Saturday, 22 July 2006

Molinginish: seriously remote beach

If you go to beach towns such as Bournemouth, Eastbourne, Rhyl, Weston-Super-Mare and so forth, you will often see "knotters". These are more elderly people who will trundle out on a sunday afternoon, tootle at 30mph till they get to the seafront, park facing the sea, and sit in their cars. Not getting out. My grandparents were like this, in their Austin Allegro. I don't think, in 30 years, they ever actually walked on a beach; the convenience of parking and an easy drive to the beach was the main attraction.

So they would never have visited this place, Molinginish. Even if the Austin Allegro had been nimble enough to hop across peat bogs and down precarious slopes:


This place is REMOTE. As in: first get to the Outer Hebrides. Then go to Harris. The village can be found on the map about 6 miles east of Tarbert. Getting to it either involves walking along a strenuous path, or taking a boat around the coast (advisable to be skippered by experienced local sailors). There are three buildings left with a roof. One is a byre, a second doubles as a shed and the third is a house.

Here's some information on the place; thanks to Simon Fraser:

The village was occupied as part of the large farm of Scalpay and was like Scalpay sparsely occupied until the 19th century. The village was occupied until the early 1820's by shepherds of Campbell the tenant of the tack, or farm of Scalpay. In 1823 the whole population was cleared out of the land on the west of Harris from Bunamhuinneader round to Loch Resort. A family of Campbells, evicted in this clearance from Teilisnis on West Loch Tarbert, were given the lease of Molinginish and moved there with their stock. One or two others came and went, or married in.

The population grew rapidly and the village grew to a maximum of about 40 people in the 1880's. While agriculture was the original occupation, it was very much on a subsistence basis. Through time most of the able bodied men became employed in fishing mainly for herring and fished around the mainland coasts. The women when not employed in agriculture dyed wool amnd made tweed for sale. The herring industry died with the First World War and the village seems to have gone onto a long terminal decline from then on although it did not go without a fight.

After the war the Board of Agriculture encouraged families in Harris to relocate to Portnalong in Skye where new crofts were established. A number from Molinginish went there. The school was however built in 1921 and continued until 1935 when the authorities withdrew the teacher and paid a lodging allowance for the children to go to Tarbert.

The last two occupants were brothers in one house. One died in 1963 or 1964 and the other had to leave then. There is only one person left alive who ever lived there.

The picture is taken from a blog on the BBC website (part Gaelic, part English) by someone who is restoring the path to the village.


  1. Looks like the kind of place where you can happily leave your door unlocked all day. Not with a storm blowing straight into the bay though...

  2. This is where my greatgrandfather was born. Thanks for the picture

  3. This is where my Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather Finlay Campbell settled. his son Roderick had a son named Norman who had a son named Donald. It was off to Canada for Donald who had a son named Neil who had a son, my father, Lyle who is in his 80's and lives in Victoria BC. I have a son named Harrison who was born in Australia and we have lived in Scotland for the last 17 years.

  4. This is where my GGG grandfather Donald McInnis & family were in 1841. The McInnis family (who later became Macinnes) were in Rhengidale in 1851 The Campbells brothers, Roderick and Donald were in Molinginish in 1841, brother Alexander was in Rhenigidale. I think their sister Marion was in Ardhasaig married to Roderick Macleod. My great grandmother Anne Campbell was a grandaughter of Alexander Campbell and she married John, a grandson of Donald McInnis@ Cory - it would appear that we are cousins aleit a few times removed!!!! Jodi, who was your great grandfather, if you don't mind me asking as I am currently researching the Molinginish / Rhenigidale familes and have accumulated quite a bit of info?I'm originally from Fort William, Scotland currently living in NZ, going home in 2013!

  5. Tina,Thanks for the info, I am trying to establish the connection between Finlay Campbell and Kenneth (The Black) Campbell. Can you help with any tips?Thanks Cousin!