RUTH:My name is Ruth MacInnes, and I live in a house along the low road in Iona called ***

KAREN:How long have you lived here?

RUTH:since 1937

KAREN:Why did you come here?

RUTH:I came as a bride... I'd been coming on holiday before that.

KAREN:Did you marry someone from Iona?

RUTH:Yes I married a farmer,um the farm is situated away at the west side, have you been over to the other side?

KAREN:No, but my friend Nina has been here before.

RUTH:It's out on the right hand side as you go through the gate at the road end, and move on to the marker that's the ...and it looks out onto several bays along the shore, you haven't been here before?

KAREN:No, I haven't been here before.

RUTH:Well Port ... is the nicest of'll be lovely there today, it's quite expansive and beautiful white sand, and rocks and hills on either side, sheltered from the winds - it's a good place to go for bathing.

KAREN:Obviously the number of visitors here is so high now. Presumably when you came here that's when Iona was being redeveloped? By what was that man called?

RUTH:Macleod - George Macleod


RUTH:well it started about 1938 - just the year after I came here, and it's been going on ever since

KAREN:and was he very well thought of here?

RUTH:well, he was well enough known in Iona, because he'd been coming for a very long time but his ideas and the set-up that eventually took place was not very acceptable to the Iona people.

KAREN:Really? And why was that?

RUTH:..At the abbey..

KAREN:Why did they not...

RUTH:Well it changed Iona quite a lot, I mean it brought in an awful lot of people to work, you see he, a lot of people thought that he rebuilt the abbey . He didn't, he didn't rebuild the abbey - the abbey was used for worship about the beginning of the 20th century

KAREN:umm, was it still used at that point?

RUTH:It was the outbuildings that he rebuilt which were ruins more or less. He brought a team of workmen. At that time he was in a parish in Glasgow where there was a lot of unemployment, he brought quite a number of people here to work, and also some divinity students who were in the habit of coming to the island anyway, and they worked together every year right up until the present day

KAREN:So, presumably, so, a lot of people have said that there are not many people left here that have lived here as long as you have...

RUTH:No, no

KAREN:But maybe, I mean obviously sometimes tourists have got a good influence, in that they'll buy things on the island, and spend money in the shops and things...

RUTH:Yes (wavering)

KAREN:But then there's SO many here isn't there?

RUTH:uh huh, and sometimes of course shop keepers can be disappointed because there's people that come and don't spend very much

KAREN:And ultimately the local people need to buy produce in the shops even in the winter

RUTH:Well, we just support the local shop in the winter, that's all we have really...

KAREN:So, what was life like when you first came here?

RUTH:Well, I would say it was very pleasant. There weren't so many people around and err - the families were all native people - Iona people that knew each other very well - and a lot of them were of course related.

KAREN:Did they speak Gaelic on the Island?

RUTH:A little, Gaelic gradually died out...My husband, I think he was one of the best Gaelic speakers. He wrote it, he spoke it and he read it. A lot of people spoke it but couldn't read it, and my husband had it all. He was taught Gaelic by his Father - very correct Gaelic.

KAREN:We were talking to some people on Ulva, um, A Lady who's 50 or so now and she was telling me how her parents had been punished for speaking Gaelic in school for example - they were actually of that generation where it was really discouraged.

RUTH:was that in Iona you mean?

KAREN:It was in Ulva

RUTH:Oh on Ulva ...yes

KAREN:And she was remembering how people were discouraged from speaking Gaelic, although people are very proud of it now it's not so long ago when it was not accepted

RUTH:That never happened here...because it was widely used both in school and in families

KAREN:Did you ever learn any Gaelic

RUTH:Oh just words and phrases

KAREN:so, it's died out within your memory then?

RUTH:yes uh-huh, I think there's only one person now - Some people have Gaelic words and phrases still on the island , but as far as I remember there's not more than 2 or 3 that speak fluent Gaelic.

KAREN:and that's from 80 of you on the island?


KAREN:One other thing we're asking people as we're touring about - is - because Boswell & Johnson who are the people that took the route that we are taking back in the 18th century , they became quite interested in the quality of second sight, whether it existed still in the highlands and the north of Scotland, so we've been asking people like yourself whether they have any thoughts about that or any experience?

RUTH:Well, I have none of it I don't think...actually I don't think I know anyone who was reputed to have had it. It's a thing that's sort of died away, and whether there was much behind it or not one doesn't know.... One never hears much about it these days.

"It is the common talk of the Lowland Scots, that the notion of the second sight is wearing away with other superstitions; and that its reality is no longer supposed, but by the grossest of people...The islanders of all degrees, whether by rank or understanding, universally admit it."

Johnson from 'A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland' and 'The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides' by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell

KAREN:We've met a few people who know about it further back in their families.


KAREN:Not so much now.

RUTH:I don't know whether it was lack of papers and things like that.It hinged on opinions of somebody in ther own family who perhaps had a lot of wisdom...


RUTH:...and they just sort of hitched onto that.

KAREN:Yes and maybe people were a bit more superstitious then.

RUTH:Perhaps ...but there's nothing much of that now. One doesn't hear of anybody in present day circles with second sight.

KAREN:Thanks very much