History of our family house at 27 Garenin.
People often ask about the house and the family so here is a potted history.
My grandmother Christina MacGregor nee Macleod inherited the house from her aunt Christina MacIver. Christina’s only son Norman was killed at Ypres in 1917 when he was serving with the 5th Cameron Highlanders.
My grandparents and their 6 children had been living at 12 Tolsta Chaolais prior to this and my mother Christina was 9 years of age when she moved to Garenin.
The house at that time was the old black house further down the croft, where all the old houses in the village were at that time and the ruins can still be seen.
In 1951, the year I was born my grandmother obtained a grant from the DAF (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) to build a modern house and the present house with its tall chimneys is very similar to many built at that time.
By this time my grandmother was a widow, my grandfather Malcolm having died in 1935 and the house was built by my uncles and my mother, who by this time was married, living on the mainland and expecting me, her first child. My grandmother died aged 63 in 1952 so did not enjoy her new house for long.
My uncles Neil and John lived in the house after the second world. Both had been badly injured during the war as was the case for many Lewismen. Neil never married and worked as a crofter all his life until his death at the age of 84. He did not want any changes or improvements made to the house.
John was a very skilled weaver and had a very entrepreneurial approach being one of the first weavers to work for himself as well as the mill and he made contacts all over Europe and the US. Many people beat a path to his door and his loom shed was full of interesting visitors – so much for the isolation of Lewis. He wove until his death at the age of 75. He was married briefly to a Canadian and ultimately had a second long marriage to Pat and they lived at Uraghag just below number 27,when new housing was build there.
There are pictures of the queen visiting his loom shed and Oscar Marzaroli the famous Edinburgh photographer took many pictures of a vibrant but dying way of life. The tourist board also used him frequently for photoshoots.
He was not just far sighted about weaving - he also put in one of the first central heating systems in the island in 1965 and the house has been warm and cosy since then.
Next was Norman, who married and lived in Stornoway. He was also a weaver and had three children. Norman died young at 57 and two of my cousins visit the house, which is a nice link to maintain as family are scattered now.
My mother was next in line. She married a Perthshire farmer and was headteacher of a small two teacher school. She brought us to Lewis frequently and did lots of work in the house for her two brothers. She taught Gaelic in her latter years as the language came to be resurrected after years of falling into decline.
A younger brother Johnny Murdo went to New Zealand and died relatively young. Another sister Kirsty Mary the youngest of the family died aged 13.
I inherited the house from my mother and hope to keep it as links with Lewis are important to me as are links with other local families in the area. I hope my two children and my grandchildren will appreciate their Lewis heritage and come here as often as I do.
I have tried to renovate and update the house over the last 10 years. It has been a labour of love and is transformed from the very basic home of the past. I hope the house still celebrates and reflects its history and all the stories, which make it a home.
My husband and I have just retired and will continue to work on projects on the house for the next few years and enjoy family holidays here.