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Photographs by Sandie Maciver

An Lanntair's auditorium was buzzing last night (Thursday March 14) as a packed audience saw pupils from classes 6 & 7 Gaelic Medium at Stornoway Primary school on stage for Dìleab 2024: Leverhulme.

A well-rehearsed performance saw pupils take the Stornoway story back 100 years or more to the arrival of the Soap King or Bodach an t-Siabainn, Lord Leverhulme, in the Isle of Lewis as landowner just before the end of the First World War.

The vivid script was by the Point-based writing team of Alasdair MacLeod and Joan MacKinnon and brought vividly to life the conflict between some of the crofting townships and the landowner over the relative importance of 'the land' and 'the factory'.  A detailed dictionary of the local Stornoway dialect compiled in the early 1990s records that folk from the Back district were referred to as 'Bolsheveeks' in later decades as a result of their revolutionary stand. 

The script referred several times to Lord Leverhulme's home town of Bolton in Lancashire, as well as Port Sunlight, the 'model community' which he constructed around the soap factory on the Wirral peninsula near Liverpool, and the script referred with feeling to the loss of community life and individual freedom which inevitably sprang from the imposition of industrial discipline. 

The whole evening was a great success and a wonderful tribute to the indefatigable pupils and staff of Stornoway Primary.

The event was organised by the Department of Education, Skills and Children’s Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar with partnership from Fèisean nan Gàidheal. The Scottish Government also provided funding to bring Dìleab 2024 to fruition.