From “Reminiscences of a Hebridean Schoolmaster”

From “A School in South Uist: Reminiscences of a Hebridean Schoolmaster, 1890-1913”, pages 14-15.
Sunday arrived and after a cup of tea and some oat cake, we watched the people coming to church. As Father Allan had to say the eleven o’clock Mass, of course he was fasting. From before ten o’clock I could see figures, single or in groups, approaching in a leisurely manner from all directions, as far as the eye could reach. Some were seen on the road, some crossing boggy ground, but all walking, although I had previously seen many on shaggy ponies riding bareback. As they arrived in the vicinity of the church the men stopped, resting in groups against walls, or on rocks, evidently engaged on conversation. The women, mostly wrapped in plaid shawls, with a smaller one over their heads and tied tightly at the back of the neck, entered at the paddock gate, steadily advanced up the road and entered the church without pause.
Eleven o’clock arrived and passed, Father Allan went occasionally to the window, and then returned to his chair, saying that he could see more coming in the distance. It was nearer twelve o’clock than eleven when he gave the order for the bell — one salvaged from a wrecked ship — to be rung.  Explaining the delay, he said, “Some of them have to come a long way, and not many have clocks, so I do not ring the bell till all have gathered.” Afterwards I learnt that some came from an island called Eriskay by boat to the other side of the hills, and walked six or eight miles to hear Mass.
The interior of the church looked very bare — small pictures of the Stations of the Cross being the only ornaments — but it was full, men on one side and women on the other. The people worshiped with great decorum and devotion. The language of the Mass, being in Latin, was the same as in the city I had left. I realized the value of this to one away from his native land. The concluding prayers were said in Gaelic, which sounded very strange to me.
Looking through the window just before sitting down to our late breakfast, I could see the congregation dispersing in all directions as they had come. I believe some of them could not reach home before well into the night. This manifestation of faith impressed me strongly.
Brendan King

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