Memories of Crofting in Ardveg
by John Macdonald
Today, Ardveg is a remote and uninhabited spot, accessible only on foot over challenging mountainous terrain, or by boat. It is also an extremely beautiful and magnificent location. There is a chapter on the area entitled The Back of Beyond in Alasdair Alpin MacGragor's book, The Haunted Isles, published in 1933. In 2012, the Islands Book Trust published Marc Calhoun's book, Exploring the Isles of the West in which, in one chapter, he describes an invigorating visit and overnight stay in Ardveg.
Unlike those two fleeting visitors to the area, John Macdonald was fortunate enough to have been brought up in Ardveg in one of only three households in the tiny township during the 1930s and '40s. He vividly captures what life was like then for his family - mother, father, three sisters and himself - and the rest of the vibrant, thriving Gaelic community, including his uncle and grandmother.
The result is a fascinating, wide-ranging and unique first-hand account of a bye-gone era. The story reveals hitherto untold details of everyday life of this crofting and fishing community. Ardveg even had its own school.
John Macdonald was himself a schoolteacher and headmaster, who sadly passed away in 2017 in Inverness, his sister, Ina, still resident in Islivig in Uig on Lewis within striking distance of Ardveg.