Posted by: christinelaennec | August 9, 2011

The South Harris Agricultural Show (2011)

On Tuesday, July 26th, the South Harris Show took place in Leverburgh.  Unlike last year, the weather could not have been better!  The roads were busy and Leverburgh was “hoaching” (very crowded).  I think many people return to the islands for the Show, which is followed by a big cèilidh in the evening.  Our friends commented that it was the first time they’d seen young people in Harris, and the Dafter too was wondering where they’d all been hiding out.

In one corner there were what I believe are called “heavy events” – throwing a weight over a bar in this case:

Throwing a weight over a bar - South Harris Agricultural Show, July 2011.

Some of the livestock were still being judged in the afternoon, but the poultry had all had their turn:

Prizewinners, and don't they know it!

It was great to see so many people (and this lovely horse) just enjoying being outside in the sun.  There weren’t even any midges!  These folks were watching a display of birds of prey:

Patient horse, and crowds watching birds of prey demonstration. South Harris Agricultural Show, July 2011.

We enjoyed looking at all the entries inside the school.  Below are the eggs; on the window is a drawing that says “Cuir gu muir!” – “Let’s put out to sea!”


The Dafter, who was in Gaelic-medium education until she had to leave her high school at Easter, loved being back in a Gaelic classroom:

Inside one of the Gaelic-medium classrooms of the school in Leverburgh, Isle of Harris

The traffic lights sign says:  “Put a coloured dot to show how well you understood.  Green means:  ‘I understand’; Orange means: ‘I wasn’t quite sure’; Red means: ‘I didn’t understand this assignment at all'”.  The Dafter said her school used the same system and she always enjoyed choosing the colour of her dot.  The signs next to the traffic light are lists of words which are feminine in Gaelic.

It was a great afternoon, and so nice to be amidst many people all enjoying themselves.  I was sad to note that I only heard people of my elderly age or older speaking Gaelic.  When I first began going to the islands, in 1994, you heard teenagers speaking Gaelic amongst each other.  But I heard only English being spoken by young islanders.

I’ll have another post or two from our holiday yet.  It’s beginning to seem like a dream of sun and sand – Aberdeen has been rainy, foggy, wintry and very chilly.  The chestnut trees are already on the turn, and on the tv we are watching looting and burning in England with horror.   We’re praying for order, and peace – as we found on Harris.



  1. Weren’t you lucky with your show weather? We were in Moray at the weekend – a weekend of epic rain, and cancellation of the Keith Show. The Show was the main topic of conversation in shops and in the streets. Such a pity when people have worked all year towards it.
    When we were on Skye recently my daughter heard a small girl talking to her mother in Gaelic, in the Co-op in Broadford. My own daughter is a staunch Gaelic refusenik – two experiences of singing in Gaelic at the Mod have not convinced her to pursue the language!

  2. You paint such a picture of your time on Harris, Christine. It looks and sounds wonderful. And yes, let’s hope for peace in our cities, soon.

  3. Your holiday sounds so idyllic. It’s autumnal here in N.Wales yoo but luckily we have escaped the riots like you in Scotland. What an unstable world we live in. Keep safe x

  4. Really enjoying your travelogue. Pics wonderful. Better than out my window at the moment. Have the liquid gold on fire in August never happened before.
    So glad we are here tho, its like something from a book or horror movie, in England.

  5. I really know nothing about the district & event you describe, but I get the impression that the experience was, to some extent, a journey back in time. …to a time of community activities, of regional identity though language, a time when agriculture was the mainstay of the district, and people took pride in their work. And yet was there a sense that these times really have passed, and you were experiencing a kind of living museum?

  6. lovely weather and lovely memories….so glad you had a good time. I’m enjoying each installment as I’m sure you’re enjoying remembering them.

  7. Dear All,

    Thanks so much for your comments!

    Linda – Oh yes poor Keith, and everyone living up that way. My friend was driving to Inverness and nearly didn’t get through. He said that there were new rivers running down through the fields. I’m pleased to hear there’s at least one young speaker of Gaelic. I think that when language becomes politicised, everything becomes more difficult. If you’re brought up with it, it’s your mother tongue (or one of them); otherwise, it’s a free choice!

    Martin – I’m glad you’re enjoying the Harris experience. Let’s hope that peace can continue to reign, and some important lessons can be learned.

    Knitsister – (Sorry, I’m behind in answering my comments!) I hope you get a bit more summer in Wales. And fingers tightly crossed for England…

    jill – Thanks, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. I’m perplexed by your mention of “liquid gold on fire” – ? Yes, watching people’s homes burn up with no-one in sight to help has been like a horror movie.

    oldblack – I think as a tourist and onlooker there is a sense of a journey back in time. But what I particularly like about the islands is that the people I know who live there year-round have a very real sense that this is modern Scotland.

    Lisa – yes indeed, I’m having fun remembering. Thanks for joining me!

  8. What a wonderful holiday you had…your life in Scotland sounds so wonderful. I was wondering as I read the past few posts how long you’ve been in Scotland? I look forward to a visit there – sooner rather than later I hope…

    • Dear Dianne,

      I do really love living in Scotland. In fact, it was 19 years ago this very day that we arrived! I’d never been to Scotland before, although I’d been to England and Ireland many times, but my husband was sure I would be happy here and he was right. I hope you can manage a visit yourself. There’s a lot to see and do, and I think the Scottish people are great.

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