Johnny MacKay of Balephuil
Photograph of Johnny MacKay of Balephuil transporting tangles with a donkey and cart in 1957.
Courtesy of Mr Alan Boyd
Morton Boyd photographed Johnny MacKay of Am Bail’ Ur in Balephuil in 1957 transporting dried kelp, known as tangles, with a donkey and cart. The tangles would be sent each year to the mainland for processing into alginates which are widely used to thicken food and size cloth.
Seaweed has also been used from the earliest times as animal fodder, for medicinal use, for human consumption – a milk pudding made from carrageen is still widely eaten on Tiree – and as a fertiliser for hay meadows and particularly for potatoes.
Crofters collecting seaweed divided the shoreline between them but occasionally disputes arose. As late as 1914 the Land Court had to adjudicate between crofters in Caoles, one of whom was ‘only allowed to take seaweed from the boundary of Ruaig to Ardeas until Old St. Patrick’s Day’ while his neighbour had free access to the beaches.
Black and white photograph of Johnny MacKay in 1957.
Johnny MacKay of Bail` Ur, Balephuill, collecting dry tangles in 1957.