Discovering and sharing the history of Scotland’s island communities

Murdo Crola

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A learned man and a very talented postman

by Iain Smith and Murdo Maclennan

The remarkable story of self-educated scholar Murdo Macdonald (1907-1940) who lived in a remote cottage at Crola, Kinlochresort on the boundary between Lewis and Harris.

Iain Smith was raised in Ness in the Island of Lewis. He spent most of his subsequent full time career working in schools, colleges and universities.

Iain Smith’s father was told in 1932: “You must meet Murdo Crola, a local postman, a man who has never been to school. When I first came here, a few years ago, Murdo and I went for a walk along the local cliffs.  And, as the sun was sinking in the Western sky on a beautiful evening over the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, I could not help but say two lines from the Odyssey. Murdo said to me ‘Yes, minister: the Greeks also loved the sea’ and then quoted to me the next two lines of the Odyssey.  John, this is no ordinary postman”.


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