The Kildonan Centre, Taigh Tasgaidh Chill Donnain, was originally a school in South Uist, which was renovated and converted into a heritage and cultural facility. The centre now includes a museum, craft shop, cafeteria, a Fèis room (for music and dance) and an archeology room, where finds can be cleaned and examined by visiting archeology groups.
At the entrance of the museum is the large, steel sculpture, which was commissioned from Malcolm Robertson to celebrate the reopening of The Kildonan Centre in 1998. Cut into the sheet are two verses from the Gaelic emigrant song, ‘In Praise of Uist’.
O mo dhuthaich ‘s tu th’air m’aire
Uibhist chumhraidh u nan gallan,
Far a faighte na daoin’ uaisle,
Far ‘m bu dual do Mhac ‘ic Ailein.
Tir a mhurain, ti an eorna
Tir ‘s am pailt a h-uile seorsa
Far am bi na gillean oga
Gabhail oran ‘s ‘g ol an leanna
Oh my country, you are on my mind
Fresh, fragrant Uist of the saplings
Where the noble men are found
Who gave their hereditary allegiance to Mac ic Ailein
Land of seabed, land of barley
Land of abundance of every kind
Where the young lads will be
Singing songs and drinking beer
South Uist has been the subject of a comprehensive programme of archeological survey and excavation over the last 15 years, with a number of universities collaborating in the Sheffield Environmental and Archeological Research Campaign in the Hebrides project. The fieldwork is now at an end and most of the archeologists have returned to their mainland institutions, having produced a detailed insight into the history of settlement in South Uist.
The famous Clanranald Stone is on permanent display in the museum. The stone came from the most ancient church site in South Uist and is thought to have been built into the wall of one of the chapels. As the chapel fell into disrepair, the stone was left lying against a remaining wall in the graveyard. In 1990 the stone disappeared from the site. Five years later the stone was found in an apartment in London. A young Canadian man had died in his sleep and when his parents arrived to clear out the flat they discovered not only the missing stone but also photographs of it being removed from the site. Tales began to surface of a legendary curse that any person who desecrated the ancient graveyard would be doomed to meet an early death.
A permanent exhibit of South Uist artefacts gathered in the 1950s and 1960s can be seen in the museum. These historical items were collected by the late Father John Morrison, parish priest of Iochdar, South Uist, many being rare and unique.
The temporary exhibit, 1746 A Prince on the Run, is currently on display until April 2017. The exhibit tells the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie‘s travels in Uist and Benbecula and the parts played by local heroes, Flora MacDonald and Neil MacEachen.
1 week camper van road-trip with Hebridean Campervan Holidays
- Information provided by The Kildonan Centre