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Monday 14 March 2016

Ruby's teapot....

Sadly last week most of the island went over to Stromness to attend the funeral of Ruby Manson. Ruby had been born into the Skinner family at Gorn on Graemsay  (she was in her 80s when she died).  She met and married Jimmy Manson from Shetland who was working at Sandside at the time. They had three children, now all grown up.  Lawrence living in his father's native land of Shetland, Irene living in Stromness and Sandra now raising her own family on Graemsay with her partner, Michael. Ruby moved to Stromness in 1980 and lived the rest of her days there.

The funeral was very much a way of giving thanks for Ruby's life.  She was a keen member of the Strathspey & Reel group as she was great on the fiddle.  "A fine fiddler" is a  compliment in these parts!  Ruby was certainly that, and could play along with many a band, and pick up a tune just by listening to a few bars.

Until recently Ruby would visit Graemsay for all the parties.  Here's a photo of her on the left, playing the fiddle along with Fran Gray on accordion at a party in 2006.

The Strathspey & Reel group played at the funeral as folk were gathering. It was lovely hearing the old kirk filled with the favourite tunes of Ruby's.  There was a short service then folk went out to the kirkyard at Warbeth for the burial. When folk returned there were large trays of sandwiches and cake as well as tea or a wee dram and folk shared their memories among music being played.

Now.... Ruby's teapot.... where does this come in you ask.  I should really say Ruby's teapotS, as she loved collecting them.  She had a collection of over 400, then a few months ago got rid of some but still had about 350.  The family had the delightful idea of lining the kirk with some of her collection and invited those attending to take home a teapot and think of Ruby when they use it.  There were pots of all shapes and sizes.  Ruby's grand-daughter, Katie took me round them all and told me which were her favourites and where Ruby used to have them in the house, "In EVERY room" Katie said.

The one I chose is most appropriate for me.  Anyone who knows me well knows I must have a constant supply of tea and not to speak to me until I've had at least TWO cups of tea in the morning. So in the photo at the top of the post, introducing  "Ruby's teapot" in Sian's kitchen!

And a closer look shows just why it's perfect for me.  "Instant human just add tea". Hee hee!

So farewell Ruby, thanks for many happy memories of you playing at Graemsay parties, and for your teapot, which I will use regularly and share the story with visitors who stop by for a cuppa.


  1. What a lovely memento, that was certainly a huge collection .

  2. Ruby was my father's cousin (John W Leslie) through his mother's side (Annie Skinner). She was so kind to us as bairns visiting from Leith. I reunited with her 47 years later anout 2 years ago, and so enjoyed her playing at Hugh & Jean Skinner's house in Kirkwall. She invited us for tea when I got to see her teapot collection. Your description of the service and the teapots is wonderful. Ruby, and Ethel her sister, were 2 important figures in my youth, as were all the family. Tuby, RIP.

  3. What a Nice tribute To your friend !

  4. What a Nice tribute To your friend !

  5. What a wonderful thing for her family to do!

  6. Beautiful post. Loved reading it. RIP Ruby.

  7. Lovely memories. Thanks for introducing us to Ruby

  8. Wonderful memories. You will treasure that teapot and the memories of a lady who obviously made her mark on her corner of the world. I loved your eulogy.

  9. The ancients believed that to speak the name of the dead is to make them live again. So, Ruby Manson lives again in the hearts and memories of those who knew her, were touched by her music, and who speak her name.

  10. Your story about Ruby is lovely and her memory will be there every time you use her teapot! Imagine 400+ teapots in one house - amazing!

  11. I have fond memories of Ruby and her daughter Sandra when they lived in Brownstoon caravan, Stromness.
    Ruby was very much into tapestry work and used to encourage me to have a go when i used to visit. Not that i was very good at it i may add. Ruby was always so encouraging.
    She was such a warm, kind woman and had the most amazing (may i add strange)laugh - just hearing her would be enough to set you off chortling.
    Her fiddle playing was out of this world too. Back then Ruby did not have a TV - so she would treat me to a tune or two if i pestered her enough.
    Living away, i was not there when she was laid to rest but my Mother did indeed take 2 of her Teapots - a sparkling fairy one for me.
    Rest in peace Ruby xxx

  12. Many fond memories of Ruby and her fiddle. Her sisters Ethel and Netta were both so musical, too. Ruby gave so much life to the instrument. Her "Sow's Lament" and "Hen's March" were incredible.
    A lasting memory is wandering down to a Graemsay dance with Jimmy Manson and somehow managing to keep my guitar going through the night. Ruby, Gertie and all making it a special time.
    Sadly missed.

    1. What lovely memories. Thank you so much for sharing them. They are all sadly missed (Ruby, Ethel and Gertie).