Here brought by kindly permission by Alan Brockie, photographer, Tórshavn.
|The article gives an impression of the fatalistic and depressive mood, which dominated Mykines at that time. At that time there was no regular helicopter flight, as nowadays, but only the small Aluette helicopters from the Danish Marine, which only were used in case of emergency.|
IntroductionFor around 25 years ago the depopulation of the small islands began and now there is great risk of the population being so small, that it is impossible to live out on the small islands anymore. It has been much discussed how this unintended direction of movement could be turned around, as it has been the implying that it could not be right, that islands which have been populated for centuries, could end up being totally depopulated.
It has been discussed man to man and now and then there has been a little article in a newspaper, but it do not seem, that anybody have done anything to prevent the slide, apart from the people on the small islands. They have continued to move away. Dímun has for some years ago been turned into a summer residency. And it has probably not been possibly to do anything otherwise, as the situation for this islands. Another island, which shortly will become uninhabited is Mykines.
For 30 years ago 180 people lived on Mykines and among these there were twenty young men from sixteen years of age and the greatest "fjallskipan", (manning for the drift of the sheep) was twenty men. In the beginning of the thirties 35 men from Mykines manned the fishing vessel, which went to Iceland.
At that time it was possible to do all the necessary work. There were (and still are) three farm leased by King's yeomen and the private owners ground is 29 marks. But the population began to move away and the private owned ground was inherited by people who were not living on Mykines any more, the basis for the community Mykines disappeared. They who owned the "uttanbíggjarjřrđ", the ground on Mykines owned by people not living out there all the year round did not fulfil their obligations to participate in the tend of the bird mountains and the outfield, in community with the other owners of ground on Mykines. And the deteriorating of Mykines continued.
Only six men with the capacity for workThe outfield is not drifted. There are only six men left with the full capacity to do so. One of them is the teacher. The second is the man looking after the lighthouse. The third is the one who take care of the telephone and the power station. The fourth is the young new Kings yeoman of Handaná farm. The fifth is a young man in the Kings farm Túval and the sixth is a 23 year old man who haven't left his mother,who is a widow.
The island can fees 1200 sheep, but it is the impression, that there are only 800 left. The traditional drift of the sheep can only be performed, when enough men are out on Mykines and because that seldom is the case, the most of the island is not taken care of. There is not enough people to bring the boats down to the sea and the catch of puffins is scarcely, even Mykines is the place with most puffins and likewise the gannets are not caught.
Tinganes and Jardarráđiđ (The department for agriculture) just talksIn Tinganes and Járđarđiđ it has been discussed how to do something to this the stand. It has been considered to buy all the "uttanbíggja" ground and ad it to the Kings yeomen farms of to divide the island in more fit sizes of farms which could deliver a more proper income to a family. But nothing have been done apart from just talking. The "jarđaráđiđ" has for three consecutive years applied the Lagtinget for 200.000 kroner to buy "uttanbíggjar" ground, but has not even got an answer. The "landsstyret" the government has sent an enquiry to the owners of "uttanbíggjar" ground owners to buy their ground. But the only result of this was, that the price raised four fold.
Enclosure the only solutionIf the society will help these thirty people left on Mykines, before it is too late, the only solution should be to perform an enclosure so the people left could have all their small pieces of ground put together, while "úttanbíggja" ground was put together. It has to be done now. Next year it may even be too late.
The catch of birdsThe bird which is most numerous is the puffin or the "sea parrot" as it also is called. The best puffinland is Lamba, which list westwards towards Hólmgjógv, but the "fleygesesses" the places from where the catch is performed, are found all around the island. Six, seven, eighth or nine hundred puffins could be the catch of just one man, if the circumstances were optimal. The greatest catch by one man was 999 puffins. If he had known the exact number, when he returned, he could also have caught 1000. The owners of the ground shall have their share: How great this is is different, depending upon how far away from the village the ses is. The sesses nearest to the village gives every second puffin to the owners of the ground while the sesses lying most easterly only gives every fourth. In former time men also pulled the puffins out of their wholes, but that way of catching puffins is not performed any longer.
The GannetIn former time the gannets only bread on the Hólm, but once ein the 1930'ieas they also began breading on the eastern side of Hólmgjógv. Most of the gannets bread on the big shelfs on the northern side of the Holm and on Píkarsdrangur and Flatidrangur, the "drenge" boys, as they are called in faroese, which are standing on the south westernly corner and the Holm. For sixty years they stopped catching the white gannets. They would not exaggerate the catch. After the stop of this regularly catch they have only been there once and that was in 1943, and that was because of shortage of food and fear of hunger. At that occasion they caught 210 white gannets. The white gannet was boiled. It was not suitable for salting. But the grey gannets, the young gannets have been caught until few years ago. When they were caught on the stack they were hit by a "kádissu", a club. They use the club, because it is important to be quickly as the great otherwise will take to their wings. When they in former time went for the gannets on the big shelfs , they went there when it was dark and when that was the case, it was quite easy to take the birds, as they are very fast asleep.
When they caught the white gannets on the shelfs, they throw oneself on the gannets and it was the purpose to get as many as possible under one self as possible. After that they took one by one to wring their necks. In this way one man could get as many 11 birds at a time. But the gannets has a very big and strong bill and sometimes one could be serious bidden. In 1939 they got 937 grey gannets.