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Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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August 2016 Issue
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OUTSTANDING WOMAN OF SCOTLAND 2016
Magda Sargarzazu has for many years been the Canna Archivist, looking after the documentation and preservation of John and Margaret Lorne Campbell's Collections which include an unrivalled Gaelic library, letters and manuscripts.
Magda has been honoured along with nine other remarkable women in the Saltire Society's Outstanding Women of Scotland Awards in a list which this year includes author J K Rowling, journalist and campaigner Lesley Riddoch, singer/songwriter and political activist and philanthropist Annie Lennox and medical researcher and director of the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute (Glasgow), Professor Karen Heather Vousden, CBE, FRS, FRSE, FMedSci.
Read what Magda says about Margaret Fay Shaw Campbell, her lifelong inspiration, in Canna's Round and About below.
GREAT TASTE AWARDS FOR JAFFY'S
Mallaig's family firm Lawrie & Sons (Jaffy's) has been commended yet again in the Great Taste Awards 2016 Top 50 foods for its kippers, described by judges as 'meaty, moist and plump with woody, smoky and nutty notes, balanced by a lovely sweetness'.
Also commended with 2 stars were Jaffy's Hot Smoked Salmon with a Glayva glaze and with 1 star, their Oak Smoked Salmon, Oak Smoked Spiced Salmon, Seaweed Infused Smoked Salmon, and their Hot Smoked Peppered Salmon.
SKIMMING DEVICES FOUND IN MALLAIG
Members of the public are being urged to be vigilant by Police Scotland after skimming devices were found on the cash machines of both the Royal Bank and the Bank of Scotland in Mallaig on Saturday July 30th.
Skimming devices are designed to read card details without the cardholder being aware. The car is then cloned and used to withdraw money from the victim's bank account. People who have used the ATMs in Mallaig since 8am on Friday, July 29 are advised to check their bank accounts immediately. Police are asking members of the public to be observant when using a cash machine to see if there is anything unusual about it. Check the card reader and the front of the ATM to see if anything appears to be out of the ordinary before inserting your card. Look for any unusual attachment to the ATM such as a leaflet holder. Cover the pin keypad as you enter your number. If you put in your card and it is retained or jams, check the front of the ATM and notify the bank or service provider immediately.
Anyone who finds a suspicious device or has any information regarding suspicious activity around cash machines should contact Police Scotland on 101 or speak to any officer.
MALLAIG & MORAR GAMES CANCELLED
The Mallaig & Morar Highland Games were cancelled a few days before the event owing to an adverse forecast. The Games were due to take place in Morar on Sunday 7th August 2016.
The forecast for gale force winds due to arrive late Saturday evening and continue more or less unabated through Sunday, combined with heavy rain, forced the Games Committee to reluctantly make the decision - and it proved to be the right one.
The committee reviewed the forecast on the Thursday and with no significant alteration overnight took the decision to cancel the games on the morning of Friday 5th, saying that "The safety of the competitors and spectators is of paramount importance and we have reluctantly taken the decision to cancel this year's games."
The Games were last cancelled in 2001 during the restrictions imposed by the Foot and Mouth outbreak.
Mallaig Pool and Leisure
July has been a great month for us with the centre being very busy, so we are looking forward to August being equally as busy. The fund raising for the essential works and refurbishment at the centre is ongoing and we are awaiting a reply from funding applications we have submitted. The community fundraising for the refurbishment plans are progressing nicely and we have raised just over £1,000, so a big thank you to all who have donated. We also want to thank the Mallaig Harbour Authority which has donated a very generous £5,000 towards the refurbishment project. We are continuing to looking for funding to enable us carry out this essential work to help keep the pool open, so all contributions welcome.
Once the schools go back we will be starting a couple of new clubs at the centre. One is a Life Saving Club on Thursday 4-5pm. This was suggested by students in the High School and the idea won the Youth Philanthropy Initiative Award earlier in the year. The sessions will deliver the RLSS Survive and Save programme, which is a series of fun awards focusing on water safety, personal survival, rescue techniques and fitness. This is an ideal opportunity to learn new skills which would be count towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award and a good progression toward the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification. We are also looking for tutors (15 years +) for these sessions and training will be provided by the RLSS.
We have also had an offer of help from a swimming coach to help us develop a swimming club in Mallaig. Robert Becker who trains Skye Dolphins has very kindly offered his services on Sundays, 11 - 12am. So this is a great opportunity for younger swimmers, 7/8 year +, to develop their stroke technique and swimming strength. These sessions are for competent swimmers, SSA Level 7/8, who are interested in developing their swimming.
If you are interested in joining or require more information on either of these sessions, please get in touch with either Mairi or Brian at the centre.
Brian O'Rouke, Manager
Help Mallaig Pool raise the money they need for their major refurbishments by going to justgiving.com and searching for Mallaig Pooll & Leisure, or by texting MDSPOO £5 (or whatever amount you wish to give) to 70070. If you shop online you can also go to easyfundraising.org.uk and look for Mallaig Pool - register on the site and raise money while you shop.
Every little helps and money raised by the local community will increase the chances of major funders committing grants.
Well, it's certainly been one very wet July. For the first 17 days it literally rained every single day. By the 18th, it was rain like no other. It was basically monsoon season. All the burns and rivers were bursting with the Kilchoan River being particularly spectacular. It reached right up into the fields (We could have almost set up a pedallo lake!) and was almost flowing over the bridge. On the plus side to all this rain, it seems to have drowned the midgies. There have been surprisingly few, despite the damp yet warm(ish) temperatures. This has made it extremely pleasant when the sun does show its face! Despite the weather though, things have been going well. The tourists are still flooding in (no pun intended…) and we even had a large group of American National Geographic students come to visit. They were 16 year olds from all over the states and they came to explore our peninsula and get to know the locals, picking different people to interview and spend time with. It will be interesting to see some of the pictures they took although I do have to hope that the ones of myself and Lewis drinking tea in our dressing gowns on a Sunday morning after a night out do not end up in some National Geographic album, captioned "Knoydart Locals….from the inside…
On the Music front, we have had a couple of nights this month, starting with the Lochaber Ceilidh trail who played a very busy ceilidh, then we had Clype and Jenny Sturgeon with sensational music and beautiful singing. Coming up we have Dosca playing after the games, which are on the 6th of August. Veronika is doing a roaring trade in Fish and Chips on a regular Wednesday night which is great for her and also for the rest of us craving a decent fish supper. Judy has opened her new jewellery workshop, just behind the bunkhouse where she makes and sells exclusive handcrafted silver pieces of jewellery to take home.
What else…. There are now family ranger sessions running every Wednesday until October where you can spend time with Amie the ranger completing one of a range of nature activities which could include clay model making, building a bee house, beach and woodland art, pond dipping and nature collages. It costs £10 for parent and child and an additional £5 per child. You can contact Amie on the foundation number 462242.
ISLE OF MUCK
July was a month when the weather returned to normal - wet with a few fine days.
The first item this month is a rather unusual subject, that of Holiday Cottages. These have not been well booked this summer and there are a number of problems for cottage guests coming to the island. If you book a cottage on the mainland you can drive to the door. Here it is not so easy, particularly in Mallaig. First the car has to be unloaded on the pier and finding somewhere to park can be a nightmare. Then because CalMac will only carry islanders' parcels and shopping on their van (particularly on Saturdays), you have to carry all your luggage aboard the Loch Nevis yourself. As there are no shops on Muck you have to bring your own food and that is usually heavier than other items and there may not even be a trolley. Once aboard you are not supposed to go back for a second load as the machine which records the number of passengers on the vessel will not go backwards. Once on Muck you may have to carry everything ashore. This is a ridiculous situation and it must end. CalMac must provide enough van space to carry all luggage coming to the island.
On a happier note; on 30th July; Marine Harvest invited the whole island to visit their fish farm and it was very impressive, with the barge and 10 cages, though not all were stocked with fish. As the fish can eat up to 30 tons a day when fully grown much of the barge was given over to food storage. But there was a lab with microscopes to check problems, monitors to watch the fish feeding and check that the feed is not being wasted, and causing pollution. There was an amazing machine which works its way up and down the cage nets removing the seaweed which would prevent the water circulating. There was much else besides but two interesting facts emerged: Seals are not a problem at the Muck site and that the fish grow faster off Muck than anywhere else in the Marine Harvest Scottish Empire. Three days later we were followed by a visit by most of the population of Canna. They had come to see whether a similar farm would be acceptable next their island.
Another interesting event last month was the arrival of the log chute. 40 years past, John Low of the Forestry Commission arrived on the island and planted the hill Dun Ban with trees. At the very summit were Sitka Spruce grown from seed which originated in Alaska, trees which I have always considered to be some of the most exposed in the world. However, after 40 winters of gales their time had come and last winter they were clear felled by Dave and Toby and the logs thrown over a nearby cliff. However, it was some way down to flat ground and hard going to move them. This was the situation when Alasdair Gibson from Glenfinnan who arrived in a yacht and immediately saw the potential for the log chute which he had developed. Soon we had the plastic sections bolted together and the logs flying down the hill mainly assisted by Duggie the Dyker who happened to be on the island. Nearly 600 in all and a massive saving in effort.
Other notable events this month have been the amazing electrical storm on the 19th (only the second in my lifetime) and the visit by the Ceilidh Trail on the 21st. They were great as usual.
ISLE OF CANNA
July started with a welcome visit from two shearers to see to the farm's very warm sheep. Ryan and Robbie made fast work of the flock and even had time to let Canna House Documentation Officer, Indigo Carnie, have a go at shearing her first sheep.
Despite the weather not being the best the harbour has been very busy with yachts all month.
The Isle of Canna Development Trust had its AGM and Gerry Mackinnon has taken on the role of Chairperson again. Many thanks to the retiring directors for their hard work over the last year.
We had a visit from Martin Merrick at the end of the month and he is due to move to Canna on the 12 August to take up his position as the new primary school teacher.
Canna also hosted three gigs this month with Prestonpans based Scots singer, Alex Hodgson, kicking off the month closely followed by Scots Italian singer Roberto Cassani who had the audience in gales of laughter with his humorous songs. Singer, Alex Hodgson
Lastly we had our own resident Gaelic singer, Fiona J Mackenzie, who entertained us with a mixture of Gaelic and Scots songs, ably supported by NTS Ranger, Pete Holden.
We also enjoyed a machair walk with mycologist, Liz Holden, who surprised us with the tremendous variety of wild flowers and fungi we have on Canna and Sanday.
Singer Alex Hodgson
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House…..
Margaret Fay Shaw Campbell's stunning collection of black and white photographs of life in the Hebrides in the 1930's and 40's of course forms a major part of the Canna Collections in Canna House. However there are many photos for which we have no supporting information i.e. names of people or places perhaps? It was with this challenge that Fiona, the Canna archivist undertook a visit in July to South Uist, with the hope of collecting these final pieces of the pictorial jigsaw. Fiona was gifted the use of the renovated cottage 'Taigh Màiri Anndra' in North Glendale , where Margaret lived with the two Macrae sisters for nearly 6 years, collecting and notating songs, from 1928-34 and this was the base for an exhibition of some of Margaret's photos.
The community were invited in for a 'strùpag ' (cup of tea and a scone!) in the hope that the pictures would jolt memories and stimulate conversation, which did indeed happen. Family members were identified, croft names supplied and memories of Margaret's adventures in her time there, were all recorded by Fiona and Canna House temporary documentation officer, Indigo Carnie. Fiona also undertook presentations to the Community on Eriskay and in Kildonan, South Uist, using Margaret's pictures and film, John's archive recordings and Margaret's own words to tell the stories.
July also saw the richly deserved award by the Saltire Society of Scotland, to retired Archivist Magda Sagarzazu of the title "Outstanding Woman of Scotland 2016", in the company of such other highly regarded public names as Annie Lennox, JK Rowling and Sarah Brown. Magda was bestowed this award for her incredible work in the documentation and preservation of John and Margaret Lorne Campbell's Collections. Below are Magda's own words as published in the Society's Awards Ceremony brochure. You can read more about the Society and the Awards here: http://www.saltiresociety.org.uk/discuss-and-debate/saltire-women/
"Magdalena Sagarzazu has recently retired as the fulltime Canna Archivist, for the National Trust for Scotland, after a lifetime's involvement with the unique Canna Collections of Folklore and Song, and Canna House. She came to the island of Canna from the Basque country, for several months every year, originally as an 11 year old child. As an adult, she worked for several months of the year with John Lorne Campbell in his work, preserving, recording and developing Scotland's Gaelic, Natural and Folklore cultural heritages. On the death of John Campbell in 1996 Magda moved to Canna permanently to work with Margaret Fay Shaw Campbell as her assistant and companion, in Canna House. She lives on Canna still and still plays a major part in the Story of Canna House and its legacy of priceless and unique Collections, unrivalled anywhere else in the world.
It has to be Margaret Fay Shaw Campbell, who has affected my life profoundly. I knew the Campbells all my life, since my father was a close personal friend of John Lorne Campbell. The first time I went to Canna was in 1962, when I was 11. My mother died three years previously and the Campbells invited myself and my sister to spend the summer with them on the island. It was a very special way that they ran the island and the house at that time - and that was important too, to my life. But what has a definite impact on my life was Margaret and the eight years after John Lorne Campbell died, in 1996. She was an inspiration of strength with her positive and fun attitude to life. Her help and input to the archives on which I was working at that time, gave me the focus to carry on both John's work and her own work, particularly with her own photographic collection of life in the Hebrides from 1927 onwards. Her love and her strength for the Hebrides and Scotland in general and the way she lived through her music. She cherished her friends and her work and her life, all intensely and passionately, following her early principles, all through her American childhood and teenage years in Scotland. In our travels together through North America and Europe, I never once witnessed a diminishing of her love and passion, her contact and love of life. She maintained Canna House as a House of music and culture, until her death in 2004 at the age of 101, and she has left Scotland with an incredible legacy of culture and life, love and integrity for us all to cherish, maintain and develop. Her endurance and strength are even now giving me a focus, in a challenging time of my life, when I think of her positive attitude in everything she did, she saw, she said and her whole way of life. It has become part of me, that which she has taught me. She taught me that you can't learn this passion for life, it has to be felt. She had an aura around her and I still feel that aura as part of me" Saltire Society, July 2016
ISLE OF RUM
Lots of visitors to Rum in July and the usual fair share of drama! Helicopter / coastguard / lifeboat action when a 15 year old boy was reported missing by his family staying in the bunkhouse. Fortunately, a happy ending to the tale, although hopefully a cautionary lesson for future visitors about the challenges of heading out into the wilds of Rum ill prepared. Well done to all volunteers concerned including the Rum based team. Another successful Bring & Share Community Meal - this time the theme was From The Sea and we had a plethora of offerings including Rum-caught sea trout and Andy Race's finest, together with very imaginative offerings from the Morris household of mermaids purses and oyster made from meringues and chocolates and a turtle shaped loaf from Nic. A slightly surreal end to the evening with a group of travelling musicians coming ashore to join in with a singalong at the shop ending with a piper at about 2am! A third Elsa Jean McTaggart gig, always a winner on Rum.
Landward have been over this week filming and Sylvia's Heritage Centre is well on the way to being open with Dave fitting in setting it up around his many other duties. Kim has started the Teashop and visitors have been enjoying home made soup in the village hall along with cakes and bakes from the Mallaig Bakehouse.
The annual evening boat trip to see the rafting shearwaters was well attended but the best evening's entertainment in a long time was the spectacular thunder and lightning storm of a few weeks ago. Bravery award for being out and about in the storm goes to Fliss, walking home in the middle of it from Croft 3. Kinloch Cottages have had builders in fitting new double glazed windows and doors - they are looking very smart indeed. IRCT had an EGM to elect two new directors - welcome to Neil and Jed newly elected to the board.
Croft 3 is ducktastic at the moment with a whole family of Muscovy ducks arriving rehomed from Muck and some runner ducks joining the flock. The first hatchlings of chicks and ducklings have been released and are doing really well. It's a hive of activity with 7 volunteers on the croft helping with footpaths up the muddy hill. Ranger Trudi has also had a regular trickle of volunteers over the last few weeks and they have been doing fine work clearing the wildlife garden, cutting down overgrown foliage and generally making the village and nature trail walk look more tended and easier to walk. Nic Goddard
ISLE OF EIGG
A double helping from Eigg this month as last month's article disappeared into the ether.
June was so brilliant this year, with soaring temperatures and endless blue skies for the first half of the month, that the whole island went into Mediterranean mode, spending a lot of time at the Galmisdale Café terrace, socialising and generally enjoying the fine outside temperatures. On the wild life front though, despite the favourable weather conditions, it has been far from a vintage summer for butterflies and a very mixed breeding season for birds on Eigg. John reports that in general small woodland & scrub species, particularly Whitethroats, Willow Warblers, Goldcrests & Siskins, have done very well but waders & raptors have had a distinctly mixed time, and that very sadly, seabirds such as fulmars, gulls & terns have had a really dire season with very little successful breeding. Sea birds have also been noticeably scarce offshore, although a couple of passing Arctic Skuas were noticed. Is this due to the general lack of sand eels? It really has to be acknowledged with Marine Scotland that the state of Scotland's seas is not as it should be and that we seriously need to think about supporting our new MPA network. Regular sightings of Dolphins during that spell of good weather with a small pod sighted fishing off Laig bay were a real joy, although sightings have been much scarcer later in the month.
Just as some concerns about lack of water started to be voiced, the rain came back bang on time for our community buy out anniversary and the arrival of the island's supporters and friends. Midges decided it was their time now, but all those who were dancing to YaMatha, Dosca, Nightwork and Dolphin Boy - whose set was possibly his longest in all those 19 years of playing on Eigg - did not care! As to the session in Galmisdale Café on the Sunday, it was simply awesome; just amazing to get a Kora player from Manchester, a classical Indian singer and a bluegrass duo from the US combine with fiddle, banjos and pipes… The weekend was also Stuart Ferguson's 40th birthday, and saw stalwart Eigg friends, Lewis and Rachel, tying the knot at Kildonnan: all cause for joyous celebration, and best wishes for all concerned, what better party could they have wished for? A first for Eigg was the classical concert at St Donnan's also on the Sunday, which was extremely well attended much to the amazement of the Edinburgh University Chamber orchestra who premiered a piece by one of the students, Caelin Harrington, alongside pieces by Mozart, Bartok and Mendelssohn.
More music followed at the end of the month with the return of piano accordion wizard Sandy Brechin as part of his ceildh cruise on the 28th. His tunes were certainly needed to dispel the gloom that settled on the island after the EU referendum results on the 24th. At a time when the islands are getting increasing recognition of their unique challenges and opportunities at EU level - I was for instance representing Scottish islands at a transnational meeting in Athens about the launch of a new Smart Islands Initiative on 22nd June - the uncertainty about the future of farming and crofting funding, the likely withdrawal of LEADER, ERDP, ESF and other EU funding packages from which we have all largely benefited is simply crushing. MP Ian Blackford who visited the island on 21st June and met a lot of islanders at his surgery, will no doubt hear from many of us on this issue.
Like June, July has been a busy month on Eigg: the first weekend saw the return of Lost Map Aficionados for a smaller but no less well attended and successful Howlin' Fling. Great indie music, great people, great craic, well done Sarah and Johnny for putting on such a cool event as well as looking after baby Arlo and finishing the house! It brings such a new audience to Eigg, and it's amazing to see the way Londoners and other southern visitors look completely bowled over by our fantastic scenery, as they sipped their pints of 5 Pennies or Kildonnanburg, brewed locally by Laig Brewery which is now supplying Galmisdale Cafe at the pier by the way...These guys are going from strength to strength and are thinking of expanding to bigger premises.
I am not sure if this was among the predictions made by our new star scrier and fortune teller, aka Maggie Carr, but she certainly entertained everyone with her home made deck of cards, and an array of fortunes styles and content which would make any gypsy Rosalee deeply envious. I predict she would win the Edinburgh Fringe underage comedy award, if there was one!
Then it was Feis Eige, which turned 20 year old this year! Our brilliant tutors and dedicated committee and helpers and our wonderfully keen participants made this year's event another one to remember. The end of Feis children's concert on the Friday was outstanding, the dragons, mermaids and puppets artwork was fabulous, and everyone had a ball. We are very proud that one of our regular Feis participants, young Catherine, a fiddler from Anstruther, will be going to study at the RSCMD in Glasgow next year and we wish her luck in her studies, it was great to see her take part in the Feis Eige session with such gusto and even lead one herself later in the month! As to the evening ceilidh, even Peggy attended, with the band playing her requests with appropriate gusto: and as usual sister in law Chrissie showed the young ones what ceilidh dancing should really be like! You're the greatest, Chrissie! The Small Isles Games on the 6th will see a gathering of Eigg tutors who have played in the last twenty years to play for the dance in the evening and we are all looking forward to this...
Live Music is now part of our weekly fair at the hall, courtesy of summer resident soulful balladeer Sharon King, making it must go event for residents and visitors. If you are lucky, you might even get your fortune told...
Another cultural event this month was the arrival of zany New York duo, Gideon and Hubcap, touring their hilarious vaudeville in Scottish homes throughout the west coast. Check their website if you want them performing in your home: I can guarantee an evening of hilarity and amazing singing. You can always Gideon's solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe! Thanks a lot to Ailidh for organising this, as well as a great 18th birthday party for her daughter Meggie, now almost on her way to study midwifery in Edinburgh. All our good wishes for success Meggie!
As for our electricity system, it continues to attract visitors from all airts and pairts ,with engineers and academic from Rome and Venice this time, looking to see if it could be replicated in the smaller Italian islands. There is also a plan to involve Folks on Eigg in trying other communities interested in setting up their own renewables as far as Brazil. Watch this space....
In the meantime, it is reassuring to see that MEP Alyn Smith and his colleagues are still fighting our corner in the EU parliament for the time being (find out more about he is saying on the Scottish Islands Federation's new Facebook page). With the Smart islands initiative about to be launched this Autumn in Brussels, it would be a crying shame if the Scottish islands lost out on future funding and cooperation opportunities when they have put so much effort and cooperation in the project. Whatever happens we certainly will make sure we stay involved and engaged.
MALLAIG'S INAUGURAL BOOK FESTIVAL
Friday October 2lst
Angus MacDonald's Celebration Reception Launch for his debut novel, Ardnish Was Home.
7.15pm - Dinner
Welcome & introduction
Angus MacDonald - Moidart Trust
8.30pm - Music in the bar
Elsa Jean McTaggart & Gary Lister
Saturday October 22nd
7.30-9.15am - Breakfast
Jim Crumley - Eagle, Beaver, Wolf & the Landscape Revolution.
Coffee with Sue Lawrence to include cakes from her Scottish Baking book.
12.15 - Lunch
Donald S. Murray - Herring Tales.
Meet Bookbug - a fun session of stories, songs and rhymes for pre- school children and parents
Children's Creative Writing Workshop
3.00-4.00pm Adults & children £3.00
Debi Gliori - A Hebridean Alphabet (children & adult event)
Michael F. Russell - The Lie of the Land.
4.30-5.30pm Adults £6.00. children £3.00
Jess Smith - The Timeless Tale - Travellers' stories. Suitable for all, particularly children.
6.30-8.00pm - Dinner
8.30pm - Music in the bar
Elsa-Jean McTaggart & Gary Lister.
Sunday October 23rd
Mallaig High School's Herring film.
Announcement of winners of the creative writing competition, and reading of group winners' work - Judge, Donald S. Murray.
Jonathon Tevendale, winner of the Scottish Schools' Young Writer of the Year, to read his essay.
Bookbug will be about for stories, rhymes & songs
Camille Dressler, Donald S. Murray, Polly Pullar & Alasdair Roberts The Tangle of the Isles
12.45pm - Lunch
Stuart Murray & John Love A Stag from Rum
Tea prior to departure.
For hotel bookings & special rates: 01687 462210
Tickets: book through www.eventbrite.co.uk or call 01687 450263
With thanks to our sponsors: The Moidart Trust, the Arisaig Fund, the Gower Trust, the Road to the Isles Marketing Group, Islay Mist Scotch Whisky, The Highland Council, Birlinn, Lochaber Housing Association, Clair Mackie and MacDonald Orr Design.
Charity no. SC046724
Mallaig Maritime Day
For the first time, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Fishermen's Mission joined forces this year to hold a joint Gala Day on Saturday 23rd July - and it proved to be a terrific idea.
The rain held off as the Isle of Skye Pipe Band led the parade round to the pier where a crowd enjoyed the many activities on offer, from face painting to BBQs. Jacobite soldiers and the Pipe Band were among competitors for the lorry pull, and return of the fishing boat race, featuring beautifully decorated boats, was one of the highlights of the day. There were queues to visit the Lifeboat and Fire Tender and to take part in the various games - tombola, fishing for ducks, and throwing the sponge.
A very successful day, which raised nearly £8000 to be split equally between the two charities, concluded with a ceilidh dance in the Community Centre to the Ballochmyle Ceilidh Band.
The fishing fleet was dressed up in flags for the boat race
The Gala Queen Rhiana Eddie and Princess Jodie Gray were escorted onto the pier by the Jacobite soldiers.
Albert (Fishermen's Mission) and Stormy Stan (RNLI) were there all day with their collecting buckets. Here they are with the Gala Queen and Princess, with Karen Calder, Mission Manager at the back, and again on the footplate of the Jacobite.
Photos courtesy of Moe Mathieson
Arisaig Highland Games and Clanranald Gathering 2016
This is our 80th anniversary year as a continuing Games since 1936 and it was a great success. The weather was disappointing until about 11 a.m. when, after a final shower on the field, the rest of the day remained dry, if not always sunny.
The crowd came, bringing the cheerful attention and participation which has been a welcome hallmark of the Games for many years. They were joined by Raghnall mac 'ic Ailein, Captain and 24th Chief of Clanranald and family; his elder son, Raghnall Òg, lead the village and Games field parades and officiated at the opening ceremony of the Games.
Also attending for the 13th year in succession were Dr. Ruaraidh Allen and his wife, Dr. Diane Allen, from North Carolina, U.S.A.
Highland Games are only staged successfully if there is a dedicated team of enthusiastic volunteers such as we are blessed with, led by James MacKenzie, Secretary, and Fraser MacDougall, Treasurer, whilst others, too many to mention here, participate in planning almost all year long and give up a week of their time to set up the field for the big day then, clear up the following day. Our team members come from such diverse places as Perth, Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh. One family, the Milnes, led by Calum and Norman, take their annual two week holiday to help in the preparations.
Games day activities must be entertaining and include the traditional events of the culture from which they spring. However, new and entertaining events can be introduced too. This year we welcomed Paul MacDonald, of MacDonald Armouries, sword-maker and master at arms who displayed his high-quality reproductions of edged weaponry and who gave a fencing display on the field.
Paul MacDonald of MacDonald Armouries demonstrated sword fighting
The "Barrel Race" which involved rolling whisky barrels across the field, was the cause of much fun and hilarity, generating the crowd's enthusiastic encouragement. This was an innovative event proposed by Ardnamurchan Distillery and with barrels supplied by them. Definitely an event to be repeated.
Matt Waterston and Keir Robinson won the barrel race and were presented with a bottle of whisky by Sophie Yorke of Ardnamurchan Distillery.
See www.arisaighighlandgames.co.uk for more photos
Participating in the Heavy events was the first female heavyweight ever, and boy, could she swing that hammer!
People do take notice of details. For the last two years we have flown the Samoan national flag. This was left with us two years ago by a MacDonald from Samoa, Elizabeth Toa MacDonald whose ancestors hailed from Knoydart. We promised we would fly it each year in her honour. I was asked at least ten times what the flag was and then, why were we flying it.
The next Games will be held on July 26th 2017.
We extend our grateful thanks to our sponsors, the Ardnamurchan Distillery in Glen Beag for their financial support and co-operation; for the continued support from Clanranald and his family and to the team for their hard work.
Chairman, Arisaig Games.
MALLAIG LIFEBOAT LOG
Monday 11th July 2016 Missing Hillwalker on Isle of Rum
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard at 09:45hrs to convey Coastguard and Mountain Rescue personnel to the Isle of Rum. An ongoing search was under way from the previous evening by local Coastguards assisted by the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter on the Isle of Rum. A 17 year old male was overdue from a walk in the Kinloch area of Rum. As the casualty had not been located by early morning the Coastguards called in teams from the mainland to assist in locating this individual along with personnel from Lochaber Mountain Rescue. As the Lifeboat approached Rum harbour reports were received that a young person had been spotted on a beach to the North of the Island. A party of Kayakers spotted the youngster on a beach on the North coast of the island. Unable to make contact with Coastguards via their own radio they managed to relay their information to a local trawler fishing nearby who notified the Coastguards. The Rescue Helicopter was diverted to the area and picked up the casualty. Cold and bedraggled but none the worse for his ordeal, the youngster was flown back to Kinloch on Rum to be reunited with his parents. Lifeboat and search teams stood down and returned to Mallaig berthing at 11:45hrs.
Saturday 23rd July 2016
Whilst acting as safety boat during the annual trawler race during Mallaig Maritime Day the Lifeboat was tasked to the assistance of an elderly lady at 15:15hrs. Stornoway coastguard received a call from a person at Isle Oransay to notify them that they were concerned that their elderly mother had departed the shore in the tender to row to their yacht out in the bay and that she may not have the strength to finish the journey. Departing the scene of the race the Lifeboat was on scene in 15 minutes. Thankfully the lady had made it to the Yacht safe and well. Also the first informant and his partner were being ferried out to the Yacht by another Yachtsman in his dinghy. With the situation resolved and no harm to anybody the Lifeboat was stood down. Before returning to Mallaig the Lifeboat recovered the race course markers which the crew had set out the evening before. Lifeboat ready for service at 17:00hrs.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - August 2016
New Red Lights Deployed
Three vertical red lights located at the end of the Steamer Pier are used to control the movement of vessel traffic entering/departing Mallaig Harbour. When the red lights are displayed the ferry has right of way and all other ship traffic must not proceed. The above information can be found in more detail on our website www.mallaig-harbour.com
However since the deployment of the Lochinvar, Loch Bhrusda, and Lord of The Isles on the Mallaig/Armadale ferry run - leading to an almost 100% increase in ferry movements at the port - the Authority has responded to the situation by implementing extra safety measures via placement of two other sets of three red traffic lights.
One set covering the Outer Basin (lights are located on a light standard on the Stub Breakwater); the other set are located on a pole near the Splay Berth on the Steamer Pier facing the fish quay and yachting marina.
The three sets of lights are linked, coming on and going off all at the same time.
The Authority stress the importance for all harbour users to take cognisance of and respond to the red traffic lights.
The simple message to all harbour users is:
Do not attempt to enter or depart the harbour when the red lights are displayed. The ferry has right of way!
Uist/Mallaig Winter Ferry Service
Ferry operators CalMac Ferries Ltd have issued their 2016/17 winter schedules and following on from a not too impressive three winter trial on the Lochboisdale to Mallaig route by MV Lord of The Isles have kept faith in the service by including a limited South Uist - Mallaig connection in the timetable. From 24th October 2016 to 8th November 2016 and then again from 28th November 2016 to 30th March 2017 there will be three daytime return crossings from Lochboisdale to Mallaig each Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
The timetable is set out below:
Repairs to Fish Quay
The Authority is about to embark on a £400,000 project to repair deficiencies in the piling at the Fish Quay. The work will involve replacement of walings and some piling along the landing berth section of the fish quay and will inevitably be disruptive to the fishing fleet. The contract has been awarded to Gairloch Support Services (GSS) Helensburgh and work is scheduled to commence on 8th August and be completed by early November.
Some ladders are also set to be replaced as part of the contract and there will also be work carried out on (some of) the walings on the south side of the Fish Quay.
Disruption to the fishing fleet will be kept to a minimum but we seek your forbearance during the time of the contract.
01687 462154 email@example.com
ON AND OFF THE RAILS
Launch of 'Black Five on The Jacobite' DVD/Blu-ray by Dragon-in-the-Firebox productions.
A brand-new DVD/Blu-ray release has been produced by rail enthusiast Terry Vernon. When travelling on The Jacobite he felt that it was time to make an up-to-date recording of the 42 mile journey between Fort William and Mallaig, so having had the idea he did just that!! This filmed at over 50 trackside locations, over hundreds of hours, the finished product runs for 70 minutes. Starting at the seldom seen Fort William Junction Yard, it covers the whole 42 miles, taking in the glorious Scottish countryside and wildlife to be found en route. There is no verbal commentary in order to enjoy all the more the natural sights and sounds of the Locomotives in all their glory.
It can be purchased either by visiting www.dragon-in-the-firebox.co.uk, and ordering it after watching a trailer first, or you can send a payment to Terry Vernon at No. 8, Hesketh Court, 30 Union Road, Liversedge, West Yorkshire WF15 7JP. The DVD costs £12.99 and the Blu-ray version £15.99. I should have some copies to sell shortly on 01687 462189, or it should soon be available at The Jacobite on-board gift shop when The Jacobite is in Mallaig Station. That's one Christmas present solved!! Don't take my word as to how good it is, either watch the trailer, OR enter the following competition to be in with a chance of winning a DVD.
Question: how many minutes does the DVD run for?
It's as simple as that to enter on a postcard to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD. To arrive no later than Saturday, August 27, 2016. Good luck.
A Frequently Asked Question
I am often asked when gardening at Stations and sometimes in the street "Where do The Jacobite locomotives go in the winter? Do they stay in Fort William or do they go away?" Well, now I will try to explain what happens! From May to the end of October, there are usually three locomotive stabled at the yard in Fort William: two Black Fives and a K1. The two Black Fives were based at the Riley and Son (E) Ltd yard in Bury, Lancs, but will soon be in a new yard at Heywood, a few miles from Bury. The K1, owned by North East Lancs Preservation Group (NELPG) and is working on the North York Moors Railway at Grosmont.
Whilst the locomotives are rostered for Jacobite duties, they are sometimes used on 'special' excursions, away from Fort William, and will do this during un-rostered duties.
To get an insight into the work that is carried out where locomotives are 'off duty' there is a very good five page article, with colour photos in the August edition of The Railway Magazine featuring Ian Riley, owner of the two Black Five Locomotives and others and restorer of the A3 Flying Scotsman 60103, ensconced in his new Heywood premises. Riley and Son (E) Ltd are celebrating 25 years in the engineering company business and as Ian says in the article when asked what one thing he has learned in the quarter of a century since kick-starting the business: "it's that there's no one in the country who can touch us!" Locally the magazine is available in Fort William at Bill's Place in the railway station, Morrisons or WH Smiths, but nationally any newsagents worth their salt will stock it!
RMT Rail Strikes Called off for Talks
It ain't over till it's over……but, as I am writing this on Thursday, August 4, after 11 full days of strikes, plus too many short notice consolations of trains due to 'unavailability of staff', the five further planned days of strikes called for by the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) Union on behalf of balloted ScotRail/Abellio Guards have been ruled 'off for the time being' to allow further talks to take place between the RMT and ScotRail/Abellio.
The union insists the dispute is about 'ensuring that Scotland's trains run safely'. But ScotRail say that the RMT have been running a campaign of 'disinformation that doesn't bear any scrutiny'.
The majority of passengers caught up in this dispute in our area have travelled on buses, coaches and taxis laid on by ScotRail between Mallaig and Glasgow, but the stress and uncertainty has shown in the public's response to the strikes. The Area Manager based at Fort William is to be commended for the thousands of miles he has travelled in his car trying to make sure passengers are not left behind at intermediate stations, but with no catering or toilets on most of the buses/coaches used, plus less luggage space than the trains, it has not been easy.
Talks and negotiation have to be the way forward in this stramash, let's hope common sense prevails and we can all travel safely and peacefully!
Glasgow Queen Street Tunnel Reopens
One day ahead of schedule, the planned closure and redevelopment of high-level Glasgow Queen Street Station tunnel is planned to reopen on Sunday 7th August. This will bring back into use the Concourse and platforms and services that we know and love, for now!! See next piece….
Glasgow Higher-Level Queen Street Station Redevelopment
Following on - but not this year! - is the redevelopment of the Queen Street Railway Station itself!! Financed by Transport Scotland, the redevelopment is being managed by Network Rail. NR has selected Buchanan Partnership as Development Partner for the project. NR issued tenders in December 2015 and the contract will be awarded late 2016 - monitored by ScotRail Alliance.
For further information (lots of it!) and plans, photographs, diagrams etc. go to www.railway-technology.com/projects/glasgow-queen-street-railway-station-redevelopment-glasgow/
News in Brief
Planning application has now been applied for to allow CCTV cameras to be installed at Glenfinnan and Arisaig Railway Stations. This will complete the work of monitored CCTV being at every railway station between Mallaig and Fort William.
Japanese Knotweed spraying has taken place at Morar Railway Station to attempt to halt the invasion! Unfortunately, the lovely bank of glossy green, red berried Cotoneaster has gone as well!! Such a shame. The remedial excavation of the deceased will now have to take place before replacing the soil. Such is the life of a station adopter!
Mallaig has been visited twice in the last month by a DRS hauled Evaluation Train. It photographs/films all the tunnels, bridges and track by computerised equipment which is then analysed for future remedial repairs.
We also had a weedkiller tank train visit - in action!!
See you on the train.
A MACEACHEN FAMILY
This interesting photo was sent to West Word by Lesley Maclaren in the Scottish Borders and shows her great grandfather and grandmother, Donald and Mary MacEachen, with their daughter-in-law and granddaughter, outside their house in Fort William. The little girl is the Lesley's mother. Unfortunately Lesley doesn't know the date of the photograph but going by the fashion and the clue of Lesley's mother's age is must be very early 1930s.
It's not known if they have any connection with our local MacEachens, but Lesley hopes so.
She writes: "I came across your lovely site whilst researching my family tree - I'm sure plenty of people say the same thing! I'm gradually losing the will to live with my family tree - it's really hard if you don't have the actual documents, even with Scotland's People.
"My dad told me the family are originally from Uist. I thought your readers may enjoy looking at this photo. My mum is still going strong at 87 and she remembers well visiting her grandparents. Donald and Mary's daughter Isabella married a Michael Christie in Glasgow so that's when the family sadly said goodbye to their connections in the north west, and a daughter, Mary Anne, headed for Canada."
Lesley has reached that 'brick wall' so familiar with family tree researchers but has a faint idea there may be a connection with Arisaig. If anyone has any information on the family, please contact West Word in the first instance and we will let Lesley know.
Here is a scene I remember well from my childhood. Being the son of a Railwayman (Goods Guard Jimmy McMillan) and living in the Railway Buildings, 'the Railway' was, of course, out of bounds during the week. But on a Sunday, well, that was a different story as when I was growing up there were no trains on Sunday. So places like the Station and the Engine Shed became my play area. There would be a steam engine (or two) in the Engine Shed so up onto the foot plate I'd go, kidding on I was an engine driver or fireman, exploring the cab, looking in the wee compartments, looking for glass tubes with heavy rubber rings which I think were some form of gauge for the driver in the cab. However, I had a different use for them, as combined with rowan berries they became perfect peashooters!
Some Sundays I'd walk 'out the line' with my father, trying to match his stride on the railway sleepers or balancing on the railway line itself. We were heading for his vegetable allotment alongside the railway line at Glasnacardoch. I remember in particular the rhubarb. I've never liked stewed rhubarb or rhubarb jam, but I do like rhubarb in its natural state. My mother would give me a wee white paper bag with sugar for me to dip the skinned rhubarb stick in. Mmm. I can taste it yet.
Another railway memory is playing in the wagons and in particular the brake van, with the big brake wheel in the middle, lift up seats and a wee coal fire to keep the goods guard warm.
Anyway, harking back to the photo and the use of the turntable - we could do with one now, couldn't we???
The photo of what we know now as The Sunday School crossed my desk recently and I thought it would be an interesting one for West Word readers to see.
On the right of the photo, The Church of Scotland looks in pristine condition and the three-storey Station Hotel (yes, that was the original name of what we know now as The West Highland Hotel) also looks brand new but, as can be seen from the photograph, the building of The Sunday School is not long underway.
However, I believe that the origins of the building lie with The Free Church of Scotland as it was The Free Church who commissioned the construction of the building back in the early 1900s.
Lexie's Croft house lies just across the road from the Sunday school, situated at the bottom of Annie's Brae. Slap bang in the middle of the photo is the house that belonged to Neilly Michie who I remember used to wear a bunnet and a long overcoat tied in the middle with string. He was very thin, was very reserved and very quiet - that's my memory of Neilly.
Thanks to Sine MacKellaig David for this great photo of a pine marten at Glasnacardoch, and to Richard Lamont who found the bat in one of the greenhouses at Arisaig House.
BIRDWATCH by Stephen MacDonald - July 2016
Everything very much as expected bird wise this month, with very little out of the ordinary to report apart from an adult Pomarine Skua seen drifting northwards two miles of Rhue Point on the 17th.
The seabirds on the Small Isles seem to have done well this year with the first Guillemot chicks appearing on the sea from the start of the month, soon to be followed by Razorbill chicks. By the month end, a high percentage of adults had a chick for company. It is apparently only the male that tends the chick after it leaves the nest, the females remaining at the nest site for a couple of weeks where they start to moult.
A few Puffin chicks were noted during the last week. The Kittiwakes nesting on Rum have also done well with lots of newly fledged birds on the sea below the nest cliffs and many more still on the ledges.
Great Skuas were seen regularly and a few Arctic Skuas were also reported.
One or two Stormy Petrels were seen in the Sound of Sleat along with Manx Shearwaters and Gannets.
A Black-throated Diver was seen on the 10th just offshore at Camusdarach and Red-throated Divers were seen regularly on the sea and flying inland.
A few broods of Red-breasted Merganser were seen on Loch Morar, including one brood of 17 on the 4th.
Large number of juvenile Siskins reported from garden feeders again this month, but not many juvenile Redpolls, just a few adults.
Juvenile Willow Warblers were seen in several Morar gardens and a Whitethroat was heard at Camusdarach on the 13th. A Grasshopper Warbler was still 'Reeling' till the end of the month at Rhubana View.
A Peregrine Falcon (right) was flying offshore from Camusdarach on the 14th and Sparrowhawks were reported from a couple of Morar gardens.
A LIFE ON SOAY
A new book by one of the three residents of the Isle of Soay (one of the others is her husband) is aptly called Island on the Edge and gives a fascinating account of the island.
Anne Cholawo was a typical 80s career girl working in a busy London advertising agency, when in 1989, holidaying in Skye, she noticed an advert for a property on the Isle of Soay - 'Access by courtesy of fishing boat'. She had never heard of Soay before, let alone visited it, but something inexplicable drew her there. Within ten minutes of stepping off the said fishing boat, she had fallen under the spell of the island, and after a few months she moved there to live. She is still there. When she arrived on the remote west coast island there were only seventeen inhabitants, among them the legendary Hebridean sharker Tex Geddes and his family. Today, including Anne and her husband Robert, there are only three. This book describes her extraordinary transition from a hectic urban lifestyle to one of rural isolation and self-sufficiency, without mains electricity, medical services, shops or any of the other modern amenities we take for granted.
Anne describes the history of Soay and its unique wildlife, and as well as telling her own personal story introduces along the way some of the off-beat and colourful characters associated with the island, notably Tex's one-time associate, the celebrated writer and naturalist, Gavin Maxwell.
The book will be released on August 18th by Birlinn at £12.99.
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
A mixture of journeys this month, from Honours to Hearties.
Mary Ritchie, Morar, was on a recent visit to her daughter Celia and family in Ottawa, Canada, and is pictured sharing her copy of West Word with her grand daughter Freya MacKenzie in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Celia tells us the Mexican flag is flying because the 3 Amigos Summit (Trudeau, Obama and Nieto) was taking place the next day in the city.
The Lady Lovat Primary School lady pirates took us with them on heir staff night out aboard the Western Isles to Inverie!! We had a great time!
Wolf whistles now for Kenneth MacKenzie, Mallaig, was invited to the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood Palace and he and wife Pat took West Word with them!
Kirsty and Fraser Martin packed a copy of West Word in Morar and took the chance to read it on a roasting hot day at the Colosseum in Rome. They were with mum and dad Ross and Eilidh who had played and taught at a music festival in France before holidaying in Italy, and are the grandchildren of West Word's Editor Ann.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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