This group meeting took place one Sunday morning down by the harbour in Portree, Skye. From what I could gather it was a religious meeting and that was confirmed when they all started singing hymns rather loudly. One person did seem rather distracted though.
Faith seems to be strong within the community on Skye. Chapel services appear to get attendances that other UK chapels would love to receive. Whole families, dressed in Sunday best, can be seen arriving for the Sunday service at chapels and churches all over the island. Back home, my local church has seen a considerable drop in attendance figures over the years to the point that it is now looking at developing new uses for the building alongside that of a place of worship.
Even though Portree is a popular tourist destination, Sunday trading is still limited to a small number of shops aimed at tourists – the rest remain closed. It reminded me of something the author J.J Bell noted in his 1932 book ‘The Glory of Scotland’ that if you were travelling to Skye, to wire ahead to the ferry but not to expect the transportation service to operate on a Sunday. Bell wrote ‘Skye is still’ ‘particular’ about the sabbath. Some of us write unkindly letters about it to the press; other of us ‘take our hats off’ to Skye.’ That still seems to be the case over eighty years later.
This observance of the Sunday is still visible on Skye (though the ferries do run on Sunday now) and is certainly a refreshing change in a world that has increasingly gone 24/7. I certainly take my hat off to Skye.