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Painting No. 116
Eilean nan Ron - Island of the Seals: 700 acres of heather and rock poised atop 200 ft high cliffs, one mile offshore from Skerray and Tongue. Inhabited since the late 1700s, this small island group supported over 70 people in 1900 - fishing & farming in a hardy, close-knit community. Fish were dried in a cave on the main island, and sheep were grazed on the smaller Eilean Iosal just to the west. The foreground building on the left of this picture was the school house. Pupils went to the mainland for inspections, on one occasion arriving in Tongue so wet from a stormy crossing that the inspector refused to see them, and the children and their teacher had to walk to Skerray to signal a boat to come back for them. Whatever their academic achievements, they were certainly first-class physically! Sadly, as herring stocks declined and World War I took its toll, the population fell and the island life was no longer sustainable. The last 4 families (12 people in all) departed in 1938 in a storm on December 6th. The houses still stand today as a crumbling testimony to a hard but happy life.
Original painting commissioned by Neil Dykes in memory of his grandmother, Chrissie Dolina Mackay, one of the last inhabitants of Eilean nan Ron.