Finding Strand: the location of 'Tir a Mhurain'

Paul Strand gave no clue to the location of the image used on the cover of the book and also across pages 144 and 145. On my first visit I didn't find this place and so included a shot of Eriskay ponies on the foreshore of Loch Druidibeag in its stead:

Before my second visit I did some research on this image, enlisting the help of my two B&B hosts on North and South Uist, Jac Volbeda of Bagh Alluin and Andy Biddles of Heron Point.

Fine fellows that they are, they both came up trumps, with friends of them both suggesting that it was taken in Kilbride (Cille Bhrighde) on the southern end of South Uist. The camera is facing east, and Eriskay is on the right and the dim mountainous profile of Rhum peers from the distance under the cloud. Naturally the Eriskay causeway is not present.

Ironically I had included an image of the single dark building in the centre of the frame on the landing page of my website last year.

So, I drove slowly along the coast road past Kilbride campsite until the hills looked familiar, pulled off in to a short driveway, and headed off towards the sea, where a gentle rise was capped by an overgrown wall or bank, and a sandy beach lay below.

Tir a' Mhurain. Mark Farrington, 2017

Sadly there were no Eriskay ponies and the tide was much further in than when Strand pressed his shutter, but there was at least a little interest in the sky. There have been a number of buildings added to the South Uist landscape here, plus the causeway of course. Rhum was barely visible through the haze.

I adjusted the tonality of the image better to match Strand's original, although the composition would have been improved and simplified had the tide also been out for me, since a more interesting mid-ground would have emerged.

Careful alignment of the hills, buildings and rocks revealed that his tripod probably stood immediately to the north of the eastern end of the grassy wall or bank shown in my other images below. This is just south of the little Loch Bhruga at grid reference 762141. The tiny bay around which the horses were grazing is marked as Cul-phort on the OS map ('Back Port'), while the hill to the left is Roineabhal. In Victorian times apparently a stone-lined culvert ran between the beach and the loch here.

The clay pigeon club is just north of the cross roads down to Polochar.


After Strand: the South Uist Rocket Range

Finding Strand: Sheep on the moor