A maritime heritage project officer has been employed as part of this year’s Coasts and Waters 2020 initiative.

Shona Maclellan from South Uist is the ‘Dualchas na Mara’ Project Officer and her remit will be creating a programme of activities that are connected to the coasts and waters.

Shona is from South Uist with strong family connections to boat builders and fishermen, as well as being brought up by the sea on the island. As part of her degree with the University of the Highlands and Islands, Shona has been researching the history of pirates and Vikings in the Outer Hebrides.

Shona said: “There are so many Gaelic stories and songs about boats, seals and mermaids in Gaelic culture, much of it forgotten or locked away somewhere. This project is a great opportunity to unlock those stories but to also explore other maritime heritage such as lighthouses, ship wrecks, ferries and fishing.

"Through the activities programme, we will get to hear those stories again, re-learn old methods such as rope knots and record the placenames around our coastlines. Although the post is based in Stornoway, many of the activities will happen throughout the islands.”

From the herring trade to the kelp industry, the islanders have always made a living from the sea, and although times have changed, many still rely on the sea for their livelihoods today.  

Caitriona MacCuish, Museum nan Eilean Development officer stated: “This is a really interesting and important project for Museum nan Eilean. We are very grateful to the funders because it allows us to create a programme of activities about the heritage of the sea for this national Year of Coasts and Waters.  The activities will not only be within our museum's walls but also outdoors and throughout the whole of the Outer Hebrides.”

Museum nan Eilean and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have received funding from Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Museums Galleries Scotland.

The year long project will focus on the maritime heritage of the islands and how important it was in history and still is for communities today.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig gave £25,000 support towards the project and another £4082 came from Museums Galleries Scotland. With this funding a programme of activities with the Gaelic language at the heart of them will be developed and will showcase the culture, language and heritage connected to the sea.

Fhuair Museum nan Eilean agus Comhairle nan Eilean Siar taic airgid bho Bhòrd an Gàidhlig agus Museums Galleries Scotland airson oifigear pròiseact Dualchas na Mara fhastadh mar phàirt den bhliadhna Cladaichean agus Uisgeachan 2020. Chaidh Shona Nic Illfhialain fhastadh mar an t-oifigear, agus mar phàirt den obair aice bidh Shona a’ cur air dòigh seiseanan airson clann agus inbhich air na cuspairean a tha a’ buintinn ris a’ Mhuir agus Air a’ Chuan.
 
Maireadh a’ phròiseact bliadhna agus `s ann a’ coimhead air dualchais na Mara, a tha air leth chudromach dha na coimhearsnachdan sna h-eileanan a tha e. Thug Bòrd na Gàidhlig seachad maoineachadh de £25,000 agus thàinig £4082 bho Mhuseums Galleries Scotland. Leis an taic-airgid seo, thèid prògram de cur-seachadan is bùthan-obrach a chur air bhonn a tha a’ leudachadh agus a’ neartachadh Gàidhlig agus dualchas na mara. Le eachdraidh na h-eileanan gu dlùth teannaidh air a’ mhuir gu h-àraidh, `s e cothrom air leth a tha seo airson a’ phròiseact, an cultar, an cànan agus dualchais na mara a thaisbeanadh. 
 
`S ann à Uibhist a Deas a tha Shona, le ceanglaichean làidir san teaghlach ri luchd-togail bàtaichean agus iasgairean, a bharrachd air a bhith air a togail air an eilean faisg air a’ mhuir. Tha i air a bhith a’ rannsachadh eachdraidh spuinneadairean agus na Lochlannaich anns na h-Eileanan an Iar mar phàirt den chùrsa aice aig Oilthigh na Gàidhealtachd agus nan Eilean.
 
Thuirt Shona: “Tha leithid de sgeulachdan is òrain Gàidhlig mu bhàtaichean, ròin, maighdeannan mara, is eile ann an cultar na Gàidhlig, gu leòr dheth air an dhìochuimhneachadh no glaiste suas an àiteigin. Tha an dualchas cuideachd a’ toirt a-steach taighean-solais, bàtaichean a chaidh fodha, aiseagan, agus iasgach air a’ mhuir is air na lochan.
Leis an obair seo, bidh cothrom againn na sgeulachdan a chluinntinn a-rithist, dòighean-obrach ceangailte ris a’ mhuir ath-ionnsachadh is ainmean-àite aig oir na cladaichean a chlàradh tro na h-eileanan.”
 
Bho ghnìomhachas an sgadain gu obair an fheamainn, tha a’ mhòr-chuid do dh’eileanaich air an cuid beò-shlàint a dhèanamh bhon mhuir. Ged a tha gnothaichean air atharrachadh beagan bhon uairsin, tha gu leòr fhathast a’ faighinn beò-shlaint às an-duigh ach ann an diofar dhòighean.
 
Thuirt Caitriona NicCuthais, Oifigear Leasachaidh Taighean-tasgaidh aig Museum nan Eilean: “`S e pròiseact inntinneach agus cudromach a tha seo airson Museum nan Eilean. Tha e a toirt dhuinn an cothrom prògram ùr de chur-seachadan mu eachdraidh na mara a chur air dòigh air feadh na h-eileanan mar phàirt den phrògram nàiseanta airson Cladaichean agus Uisgeachan 2020.”