43758: Amenities in Cromore

Cromore was a large village of 27 crofts. The original roads and tracks through the village went up over the hill from a point adjacent to No 10 Cromore on the left hand side just past the small bridge, and then forked at No 8 across to the old No 6 and up to opposite No 14 around halfway up the current road which runs to Crobeg.

The road which runs up the hill opposite the jetty was built in the early 50s and is known locally as ‘Cripple Avenue’ supposedly because of all the elderly people who lived up there many years ago.

Before the road was built, all the peats used to be tipped at the old shop at No 16 and the womenfolk used to take them on their backs up the hill to their homes in creels.

Shops and the Old Bakery

The old shop and bakery at No 16 was owned by John Smith and was known as Buth Iain Sheonaidh. The building which still stands today, was the centre of many activities in the village with all the old bodachs debating all aspects of village life in and around the shop. In the early evening they would drift home and the youngsters of the village then used to congregate round the shop. The shop used to be the venue for the traditional beer keg at New Year and you could usually find another keg out at Torasdaidh at that time of year.

The bakery oven can still be seen built into the end wall of the inside of the building. The baker here was Skim, Alasdair Kennedy who lived at 16 Cromore. He moved to Ropework Road in Stornoway and worked as a baker for many years at J & E Macleod before retiring.

John Smith was brother to Finlay Smith who lived at 15 Cromore and owned the Martha. Finlay also had a shop – Buth Fhionlaigh – at No 15 and it still stands at the end of the old house. Foodstuffs and other necessities were brought from Stornoway by boat and often unloaded to the old shoreline storage house Taigh Storaidh that evening and then moved to the shop the following day. Local people still remember going to this shop for paraffin for their lamps. Finlay owned the first lorry, which arrived in the village by boat before the roads around Loch Erisort were opened.

There were other shops in the village, although not all at the same time. Buth Snuddy was owned by Alasdair Mackenzie at No 6 and many years later Buth Shorty was opened by Donald Murdo Macleod at No 18 Cromore. His shop was originally based in his house but subsequently moved to a site above the jetty and he also ran a travelling shop from an old van. Aonghas Dick also had a shop at Cliff Cottage and brought foodstuffs from Stornoway in his own lorry.

The most notable shop though was Buth Mhurcaidh Iain Chalum owned by Murdo Macleod of 13 Cromore and sited near the current entrance gate to Crobeg. His nickname was ‘MacConnachie’ probably so named after one of his main suppliers. He was a real character with a long beard down to his knees and walked with a walking stick. He must have been quite a ladies man as he was married four times.

He also used to sell strong drink known locally as Dealanaich MicConnachie or ‘MacConnachie’s Lightning’, a reference no doubt to the potency of the liquor which may very well have come from a still supposedly located in one of the shielings. The shop which traded between the two world wars came to a sticky end one night when a fierce gale blew the roof of the shop all the way across the village, eventually landing near to 19 Cromore. In these days the construction was typically old wood from boats and covered with felt. Many items, including bags of fruit hung from the rafters and children were busy collecting the spoils across the village over the following days as the bags were strewn across the fields.

MacConnachie owned the only horse and cart in the village at that time and he used to hire them out for bringing home the peats.

See also the Post Office in Cromore.

Mission Hall

The Mission Hall was converted in the early 1900s and the first resident missionary was Mr Donald Macleod in 1914. It was extended in 1937 and officially opened on the Coronation Day of King George VI. (Map Ref 8)

"Norse" Mill

One of the horizontal corn mills that served the Cromore area was located on the river at Torostay but it was buried under the new road to Torastay.

For nearly a hundred years there was also a school at Cromore.

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