Donald Archie Brown of Balevullin with an ‘àbh’
Photograph of Donald Archie Brown of Balevullin with an ‘àbh’.
Courtesy of Mr Donald Archie Brown
Donald Archie Brown from Balevullin is holding an ‘àbh’, a large triangular net on a long handle used to fish for cuddies (small fry) from certain rocks. Derived from the Old Norse word ‘haaf’ meaning sea, it may have been introduced to Tiree after the arrival of the Vikings in the 9th century AD.
The pieces of wood making up the ‘àbh’ were bound together with cord as nails or bolts would rust and split the wood. It was heavy and dangerous with a full net and used only by stronger, more experienced men.
The best time to use the ‘àbh’ was at dusk. The fish were brought close to the rock with bait, traditionally by spitting out chewed raw limpets. Then a handful of ‘siaban’, dried shell sand, was thrown on the surface of the water so that the fish could not see the net coming from above.
Colour photograph of Donald Archie Brown with an `abh` in 2004.
Donald Archie Brown of Balevullin with an `abh` made from an oar and herring net belonging to Donald Kennedy and made by Donald MacNeill, photographed by Dr John Holliday in August 2004.