Translation of an article originally printed in the magazine Eygađ September 1974, © Eygađ 1974
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.


For 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.
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30 people in ten houses

Last winter there were people in ten houses and the total population was 30. In the summer some elderly people return to their native houses, as these still are in good condition. Other houses are inherited to the children, who for some years ago have left the island and the houses are now only used as summer residency. One family from Tórshavn has bought a house and now uses it to spend their summer holiday here westernly. Other houses are uninhabited all the year round.
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.
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Only six men with the capacity for work

The 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.
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Tinganes and Jardarráđiđ (The department for agriculture) just talks

In 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.
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Enclosure the only solution

If 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.
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The catch of birds

The 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.
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The Gannet

In 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.
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Other birds

There are plenty of fulmars and they were caught all the year round. One has not to give part for the ground of the fulmars. The price is fine and they can be caught when there not is anything other to do. There are not many guillemots and they use to "fygler", catch them by a net on the shelfs. Kittiwakes are plentiful but they are not caught anymore.
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Ther are many seals around Mykines. Especially north of the islands. At a rock north of the island, "Flesini undir Hřvnini", there can in fine weather be more than 100 at a time. But also the seals can now be in peace even the price of the skins of the seals is quite fine.
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The memorial

In 1939 the villagers erected a memorial for the men from the village, who had lost their lives at sea. It is in a miserable condition and the tables with the names are now in the church. The worst incidents were in 1895, when "Skemmu" boat shipwrecked with 6 men during fishing west of the Hólm and in 1934, when nine men from Mykines in their best age shipwrecked at the "Suđurland" on Iceland on board the Vestmanna sloop »Neptun«. In the church there also are a table with thanks from the Icelandic aviation company Flogfelag Islands in connection with crash in 1970. The church was build in 1879. The baptismal bassin is from 1643 and is the oldest fixture of the church, and and originate as far back as from the reformation. There is an organ in the church, but it is not played upon every day and this summer there has not even been service every Sunday.
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SEV (the joint Faroese electricity company) build for some years ago a diesel driven power plant and in this way the inhabitants of Mykines in the way got the same modern conveniences as the rest of the Faroese. It is of great importance, because now there also is an electric driven winch; at the ramp for the boats, making it much easier to pull the boats ashore as well goods up from the quay. The carriage has got the name Stallhúsbuss from a house in the village and stems from the fact that it was Rasmus í Stallhúsi, who arranged that a new carriage was made. And the street lighting is well suited to catch young puffins. They fly towards the light, hit something and falls down. Then it is just to stand under the lights and wait for the young puffins, which are a delicacy. But this advantage is not free of charge. So something well Hjalgrím have done after all all. Ther is no fishing. There are some "firamannafřr", boats for four men, with outboard motors, one "seksmannafar" and one "áttamannafar". But there are no manning.
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Summer guests

Julianna and Ređin Leonsson from Tórshavn have bought a house as holiday house. Here they stay their summer vacation every year together with friends. They are well come, because they lend the inhabitants of Mykines a helping hand. Among other thing by drifting the sheep. But foreigner are not well come on Mykines. It is stingy and mean people who are coming out here. Once some of then washed their clothes in the water cistern of the village. Tourist like that no one Faroese will be able to get a living from, closer to the contrary.
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The young King's yeoman

The "Útistovu" yeoman has retired. He was of the opinion that it was not possibly to continue with three and a half mark and has left for Sandavág as a road worker. The five marks farm "Handanástoven" has got a new copyholder. The farmer's wife Helga is 20 and the farmer Eddie is 22. He is from Sřrvág. Herrid and Louis, the former copyholder pair have let the young couple the farm and are themselves moved to Sřrvág. the "Túval"2 farm is the third King's yeoman farm with 4 marks of ground. Here the widow lives with 2 young boys.
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The mail boat

The mail boat comes three time a week from Sřrvág, when there are no breakers. But often long time can pass without any connection by sea. Last winter it was not possible for the mail boat to come to Mykines for seven whole weeks an in such a case is is reassuring to have the helicopter.
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