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The century-old role of 'Soap King' Lord Leverhulme – who once owned both Lewis and Harris – is being remembered in dramatic productions in both Stornoway and Tarbert during March. 

These are part of the continuing Dileab programme of remembrance which has been running since 2018.'

Lord Leverhulme – referred to in Gàidlig as 'Bodach an t-Siabainn' or 'Old Man of the Soap' – caused controversy in Lewis because of his vast plans for industrial development – and left a would-be modern fishing industry for Harris which was based in Obbe - renamed as Leverburgh – to collapse after his death in 1925. 

As part of Dìleab 2024:Leverhulme, the first event will take place at An Lanntair, Stornoway, on Thursday March 14 at 7pm. 

Pupils from GME 6 & 7 at Stornoway Primary school will take to the stage and bring the audience back 100 years to an interesting and challenging time in the history of the town and the island.

Former Western Isles education director Joan MacKinnon, who co-wrote the script with well-known local playwright and former councillor Alasdair MacLeod, said: “After how successful Dìleab 2023: Metagama was, we jumped at the opportunity to work with Stornoway primary for Dìleab 2024: Leverhulme. 

"It was amazing to see how much information the pupils had retained from last year and how interested and engaged they were with this year’s topic.  The pupils are diligent, eager to learn and full of fun.  It’s a delight to work with the school on this hugely worthwhile project”.

The second evening will take place in Tarbert on Wednesday the 27th of March at 7pm with pupils from Sir E Scott and Leverhulme Memorial School showcasing their talents. 

Journalist-turned teacher and Gàidhlig actor Iain A MacSween, from Sir E Scott school, who co-wrote the script with former headteacher Angus MacLennan, said: “We are delighted to be involved in Dìleab 2024 and we have all learnt so much from the experience. 

"The support from local historical experts Marion Morrison, Hamish Taylor and Donald Martin has been amazing and pupils have engaged so well with them.  We are extremely fortunate to have people who are so willing to share their knowledge with the next generation and Dìleab has already reaped many benefits for us.  We are set to be extremely busy between now and the end of March but we are certain that it will be a night (or two!) which will be greatly enjoyed and remembered by young and old."

Sir E Scott and Leverhulme Memorial School are also looking to engage with the wider community.  Perhaps you have stories relating to ‘Bodach an t-Siabainn’ that have never been published?  It could be a song or a poem or perhaps even a picture taken at the time.  If you would be willing to share this information or even lend the artefacts for a short time, Iain MacSween would be delighted to hear from you.  Please contact him on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Evelyn Coull MacLeod, from the CnES Education Department., said: “A huge amount of work has been undertaken since the start of the year and it is certainly going to be a busy time for all involved.  We are thankful to have such a strong and talented team who will be delivering in our schools.  Although the final performances are at the heart of what we do the entire process is equally, if not more, important. The skills our young people are obtaining is hugely important and will remain with them for many years. It also gives our pupils the opportunity to further develop their language skills and utilise them in different contexts”.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar would like to thank the Scottish Government for their financial support in bringing Dìleab 2024 to fruition.  Ongoing support from partner agency, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, continues to produce benefits for all, they say

Ardhasaig-born Donald Martin delivering a session at Sir E Scott as part of the preparations