: Barrapol,Ceann a’ Bharra

Map Reference: Kenavara 32

Name Type: cave

Meaning: Kenavara, Barrapol | A cave on the sea cliffs: 'There is no access to it except by means of a rope.' (MacDougall 1937, 101) Its inaccessibility, except to those fowling on the cliffs, must have lent it an aura of magic.
It is near a larger, and more accessible, cave known as ScG An Uamh Mhòr 'the large cave', alias Uamh an Fhuamhaire 'the cave of the giant', or Uamh an Òir 'the cave of gold':
North of the fort is the Uamh Mhòr ('Great Cave'), a huge opening that penetrates far into the hill. In my young days it was often referred to as Uamh an Òir ('The Cave of Gold'), and oral tradition maintains that it traverses the entire island. As a boy I heard my mother relate how a piper, accompanied by a dog, set out to traverse the Great Cave but was never seen again. When a neighbour went to the mouth of the cave in search of him, he found only the dog, still alive - but hairless from nose to tail. 'Without three hands – two for the pipes and one for the sword – no human will ever traverse the Cave of Gold', my mother would say most emphatically. (Brownlie 1995, 78)
This widespread traditional story, also connected to caves in Mull, Skye (Manson 1901, 247) and Carloway (Cox 2002, 389), has also been located to Uaimh a’ Ruith (David McClounnan, pers. comm.).

This is an opaque name. It is not impossible that it is completely Gaelic, from ScG ruith verb 'to run or flow': this is very uncommon, but there is a Coire Ruithe in North Uist, and an Alltan Ruithe in Inveraray (SP).
However, it is more likely that this is a Norse name for this part of the cliffs:
• ON hrúga 'heap' (CV, 288). This has a fricative ¬-g. In Orkney there is a Roo in Burness, a Roo Clett on Papa Westray, and a Roo Point on Orphir (SP); Kolbein Hrúga (hrúga was his byname) was a Norse chieftain who appears in the Orkneyinga Saga, chapter 48, and is said to have built Cubbie Roo's Castle on Wyre, Orkney; on Shetland there is a Roog in Aithsting, two examples of Rooi Geo on Whalsay, and a Rooi Stack in Sandsting (SP); Rugga occurs four times in Norway (NG)
• ON hraukr 'small stack' (CV, 282). ScG ruc 'hayrick' is likely to be a loan word from this (MacBain). Rukkel is a Shetland dialect word meaning 'untidy heap' (Christie-Johnston 2010, 63). A feature of post-Norse Hebridean Gaelic is its strong pre-aspiration, heard in words like ScG cnoc [krohk] 'hillock'. The phonetic development of au > ù is attested. Rauk occurs once in Norway (NG); and hraukr is the basis for the Norwegian name Røyken (NS)

Other Forms:
Uaimh Ruic or Uaimh an Fhir Dhuibh - Hugh MacLean, Barrapol, collected by Ailean Boyd.

Uaimh a’ Ruith - David McClounnan, Balpehuil; Donald MacKinnon (The Plumber), Sandaig, 12/1995; Donald MacNeill, The Land, 2/1998

Uamh 'n Fhir Dhuibh - 'The Devil's Cave' - Bailtean is Ath-Ghairmean, Niall M Brownlie, Argyll Publishing, 1995, p 155

Related Places:

Information:This is the cave into which the piper and his dog entered. There was a hole in the cave roof through which cattle sometimes fell - David McClounnan, Balephuil, 4/1994.

Extracts from 'The Gaelic Otherworld' by John Gregorson Campbell, Edited with commentary by Ronald Black, (Edinburgh; Birlinn, 2005), p 38:
A man who went to fish on a Saturday afternoon at a rock in Beinn Chinn a’ bhara (Kenavara Hill, the extreme west point of Tiree) did not make his appearance at home until six o’ clock the following morning. He said that after leaving the rock the evening before he remembered nothing but passing a number of beaches. The white beaches of Tiree, from the surrounding land being a dead level, are at night the most noticeable features in the scenery. On coming to his senses, he found himself on the top of the Dùn at Caolas in the extreme east end of the island, twelve miles from his starting point.


“The other cave is a few hundred yards to the south-west...there is no access to it except by means of a rope.” - Handbook to the Islands of Coll and Tiree, Hector MacDougall and Rev. Hector Cameron, Archibald Sinclair, p 101.


Local Form:

Languages : English, Obscure

Informants: David McClounnan, Balephuil, 4/1994

Informant 2: Hugh MacLean, Barrapol, collected by Ailean Boyd

Informant 3: Donald MacKinnon (The Plumber), Sandaig, 12/1995