COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
April 2006 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
'NO' TO MARINE PARK
An Action Group has been formed to coordinate opposition to the imposition of Coastal and Marine park status on the West Coast after a 100-strong public meeting held in Mallaig at the end of March. The new group intends to represent concerned individuals and organisations based throughout the West Coast and in the Hebrides whose views have been ignored by the largely urban-focussed political campaign for a marine park.
The packed public meeting in Mallaig on Saturday 25th March backed a proposal to fight Scottish Executive plans to consider the West Coast and Hebrides as Scotland's first Coastal and Marine National Park.
The audience unanimously condemned as "inadequate" Scottish Natural Heritage's current consultation on behalf of the Executive which has seen meetings held in Inverness and Glasgow, and similarly rejected the principle of a national park at sea in view of the facts emerging about Scotland's two existing national parks, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs and Cairngorm.
The meeting heard from a variety of speakers experienced in living and working alongside existing conservation restrictions and the politics of the environment in Scotland. Contributions from the floor gave a strong local flavour to how those restrictions impact on the surrounding community and its natural development.
Organisers, the locally-based Mallaig and Northwest Fishermen's Association (MNWFA) and People Too, reported that the local SNH office had refused to attend the meeting despite 10 days' notice, on the grounds that the Minister for the Environment, Ross Finnie, was entitled to receive and consider SNH's advice emerging from this first stage of consultation before SNH discussed it with the public. A few days after the meeting SNH released their shortlist of the five areas they consider to have the most potential for a national park, which includes Ardnamurchan, Small Isles, and South Skye coast. Also on the shortlist are The Solway Firth, the Argyll Islands and Coast, North Skye Coast and Wester Ross; and North Uist, Sound of Harris, Harris and South Lewis. They have also included another five areas which could merit further assessment for a coastal and national park, although they were not shortlisted. These are: Shetland, Orkney, Barra, Clyde Firth and the Moray Firth.
Speaking on behalf of People Too following the meeting, Kirsty Macleod, who put the proposal for the formation of an Action Group to the audience, said : "I am absolutely delighted that so many people came to this meeting in Mallaig and agreed on the need for balance on this the latest in a growing line of restrictive and costly policies to emerge from the triumvirate of Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels. Democracy must recognise the rights of local people to have a primary say in how their lives and livelihoods are affected by any national or international designation. But it seems that the Scottish Executive and Scottish Natural Heritage have their own definition of what democratic consultation means. Our meeting today sends out the strong message that the wider interest stakeholder approach, so beloved of this government, is just not acceptable."
John Hermse of the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association said 'The turnout at the public meeting astonished me. People from the Butt to Barra Head and Cape Wrath to the Mull of Kintyre have all shown disillusion at the rather biased SNH consultation which has always carried the subliminal message that Marine Parks will be an accolade to the chosen area.'
At the meeting the loudest applause was reserved for local oyster fisherman, Ian MacKinnon of Arisaig, who made an impassioned plea for local people to be recognised for their successful management of the natural heritage and to be left free to continue the area's home-grown brand of sustainable development which has seen nine generations of one Mallaig family successfully fishing out of Mallaig but no consecutive generations emerging as a result of sustainable development policies on the nearby SNH-owned island of Rum.
He concluded, "When someone comes up to you and tells you what a marine national park can do for you, you just answer them back with a question of your own. Will a national park build a new hospital? Will it repair the local school? What will it do for old people in the area? Can it fill the holes in the road system?"
Membership of the Action Group and the date of the first meeting will be announced shortly.
Ian MacKinnon being interviewed by Craig Anderson for BBC Scotland,
screened at the end of March. The subject was SNH's plans for a Marine Park
Some thoughts on a Costal and Marine National Park (CMNP) by Ian MacKinnon
- Should we introduce a bylaw banning all forms of commercial fishing from the costal zone of the CMNP?
- Should we give a grant to Scottish Natural Heritage to carry out a seal cull to protect endangered fish species in the costal zone of the park? (This would be similar to the highly successful hedgehog slaughter used to protect wading birds in other areas).
- Should we charge for all car parking within the CMNP to help with administration costs?
- Should we introduce a bylaw prohibiting all domestic and farm animals from the coastal zone and adjacent waterways to prevent faecal contamination lowering the water quality in important bathing and recreational areas within the park?
- Should we impose a 20mph speed restriction on all single track roads within the CMNP?
- Should we exclude RIBS, speed boats, jet skis and water skiing from certain designated areas within the coastal zone of the park?
- Should we exclude angling from certain designated areas within the coastal zone of the park?
- Should we allow wind or wave power within the coastal zone, or the laying of submarine cables that this may involve. National Park status means that these question will be asked.
National Park status means that these questions will be answered …….not by the people who live in the park but by the National Park Authority.
In 2008 a Coastal and Marine National Park will be formed somewhere in Scotland and a lot of people have very definite ideas of what they want from their very own CMNP and they are already petitioning the Scottish Executive and Scottish Natural Heritage to make sure that they get what they want . It is fair to say that some groups have already been petitioning for a number of years despite the fact the park area will not be announced until 2007.
One thing is known about the CMNP. The population within the park area will be less than the population of the rest of the country - you end up with a situation where it may well be Your back garden, the place where you were born, live, married, work, started a business, had a family etc etc - but it is Their National Park and because there are more of them they get what they want - we do live in a democracy after all. This is perfectly portrayed in the fact that only twenty per cent of the governing board of the park authority will be directly elected by the people on the electoral role of the park.
Despite the fact that we already have a number of highly successful industries such as Tourism, Aquaculture, Fishing, Forestry, Crofting and Farming and their subsidiary industries, Engineering, Retailing, and Material Supplies etc, the Executive feels the area chosen would benefit from the new style of management laid down by a National Park Authority. The question that really has to be asked is WHAT ARE WE DOING SO TERRIBLY WRONG THAT MAKES IT NECESSARY FOR THE EXECUTIVE TO TAKE AWAY THE MANAGEMENT OF OUR NATURAL RESOURCES AND HAND THAT MANAGEMENT OVER TO AN OUTSIDE AGENCY?
This is not about conservation or sustainability or social and economic development it is about control. If we do not control the natural resources that our communities depend on then our communities are doomed and their culture and heritage with them. It is time to stand up and fight for your way of life and the future for your children and the communities that support them.
It is time to stand up and loudly tell Mister Ross Finnie the Minister for Environment and Rural Development ……….we already do conservation ……….we already do sustainable use of natural resources……..we already do sustainable economic and social development………in fact we do these things so well we are the ENVY of others who would quite happily steal the land and sea we cherish as our own and present it to him as their Coastal and Marine National Park……….. WE DO NOT WANT A NATIONAL PARK WE DO NOT NEED A NATIONAL PARK WE WILL NOT ACCEPT A NATIONAL PARK
Please help to oppose this designation .There will be more information on how you can do this coming soon. For a frightening glimpse into the future in a CMNP please check out SNH website and read all fifty nine pages of recommendations.
Coastal and Marine National Parks - Some "Questions and Answers" from SNH
- What has SNH been asked to do?
In June 2005, the Scottish Executive announced their intention to create Scotland's first coastal & marine National Park by 2008. As a first step in this process, SNH has been requested by Ministers to consider the detailed statutory and policy framework for such a Park and to identify potential areas for designation. We have been asked by Ministers to report by March 2006.
- What happens then?
Ministers will consider our advice and consult formally on it during 2006. Further extensive consultation would then be required as part of the statutory designation process required to establish a National Park. SNH's present work is therefore only the first stage in a much longer process, one designed to short list and evaluate some potential areas.
- Will there be a proper consultation?
Yes. This commitment was restated most recently in a response to parliamentary question on this subject raised by Fergus Ewing MSP in August 2005 in which the Minister, Mr Ross Finnie said "it would be my intention to undertake a full public consultation which would allow all interested parties to respond". SNH will recommend significant public involvement in this next stage.
- Where has this proposal come from?
At the last Scottish election, proposals for coastal and marine National Parks featured in the political manifestoes of three political parties, and the new Government committed themselves consult on options for 'establishing a national coastline park and marine national parks'. This consultation took place during 2004. Following this consultation, SNH was asked by Ministers to undertake this further work and a Ministerial commitment was made to establish a coastal and marine National Park in 2008. Both the current Highland Council and Argyll and Bute Structure Plans make reference to future National Parks for their coastal areas. In principle, a proposal to establish a coastal and marine National Park has the support of both local and national politicians. Whether this translates into support for a Park in practice locally remains to be seen, and that clearly will be the focus of the forthcoming consultation.
- Why do we need a coastal and marine National Park?
Throughout the world, National Parks are associated with the very best of a country's natural and cultural heritage. They are about showcasing some of the most valued wildlife and landscapes a country has to offer and providing opportunities for people to enjoy them. They are also about long-term stewardship of these resources. A coastal and marine National Park will fulfil these roles. In addition, it is a tool for focusing resources and adding value to the planning and management of an area, helping to deliver actions on the ground which would not otherwise be delivered.
- Is the Park about conservation or development?
Scottish National Parks have four aims - conservation; sustainanable use; understanding and enjoyment; and community development. Implicit in these aims is the recognition that social and economic development of local communities needs to be addressed alongside the care and enjoyment of the natural and cultural heritage. Existing economic and recreational uses of the area are therefore supported and new uses are encouraged provided that they do not impact negatively on the special qualities of the area. The Park established to manage the Park will also help to create employment, and can support and champion existing businesses and community groups, providing tailored advice, training and funding for them to develop and diversify.
- Who will the Park be accountable to?
A Park Authority will be directly accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. Like all Government bodies, a Park Authority would be reviewed every 5 years. The legislation allows for a Park to be de-designated. The Park Plan prepared by the Park Authority also needs to go through a process of public consultation before approval to it is given. In addition to composition of the Park Board, this also offers a basis for local accountability.
- Will there be local people on the Park Board?
Yes. Both the existing Parks have the following board structure: 5 directly elected members voted for by the people living within the Park area; 10 local authority nominations (all local ward councillors at present); and 10 Ministerial appointments. At least 20% of these local authority nominations and Ministerial appointments must also live within the Park areas. This guarantees that at least 40% of the Board will live in, or represent people who live in the Park. However, in practice, the balance of local people on the Boards is greater than this - currently 22 of the 25 members of both boards live within or very close to the National Park. Ministers are likely to want a similar approach to a coastal and marine National Park.
- Will there be restrictions on development of new houses and buildings?
Three of the four aims of a National Park refer directly to the promotion of the area, and a key role for a Park will be making positive things happen. For example, in the Cairngorms the Park Authority focused on improving the provision of affordable housing as one of the key issues it is proposing to tackle. At the same time, there may be some new restrictions placed on further development in certain places. However, the planning system already steers development towards the best locations and a Park can help to strengthen this system through additional effort on pre-application discussions, the provision of architectural advice and also grant for meeting additional building specifications. In the longer term, this approach will benefit the area and its economy by protecting and enhancing the qualities which people come to enjoy.
- Will there be further restrictions on fishing activity?
It is likely that Ministers will want to see controls developed through the local inshore fisheries groups and implemented by Scottish Executive rather than the National Park Authority itself. If improved management of fisheries helps to sustain fish stocks for the long term it is possible that additional control will be agreed. A Park Authority will able to provide direct support to the work of the inshore fisheries groups within its area, for example by funding the necessary research or monitoring, or demonstration projects and initiatives. Through the Park Plan, it could also add value to the work of these groups by bringing together the management of fishing activity with other marine and coastal activities.
- Will these National Park Authorities add another layer of bureaucracy?
The extra management that a National Park is established to deliver implies more staff, meetings and consultations, and hence could be described as resulting in additional bureaucracy. However, some of the Park's activities - such as heritage, recreation management and planning- could take up work done by other organisations. There is also the potential to simplify aspects and improve co-ordination of the current arrangements, for example in planning better through the Park Plan and in the Park Authority providing a 'first stop' or 'one-stop-shop' for communities and businesses in the Park.
- Will National Parks attract too many visitors?
While some people, especially visitors from overseas, may well be attracted by the name National Park, most people visit areas like Loch Lomond & the Trossachs and the Cairngorms because of their existing reputations as attractive places to visit and for outdoor recreation. In future, the numbers of day visitors in particular are likely to increase regardless of National Park designation because of general improvements in transport which are making these areas more accessible. Managing visitors and resolving potential conflicts of interest will be crucial tasks for a new National Park Authority.
Scottish Natural Heritage, March 2006
ISLE OF CANNA
We have had quite a busy month out here. Things are progressing well, the first of the calves have been born and are looking fantastic. Gerry's Beltie cow had a full Beltie heifer calf much to her delight.
R J MacLeod's have been doing exceptionally well with the bridge, the first layer of decking has been completed and the second layer, which all you people out there in the construction trade will understand has been completed in the herring bone pattern. All that's left to do now is put the sides on and then the hand rails. Will keep you informed on this one.
Kenny, one of the resident engineers, has kindly written the update for the pier.
Biz Bell from the Ratters has written another piece for an update of what is happening with regards to the rats.
See you next month with another update.
Notes on progress on Canna Harbour slipway
Works are now approaching completion with 'finishing' work on-going. The new slipway, rock armouring and approach road are virtually complete. The armour works has already attracted many favourable comments.
The block paving for the new hard standing areas has been delivered to site and will soon be laid on the area currently occupied by the concrete batching plant which will shortly be taken apart and shipped back to the mainland. Building of the new storage shed and waiting room (complete with toilet and solar powered hot water system) is well underway with both buildings wind and watertight. The strengthening work to the existing pier has been completed after several weeks of diver activity in between ferry berthings, allowing the crane to be removed from the pier. This will allow repair works to the block paving on the existing pier to commence followed by a general tidy-up around the old slipway.
The Contractor has already started shipping plant and equipment no longer required back to the mainland and hopes to handover the completed works in the next few weeks.
Kenny, Resident Engineer
FINAL DAYS FOR THE RATTERS ON CANNA
We are now counting down to the last days of the first phase of the Canna Seabird Recovery Project (brown rat eradication). It has gone very well, and no rats have been seen or left any sign recorded for over four weeks now. There has been over six tonnes of poison bait used on the island and the Spanish John removed the waste earlier this month. We are now setting up the long term monitoring phase of the project, and this will run for two more years, after which no with no rats or rat sign, the island can be declared rat-free. The bait stations are still in place all over the island, but this time have chocolate, candles and/or soap inside rather than poison. Rats leave their teeth marks on these tasty items, so that they can be detected if present on the island. The Islanders, R J MacLeod's and visitors are assisting us with any sightings or information on the rats. Wildlife Management International Limited staff from New Zealand and UK and National Trust for Scotland volunteers will be returning next winter to continue monitoring for rats. Wood mouse and seabird monitoring will occur over the summer as well. The latest news, photographs and progress of the project can be obtained on the website at www.nts-seabirds.org.uk
Biz Bell, Dave Boyle and Paul Garner-Richards
Wildlife Management International Limited, Isle of Canna
ISLE OF MUCK
Tuesday 7th March was the AGM of the Muck Power Company of which we are all members so most of the islanders gathered in the school to hear Ewen MacEwen outline the problems besetting our electricity scheme and the measures that he and Barnaby Jackson are taking to deal with them. Not a good story and it looks as if major capital investment will be needed to get everything running smoothly. Another subject discussed was guaranteed hours (the hours when if the wind drops a diesel generator takes over). Some islanders feel that those should cover all waking hours and this would almost eliminate the need for private generators. Another aspiration for the future!
Our electricity scheme does not appear to be the only technology disaster zone on the island. Gallanach farm house seems to be suffering from the same affliction. Both computers seem unwilling to send e-mails and it has taken hours of expertise from Mandy Ketchin to bring them into line. As for Broadband it is a joke. In theory it is available again but only twice in two months have I not had to use the phone. The only technology that works well has been our Skye satellite dish kindly given us for Christmas by the island. It's great but even it suffers from our power cuts. It usually takes minutes to get the system going again.
Enough moaning! The school term is over and we have said goodbye to Morag MacKinnon who has quietly looked after our scholars for the last two terms. Eileen Henderson will be back and looking at the school newsletter the three R's will be taking second place to a variety of exciting activities for the next two months.
On the farm it has been a grand winter weatherwise with long periods when the mud has dried and outdoor work has been a pleasure. No problems crossing the water either for food for cattle and sheep. Arisaig Marine have invested in a fork truck to unload the lorries and offering a seemless journey between Harbro and Muck. The downside has been the coldest March for decades but as I write all has changed, the fields have turned green and there is even the odd blade of grass here and there if the Greylag Geese have missed it!
And it has been a winter for fencing as a second Stewardship Scheme gets under way. I have kept it to a minimum but between the two schemes nearly a mile of new fences are required on an island already very generously supplied with fences. All the fields at a distance from the steading now have grazing restrictions; usually for six weeks in spring to benefit ground nesting birds. Or where Corncrakes are involved there are cutting regulations later in the season though so far the Corncrakes have not found the right fields.
The great news this month is that the Scottish Book Trust have offered us a grant for a season of storytelling events. Full details to follow shortly, but we're hoping to invite Bob Pegg from Strathpeffer, Seoras MacPherson from Glendale on Skye, and Ian Stephen from Lewis.
And a message from Catherine -
Certain people on Muck (they know who they are!) have 'milestone' birthdays this year. So to celebrate - or commiserate - a Ceilidh is planned for Friday 30th June. It will be held in the Barn at Gallanach and music is being provided by renowned box player Freeland Barbour and his band The Occasionals. Mark the date in your diaries NOW!
ISLE OF RUM
Preparations are underway for the 'Sound of Rum 2006'- our very own, totally spanking Music Festival. There's lots happening - see advert for details - we have some of the same bands as last year such as the Peatbog Faeries and Daimh and also have Croft.no Five, Salsa Celtica, our mystery band 'Frog in Throat' (very supercool) and many others - there'll be more happening on the Sunday too. We'll be putting on music and art workshops and there'll also be a fabulous woodland orchestra and a whole array of traditional woodland crafts to try your hand at. Plus, the bouncy castle, beer tent, fabulous food (lots of venison), axe throwing and probably, definitely more.
Tickets are available online at www.thebooth.co.uk and are £50 - still most excellent value and children under 16 are free if accompanied by an adult.
It's camping only again and please make sure you book onto a ferry.
Is there anything else happening on Rum - well, the no-smoking ban is working thus far, we have designated our heaviest smoker as our smoking police and he has taken to this new responsibility with pride (however he is assuming the right not to have to give up).
The sea trout are running well, (I'm told) - our pal Garry P caught three on Monday and the fisherfolk have been haunting the riverbank on the high tide all week. Sorcha, new rod and worms in tow, hasn't caught anything yet, except a cold.
We also had a fleeting visit by a flock (?) of whooper swans last week - there were 11 in the bay and more up in Loch Coire nan Grunnd, they made quite a racket ,the eiders, too are starting to make their mating calls - so spring must be on its way and it's getting right noisy!
We had a ceilidh last weekend as the castle was full of students and FOKC (that's Friends Of Kinloch Castle to you). We were entertained by John, Paul and Innes from the crofting community. They played us some footstompin tracks and left with a fine selection of hand crocheted hats, they'll be back for the festival (with the hats).
Last thing is, we've decided to do up the village hall by creating an extension for a new kitchen, the current one is painfully inadequate - no room to swing a cat! We also plan to put in double patio doors and some decking out the front for a sea view, don't you know. It'll all be very swish. And don't forget to buy your festival tickets quickly, as they're selling awfy fast.
ISLE OF EIGG
March seems to have flown past very fast, with its mixed weather of snow showers and sunny days. Building work on Eddy and Lucy's house is progressing very nicely, and Lucy has been able to confidently put a date for the house warming, at the end of August. Brae Cottage is coming along fine, and more building work is anticipated to start with Sue Kirk's B&B extension and the school house renovation scheduled to start in the early summer.
Now life would be extremely simple if we were living in Finland and bringing building material across in a truck would be the simple matter of phoning the building merchant and ordering a truckload of stuff which would be coming across at no charge at all because ferries and freight are free for islanders over there: as far as they are concerned, the sea route is just an extension of the road,. An ESIN (European Small Islands Network) transport meeting is scheduled for September in Sweden, and I suggest that David Taylor, our Cal Mac route manager, should attends as he might learn a few things.
Those of us who went to the ESIN tourism meeting in Arran this month, also learnt a few things about the way the route manager operates in that part of the world; flexibility seems to be the name of the game in Arran, where local businesses federated under the brand "Destination Arran" have managed to obtain very good deals, such as reductions of fares for internet winter holiday bookings etc. It may be that the volume of traffic is considerably superior, but it was heartening to see that there are chinks in the company's monolithic attitude. Another thing we learnt is that after 20 years of lobbying Cal Mac for a time table change, the islanders of Cumbrae achieved overnight results by going straight to the Scottish Executive. That is the beauty of such meetings: you learnt a hell of a lot from each other, and as everyone knows, ultimately, knowledge is power. Marie Carr discovered for instance that there was actually a Kildonan hotel in Arran which had pitched its publicity in almost the same terms as hers! It has given her the inspiration to target her market differently. Looking at the way Arran has used activity and wellbeing tourism was also inspirational like the example of Finnish island based holiday booking company "Saaristo Suomi" which Lucy Scott thought was a good model for developing the Small Isles. co.uk concept she has in mind. Good food, good craic and good networking was had by all, all that was missing was some local music, so we made do with a singing session: Dorothy MacMillan from Arnamuchan, Moire Ui Mhaolain from Inis Oir and Martine Baron from Ile de Groix near Lorient entertained us till the wee hours of the morning. Incidently, Martine wants folks to know that there are two thriving festivals in Groix and Ouessant about island films and island literature every August. So film-makers and wordsmiths, you have been invited to submit your production!
Meanwhile, I was happy to sacrifice myself and be sent as the Scottish SIN delegate to Finland for the island INTEREG networking midterm review meeting, as there are some concerns in ESIN about the fact that SIN has been less active than other national networks: this is in great part due to the fact that Highland Council has pulled its funding from the project, leaving Argyll and Bute and North Ayrshire to carry the tab. With Scotland being responsible for organising the end of project conference this November, there are understandable concerns, which I am happy to say, are now alleviated. This was for me a great opportunity to accept the Finnish delegates' invitation to visit them on their small island of Vänö, part of the Finnish Archipelago, before the meeting. It had not quite sunk in before that it was more or less at the same latitude as St Petersburg, but it soon did when I saw the frozen sea in the pretty town of Turku with its lovely yellow and white architecture, and the embarkation port of Kasnäs. The journey on a ferry which is slightly bigger than our island class ferry, normally takes an hour, but last Sunday, it took four hours as the channel cut through the ice gets iced over again in night temperatures of -10º since Saturday is the day off for this ferry which takes the archipelago's primary school children to school and back in the next island of Rosala.
Under the bright sunshine, it was a fabulous experience to stand on the deck watching - and hearing - the ship crunch its way at 2 knots an hour (instead of the usual 10) through the channel of broken and refrozen ice, a patchwork of white in the vastness of an even whiter expense of snow-covered ice, over a foot thick in places. Animal tracks lined the channel, veering off in the distance to nowhere or perhaps one of the tuft of green which marked where a pine covered islet stood. Arctic hares. Geese, foxes, and perhaps a lynx also as some footprints looked quite a bit larger, remarked Kai, an islander from Tunham who was the only other traveller on the ferry that day, all looking for food and travelling from island to island on the ice. Arrival in Tunham was simple; the ferry slowed down, put down its ramp, put a small ladder down the ramp, and off went Kai, ready to carry on skis to his house is, pulling a sledge behind him with his shopping and his cat! 30 minutes later, the ferry docked at Vänö pier. Pirjo and Magnus Hoffström my hosts, had to distribute the mail in the pigeon holes of the wee hut which serves as Post Office before going home, another familiar island sight. With 15 people in winter but a great deal more summer visitors, Vänö depends on tourism for its economy: having worked as the islands' sea taxi for 10 years, Magnus now looks after some 30 boats for summer visitors. Pirjo can get very busy but she tries to find enough time for a break so that they can go and put out the pyke net across the little sea-bay near their home to catch enough fresh fish for a few days (as well as watching Emmerdale in her coffee break!). Their lovely wooden house gaily painted red nestles among clumps of birch trees and the outcrops of ancient rock smoothed by glaciation which characterises the archipelago's geology. They took me to see their Community house, a beautiful old byre which the islanders have done up, getting the summer visitors to contribute by sponsoring a few planks of wood each. The Community House where they hold dances and community activities also has a comfy room upstairs for the teenagers and a lovely exhibition of old island photos, as well as the community computer housed in a well insulated box, the "prison" so that it would not be affected by temperature variation. Then it was home to discuss island life, have a laugh and a sauna before going to bed. Quite an experience when part of it meant having to go out to rub yourself with snow before getting more heat again! Very healthy people these Finns! I look forward to them visiting Eigg at some points so that we can continue exchanging our thoughts on island life! In the meantime, it was heartening to see that the Small Isles Learning network project is now part of the ESIN case studies on education. It might actually be a good idea to join the working group of telecommunications and IT working in Ouessant this September, as the experts have now come to Rum and Eigg to try and see if video/telephone conferencing is possible; it is! That's good news for this excellent island initiative. Ans since the Irish, the Swedes and the Danes have got their own island broadband services up and running, who knows, the Small Isles might be next! It 's just shows that small islands can very much lead the way rather than being left out behind! I'd say Skoll to that!
Well, March has been a quiet month and a strange month. I think Spring won in the end in the battle of the seasons as my daffodils are flowering in the garden. But how strange, to be building snow men in March. The clocks changing has made the biggest impact. Hello longer days. It was time to banish those dark nights for another year.
The community council have stepped up their campaign to reduce the speed limit through the village, particularly at the stretch of road in front of the Trust. Over 100,000 visitors cross that road every year. Often, overwhelmed by the scenery and the monument they wander on the road unaware that it is fast and dangerous. Also, it is beside this 60 mph stretch of road that children are dropped off by the school bus. We have contacted our MSPs office, our MP and Bear Scotland. This is an issue the council has been tackling for some time. We are working closely with Rudy Vandecappelle at the Trust on this as obviously he is very concerned about this matter. I will keep you updated with how we progress.
The Glenfinnan 07 project continues. We have made our funding application and wait to hear the outcome at the end of April. I've found that the recycling facilities in the car park at Glenfinnan House Hotel have greatly helped to reduce the amount of rubbish I send to landfill. There is glass and paper recycling and also food and drinks cans are collected there. Please everyone use them and do your bit to reduce waste.
There was a cheese and wine in the Trust cafe on Mothers Day. I didn't make it along but there was a good crowd there and they didn't leave until they'd scoofed the lot so there must have been a few slow starts on Monday morning. Money was raised for the community and the art class raised money for materials with a bottle stall. Thank you all you generous people.
The art class is still going strong. Lately we have been working on figure compositions and have been helped by willing volunteers who kindly model for us. We have painted Isobel MacFarlane, Frances White and Graeme Young and they are all still talking to us!!
I must end with congratulations to Frances White on celebrating her 60th birthday and her impending retirement. Congratulations also to husband John who pulled out all the stops and treated her to a wonderful evening in Inverlochy Castle Hotel and a chauffeured limo.
The Land, Sea & Islands Centre is opening the week before Easter and we're looking forward to another successful season. If you have a few hours to spare a week and would enjoy informing visitors on what is so good about our area, then join the band of volunteers. The more there are, the less days each has to cover and/or the more hours we can open in a day. Thanks to Heather, Freda, Vera, Felicity, Maureen, Helen, June, Angela, Derek, Elizabeth, Andrew and Bobby (hope I haven't forgotten anyone) for last year! Contact me or Elizabeth Fleming if you'd like to help.
West Word - ten years ago
Dr Michael Foxley at Muck School adorned the front cover of the April 1966 issue of West Word with the story below his picture telling of his farewell after ten years as the area's Regional Councillor. Yes, 1st April 1996 marked the start of the new Highland Council and by association the demise of the Regional Council and Lochaber District Council with the subsequent revamping of some of the boundaries. 'Dr Foxley's a gentleman,' said Charlie King, 'and he has done a tremendous amount of work for the area.' On page 2 the self same Councillor Charlie King kicked off his Council Corner with a look back at the achievements of the old District Council, and thank you to Dr Foxley and also Cameron Mackintosh for his donation towards the Health Clinic so enabling the final funding package to be assembled.
News of Mallaig's new Health Clinic was covered on the front page and on the letter's page with Mrs Helen Downie praising Cameron Mackintosh for his continued generosity but questioning why the necessary funding wasn't made available by either local or national Government sources.
Local fish merchant Andy Race also appeared in the Letter section responding to comments on Sunday landings contained in the previous month's paper.
Fisheries Management Plans, Monofilament Gill nets and poor prawn prices were the topics covered in Hugh Allen's Fishing Section while Anna Skea's 'Ginger' shop in Arisaig, the industrial units on West Bay and the latest childcare facilities in Mallaig all got a mention under the heading New Beginnings…and talking of new beginnings - Planning application had been submitted to the Council by Mr & Mrs A Fleming (Arisaig) for the erection of 3shop units, a restaurant and 3 residential flats at Station Road, Mallaig.
Bracora's Paul Galbraith had been busy on West Word's behalf for as well as providing his two pages of Gaelic Proverbial Sayings he also provided a review of J L Campbell's book 'Canna -the story of a Hebridean Island'. The planned publication date of the 1st April (sic) came and went and we've yet to see Arisaig's Jimmy Connelly's tome - 'J C's Book of Wisdom & Wit' (who said 'thankfully?).
Barry Austin's travels in South America continued, and as he visited unusual and rare places he was also sampling unusual and rare delicacies like Curanto - a stew of mussels, clams, sausage, chicken leg, smoked spare rib, potatoes and a couple of patties of what appeared to be solid semolina!!
Extensive coverage of the 'Heaven's Above' by Ross Campbell contained info on Comets and Eclipses and Shooting Stars whilst the down to earth 'Bramble' was tempting our taste buds with a recipe for seasonal Hot Cross Buns.
It was good news for local musicians Iain MacFarlane (Glenfinnan) and Allan Henderson (Mallaig) who had both achieved places at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, and still on an educational theme Mallaig High's Head teacher Forbes Jackson explained the rules of the James Jarvie Bursary.
Glenuig's Billy McKail's Buses to Bornia fund raising ventures were described on page 20 while a huge hill fire at Glenfinnan which required four fire tenders, one helicopter and 50 beaters on the ground, was finally extinguished after having burned for 7 hours. The Swimming Pool Advert for 'Casual Leisure Attendants' still makes me smile as does an item from the Personal Angle column - the Last Will and Testament of Arisaig's D J Dempster was found on the floor of an Arisaig Bar - Bod was to be the main beneficiary!!
March 2006 Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
Although March started cold and snowy, Spring and the breeding season is well underway for many bird species. The amount of bird song had increased noticeably by the month's end, as birds claimed their territories and attracted mates. Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Robins and Dunnocks could all be heard and seen in just about every garden in the area. No doubt some of you will have been wakened early in the morning by the noisy 'cooing' of the Collared Dove.
There were no unusual birds to report this month, although a single Canada Goose was seen with the Greylags about Traigh Farm from the 27th at least. The last report of Canada Geese about here was of 3 birds, also at Traigh, in March 2004.
The 2 Mute Swans stayed on Loch Morar until the 8th. Whooper Swans were still in the area, with 4 adults on Loch nan Eala on the 29th, while 7 flew North over Traigh on the 30th. There were at least 3 pair of Shelduck on the South side of Loch nan Ceall, with 2 pair reported from Silver Sands, Traigh. Wigeon were seen on the Morar Estuary and Loch nan Ceall, while Teal were present all month on Loch nan Eala.
On the wader front Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones were about the West Bay car park, New Breakwater area all month. Lapwings were displaying in the fields about Back of Keppoch, while small numbers of Golden Plovers passed through the area all month, 12 summer plumaged birds by Traigh boathouse on the 24th the highest count. Woodcock and Snipe were seen regularly around Arisaig, Traigh and Morar. A single Greenshank was on the Morar Estuary on the 28th.
Redwings and Fieldfares were still around till the month end, with small flocks seen at Traigh Farm and Camusdarach.
An Immature Iceland Gull was seen at Back of Keppoch, Arisaig village and Rhue. Siskin numbers increased in gardens throughout the area and Bullfinches were reported from Camusdarach and Morar, especially in the vicinity of gardens that have fruit trees which are beginning to bud.
Sparrowhawks and Buzzards were reported from Morar and Arisaig, while the male Hen Harrier was seen several times near Millburn, Rhue.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard 'drumming' increasingly as the month progressed, especially at Arisaig but also in the Kinsadel woods and at Traigh.
Firstly the arrival on the 30th, just west of Millburn, Rhue, of a true summer migrant, in the form of a male Wheatear, must surely herald the arrival of Spring.
FISHING NEWS by John Hermse, Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association
There has been better weather in the first three months of 2006 compared to the strong winds we endured from November 2004 until May 2005 when I think only two or three weeks fishing were not curtailed due to bad weather. The prices for prawns are higher due perhaps to the Registration of Buyers and Sellers Legislation although scallop prices have decreased in recent weeks.
Nephrops (Prawn) Allocation
After the success of winning a 39% increase in the West Coast prawn allocation, the euphoria was somewhat dulled when the Fisheries Departments announced that there was going to be a consultation on the methodology of allocation. The options were:
Option 1 - allocate all Nephrops quotas (including this year's increases) on the basis of the current Quota Management Rules (i.e. FQAs).
Option 2 - to provide the under-10m and non-sector groups with a modest increase in their share of the additional quotas, i.e. over and above what they would otherwise have received under the usual FQA arrangements. See table below for details. After consideration of all the relevant factors, including the points made by the consultees, Fisheries Administrations decided in favour of the second option set out in the consultation paper, namely a departure from the rules, with an increase in the allocation for 2006 of the stocks in question to the non-sector and under ten metre fleet.
Fisheries Administrations apparently, were particularly swayed by the benefits of this option in avoiding the potential for early closure of fisheries to the non-sector and under 10 metre fleet at the cost of a small percentage of the overall allocation. This possibility of a significant benefit to the under 10 metre and non-sector fleet accruing from what is a small adjustment in the current UK nephrops quota allocation was highly persuasive, particularly in light of the difficulties currently facing that sector of the industry.
Inshore Fisheries Management Groups
The South East of Scotland and Western Isles are already underway with the introduction of an Inshore Fisheries Management Group. At the Scottish Inshore Fisheries Advisory Group (SIFAG) meeting at the end of March, it was announced that the Clyde, along with Mull and the Small isles, will be the next areas to be asked to accept an Inshore Fisheries Group. The proposal was welcomed by myself on behalf of Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association as well as by Highland Council. The IFM groups are the forum that fishermen and legislators and other competent bodies (sic) are in favour of, to properly manage Inshore fisheries on a local level, in preference to having a multitude of other - often competing management systems, all vying to think they can properly manage inshore fisheries.
Proposed Highland Regulating Order
The private regulating order for Highland is going to public enquiry. It was hoped that with the inception of the above noted Inshore Fisheries Management system, the proposers would withdraw the largely unwanted Order. The Minister has agreed that, as objections were received which were neither frivolous nor irrelevant, the proposed Highland Regulating Order will be subject to an inquiry under the 1967 Shellfish Act. Relevant material has been passed to the Scottish Executive Inquiry Reporters Unit and an inspector has been appointed to carry out the inquiry. Our understanding is that the inquiry sitting(s) will take place in May/June. Several Fishermen's Associations will be fighting the Regulating Order at the forthcoming Enquiry.
Coastal & Marine National Park
The turnout at the public meeting astonished me. People from the Butt to Barra Head and Cape Wrath to the Mull of Kintyre have all shown disillusion at the rather biased SNH consultation which has always carried the subliminal message that Marine Parks will be an accolade to the chosen area….and this from the body that is supposedly giving an unbiased view to the Minister! It is important to let the silent majority be heard and listened to by the Scottish Government. It was disappointing that none of the Highland MSP's who were all invited, could attend. Fergus Ewing gave us unqualified support but due to the circumstances could not be with us.
A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: email@example.com)
Shipwreck Off Arisaig in 1802
Recently I was asked by Donald Lawrence MacNeil, Mallaig and Calum MacNeil of Castlebay, if I knew anything about a shipwreck off the Arisaig coast about 1802. Drowned in the shipwreck was Seumas MacNeil whose family had previously emigrated to Canada. MacNeil was an agent of Hugh Denoon and was in the process of recruiting potential emigrant passengers for Denoon's ship and this was his second expedition from Canada on this mission. He had been recruiting in Barra and had been thrown out by the MacNeil chief who had didn't wish to lose any more of his workers to emigration. Drowned along with Seumas MacNeil, was Fr. James MacDonald, parish priest on Barra from about 1790 until his untimely death in 1802. He, also, was unpopular with the MacNeil and possibly took the opportunity of a lift home to Arisaig. Fr. James was the youngest son of Archie MacDonald, Rhu Arisaig and his wife Ann MacGregor, a grandson of Iain Frangaich and g. grandson of Angus Borrodale, all of the Glenaladale Dhomhnallaich.
The Moidart MacNeils I had been investigating the genealogy of another Moidart family, the antecedents of which were also MacNeils, who had been shipwrecked, this time, off Eilean Shona around 1910-1915. This involved Michael MacNeil and his brother. The two brothers had come from Barra to purchase barley for the the island stills and got caught in a storm. The boat was lost but the brothers managed to get ashore. They settled in Moidart, married and raised families, descendants of which are in the area today. "Moran taing" to Tearlach MacFarlane for the following genealogy. We don't know the name of one of the brothers but the following is what Tearlach has discovered about Mìcheil and his descendants.
Michael MacNeil b. 1793 in Barra m. Mary MacGillivray and they settled in Kinlochmoidart and had six children, not necessarily in the following order.
1. Marion m. Roderick MacVarish in Langal in 1832 and emigrated to Australia with seven children in 1852. N.F.I.
2. Margaret m. John MacKellaig in 1833. John belonged to Rhu, Arisaig. N.F.I.
3. Angus b. 1819 m. Mary MacGillivray and had seven children. A. Alexander & Sally, twins. b. 1845 B. Catherine b. 1849. C. Christy b. 1851, D. Mary, E. Sarah b. 1855, F. Donald b. 1857
4. Patrick N.F.I. other than that, he appears as sponsor at a baptism at Langal in 1844.
5. John m. Catherine MacDonald (Ketty) and they were in Eilean Shona in 1841. They had 3 children. A. Norman b. 1832 B. Michael b. 1837 C. Allan b. 1839
6. Ronald b. 1815 (possibly the eldest of the family as, at his birth, his father was aged 22 years) Ronald m. Catherine MacDonald of Smirisary in 1836/6. They settled in Langal/Dalnabreac and had nine children. A. John, B. Alexander, C. Peter, D. Mary, E. Catherine and F. John. I have no information on these six children. Of the remaining three, in 1865, G. Michael m. Margaret Lamb of Glenfinnan, dau. of James Lamb and Jane Stewart and they had three children who were, Mary Jane, and Ronald and Catherine who emigrated to Winnipeg. H. Lachlan b. 1843 m. in 1871 to Ann Gillies dau. of Allan Gillies and Catherine MacInnes, Smirisary. Ann may have been born in Kentra in 1847.
They had seven children who were:
H1. Ronald who m. Kate Beaton in Helensburgh in 1913. Ronald and Kate's eldest child, Jessie, was b. in Inverailort in 1914. Then came Mary, Lachlina and Ronald b.1919. Ronald junior m. Mary MacDonald from Lewis and they emigrated to Australia. Their two children were, Ronald and Ann who married a McKeon and lives in Sidney, Australia.
H2 John b. 1878 m. Catherine Kelly. They had five children whose descendants we know today. 1. Mary b. in Inverailort 1906. 2. Hugh, for many years an undertaker and hearse driver around Lochaber, working for John MacLellan. (Of the Coiteachen MacLellans). 3. Josephine m. Alastair MacMillan, well known local photographer and had two sons, Anthony also a photographer and John our well kent mobile butcher.
H3. Christina m. Willie MacPherson from Strontian and they live in the surfaceman's house at Arienskill. They had thirteen children - not necessarily in the following order. The children were - 6 boys: 1. Charlie u.m. lived at Arienskill and was railway surfaceman at Lochailort. 2. Adam m. Bella Kennedy from Mallaig. 3. David N. F. I. 4. Johnny, N.F.I. 5. Sandy m. Barbara MacDonald of Glenuig. 6. Lachie m. Margaret Baxter from England and had nine children. They were: 1. Willie. 2. Marjorie. 3. Christina. 4. Ronnie. 5. Raymond. 6. Alistair. 7. Geraldine who m. John Young from Mallaig and who gave me this information 8. Pauline and 9. Richard who died very young. Christina and Willie's seven daughters were: 7. Mysie, m. Peter Campbell from Oban. 8. Maggie m. a MacMillan and lived in Troon. 9. Annie was m. and lived in Glasgow. N.F.I. 10. Chrissie was also m. and still lives in Glasgow. N.F.I. 11. Mary Ann was m. and lived in Caol. 12. Katie was m. and lived in Mull and she died aged 103. 13. Merac. N.F.I.
H4 Eoin m. Christina Cameron and their children were Alexander, Lachlan, Allan and Mary and they lived in Arivegaig. The last three members of Lachlan's family were, Mary, Alexander and Angus, all unmarried. The last of the family of Ronald MacNeil and Catherine MacDonald was I. Ewen or, Hugh b. ca. 1855 and was known as "an Diùc" (The Duke). He lived in Smirisary and in 1900 he m. Margaret MacDonald, dau. of John and Isabella MacDonald from Blain, Mingary. They had five children that we know of. Ronald b. 1901, John b. 1903, Una, Kate b. 1906, Ishbel. Kate was drowned aged 21 after falling off a bicycle into the River Shiel. Ishbel m. Lachlan Gillies, of Morroch, Arisaig and they had a daughter, Margaret who went to the U.S.A.
We don't know the name of one of the original MacNeil brothers who survived the shipwreck off Dorlin and would be very glad to hear from anyone who can tell us more of this interesting family and it's descendants.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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