Township: Kilmoluaig

Map Reference: Kilmoluaig 71

Name Type: shore

Meaning: This name is opaque. Neither ON bólstaðr ‘farm’, or ON byggsetr ‘barley peripheral farm’ (>Bixter in the Northern Isles, Berit Sandnes, pers. comm.) suit phonologically. There is a Bister on Rousay, Orkney, which Gammeltoft regards as ‘somewhat enigmatic’ (Gammeltoft 2001, 288). There is a Biste on Coll. ‘Biste, Coll: the usual modern reflex of a simplex bólstaðr name in the Hebrides is Bosta... Therefore the safest approach is to assume that the origin is probably not ON bólstaðr and otherwise leave the interpretation open’ (Gammeltoft 2001, 302). The most compelling reconstruction is the compound name ON býr ‘farm’ + staðir ‘farm’ > Bjástad in Ski, Norway (Berit Sandnes, pers. comm.), which suits the first recorded form. A final intrusive consonant -dh is not uncommon. ‘The velar fricative [?] frequently terminates otherwise open final syllables, e.g.... Bòstadh < ON Bólstað ‘the farm’’ (Cox 2002b, 64; Gammeltoft 2001, 92). Olistadh on Islay, also with a terminal velar fricative, derives from Óláfr + staðir (Macniven 2006, 355).
There is a Beest in Harray on the Orkney mainland (SP); there is a Bysta in Rennebu, Norway (NG); Bystad is a farm name in Norway (OR); and Bæjarstæði is a farm name in Iceland (SAM).

Other Forms: Port Bhiosd - ONB p30, with Port Bhìst crossed out.

Related Places: See Biostadh

Information:Extracts from 'The Gaelic Otherworld' by John Gregorson Campbell, Edited with commentary by Ronald Black, (Edinburgh; Birlinn, 2005) p32-3:

Calum Clark and His Sore Leg

Some six generations ago there live at Port Vista (Port Bhiosta) in Tiree a dark, fierce man known as Calum Mòr Mac a’ Chlèirich, Big Malcolm Clark. He was a very strong man, and in his brutal violence produced the death of several people. Tradition also says of him that he killed a water-horse and fought a banshi with a horse-rib at the long hollow, covered in winter with water, called the Lèig. In this encounter his own little finger was broken. When sharpening the knives old women in Tiree said, Di-Haoine am baile Mhic a’ Chlèirich (“Friday in Clark’s town’), with the object of making him and his the objects of Fairy wrath.

One evening as he was driving a tether-pin into a hillock, a head was popped up out of the ground and told him to take some other place for securing his beast, as he was letting the rain into ‘their’ dwelling. Some time after this he had a painfully sore leg – bha i gu dòirainneach doirbh. He went to teh shi-en where the head had appeared, and finding it open, entered in search of a cure for his leg. The Fairies told him to ‘put earth on the earth’ ‘: Cuir an talamh air an talamh. He applied every kind of earth he could think of to the leg, but without effect.

At the end of three months he went again to the hillock, and when entering put steel (cruaidh) in the door. He was told to go out, but he would not, nor would he withdraw the steel till told the proper remedy. At last he was told to apply criadh ruadh Lochan Ni’ n Shomhairle, the red clay of a small loch in the neighbourhood.

He did so, and the leg as cured.

See p. 10. Port Vista (from Norse vist ‘west’) is in Kilmoluaig, north-west of Loch Bhasapol. The Lèig drains through Kilmoluaig into Loch Bhasapol from the south-west (see note 196). When east coast fishermen came to Port Vista (see Boat Language’, p. 131, and Maclean 1845, p. 215) they called it ‘The Green’. At p. 114 Calum Mòr is described as living in Baile nan Cràganach; this will be Baile Nan Crògan in Cornaigmore. The house must have been somewhere between the two places, where there is only blown sand today. JGC’s ‘six generations ago’ suggests that Calum Mòr lived in the period c. 1700, and this is precisely confirmed by the account of a surrender of weapons at Scarinish on 24 April 1716. Under the heading ‘Beist’ (Bhiosta) we find that he had taken part with the MacLeans in the rising of 1715 (Maclean-Bristol 1998, p.150): “Malcolm Clerk / gave in two guns & a pistol / he is to give in a gun which he did thereafter.”
Niall M. Brownlie tells me that the only Clarks in Tiree in more recent times were in Ruaig, six miles away in the east of the island. For full discussion of the name Port Bhiosta(dh) see MacDougall and Cameron n.d., pp. 93-94.

Footnote 124: “It was painfully sore.”

Footnote 125: Lochan Nighean Shomhairle is ‘the Lochan of Sorley’s Daughter.’ No doubt the name commemorates a drowning. The loch is not known to Niall M. Brownlie, and is not marked on the six-inch Ordnance Survey map of Tiree (1883). Probably, like Clark’s own farm (see p. 114), it had disappeared by then under the ‘Blown Sand & Bent’ – JCg’s ‘blowing sandbanks’ – marked as lying between Loch Bhasapol and the sea. Though unknown nowadays in Tiree, the name Somhairle (‘Sorle’) was widespread there in 1716, see Maclean-Bristol 1998, pp. 123, 127, 128, 145. At the south end of Tràigh nan Gillean on the western shore of Tiree there is a rock on the low tide line called Eilean t-Somhairle; 100 yards further out is a reef called Bogha Eilean t-Somhairle.

There was a man called Clarke who was farming in Biostadh where the Green is today in the 15th century. He had the best kept farm on the island. He had two sons who were 13 and 15. He went out to work every morning and every dinner time his wife would bring the men a basket of food. One day she couldn’t go and she asked the youngest boy to take the food down instead. On the way to the fields he lifted the cloth and the food tasted so good he tried one scone. That was so delicious he ended up eating the whole basketful. That night the farmer said to his wife, “How did you forget us at dinner time?” She replied “I sent down the basket with the youngest boy.” “Come here” said his father. On being questioned he admitted eating the whole basket of food. “Seeing you have eaten the food of seven men, perhaps I will have work for you one day,” said his father.
Every year at that time it was the custom for a Viking to come to Scarinish harbour in his longship and demand rent from the island. A large fire was lit where the lighthouse is today and the last man to pay his rent was thrown into the fire.
A couple of years later Clark and his younger son set off to pay their rent. At Loch Bhasapol they had to jump over a wide ditch. The father said to his son, “You didn’t jump that badly. Now we are going to fight and if I win I am going to kill you!” They fought and the old man just came out on top, pinning the young man to the ground. “You’re ready now for the work I had in mind for you.” Was all he said as he let the boy go.
When they came to Scarinish, the Viking said to the old farmer, “Why are you so late with your rent?” Clark replied, “You don’t need to fight with me. Fight my son.” “Him,” snorted the Viking. “He’s only a boy.” But they fought and the boy lifted up the Viking and threw him into the hottest part of the fire. And that was the end of the Vikings coming to Tiree. Angus MacLean, Scarinish, 2/1996.

ONB p30 - "the principal port on this part of the coast and has a small stone pier on its east side which was erected about the time of the failure of kelp making by His Grace the Duke of Argyll to keep the inhabitants in part employment."

On the west side of the inlet is the remanins of a derrick for lifting boats - AMcK.

Local Form:

Languages : Norse, Gaelic

Informants: OS

Informant 2: Archie MacKinnon, Cornaigmore and Iain Aonghais MacKinnon, Kilmoluaig, 8/1994