(1921-2016) named this dance for someone who had lived on Benbecula for
several years, not so specified but one might guess upon the occasion
of her ultimately leaving the island*. It was published in his own
«Craigievar Book» (the first of ultimately five so named).
strathspey, Lewis Derrick's Bonnie Benbecula, is dedicated this time to
the memory of the same person, Sheila Jupp, and indicates that she
spent her childhood on this island.)
Benbecula (pron. ben-BEK-yoo-l'
) is located in the southern Outer Hebrides, which are largely bridged
together by several causeways across narrow and shallow straits.
To the north of all of these islands is Lewis & Harris, one single
very large island (largest in the British Isles after Great Britain and Ireland), and the Sound of Harris, being too wide for a practical causeway, is crossed by a one-hour ferry northward from Berneray....
(see the map just above) is located rather palindromically right in the
middle of the several bridged southern Outer Hebrides isles, connected
north to south by causeways (here's the palindrome) from tiny Berneray
to large North Uist to small-but-not-tiny Benbecula to large South Uist
to tiny Eriskay. The only other major island farther south is
Barra, once again too far away for a causeway and connected northward by
a forty-minute ferry across the Sound of Barra to Eriskay.
Anyone who is "leaving Benbecula"
is not doing so by ferry. To get from there to anywhere beyond
the southern Outer Hebrides, one needs to first take a causeway to
another island. Of the three ferries between the Outer Hebrides
and the Scottish mainland and the two between there and Skye
(essentially the same since 1995 with Skye bridged to the mainland) none
of them docks at Benbecula. Benbecula does though have a small
commercial airport, so one can fly directly between there and Glasgow or
Stornoway on Lewis via Loganair....
Loganair at Benbecula Airport...one way to leave
about 31½ square miles and has a reasonable population for its size of
about 1,300; its largest settlement is Balivanich, a village of about
500 on its northwest coast. It is fairly level, its highest point
being merely at 407 feet...which makes it somewhat odd that its name
begins with the prefix Ben-, from the Gaelic beinn (as indeed
the island's Gaelic name does begin), meaning "mountain"; it is thought
however that it was at some point centuries ago mistranscribed from
something entirely different. The earliest extant record of
Benbecula from 1449 gives it as Beanbeacla. Though alas decreasing every decade, 56% of the islanders are still currently native speakers of Gaelic.
Bonnie Prince Charlie's ship was forced by a storm to land on
Benbecula, and pro-Jacobite islanders delivered him safely, as the song
goes, "over the sea to Skye" (which happens to be the Outlander theme song). Another strathspey with a similar name is Deirdre Bark's Farewell to Benbecula, devised for someone whose ancestors had been "cleared" from Benbecula in the 1840s and had emigrated to North America. And the well-known Ann Dix strathspey Culla Bay (from Book 41) names a geographic feature of Benbecula.
Benbecula's Culla Bay: