Vicky's Reviews > The Guga Hunters

The Guga Hunters by Donald S. Murray
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's review
Dec 03, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011-reads, ethnography, scotland, on-an-island
Read from November 28 to December 03, 2011

In the not too distant past, seabirds and their eggs were a staple food for many small coastal communities clinging to the Atlantic fringes of Europe. Ness (Nis), near the northernmost tip of the Isle of Lewis, is the only community in the British Isles that retains that tradition, with men from the village undertaking an arduous expedition each Autumn to the rocky sea-stack of Sula Sgeir, 40 miles offshore. Spending two weeks or so on the rock, they capture and kill gannet chicks, known as guga, under a special licence granted by the European Union.

This book is a fascinating insight into a history that would have been shared by many other coastal communities, and how keeping the tradition has created a strong bond in Ness, rooted deeply in the language and culture of the area. Murray writes as a Nessman, with deep fondness for his heritage and the history of his community, and as a poet and journalist, giving insightful observations with a lyrical flair and wry humour.
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