New book to honour memories of Back school


Hundreds of people filled Back School recently for the launch of a book, written to commemorate the school’s 134 year history.

After years of hard work, the group behind the book’s production: Angus Morrison, Finella Macdonald, Neil Murray, Chriselle Bain and Murdo Macdonald, saw the fruits of their labours fly off the shelf.

The book, Sgoil a’ Bhac: Memories through the Ages, is a collection of photographs, articles and anecdotes from pupils past and present.

The closure of the secondary department of Sgoil a’ Bhac in 2012 saw the end of 134 years of teaching, and was marked by the ‘Slate to Smartboard’ exhibition. Neil Murray, one of the organisers of this event, was struck with the idea of putting the school’s history onto paper, and approached Finella Macdonald for a hand.

Finella, one of the book’s five producers, said: “After the secondary department’s closure was marked by an exhibition in the school, Neil suggested we keep the momentum going by writing a book about the school. We got down to it but quickly realised that two of us weren’t enough to produce the kind of book we hoped for.

“Angus, our technical wizard, Chriselle, our Gaelic expert and Murdo, our local archivist who has an extensive collection of local pictures, joined us and ensured we had the range of skills and local knowledge we needed.

“We met every Tuesday, sometimes on another weekday or evening as well, and worked together as a close team. It all took time, and there were one or two hiccoughs, but it wasn’t an arduous experience. There was lots of laughter along the way. All five of us are proud of the book we finally produced.”

Together, the producers set about to make the book with three aims: to preserve and make accessible the history of the school and community surrounding it, refresh the memories of the older generations who may recognise the contents of the book’s pages, and encourage the younger generation to appreciate the past practices of the school and the people who shaped it.

Attendees of the Friday evening launch were treated to a collection of speeches and performances.

Reverend Kenneth Ferguson, who hosted the evening, said: “The group who put the book together should be richly congratulated on both diligence and foresight.

“They have produced a one off book probably never to be repeated, so this is a unique publication, and maybe a unique occasion, which is bound to be a big interest to all who have passed through Back school.

“I would encourage as many of you as are able to avail themselves, ideally, to have a copy in every house throughout the district. I think it deserves that and I think the group that put it together deserve that recognition also.”

Sgoil a’ Bhac: Memories through the Ages will soon be available at various local outlets.