Township: Crossapol

Map Reference: Crossapol 2

Name Type: agriculture

Meaning: See The Reef in Longships on the Sand.

Other Forms:

Related Places:

Information:Extracts from 'The Gaelic Otherworld' by John Gregorson Campbell, Edited with commentary by Ronald Black, (Edinburgh; Birlinn, 2005)
About four generations ago a native of Cornaig in Tiree was out shooting on the Reef plain, and returning home in the evening, at the streamlet which falls into Balefetrish Bay (near Kennovay) was met by a Fairy dame. He did not at first observe anything in her appearance different from other women, but, on her putting over her head and kissing him, he saw she had but one nostril. On reaching home he was unable to articulate one word.
By the advice of an old man he composed, in his mind, a love song to the Fairy. On doing this, his speech came back.

On the North shore of Tiree there is a beach of more than a mile in length called Cladach a’ Chrògain, well calculated to be the scene of strange terrors. The extensive plain (about 1,500 acres in extent) of which it forms the northern fringe is almost a dead level, and in instances of very high flood-tides, with north-west gales of wind, the sea has been known to overflow it and join the sea on the south side three miles away, dividing Tiree into two islands. The upper part of the beach consists of loose round stones, a little larger than a goose’s egg, which make – when the tide is in, and under the influence of the restless surf – a hoarse rumbling sound, sufficienty calculated, with the accompaniment of strange scenery, to awaken the imagination.

Witches as Sheep
A native of Tiree was on his way home to the west end of the island in the evening with a new gun in his hand. When above the beach called Travay, he observed a black sheep running towards him from across the plain of Reef. Alarmed by the animal’s motions, he put a silver sixpence in the gun, and on its coming near enough, took aim. The black sheep instantly became a woman (whom he recognised) with a drugget coat wrapped around her head.
The same woman had often persecuted him before, often in shape of cat. She asked him to keep her secret, and he promised to do so, but one day, when drunk in the village to which the woman belonged to, he told his adventure and the name of the woman. In less than a fortnight after, he was drowned, and the witch (for such the woman was universally reputed to be) was blamed as the cause.

"There is a plain, called the Reef, near the centre of Tiry" - Old Statistical Account 1791 by Rev Archibald McColl, p399.

Nuair a fhuair e'n Ruigh fo chasan - Na Baird Thirisdeach, p166.

ONB p 95: "A remarkable plain called the Reef, near the centre of the island, and 1,562 acres in area, is as flat as the sea." Extract from the Imperial Gazeteer of Scotland.

The first known tenant of the Reef was Duncan Campbell, and his house was situated near Cnoc nan Deilgnean ('The Knoll of Thorns'). It was to his daughter that Dr John MacLachlan, the sweet siger of Rahoy, composed the beautiful love song 'N seo nam Shìneadh air an t-Sliabh. Bailtean is Ath-Ghairmean, Townships and Echoes by Niall M Brownlie, Argyll Publishing, 1995, p32.

The great grandmother of the great grandmother of Hugh MacLean, Barrapol, was told that some horses drowned at high tide on The Reef. Flora MacPhail, Skipnish, 5/2014

Local Form:

Languages : Norse, English

Informants: multiple

Informant 2: OS