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South Galson

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 5 months ago
The village of South Galson has an intriguing and exciting history that belies its calm and quiet present-day environment. The village was a crofting village until 1863, though not in the present location (view of S GalsonThe older village was near to the main road and almost parallel with it. At this time the area of North Galson, South Galson and Melbost Galson was cleared of its inhabitants in order to make way for a new farm. The land was rented to a tenant farmer living with his family in the farmhouse in South Galson (this is now the Galson Farm Guesthouse) and there were another couple of shepherds’ cottages (in Borve and North Galson) but the other houses and croft buildings were pulled down or fell into ruin.
The farm was occupied by tenants until 1921 when crofters in neighbouring villages began to agitate for land reform. They had been promised land in return for fighting in the First World War, but returned home to conditions of overcrowding and land poverty worse than when they left, so a number of ex-soldiers and others began to raid the Galson Farm and to campaign for the farm to be broken up into new crofts. Vigorous, and sometimes violent, land raids also occurred at this time in several other parts of the islands. There was a period of considerable political unrest while the local families pulled down the boundary dry-stone walls of the farm and the British Government reciprocated by sending in the troops to quell the unrest (they were wary of ‘trouble’ from the Celtic fringes of the UK in the wake of the revolution and ongoing unrest in Ireland) (See "memories of arriving in Galson in 1924")
In 1923 the government capitulated, divided the Galson Farm into 53 new crofts, and allocated these crofts by public lottery to local families. All the buildings that you see in Galson today (except for the farmhouse and its steadings) have been built by the crofting families of the villages in the period since 1923. Some of the walls are relics of the farm, but the clearing and working of the fields is as a result of the crofters’ labours, which accounts for the fact that the crofts in Galson are generally bigger and the fields are more regular than most of the other villages in this region (crofts in the other villages have frequently been sub-divided over the years whereas Galson has a much more ‘modern’ lay-out). Not surprisingly, as their ancestors literally fought for this land, the villagers of Galson feel a strong historical link with the rock and soil of this area. It was for this reason that when the community of the area successfully managed to buy the land for community ownership, the formal hand-over of the land to Galson Estate Trust was signed in the farmhouse, and a commemorative stone in the courtyard marks this historic event. Comann Eachdraidh Nis archives hold many interesting pictures and interviews about Galson events and people. The coastal walk from the Butt of Lewis to Barvas goes through Galson and B&B or bunkhouse facilities are available at the old farm house.

Comments (2)

Anonymous said

at 12:54 am on Mar 28, 2007

The people who became tenants of the crofts created out of the Galson Farm lands, I think,retained loyalties to the villages and areas they originated from. For example the ones who came from Ness, mostly from South Dell, chose to be buried in Ness whilst those who came from south of Galson chose to be buried in Barvas.

Anonymous said

at 10:21 pm on Mar 29, 2007

in the same vein it used to be the case that these same families, even as first or second generation living in Galson retained the distinct dialect of the villages e.g. Dell, Habost, and Borve, Shader.

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