CC BY-SA, © M J Richardson

Location: Mull and Iona
ships and boats, travel by sea, the natural world

The Granny and the Whale

"It was the end of the 18th century. The boat was on its way to America and she was full of everything that was best. When she was coming near the islands, a big whale came up by her side and put the fear of life on those on board. Despite the shouting of the crew they couldn’t make her flee. All day she followed them with a big open mouth. One man threw a three-legged stool at her but she swallowed that. Another man threw a barrel of apples and she swallowed that. At last, one of the sailors thought that nothing would be useful unless the whale could get someone in her belly.

"Before long, an old woman that was on board was overboard and the whale swallowed her. They disappeared, and the boat got into a safe harbour. The next day the whale was found stranded on the sand at Uisken in the Ross of Mull. There was confusion yonder – every man with a knife was cutting and skinning but they were scarce believing their eyes when they saw the old woman inside sitting on a stool and she busy eating an apple!"

The Granny and the Whale: Told, originally in Gaelic, by Donald MacFarlane, in 1968 He didn’t specify the place where the whale was stranded, but when Tom Aitcheson told the story at Creich Hall about 15 years ago, he said it was Uisken. Story provided by the Ross of Mull Historical Centre.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.