The Guga Hunters

By Donald S. Murray

Format: Paperback

Every year, ten men from Ness, at the northern tip of the Isle of Lewis, sail north-east for some forty miles to a remote rock called Sulasgeir. Their mission is to catch and harvest the guga; the almost fully grown gannet chicks nesting on the two hundred foot high cliffs that circle the tiny island, which is barely half a mile long.

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Birlinn Limited

Birlinn publishes mostly non-fiction books, ranging from biography to history, military history and Scottish interest. Their imprints, Polygon Books, Arena Sport Books and John Donald Books, publish a wide variety of genres including culture, literary fiction, poetry and sports.

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Every year, ten men from Ness, at the northern tip of the Isle of Lewis, sail north-east for some forty miles to a remote rock called Sulasgeir. Their mission is to catch and harvest the guga; the almost fully grown gannet chicks nesting on the two hundred foot high cliffs that circle the tiny island, which is barely half a mile long. After spending a fortnight in the arduous conditions that often prevail there, they return home with around two thousand of the birds, pickled and salted and ready for the tables of Nessmen and women both at home and abroad. The Guga Hunters tells the story of the men who voyage to Sulasgeir each year and the district they hail from, bringing out the full colour of their lives, the humour and drama of their exploits. They speak of the laughter that seasons their time together on Sulasgeir, of the risks and dangers they have faced. It also provides a fascinating insight into the social history of Ness, the culture and way-of-life that lies behind the world of the Guga Hunters, the timeless nature of the hunt, and reveals the hunt's connections to the traditions of other North Atlantic countries.Told in his district's poetry and prose, English and - occasionally - Gaelic, Donald S.

Murray shows how the spirit of a community is preserved in this most unique of exploits.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Paperback
Imprint Birlinn Limited
Publication Date 22 May 2015
ISBN 9781780273051
Number of Pages 256

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Press Reviews

'Mesmerising. When I closed this book I was left with the feeling that Donald S. Murray had been paring away layers of centuries of life in Ness for my benefit...Beautifully judged'

'He writes with an inherent understanding of Highland culture, language and way of life'

'An extremely fine book...wonderful'

 'A beautifully-written evocation of a fascinating and timeless act' - Shetland Life 

'A book worthy to take its place as a classic of its kind'

'Outstanding' - Highland News; '****' 

'Deeply moving'

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