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A School in South Uist

Publication Date
07 July 2007
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited
8pp b/w plates

A School in South Uist

Reminiscences of a Hebridean Schoolmaster, 1890-1913
by Frederick Rea - Find out more about the author

‘Witty, accessible, warm and elegantly written’ West Highland Free Press

These are the memories of Frederick Rea, an English teacher who became headmaster of Garrynamonie School in South Uist in the 1890s. At that time, the Hebrides were as remote and forbidding to mainlanders as the Antarctic is to us today, and South Uist was one of the poorer districts. Roads were often no more than rough tracks across the mountain moorland or over the storm-swept machair. His Gaelic-speaking pupils were often frozen and starving, and fever epidemics were frequent.

Rea’s memoirs show how he strove to meet these difficulties. His pupils remember him as a sincere, conscientious man and an excellent teacher. This book also reveals his keen powers of observation, and his interest in the unfamiliar scenes and events he witnessed and recorded. His lack of city comforts was more that compensated for by the wonders of the natural world and the uncommon kindness and generosity of the islanders. Dr. Rea treasured his memories of South Uist for the rest of his life, and his love and respect for the islands is wonderfully conveyed in this vivid testament.

Frederick Rea came from the Midlands of England to South Uist in 1889, when he caused a sensation, becoming not only the first Englishman to be appointed headmaster, but also the first Catholic to be awarded the post since the Reformation.


1 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
Ed Phelps
May 19, 2015
A Wonderful book. Mr. Rea remembers what life was like on his remote teaching outpost. Difficult yes, but he enjoyed the challenges and loved his new experiences. This book carries the reader back to a different time, but a time well worth exploring.