Eilean nan Roan

(Dedicated to Captain Donald Mackay, and the members of the crew, formerly of the “MORNING STAR”)

Hail, Island Roan in the sea in the North,
For decades the home of a race of brave men,
Whose creed rated their courage and worth,
Well tried through the years in proven esteem.

Sheer from the depths its steep cliffs arise,
Defying the turbulent waves in their sway,
As the sweep in their might with the run of the tide,
To break in white fury and geysers of spray.


In the nineties the sea their heritage gave,
Purely its bounty in seasonal time,
The men of the Island, fearless and brave,
Prospered through toil, with the net and the line.

Oft have they entered the harbor of Wick,
And anchored their boats alongside the quay,
With a goodly rich haul the prize of the deep,
In crans fully counting over two score and three.

But change with the years I doubt not became,
A problem to solve for the Islanders there,
Gone were the days when the Mackay’s and the Bain’s
Could wrest from the sea their legitimate share.

Oh how ye are scattered, ye stout hearted men,
Who honoured the North with your qualities fine,
May the peace of the mainland soften the pain,
Of leaving your Island, your homes and the brine.

So break ye, wild waves, on bleak Island Roan,
And sing a wild dirge with your spume and your spray,
In honour of those who know it is home,
Through the years that are gone, but a mem’ry today.©


W.J. Telford, Winnipeg, Canada.
(Note: Mr. Telford was born at Skerray mains Farm and wrote this poem shortly after the evacuation of Island Roan in 1938)