Township: Am Bail Ur,Balephuil

Map Reference: Am Bail Ur gg

Name Type: house

Meaning: The house of MacGregor Whyte

Other Forms: Taigh Bhàldaidh - Baldy's house (a nickname of Archibald Campbell) was an earlier house, whose walls can still be seen behing MacGregor's house - DMcC

Related Places:

Information:Duncan MacGregor Whyte always wore a kilt, peppered with holes from moths or his pipe. He had a good kilt for Sundays with a sporran with half a crown in. The only time he wore trousers was when he was tarring a roof. He was furious if you spoke to him in English. He had two sons, Iain and Tearlach. He owned one record, ‘Bonnie Oban Bay’ and Katina in the Bail’ Ùr had a gramophone. Nan McClounnan, Balephuil, 2/2006.

MacGregor Whyte always wore a kilt and a wide-brimmed Australian hat. He could speak seven languages. Once he met a crofter going to the sale. “You’ll get a good price for that beast,” he said. “Why’s that?” asked the crofter. “Because its markings are symmetrical on both sides.” The artist could see that. Donald John Kennedy, West Hynish, 5/2008.

Duncan MacGregor Whyte built the studio himself on the site of an earlier house owned by the MacNicolls. He brought it to Tiree “in sections”. In the foundations he found two skeletons and two gold rings. David McClounnan, Balephuil, 5/2002.

“Another who was in Balephuil, I don’t know how much poetry he wrote, he wasn’t there all year. I think he stayed in Oban, Duncan MacGregor-Whyte. I’m sure you know he had a studio in Balephuil, down at Ceann na Creige. He was an interesting man. He’d travelled a lot in Canada and Australia when he was younger. I think he came in the summer; perhaps he came for a while in the winter too. He went round the houses, as everyone did, to ceilidh. He talked about Oban and Australia and so on. At the same time he would compose a song now and again. The children [foster children] came from Glasgow and at the same time the war was on. As you know there were people in the Army and Air Force. There were lots of people here and a lot of English spoken, English from a variety of places. MacGregor Whyte was listening to them and he wasn’t at all happy that the islanders, especially the children, were speaking English. I think this bothered him. You have to remember that when I went to school that I was amongst the other kids, playing football...they wouldn’t have a word of Gaelic and we couldn’t speak much English either. So we were playing there and you had to learn English pretty smartly so we could play together happily. Anyway, MacGregor Whyte was listening to them and composed the song: Ma thig thu air chuairt dhan bhaile again [Balephuil] / Cluinnidh tu fuaim nach cuala tarraing e / Cluinnidh tu chlann air cnamhan tuillidh / Cha bhruidhinn iad facal ach Beurla [Bernie has a version]. Donald Archie MacPhail on audio cassette 359

Duncan MacGregor Whyte (1866-1953) was a well-known artist. He lived in Perth, Western Australia for five years and was present in Brock, Canada, for their centenary celebrations in 1913. He was described as living in Oban and “an enthusiastic member of An Comunn Gaidhealach.” Google search 1/2009.

Duncan MacGregor Whyte wanted Duncan MacKinnon from the shop in the Bail' Ùr to go to art school but Duncan would not leave his twin brother. Joe Gladwell, Balephuil, 1/2009.

MacGregor Whyte was very pro-Gaelic and he would tell you off if you spoke English in his presence. One evening he was ceilidhing in Taigh a’ Ghreusaiche (where Nan McClounnan is today). Whenever someone used an English word he would tell them off. He was telling a story with the phrase “ghabh i cupa ti” in it [she took a cup of tea]. Niall Eachainn MacDonald from the Sliabh, Balephuil, said, quick as a flash, “Bu choir dhuit sugh duilleagan Insinneach ag radh” [you should say the juice of the leaves of India]. That kept him quiet for a while! DMcC.
The last house in the row. The Knapmans live there today.

Local Form:

Languages : Gaelic

Informants: David McClounnan, Balephuil, 2/1996

Informant 2: Ailean Boyd, Balephuil, 8/2017