Feumaidh sinn barrachd a thuigse mu na fuadaichean, tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh

Bho chionn dà cheud bliadhna bha Inbhir Làthail, aig ceann Loch Bhraoin, loma-làn dhaoine. Dha-rìribh tuath air Inbhir Pheotharain, cha mhòr gun robh coimhearsnachd ann ’s an robh barrachd.

Chan urrainnear ana-ceartas nam fuadaichean a chur ceart (Picture: Getty Images)

[English-language version below]

An-duigh cha mhòr nach eil an gleann falamh de dhaoine ri linn dìleab bhrùideil nam Fuadachain. ‘S ann as fheàrr a dh’aithnichear e an-duigh e mar àite air an t-slighe a dh’Ulapul.

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Dhaidh-san a tha dol seachad air an rathad mhòr - chan eil mòran adhbhar stad - ‘s dòcha gu mothaich iad g’eil cùisean nas trainge nan àbhaist.

Tha àrc-eòlaichean air tòiseachadh a’ cladhadh gus barrachd fhaighinn a-mach mun eachdraidh agus an àite na shamhla air na thachair air feadh na Gàidhealtachd is nan Eilean.

Chan e torchartas a th’ann gu bheil an gleann an duigh fo chraobhan seach dhaoine.

Aig toiseachd na naoidheamh linne deug thòisich an uacharan Sir Seòras Stiùbhairt MacChoinnich a’ fuadach nan daoine às na dachaighean airson caoraich a chur nan àite.

Nuair nach robh sin cho luachmhor, nuair nach robh uimhir a dh’fheum air cloimhe son aodach, chaidh craobhan a chur agus gun cha mhor guth air an àite a bh’aig na daoine. ‘S e prothaidean an aon rud a bha cunntadh.

‘S e àm dorch nar eachdraidh a th’ann agus tha fios againn air na h-uimhir mu dheidhinn, ach tha an t-uabhas fhathast ri ionnsachadh.

‘S e Inbhir Làthail agus Srath Nabhair, far na chur Padraig Sellar mile gu leth duine a-mach as an dachaighean san aon ghleann, esimpleir dhen fheadhainn as ainmile. Ach, chaidh iomadach baile is coimhearsnachd a chall ‘s gun mòran lorg air an eachdraidh aca.

Bha àm ann nuair a bha glinn na Gàidhealtachd - a tha an-duigh cho ainichte son a bhith iomalach is falamh - beò le daoine is teaghlaichean.

Tron phròiseact seo - le maoineachadh bho Arainneachd Eachdraidheil na h-Alba - thatar an dòchas gum faigh na h-àrc-eòlaichean air dealbh a thoirt dhuinn air cò ris a bha e coltach a bhith beò ann an Inbhir Làthail bho chionn dà cheud bhliadhna agus tuigse nas fheàrr a thoirt dhuinn air eachdraidh a bha cho cudromach a-thaobh eilthearachd.

Tha a h-uile coltas, mura biodh droch shannt an uachdrain, gun robh muinntir Inbhir Làthail air a bhith glè mhath dheth. Bha cothrom math aca air a’ mhuir agus le fasgadh na glinn gheibheadh aca air rudan a chur agus beathaichean àrach.

Ach, mar a tha fios againn ‘s e an fhearran as fheàrr air an robh miann an uachdrain dhaibh pèin agus as aonais dion san lagh bha na daoine air an sguabadh gu aon taobh, nas lugha feum na na beathaichean fhein.

Bha bliadhachan ann fhathast - 1888 - mus tàinig Achd na Croitearachd gu bith airson dion a thoirt dha daoine fuireachd air an fhearran. A’ smaoineachadh air an àm sin, tha e duilich greim ceart fhaighinn air dè direach cho radaigeach ‘s a bha sin.

An-duigh, ann an cuid a dh’àitiichean, na h-Eileanan an Iar gu sònraichte, tha cuibhle an fhortain air làn char a chur agus an fhearran an-duigh fo uachdranas coimhearsnachd. Ach, chan urrainn sin tachairt ach far a bheil coimhearsnachd, far a bheil sluagh – ‘s nach ioma àite, mar Inbhir Làthail, far nach eil.

Chan urrainnear ana-ceartas nam fuadaichean a chur ceart, ach ‘s e an fhirinn nach eil sinn ach air suathadh an iomail a-thaobh tuigse air dè dha-riribh a bhuaidh a thug e air a’ Ghàidhealtachd agus air eachdraidh nan daoine.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

Some 200 years ago Inverlael, at the southern tip of Loch Broom, was one of the most populated communities north of Dingwall. Today it is a near-empty glen, stripped of human habitation by the brutal legacy of the Highland Clearances; its most notable feature now being a signpost on the approaches to Ullapool.

Those passing by on the A835 – there’s scarcely a reason to stop – may notice a bit more activity than usual. An architectural dig has now started to try and uncover a history that serves as a microcosm of the entire Highlands and Islands, and beyond.

It is no accident that Inverlael and the wider glen is covered in a blanket of trees, rather than people.

Back in the early part of the 19th century, landowner Sir George Steuart MacKenzie began a systematic process of clearing families from the land to make way for more profitable sheep farming.

When that no longer served its purpose, as the world moved on to synthetic fibres, the sheep way made for trees, the human presence that was once a vibrant community relegated to a mere footnote in the history of capitalist exploitation.

It’s a dark chapter of which we are well aware, but there is still so much more to learn.

Inverlael and the likes of Strathnaver in Sutherland, where the notorious Patrick Sellar cleared 1,500 people from one valley in one swoop, are the better known examples. But there are countless lost villages and lost communities.

The glens and hills of the Highlands, now so revered for their wilderness qualities and empty expanses, once reverberated to the sound of people.

It might be tempting fate, but it is hoped that the archaeologists – funded through a grant from Historic Environment Scotland – will be able to shed some light on the kind of lives that the families in Inverlael led 200 years ago and give us a little more of an insight into a history that, let’s not forget, contributed to mass emigration.

Comparatively speaking, Inverlaelians would have been quite well off – had it not been for the greed of their landlord. They had easy access to the sea while the sheltered glens provided ample opportunity for the growing of crops and rearing of animals.

Yet, as we know, it was the better land that the lairds wanted all to themselves and with no protection in law, the Highlander was a mere inconvenience to be swept aside.

It was not until some years later – 1888 in fact – that a Crofting Act came into being which gave people security of tenure. It’s hard to under-estimate just how radical that would have been, given the context of the time.

Nowadays, most notably in the Western Isles, it’s come full circle with the people in control of their own destiny through community ownership. Crucially, however, that kind of model can only exist where there are communities – ie where there are people – but, unfortunately, just as with Inverlael, in too many instances it’s no longer the case.

The historical injustices of the Clearances can never be truly put right, but when it comes to understanding its effect and how it changed the course of history, we have barely scratched the surface.

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