Unish Gaelic School - Skye (1839-1842)

Norman MacLeod was born in 1773 at Minginish in Skye. He gave his life to the Lord in Edinburgh, while he was attending the Gaelic Church run by John Macdonald. Macdonald was there from 1807 to 1813.

He was first of all appointed Schoolmaster at Kilmuir, and then in 1839 to Unish, Waternish. MacLeod went to hear the local minister on his first Sunday there but never went again because the minister was so uninspiring. Within 15 months of his starting to teach, revival was going through the district, although this move of God did not last very long. This was a time when the Lord was pouring out in both Wales and Scotland (Kilsyth and other places).

The local ministers were antagonistic towards Macleod, possibly because, by not attending the local church, he did not put himself under the local ministers' authority. The Presbytery sent John Shaw,( who came to the Lord in the Moulin revival) of Bracadale to tell him to stop having services on a Sunday, but Shaw recognised him as a godly man.. Macleod responded by saying that he would continue until he had finished the work the Lord had given him to do.

MacLeod was distressed that his time in Unish was ending and that there had been little sign of any awakening of the people. However, in his last service, 'The most extraordinary emotions appeared among the people; some wept and some cried aloud as if pricked in their hearts, while others fainted and fell down as if struck dead.' The meeting went on all night, and MacLeod remained in Unish for another sixteen days, holding services every day and night; and he was only able to have two hours sleep each night.

The revival spread all over the island until it was reported that there were only a few families where one or more individuals had not been seriously impressed.

For a more in-depth report on the life of Norman MacLeod, see ‘The Skye Revivals,’ by Steve Taylor, published by New Wine Press, p43-9.

'For two days they would not go to bed at all and would give the old man (Macleod) no rest from speaking to them, praying with them and reading the Bible. Awakened to a sense of eternal realities, hearing the voice which called the fisherman of Galilee, they left their nets and followed him.'

'Annals of the Disruption', by W Dickson, page 204. 


Additional Information

The marker is on the ruins of a settlement at Unish. This is likely to be the spot where the school was as it is they are the most northerly ruins on the point. The most northerly settlement now is Geary. Sadly, the whole settlement was swept off the land in the Clearances! 

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