By Fred Silver
Acair has a whole range of published books with a few copies still available – and one is the extraordinary softback volume `Muir is Tir` by George MacLeod.
Published in 2005, it contains more than 100 pages of Gaelic terms and bilingual descriptive notes along with drawings centred on traditional Lewis-based fishing in the late 19th/early 20th century.
The late George Macleod of Great Bernera, Lewis, brings together nautical terms, weather forecasts, sea and fishing lore and all matters relating to shipping along Island shores which are illustrated with delightfully intricate black-and-white drawings by the author himself. Featuring both Gaelic and English, the book creates a great archive of old Gaelic terms for fishing boats.
The late Rev Donald Macaulay, also of Great Bernera and a one-time convener of the Western Isles council, tells in the introduction how George Macleod came from a fishing family, being born in the 1890s, when fishing from the West Side of Lewis was already passed its height as trawlers were plundering the stocks that even generations of Islands long-line fishermen had failed to undermine.
Even if Gaelic is not your interest, the pages will give insights into the minds of fishermen in those days…for instance, a page of ways to refer to boats from ‘’bata easgaidh” – an active, lively, fast boat - to “Droch bhata” – a bad (or unsafe) boat.
Muir is Tir, George Macleod, £12