Township: Heanish

Map Reference: Heanish 300

Name Type: township

Meaning: See Hianish in Longships on the Sand.

Other Forms: Heaness - The map MVLA INSVLA in the Atlas of Scotland, Atlas Novus, by Joan Blaeu, 1654. These maps were largely based on work by Timothy Pont who mapped Scotland between 1583 and 1596. NLS, 123.

Hianish - The Turnbull Map of Tiree 1768 and accompanying survey text.

Hianish - Typed List of Inhabitants of Tyree and their Age in September 1779.
Taken from an unknown publication, 1998.201.1

Related Places:

Information:This week we are in Heanish. This is a township many of us drive through every day. But how many of us have been off the road - down to the shore or on the sliabh, or moorland, stretching deep into the middle of the island? I have to confess that one of the few bits of Tiree’s coastline I have never walked is that section between Dùn Hianais and Port a’ Mhuilinn in Baugh.
Heanish was originally a ‘farm’ or tack, with houses centrally down by the shore at Port a’ Bhaile, the inlet of the township. In 1802 the Duke split this land into 18 crofts (today there are around 6), and the new crofters given 40 shillings each to build their houses. Most of you are familiar with the design of a typical Tiree township ‘wedge’ – sandy machair by the shore, cultivated croft land in the middle and the wet sliabh inland. Crofts are usually set out either side of a side road, or ùtraid. In Heanish, unusually, this side road was parallel to the shore and has now become the main road. The older track ran across the moor between the old bridge at Baugh and Scarinish.
Deep on the sliabh there is a ruin called Bothag (the hut of) MhicChaoilteachain. This unusual surname crops up at five other places on Tiree - Cachaileith MhicChaoilteachain, on the road at the boundary between Cornaigbeg and Kenovay; Sloc MhicChaoilteachain on the shore in Scarinish; Taigh MhicChaoilteachain opposite the post office in Scarinish; Tobhta MhicChaoilteachain on Ceann a’ Bharra; and Gàrradh MhicChaoilteachain, a stretch of old wall just south of the present boundary between Barrapol and Middleton. We know the Barrapol and Scarinish places are named after the same man, but the connection of the rest? We don’t know.
On the Heanish shore, east of Port a’ Mhuilinn in Baugh, there is a big rock which stands alone, Clach na h-Òighe, or rock of the maiden. Offshore there is one of those conspicuous rounded rocks usually covered with shags, Cleit Hianais. There are four other cleitean off the south coast of Tiree from Ruaig to Hynish, all with the same shape. Going east along the shore there is another Iron Age fort Dùn Hianais. Just off this there is a little island with an unusual name, Eilean nan Gobhar, the island of the goats. There are three other ‘goat’ place names on Tiree, a reminder that these animals used to be an important part of the Highland economy. And between the island and the shore are the remains of a square fish trap.
Beyond the beach is the corrugated iron The Fever Hospital. This was built in 1906 at the encouragement of Lady Victoria Campbell, whom we met in Kirkapol. It contained two two-bedded wards, a nurse’s room and bathroom. Within months it was in action when two island families came down with diphtheria. In those days there were no antibiotics and isolation was the most effective way to stop infectious illnesses from spreading. By 1927 it was only occasionally used and it was let to a family on condition that they moved out if an epidemic started. Not great security of tenure! By 1947 it was tenanted by the Council roadmen.
Continuing along the shore towards Scarinish is Port a’ Mhuilinn MhicAirt, the inlet of MacArthur’s water mill. And at the boundary between Heanish and Scarinish is Sloc an Ung, gully of the ounce-land. The ounce land was an ancient West Highland land measurement, equivalent to 20 penny lands, and it shows us that the shore boundary between Scarinish and Heanish has not moved since Viking times.
Going back along the road we come to the house Adavale (pronounced ‘Ayda-‘) which was built for Dugald MacKinnon (Dùghall an Òir, Dugald of the gold). Dugald had been born in Scarinish and emigrated to Queensland where he prospered. When he returned to Tiree he called his house after the cattle station he had lived on. On the other side of the road is the Old Police Station. Originally built as a school, in the 1880s it was described thus. "A small thatched cottage, the residence of the Police Constable of Tiree. Some time ago it was composed of three temporary cells to detain prisoners till there was an opportunity of forwarding these to Inveraray if the case required such treatment. These cells are now out of repair and criminals arrested are confined in the Temperance Hotel, Scarinish, to await an opportunity of their departure to Inveraray."
Back along the road towards Baugh there is a house called Taigh Iain Èirdsidh ’ic Eòghainn a’ Phacaid, the house of Iain, the son of Archie, the son of Hugh the 'Packet.’ Hugh MacKinnon, who died in 1902 aged 79, ran a weekly packet boat for mail and passengers between Scarinish and Tobermory. His son Archie skippered the rowing boat that took passengers out from Scarinish harbour to the ferry. Opposite is the site of the house where the famous Donald MacKinnnon of the Taeping was born. Lastly, before Baugh on the north side of the road, is a small gate and a little rock called Crannag a’ Mhinisteir, the pulpit of the minister, where open air services were held, probably after the Disruption of 1843.
Dr John Holliday.

Extracts from 'The Gaelic Otherworld' by John Gregorson Campbell, Edited with commentary by Ronald Black, Edinburgh; Birlinn, 2005, p 48:

A changeling in Hianish (some say Sanndaig), Tiree, was driven away by a man of skill who came and, standing in the door, said:
'Muc dhearg, muc dhearg,
Muc leathchluasach dhearg
Mharbh Fionn le Mac an Luin
‘S a thug e air a mhuin gu Druim Dearg.’
(“Red pig, red pig, /Red one-eared pig / That Fin killed with the Son of Luin ? And took on his back to Druim Dearg.”)
Druim Dearg, or the Red Ridge, is a common in teh neighbourhood of Hianish. Fin’s sword, ‘the son of Luin’, was of such superior metal that it cut through six feet of whatever substance was struck by it, and an inch beyond. Its particular virtue was ‘never to leave a remnant from its blow.’ (Footnote 168)
When the changeling heard the bare mention of it, with the aversion of his race to steel, he jumped like a fish out of the water (thug e iasg-leum às), rushed out of the house and was never seen again. The real child was found outside the house. (Footnote 169)

Footnote 168: See note 33. The Druim Dearg lies between Hianish (Heanish) and Baugh, the neighbouring township to the west. Sanndaig is very far away on the west side.
Footnote 169: Thug e iasg-leum às ‘he took a fish-jump out of it.’

p 71:

A strong-minded headstrong woman in Hianish, Tiree, had a cow, the milk of which strangely failed. Suspecting that the cow was being milked by someone during the night, she sat up and watched. She saw a woman dressed in green coming noiselessly and milking the cow. She came behind and caught her. In explanation the Fairy woman said she had a child lying in the smallpox, (Footnote 228) and as a favour asked to be allowed to milk the cow for one month till the child got better. (Footnote 229) This was allowed, and when the month was out, the cow’s milk became as plentiful as ever.
That the Fairies took away cows at night in order to milk them, and sent them back in the morning, was a belief in Craignish, Morvern, Tiree, Lochaber, and probably in the whole Highlands. When milk lost its virtue, and yielded neither cream, nor butter, nor cheese, the work was that of witches and suchlike diabolical agencies. When the mischief was done by the Fairies the whole milk disappeared.

Footnote 228: ‘Lying in the small pox’ represents Gaelic idiom, see also p. 259 and compare the lines
Is truagh nach robh m’a their an galar,
Agus Cailean Liath am plàigh.
(It’s a shame my father was not in a sickness / And Grey Colin was not in a plague,’ Watson 1959, p. 244.)

Footnote 229: Milkmaids tended to contract cowpox, which prevented them catching smallpox.

Page 95
About a hundred years ago one of the tenants of this farm, which adjoins Baugh, wondering what made his cows leave the fank (or enclosure) every night, resolved to watch. He built a small turf hut near the fold to pass the night in, and sat mending his cuarain (shoes or moccasins of untanned hides), whne a woman came to the door. Suspicious of her being and earthy visitant, he struck his awl in the door-post to keep her out. (Footnote 309). She asked him to withdraw the awl and let her in, but he refused.
Footnote 309: JGC means suspicious in its old sense ‘doubtful, uncertain.’
He asked her questions which much troubled him at the time. He was afraid of a conscription which was then impending, and he asked if he would habe to go to the army. The glaistig said he would; that though he made a hole in the rock his awl and hide himself in it, he would be found out and taken away, but if he succeeded in mounting a certain black horse before his pursuers came, he might bid them defiance; and he was to tell the wife who owned the white-faced yellow cow to let the produce of the cows home to their master.
The man was caught when jumping on the back of the black horse to run away from the conscription, and, after service abroad, came back to tell the tale. (Footnote 310)

Footnote 310: Perhaps the moral of the story is that he did not jump upon the black horse soon enough. The glaistig’s second instruction appears to mean that the ‘wife who owned the white-faced yellow cow’ was a witch who would remove the toradh of his own cows and bring it to him in his hideout.

Page 183
A boat from Hianish, Tiree went out fishing on the day before the New Year. The morning was calm, but when the boat was returning the wind rose and the sea became very heavy. The best steersman in the boat took the helm. Another, sitting on the hindmost thwart (tobhta shillidh) (Footnote 627), after looking for a while towards the stern, asked the helm from him, and being again and again refused, at last took it by force. When he got the rudder below his arm he said, “Now, come!” And the boat reached the shore in safety. He then explained that he had been seeing a gull – unseen by the first steersman – following the boat, and had revognised her as a woman of the neighbourhood. This woman had an illegitimate child by the first steersman, and it was thought her object in raising the storm and following so close in the wake of the boat was to snatch her seducer with her and drown him.

Footnote 627: The spelling in WSS 24 is tota shìlidh, but Niall M. Brownlie confirms to me that all the vowels are short. The latter word is given int eh nominative case by Armstrong (1825, p. 552) as tilleadh ‘a ship’s poop’ and by Fr Allan (1952, p/ 217) as sileadh ‘little floor or platform at the stern of a boat.’

Page 191
A man, going in the evening to see a girl he was courting, was met at a lonely part of the road (near the end of Balefetrish Hill in Tiree) by seven cats, and was so terrified that he turned back and thereby lost his sweetheart. She married an old man from the village of Hianish, where a noted witch dwelt. The old man got the blame of bribing the witch to send the cats.

Page 197

There was a Gormshuil in the village of Hianish, Tiree, a most notorious local witch, and one in in Cràcaig in Skye, equally notorious. (Footnote 667)

Footnote 667: See pp. 183 and 184. Niall M. Brownlie tells me that he has not heard of Gormshuil in Hianish.

Local Form:

Languages : Norse