Dave McClymont, foreground, with Aros managing director Donald Macdonald, right.
Former local librarian Davie McClymont took emthiusiasts on a tour that contained site-specific poetry such as work by Seumus Heaney, Michael Davitt, Robert Burns, Lawrence Pilkington, Robert Swinburne, William Shakespeare and Wendy Cope.
Fresh air, a relaxing stroll through the history of Portree and poetry – The Skye Book Festival combined all three in a fascinating Poetry Walk.
The group met on Saturday (September 5th) at Portree Square, where Davie McClymont and Norman MacDonald walked them through the area and the history. Mr McClymont said: “Even though this is a very small area, it has changed so much over the years. The locals have generated the history.”
Mr McClymont went on to illustrate this point by pointing to the window of Fraser MacIntyre's shop in Wentworth Street. “Every morning, I would find Sorley MacLean, the poet, sitting on the window sill and he would talk to people who passed by. I think this is one of the most important areas socially.” Seumus Heaney's poetical tribute to Sorley MacLean was then read.
Mr MacDonald pointed to the Portree Hotel, directly in front of his listeners. “A man called Kenneth MacLeod wanted to build the biggest and best hotel on the island. He started building the Portree Hotel, but Neil Nicholson, who owned the building next door, which used to be the butcher's shop, objected and took legal action. Kenneth died during this time. In the end, the building took six years to be built!”
Mr MacDonald brought the story up-to-date by revealing a fascinating experience. “A lady came from Australia and checked into the hotel,” he said. “She was the great-granddaughter of Neil Nicholson – coming to stay in the very hotel he had protested so much against!”
After chronicling a little of the history of the nearby Parish Church, Mr McClymont read from Ecclesiastes in the King James Bible, describing it as “one of the most magnificent works of literature and poetry.”
Readings were made from poems by Shakespeare, Michael Davitt and Robert Burns, to name a few! Locals and visitors alike were enthralled, with each person having something to take away with them – whether it was history they hadn't known, discovering their new favourite poet, or just simply the memory of a lovely day in a beautiful place on Skye.
Photographs and text by Roz Skinner