It was the end of the eighteenth century. The boat was on its way to America and she was full of everything that was best. When she was coming near the islands, a big whale came up by her side and put the fear of life on those on board.
Despite the shouting of the crew, they couldn’t make her flee. All day she followed them with a big open mouth. One man threw a three-legged stool at her but she swallowed that. Another man threw a barrel of apples and she swallowed that. At last, one of the sailors thought that nothing would be useful unless the whale could get someone in her belly. Before long, an old woman that was on board was overboard and the whale swallowed her. They disappeared, and the boat got into a safe harbour.
The next day the whale was found stranded on the sand at Uisken in the Ross of Mull. There was confusion yonder – every man with a knife was cutting and skinning but they were scarce believing their eyes when they saw the old woman inside sitting on a stool and she busy eating an apple!
(Told, originally in Gaelic, by Donald MacFarlane, in 1968. He didn’t specify the place where the whale was stranded, but when Tom Aitcheson told the story at Creich Hall about 15 years ago, he said it was Uisken).
The Ross of Mull is an extraordinary microcosm of all that draws visitors to the Hebridean Islands. The scenery, as you travel along the single-track road from the ferry at Craignure is breath-taking. You experience in the many walks in the area a true sense of wilderness; the secret bays with their beaches of silvery sand, the abundance of wildlife and the innumerable marks on the landscape of the lives of past generations and communities long gone. The Ross of Mull is a compelling place for anyone fascinated by history and the ancient way of life of the Gaelic people.
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