>HARRIS – PUBLIC MEETINGS FOR FOOTPATHS

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Largely attended meetings of the inhabitants of the Bays District, and of Strond and Obbe, were held last week for the purpose of pressing upon the County Council and Government the urgent necessity of affording a grant in aid of the construction of roads and footpaths in Harris, and also of relieving the necessities of the people of affording them work.
At Flodabay, the meeting was addressed by
Kenneth Maclennan, crofter, Finsbay;
Donald Mackinnon, Flodabay;
Sergeant John Mackinnon, Flodabay, and
Alexander Morrison, Bayhead;
while at Obbe, the meeting was addressed by
Donald Paterson, crofter, Strond;
Donald Kerr, crofter, Strond, and
William Gilles, Strond.
At both meetings it was stated by all the speakers that the people of Harris were sore pressed, bordering on want, caused by the terrible weather of last winter, preventing them prosecuting the fishing.
It was also stated, that unless the footpaths partly built last year were continued and completed between the different townships and schools, the children in many parts could not yet attend school save in the best weather.
Resolutions were passed unanimously expressing the gratitude of the people of Harris to Sir George Trevelyan and Dr Macgregor, MP, for last year’s grant, and a further grant this year was urgently pressed for. A petition to Parliament for a similar purpose has been signed in the Kylis, Stockinish district by heads of families representing 1056 people.
Source: Scottish Highlander 29th March 1894 (via Am Baile & Inverness Reference Library)
(I have altered the layout in order to make the article easier to read but left the reference to Kyles Stockinish as it appeared in the original.)
It would be another three years before the ‘Golden Road’ through the Bays was completed whilst the people of Strond were still waiting for their road to be completed nearly 50 years later.
Talking of those people, I was slightly surprised to realise that the Messrs. Paterson and Gilles were related to each other (and to me), by marriage, whilst we three share no connection with Mr Kerr!
William Gilles (b. abt1850) was a Stone Mason, whilst by 1901 Donald Kerr (b. abt1858) was a Road Labourer on Berneray, which probably explains why these two addressed the meeting.
It is interesting too see the reference to the bad weather of the Winter of 1893/4 which must have been particularly terrible to have prevented the men from fishing.
I suspect the reference to the difficulties facing the children in attending school was raised partly out of parental concern for their offspring’s education but also because a poor attendance record for the Parish would reflect badly upon the County Council.
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