In Scalloway

Iomramh 2011.

In Scalloway, Shetland.

Photos: Papil Burra

Video: Easthouse Ceilidh - Cock of the North.

Video: Easthouse Ceilidh - Cauld Frost & the Snaw.

Video: Cailín Deas Crúíte na nBó.

Video: St Laurence's Church and Papil Stone.

We sailed right into the port way ahead of our expected ETA, because of the high winds – these had been forecast at 3 or 4 but were in fact gusting to gale force – 8.

We lowered the sail right in the harbour and moored on a pontoon, with the sailing club (showers and washing machine) nearby. The sun was warm now and I had a pleasant walk around the town before returning to the boat for drying out sleeping bags etc in the sun. While there, we were visited by John Smith, a local historian, who had been in touch with Pádraig, in advance, and has arranged a ‘ceilidh’ at a restored croft – Easthouse - about five miles away. This is to start at 7.00pm.

Breanndán Begley is also expected and I think Danny’s sister Áine and some friends are also in the area.


5th June 2011.

Áine Sheehy arrived with three friends, Máire Ní hIarnáin, Síle Mac Sweeny,  and Cherry ? they have hired a car and are staying in the local Scalloway hotel. They stayed on the boat for a few drinks and Breanndán Begley arrived with a friend - Dave Henderson and we made arrangements for everyone to meet at the ceilidh house at 7.00 pm. We travelled in a minibus organised by John Smith.

We were welcomed at Easthouse by the local committee and plenty of soup and Brachans ? (soda bread), smoked salmon, fresh salmon, Reestit and cakes etc. Reestit is cured lamb - meat from a wether is best - cured in brine (that will float a spud with a 6” nail stuck in it), for three weeks and then dried/smoked over a turf fire. It can be eaten as is, or soaked over night.

Easthouse is a restored croft house on the island of Burra, run by a voluntary committee and the woman who last lived in it, Marina, was doing much of the catering for us. Her husband also smoked the salmon. The location is right alongside a Papar site with a remarkable carved ‘Papar’stone. They had folklore collections, placenames projects, archives and some museum pieces. Everyone was very friendly.

We brought plenty of drink to supplement their supply and they had music, mandolin, whistle & guitar, others were expected but didn’t arrive.

As well as Marina our hostesses included Sylvia Jameison, who studied community development in Dublin & Galway and Adelaine Fulllerton.

Also present was Andrew Inkster, who tried to sail around the world single-handed. He got to somewhere near Australia when he got appendicitis and was taken off the boat by helicopter. Miraculously, the boat, which was left drifting in the ocean was recovered, without a scratch 2 months later.

Our crew quickly beat a path to the bar, drinking all before them and some of the locals were not slow behind them.

Breanndán Begley and Padraig kept up our side with music and song and dance. The Shetlanders sang a few songs, but not many.

Sylvia told us about the other Papa Little  island which we passed on the way into Scalloway harbour. Her father’s mother – Fullerton was one of the last families to live there and her father has told her of the remains of a very small ‘kirk’ at the western end of the island with unusual masonry, which he believed might have come from Papa Stour. His attempts to interest archaeologists in this had failed and it is not recorded on the Papar project. Papa Burra

The very enjoyable nigh of music and song went on till about 1.30am. Marina gave us a side of smoked salmon and loads of other food , left over and also calendars etc.

The language and placenames here are based mostly on old Norse, not Gaelic.

We returned to the boat for a nightcap, with the Irish girls and finished about 2.30am


5th June 2011.

Breakfast about 9.00am – bread and duck eggs and then went into the hotel in town to check the internet weather forecast, with Pádraig – only about 36 hours of reasonably suitable weather coming so he decided we should set sail tonight around midnight for the Faroes – 180 miles, should take about 36 hours.

We sat around talking to the girls for a while and were later collected by John Smith and Dave, again to visit the same area, but this time with a view to the archaeology, the women joined us, as well as some of the Shetlanders.

John & Dave gave us a guided tour of the Church where there is (a copy of) a magnificent Papil Stone. An attempt to make a video of the interview with John was a bit of a mess - too much wind etc.  Papil Burra. Dave talked about the local 'croft' landscape The smaller square stone enclosures in the crofts are called ‘planty crubs’ used for growing cabbage plants which would be planted out else where, the bigger ones are ‘yards’ - bigger gardens.

Polytunnels are very popular and they are used to grow apples, plums, grapes etc. Small vegetable gardens are also common.

We stayed around for a few hours, and visited John’s house, close by where he had the Irish flag flying, to welcome us., and also a local beach, with other croft houses surrounding.

We are arranged to dine out tonight in the hotel with the girls and then set sail for nthe Faroes, immediately afterwards. Unfortunately this means we will not have time to vist the Papa Burra - the small Island..

7th June 2011.

We had a very enjoyable meal with the Irish girls and immediately after the grub, straight back to the boat -- the girls stood weeping and wailing on the shore as we sailed out into the Atlantic never to return to Scalloway.

Actually it was a lovely place and I wouldn’t mind going back sometime soon.