Old Carradale - Iain Wright (60-65)

Iain Wright (60-65) has just written a book on Old Carradale, which is a small village on the east Kintyre coast looking towards Arran and just north of Campbeltown.  It has been famous for herring fishing in the Firth of Clyde for hundreds of years, but only a small number of boats now trawl for shellfish and prawns.  The village was an attractive port for the Clyde steamers, when regular annual visitors came as tourists and who continue to arrive for the challenging golf course, the walking routes and the various bars and restaurants.

The softback book has 60 pages, covering the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, each with a fully descriptive caption.  Signed copies can be ordered from  i.wright237@btinternet.com  at a cost of £10.95, postage free to the UK.

It is said that no-one ends up in Carradale who hasn’t actually set out to be there, as the B842 bypasses the main part of the village.  In Carradale Glen is found Brackley, a local cemetery, close to which is a standing stone, three metres high, known as the “Toothie Stane”, which superstition suggests that a person suffering from toothache might find relief by driving a nail into the stone at midnight.  There are some twenty-nine such marks on the stone.     The Vikings arrived from about 800 AD, leaving their names as Sunadale, Carradale and Torrisdale, where dale or dalr is Norse for valley.   By 2009 the population had fallen to 1350. Surnames indigenous to the village include Campbell, Galbraith, McDougall, McIntosh and Paterson.   

The local fishermen are collectively known as The Crofters or The Caardlemen.  Their accent is more of a Highland sing-song tongue peppered with Gaelic derivations and is unique to the village.  An article by Bagehot in the Economist magazine of 31 August 2013 read “Fishing was more than an occupation in the village.  The community was founded on it.  Youths went to sea in their uncle’s boats, formed ring-netting pairs with their neighbours, married one another’s sisters and celebrated by drinking and singing songs about herring.  These happy traditions are no more.  Few sing about herring these days.  Nobody sings about prawns”.  

The village hall was a centre of social activity for Carradale and the surrounding area. Dances were enjoyed by visitors and locals, whose enthusiasm had been generated by earlier visits to the Cruban Bar.  Many a romance was spawned and consolidated in both locations and lifelong friendships were forged with the visitors.  Films were shown regularly to alleviate the boredom of long winter evenings (and to entertain the visitors in summer).  They were often interrupted because of technical problems, including the need to change reels, but these minor irritations were suffered good naturedly by the audience.  As there were no streetlights in Carradale until 1960 the long trek to and from the hall was quite an adventure.  The hall was gifted to the village by Dick and Naomi Mitchison, the latter of whom undertook the responsibilities of Laird.  Naomi did not stand upon ceremony when anyone called at the Big House, as Carradale House has long been known.  At New Year it was an open house, when villagers called to extend greetings and revel in a true ceilidh atmosphere. 

For over a century the golf course has been a significant element in the attractions of the village.  Bunkers have come and gone and a dry stane dyke was eventually removed from in front of the seventh green. The fifteenth hole, named Pudding Bowl, is the signature hole of the course and precedes the next hole’s medal tee, which is one of the toughest par 3’s anywhere.  July and August provided great fun for adults and children, with a variety of competitions organised by a small committee of annual visitors.

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