Là a’ Bhlàir … `s math na càirdean
In days of Battle….. it’s good to have friends
Shinty's extraordinary sacrifice
Communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland made an extraordinary sacrifice in the Great War of 1914-1918, the casualties per head of population more than double the average for Britain as a whole. The war memorials of Skye and Lochalsh, for example, carry the names of almost 500 men who paid the ultimate price between 1914-1918, many too young to be married, leaving no progeny or lineage. The fittest and ablest men (largely) of their generation, including the best sportsmen (and in shinty terms, some of the best ever players), were lost to future generations in the carnage and misery of the trenches and at sea. Communities were decimated and in a sense, they have never recovered.
The importance of using sporting and cultural heritage prisms to help understand the enduring impact of the most catastrophic events on communities, culture and sport is often understated. There are extraordinary tales to tell and it’s singularly appropriate that shinty players' and the shinty community’s contribution to the Great War be understood and marked.
As the material in this exhibition shows, evidence carried within the family context, not available in any public repository, can provide the researcher with insights which are immediate and intimate, which have the capacity illuminate the impact which events which are part of the large panorama of history have had on local communities, homes, families and individuals.
Anniversaries are often the triggers for the gathering of such material and the WW1 period enabled splendid projects which honour and remember those who fell in or were affected by the First World War.