A: It’s a stick and ball game played by teams consisting of twelve players. And it’s related to the Irish game of hurling. It’s a very fast, very exciting and quite a physical game as well. But it demands great hand, eye coordination. And it’s a very skilful game. And I was – well, began playing shinty when I was in primary school. And the – Kilmuir and, indeed, the Trotternish as a whole – it wasn’t a very, very – it didn’t have a very strong – a very strong shinty heritage like other parts of the island for Portree or Bornesketaig or Sleat. They did play shinty, at some stage, going back. I believe they used to have a new year’s game over in the common, in the common grazings here in Kilmuir at New Year. But, apart from that there wasn’t a strong shinty tradition. But when I was in primary school, it was decided amongst the other schools in the end to form a league and to encourage and promote shinty. And I remember, the first day we got shinty sticks. Came to the school and they were given to us to go and play with it at the break time. And I think we went quite wild. We were hitting anything that moved and almost hitting each other as well. And there was one boy, a good friend of mine, and I don’t know exactly what happened, but, anyway, somebody swung and he got hit in the face and he had to be taken away to hospital. And the shinty sticks were locked up until we got a proper coach. And we did get a super coach in Donny McKinnon from Uig. And he took us one day a week down in Uig for shinty lessons. And we slowly learnt to defend ourselves and stop getting hit in the face and things like that. And we had – there was a team formed between the schools of Kilmuir and Uig, and we had quite a successful team back in the primary school. Although the only team we could never beat was Portree because they had such a big pool to draw from. And it was always like a big game when we were going to play against Portree. I played as a goalkeeper in primary school. And I always – I used to give my defenders, and Donny as well, an awful time. Because I used to like – when the ball came near me I used to like collecting the ball and running up to the halfway line and hitting it, with everybody else around me screaming at me. But it was good fun. And then I played a bit of shinty in the high school as well and the – well, the shinty coach in the high school was DR MacDonald, who comes from – well, he’s a native of North Uist. And he, like Donny, has done an awful lot for shinty on the island. And he was a great encouragement to us in the high school. And then it just seemed natural to go – when I went to university, just to carry on playing. And I’ve made some great, great friends through it.
Q: Quite a social life attached to it?
A: It is, yes, och, yes. It’s a great way of just getting away from Aberdeen and you get out to the Highlands, to different places, from the Central Highlands, Kingussie, right over to the west coast, to Fort William and to Skye. And the shinty world, it’s quite a close-knit world. And it’s great just to be able to have a blether and a drink with team mates and opponents after the game. And it’s – it is a really nice, sociable game. I think there was – somebody was writing about it in a paper quite – one of our – maybe a famous magazine. And they just couldn’t understand that – how, you know, twelve or twenty-four guys could be on a pitch knocking lumps out of one another for ninety minutes, and then go into the pub and then, you know, socialising and having a sociable drink afterwards. But it is, it’s a smashing game.