Gairloch Free Church: The Cover is Only Part of the Story
Whilst we were in Gairloch Free Church I found something amazing. The people of the church we so wonderfully inviting and friendly and we decided to stay after the service for a cup of tea. On my way out of the chapel to the front room, I spotted what looked like a very old book. I picked it up and opened the cover to discover that it was a Bible, a Gaelic Bible. This was pretty cool just on its own, but as I said it looked really old. The bible was printed in 1911. I was holding a Gaelic Bible that was printed a little over 100 years ago. There was also an inscription written on the inside cover. The inscription read… A present from Rev. W. McKinnon to John McPherson 19/12/16, 2 Opinan. Now as we haven’t yet reached December 2016, I concluded this was written in 1916. The 2 Opinan was the address where John McPerson lived. In Opinan they do not have street names as there is only 1 road that runs through the village. All you have is house numbers. We were staying at 12 Opinan. I stood there holding the book, staring at the inscription, flicking through the pages and feeling the history. I thought to myself “what must this book have seen in its 105 years?”
Just then one of the members of the church came up to me. When he saw the book in my hand, he smiled. I said it was amazing to find such an old book in such condition. I said it was also really cool to see a bible written in Gaelic. He said that one of the members of the church still used that book as she had done for many years and that she would probably be able to tell me the history of the book as she knew John McPherson or something like that. He wasn’t sure how she knew him but it is what he had been told. When I expressed interest in this, he said “well she is here today let’s go and ask her.” He took me over and introduced me to Katie. Book in hand I asked Katie what she could tell me about it.
She went on to tell me that the book is hers now. I mentioned to her that the man I was talking to said that she knew John McPherson somehow. She smiled, almost giggled and looked at me and said “yes I do, John was my father.” She told me that this Bible was one of the only physical things she had left of his and that it was very dear to her. She told me also that she still lives at number 2 Opinan, the house she grew up in. I was amazed and mesmerized by her story. We talked some more and she asked about our trip and how we were enjoying things. And then, all too soon it was time to leave. I put the book back in its place and we aid our goodbyes.
It was such a privilege to meet Katie and talk with her. Seeing that book and our conversation is something that I will never forget. It was so much more than just a Bible, it had a history and a story all of its own.