Township: Ruaig,Ruaig

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Meaning: See Ruaig in Longships on the Sand.

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Information:In 1776 Ruaig was leased to an absent farmer, or tacksman, Duncan Campbell of Treshnish, Mull. He in turn rented the ground to 15 sub-tenants who had one mail land each – enough grazing for three cows, three horses or 15 sheep. In all, 77 people lived there (today there are about 30) in a village at Torr a’ Bhaile, which can be translated as the burial ground of the township, near where Iain MacInnes lives today. This area is also called Am Baile Shìos, the ‘down’ township. Am Baile Shuas, the ‘up’ township is on the main road at ‘Whinfield’ or Pairc a’ Chonaisg. The township originally had no boundaries and it was only in 1785 that a wall was built between Ruaig and Caolas. In 1804 the estate divided up the ground into the crofts we know today.
Down by the shore is the group of cottars’ houses now known as Am Broc or Brock. This name is probably not terribly old, but was recorded by the Ordnance Survey in 1878 as applying to “a few houses situated at the east end of An Tràigh Mhòr.” There is some debate about the origin of the name. Some say it comes from the town of Brock in Ontario which was named after the British Major General Isaac Brock. Others say that the name comes from East coast fishermen who lived there during the fishing season and who nicknamed it after the Gaelic name for Fraserburgh, A’ Bhruaich. The house nearest the shore was destroyed in 1879 by the same storm that caused the Tay Bridge Disaster. Alasdair Sinclair used to tell the story that a barrel from the Gott manse (today Glebe House) flew over the heads of the sheltering inhabitants. The next morning, when the family went down to inspect the ruins, their cat was alive and on top of the chimney!
Ùtraid Ruaig, the Ruaig side road, leads down from the main road to the shore. Crossing this there are two smaller tracks, Ùtraid a' Bhroic or An Sràid Ruadh, the Brock side road or the red street, leading down to Brock; and, heading east, Ùtraid a’ Cachaileith or An Ùtraid Dhubh, the side road of the gate or the black croft. The croft here is A’ Chroit Dhubh, the black or peaty croft. A’ Chroit Bhàn, the white or sandy croft, is across the road. Many townships have these ‘white’ and ‘black’ crofts.
East of the main ùtraid, between the crofts and the sliabh, there used to be a long loch called Loch an Làthaich or An Loch Mòr, loch of the mud or the big loch. In 1786 the surveyor Turnbull wrote that “this may easily be drained,” and the work was done so successfully there is no sign of it today. The main road heading to Caolas after the crossroads used to bend south around a small quarry but the road has now been straightened.
Just east of Silversands there used to be a huge sand dune, Am Baca Ruadh, the red dune. This was as high as the broch above Milton harbour and was the first point sighted by boats coming to the east end of the island. The father of the Kirkapol registrar, Neil MacPhail, told the story that an old lady dug into the dune to build the foundations of a hen house. The next storm blew open the dune and it was completely levelled, with the sand turning a previously rocky Gott beach sandy.
At the edge of the machair on the shore of Gott bay there is a hollow called Bealach a’ Phuffer, the pass of the puffer, where carts for coal used to go down to one of the best spots on Tiree for the beaching of coal boats. On the shore in front of Brock is the famous rock Sgeir Naomhaig, which was blessed by St Columba when he tied his boat to it. It is said that the saint preached on the hillock at the crossroads, Cnoc ’ille Chaluim, the hillock of the son of Calum.
Leaving the shore we go to the large Sliabh Ruaig, the north-eastern part of which is called An Sliabh Dearg, the red moor. In the centre of this is a greener area called Coirceal (the original Viking name), or Druim a’ Choirce, ridge of the oats. There are old runrig fields here and the ground was ploughed again in the First World War to grow extra food. Here, in one of the most romantic locations on the island, is the ruin of Taigh Anna Mhòir, the house of Big Anne. Anna was a very independent woman. She once visited the store of Charles MacKinnon, Tèarlach Eòghainn na Sràide, at Torr a’ Bhaile. From there she carried home a huge bag of meal, only stopping once at the sliabh gate. I was going to suggest Anna Mhòr as the name for the community turbine, but I was too slow! Hidden below the Milton broch is a cleft in the rock called Am Fang Falach, the hidden fank. This is one of the most beautiful and secret places on Tiree. Visit in the summer - if you can find it! - and smell the honeysuckle growing there.
To the north of the main road is the house, built around 1900, known as Taigh an Tàilleir, the house of the tailor, or more commonly now as Sackhill, from the hessian potato bags that hung around it on the fence to dry.
Dr John Holliday.

Extracts from 'The Gaelic Otherworld' by John Gregorson Campbell, Edited with commentary by Ronald Black, (Edinburgh; Birlinn, 2005), p 49:

A man in Ruaig, Tiree, possessed of the second sight, saw a wether sheep (molt) belonging to himself whirling through the sky, and was so satisfied the Fairies had taken it in their eddy wind that he did not, when the animal was killed, eat any of its mutton.

p 254:
Some sixty years ago a seer in Ruaig, Tiree (the neighbouring village to the preceding), was one day employed in the harvest-field tying sheaves after the reapers, a work assigned to old people. One of his sons was away in the Ross of Mull for a cargo of peats. All of a sudden the old man cried out: Och! Och! Mo chreach! ''Alas! Alas! My loss!"
His children gathered round him in great anxiety as to the cause of his distress. He told them to wait a minute, and in a short time said it was all right - his son was safe. It turned out that at the very time of his exclamation the boat in which his son was, on its way from the Ross of Mull, was run into by another boat at am Bac Mòr (the Dutchman's Cap, a peculiarly shaped island on the way), and his son was thrown overboard but was rescued in time. The view of this incident which his mystic gift gave the seer was the cause of his exclamation.

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Languages : Norse