WEST WORD
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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February 2004 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Muck, Rum
Coastal Ranger Report & Creepy Crawly Corner
Local Genealogy & History

Letters, e-mails and comments are welcome.
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NEW HOME FOR ARISAIG PRACTICE
The sun shone and the band played at the official opening of Arisaig Medical Practice's new building, on Monday 26th January. The premises include a doctor's surgery, a separate nurse's room, offices, and toilets. On the walls are the splendid photographs by Dr Iain Gartshore, and computer prints from the Primary School. The ceremonial speeches and ribbon cutting were planned to take place inside the building, but so many turned up for the occasion and the sun was so tempting, that the venue was changed to the car park. After a speech from Dr Shina Young, Arisaig GP for the last 15 years, Mrs Heather Sheerin, Chair of NHS Highland Primary Care Trust, spoke of her pleasure in the occasion. Rev Alan Lamb gave a Bible reading and Fr Donald MacKinnon said a prayer.

Ceremonial ribbon cutting followed, performed by Mrs Kate MacDonald, at 90 Arisaig's oldest inhabitant, and 4 year old David Buick.
Pupils from Arisaig Primary School entertained the guests with a short concert, featuring fiddles, guitars and accordion. After Fr MacKinnon had blessed the building, the younger pupils recited a poem written specially for the day, and all enjoyed the buffet was provided by Arisaig Hotel.
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Katie and David after the ribbon cutting, with Dr Gartshore

GAMES FIELD GETS GO AHEAD
At long last the Morar Gamesfield has been given the go-ahead, and the long-running struggle for a much needed community space has, in the end, got a positive outcome. The gamesfield will be a major boost to Morar, giving the village a much needed focal point which, as well as providing a grass field for shinty, football, etc, will open up opportunities for other community events. Mairi Maclean, chair of the Gamesfield Association, had this to say: 'Morar Gamesfield Project has been a model of community co-operation with so many diverse people, over the last ten years, giving so much commitment...from ir Cameron Mackintosh's essential early input to Charlie King's frenetic last ditch efforts to save the latest funding package from falling apart, but especially to the long suffering tenacity of the late Pat Ritchie whose foundation work underpinned this last and successful funding package.'

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
IT'S HERE! West Word's new digital copier and back up systems have been installed. This has been made possible by grants totalling 9130 from Lochaber Enterprise and the Community Economic Development programme and 3000 from the Gower Trust. West Word's contribution of 1000 was achieved by sales of the telephone book.

TBag - The Belford Action Group - ONE SOLUTIONS GROUP?
It appears that, despite representations from the Lochaber Medical Group and The Belford Action Group (TBag), there will only be one Solutions Group to resolve the challenges facing the Belford and Oban Hospitals. In a letter to TBag from Dr. Roger Gibbins, Chief Executive, NHS Highland received this week he says 'I believe we have nothing to fear and potentially much to gain from continuing to work collaboratively with our colleagues in Argyll and Clyde and indeed rural Scotland is looking to us to arrive at a solution that can be equally applied to other areas'. TBag had called for a Solutions Group for the Belford pointing out that the challenges facing the Belford were sufficiently unique to warrant a NHS Highland Solutions Group.
In response to a request that the Solutions Group membership be independent Dr. Roger Gibbins said 'I agree that all of us need to move on from the rather polarised debate that has occurred to date and to enter this next phase with an open mind focusing on the best possible sustainable solution that we can achieve for our community'. He went on to support the TBag proposal that the Solutions Group should include expertise in social and economic matters. TBag had highlighted the fact that comments made and views expressed by individuals during the recent debate raised concerns about the independence of any new group.
There was a glimmer of hope from Dr Gibbins when he indicated that he was confident that the next phase of work would be undertaken in such a way as to enable the group to really focus down on the particular issues of concern in Lochaber as well as these issues of common interest.
At the TBag meeting on 13th January the Group once again expressed their unanimous view that NHS Highland should take on board the requirement for the unique challenges facing the Belford to be considered by a dedicated Solutions Group TBag agreed to await the draft remit and membership for the Solutions group before deciding on the next steps. It was hoped that this would be available within the next few days.

CROSS PARTY SUPPORT FOR TBAG
From Brussels, Westminster and Edinburgh support has poured in for The Belford Action Group (TBag). European, UK and Scottish politicians from all parties have written in support of TBag. David Stewart MP writes 'May I wholeheartedly endorse the objective of the Belford Action Group and I would like to assure the Group that I absolutely oppose any downgrading or reduction of services at the Belford Hospital'. Fergus Ewing MSP again in support of the Group writes 'I am very pleased that so many leaders of the community have formed together to support the campaign I will continue using my position as elected representative to do everything in my power to support the campaign to preserve and upgrade the Belford.' Mary Scanlon MSP has confirmed her support for TBag. The Scottish Parliament debated the issue on Thursday 15th January 2004 in a members' debate led by George Lyon MSP, and contributions were made by most of the Highland Area MSPs. Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care, Tom McCabe, replied to the debate.

SEVEN-HOUR ORDEAL FOR SKYE MUM
Is this the future for Lochaber residents?
The horrific story of Skye mum, Lynn Bennet, who claims that she nearly died during her seven hour transfer from Portree Hospital to Raigmore hospital, a distance of 114 miles, serves as a stark warning to what could be the future for Lochaber residents should NHS Highland downgrade the facilities at the Belford Hospital, says Stewart Maclean, spokesman for the Belford Action Group. The Belford Action Group are looking closely at transfer times and methods of transport as part of their review of the challenges facing the Belford. Stewart Maclean said ' This case highlights the fact that a patient transfer which can take under three hours in ideal circumstances can take more that double that time when things do not go exactly to plan. When lives are concerned we cannot afford to assume that a transfer will not face some delay.'


ISLE OF MUCK
Surely the time is coming when Cal Mac ceases to have first place in the Muck column of West Word, but as they say- not yet ! After a lone call by M.V.Loch Nevis in December CalMac decided that the seaway to the new slip was not yet clearly enough marked. More buoys are needed. Highland Council as usual went 'belly up' to Cal Mac and yet more money will have to be spent And it will have to be spent by 23rd March when if what we hear is correct, Nicol Stevens will be on the Monday service ready to 'cut the tape'.
On a more positive note, money has been found (not from Highland Council this time) to build a waiting room and store at the pierhead. But it has to be built by the end of the financial year on 31st March. This will be difficult especially as the new building has to be faced in stone.
On the farm it looks as if last winter was a 'one off'. After three months of mud with hardly a dry day even a week without rain would be very welcome! A little of last summer's plentiful hay has been making its way to the far side of Eigg to feed the cattle there. This is hay similar to that which some of the Muck ewes have been turning up their noses! Strangely stock do not always appreciate top quality hay, preferring that which has been fermented or weathered in the field.
December saw the arrival on Spanish John of the new Luing bull Arisaig Dynamo from Arisaig Farms , and a new Highland mare 'Endrig Highland Serina' from Kingswells in Aberdeenshire. Serina is to replace Blondie who died in the summer and so far is notable because she came the whole way to the farm in a 4x4 and trailer the first animal ever to do so!
Lawrence MacEwen

C A M A S - COMMUNITY ACTION ON MUCK FOR ALL SEASONS
Things are gradually beginning to fall into place for our first year's activities. Please mark your diaries for our first confirmed events which are a visit from Dannsa (an 8-strong dance/music troupe) on 27/28th May. Full details are still being sorted out but we hope their visit will include dance workshops for both kids and grown-ups as well as a performance. And a visit from Terry and Liz Pamplin between 22nd and 27th July. Terry has offered to give us a talk on world music and to run a workshop on making musical instruments from scrap materials. More details later.
Donna MacCulloch is planning regular Saturday music lessons for us on Eigg as well as a few sessions here on Muck. Full details to be confirmed once we know the funding situation. Other events at various stages along the pipeline are an 'All Singing All Dancing' workshop led by Christine Kydd and Mats Melin possibly in May? perhaps a willow-dome-building weekend for the children in February? hopefully visits sometime this summer from a storyteller and a drama group? and maybe a concert later in the year.
Everyone's welcome to these events? whether you're a member of CAMAS or not? whether you live on Muck? whether you're just visiting? or whether you fancy coming over specially. Why not join CAMAS and get the benefit of reduced rates? We specially welcome new members from Muck's wider circle of friends and visitors. Please contact us (Jill 01687 462363 or Mandy 462828) for more details of membership or specific events.

ISLE OF RUM
We managed to miss last month's deadline, so I'll recap a bit. We had an amazing Hogmanay, assisted by the totally unstoppable Eilidh Shaw and band. This was the busiest Hogmanay on Rum since the millennium, the Loch Nevis landing with passengers for the first time added to the excitement and in line with a fine tradition, half the band nearly managed to miss the boat when they left (this is the only time I've seen Tam look nervous). The new reserve manager Ed and his children Sonny and Georgia arrived n the Spanish John with all their belongings on the 30th and at the ceilidh, 16 year old Georgia gave us an awesome display of her prowess in Irish step dancing.
Deputy reserve manager Malcolm Whitmore and his partner Kathy announced that they would be leaving Rum in February. Malcolm has been here for seven years and is moving to Arran to take up a post in footpath regeneration. We wish them all the best. To balance things out a bit Mick and Alayne are pleased to announce the birth of baby Tom on 20th January, a wee brother for Aphra and Joe. Congratulations Mick and Alayne!! Mick very kindly left a bottle of malt to wet the baby's head in their absence, cheers Mick. I mentioned in November that the Community Association had put in a planning application for our new shop, tearoom with essential attached staff house, well, after a visit from the Council planning dept., and SNH area staff, we have found that our proposed site is not ideal and we have had to abandon it. For anyone who's interested, this is related to the citation for the Designed Landscape for Kinloch Castle. However, on the bright side we have identified another site, which seems to be agreeable to all. Mandy Ketchin (our patient architect on Muck) is redoing the drawings for the new site and when completed, we will submit an amended application. We will get a new shop eventually.
While these official visitors were on the island, we looked round the village at all the proposed sites of development from the draft Kinloch Village Development Plan and discussed any potential problems. The whole visit turned out to be mainly positive with everyone being very constructive and open and based on comments made we should see see a final copy of the Development Plan quite soon, which meets with everyone's approval.
Given that we have already identified what we would like to achieve over the next three to five years the next step will be to employ a Community Development Manager to begin implementing some of these projects, starting with the new shop and essential housing. However, as our housing shortage lurches from one crisis to another, we find ourselves with the worst shortfall we've ever had and we may not have any spare accommodation to house anyone for this post for a while, how ironic. Nevertheless, we will find a solution to this, which may possibly mean building some temporary accommodation similar to that on Knoydart.
Finally, Rum will be hosting the Small Isles Games this year, more than likely it will be in May, to avoid the midgies, so put it in your diaries. And if last year's display of strength is any indication to go by, I would suggest the Eigg team may want to start training now! Oh, and we may have a few surprises up our sleeves this year, such as our very own fortune teller, the mystical 'Septic Peg'...ooh.
Fliss Hough

ARISAIG
On Saturday 10th January a gale finally brought down the tallest of the old Scots pines opposite Highland. Although lightning was about at the time, the cause was a fungus which had been eating away at the heart of the trunk, leaving the base totally hollow. It had only been a matter of time. About 80 feet high and around 160 years old, it could have been a sapling when Highland was built and a small tree when the Astley Hall went up.
The residents in Highland are very saddened because the two trees - there were three until the early 1980's - dominated the skyline opposite us. In my case they were framed in the view from every window at the front of my house like a giant photograph. But there is 'the bigger picture' - where I was seeing only a horrible gap in the skyline, gardener Richard pointed out the lovely maturing beech tree which had been screened from view.

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Jacqueline and Daniel fit inside the hollow trunk, with the remaining pine in the background


Charlie Lyons
Tony Leszczuk, who wrote the article on Charlie Lyons' war experiences which we serialised last year in West Word, had searched for along time in vain for a photograph of Charlie. Imagine his surprise then when, while in Dundee Library researching another First World War soldier and looking through various old newspapers, that is just what he discovered! The photocopy is too poor to reproduce here unfortunately. The article was in the People's Journal of 25th November 1916, and it recorded the award of Military Medal for bravery in the field. It states it is unclear which deed won him the honour but it is thought to be the fact that he was wounded going over a parapet with Corporal Pollock 'and bomb the Germans' - as recorded in Tony's article which we printed.

This photograph was handed to West Word by Ronnie and Vera MacDonald, Arisaig. Could this be a photograph of Charlie Lyons?

The men have been identified as (left to right): A. MacLellan (Morar), S. MacDonald (Morar), D. MacDonald (Arisaig), C. Lyons (Mallaig) and possibly J. Cameron (Mallaig).

photo


Coastal Ranger Report
"Here we go again, Happy as can be" Aye! That'll be right! Just what did we do over the holiday period that warranted this spell of weather??? What with rain, floods, gales, snow and ice on top of the almost never-ending darkness I've just about had enough of 2004 already!! But,,,,, let's look on the bright side, having got all of that muck out of the way, and with the promise of more daylight in February.. Yea! We can hack it!
Checking back to last month's article, I see that, apart from wishing everyone a "Happy New year", as usual I had damn little to say! However, I did make a bit of a thing about getting some volunteers to "trample" the new path at Kinlochmoidart. My! What response! Yes, this time I mean it! Already I have had several kindly folk volunteering to venture into the unknown to assist with this arduous duty, so thanks to you all, it's much appreciated. As yet, I am unable to say when I will need the squad, because in typical fashion, the way markers, due to be delivered in January, at the time of writing (it is now the 29th.), have not yet appeared. I suppose at a push we could go ahead without the markers, but at least if I got them stuck in it would look a wee bit more professional! One unfortunate side of the weather that we have had (is there only one!) is that on the weekend of the "Big Flood" the river at Kinlochmoidart burst it's banks, and at one point was running some eight feet (2.44 mtrs. for the young ones) above its normal level!!
As you can imagine, that's a lot of water, and a considerable amount of damage was done. What affected most people in the area was the fact that one of the piers supporting the road bridge was moved around a couple of feet, causing the road to slightly collapse! Fortunately the old bridge, a stone built arch, withstood this vagary of Nature, and light traffic is now using this as a diversion until such time as something is done. Just as a sideline, having mentioned the stone bridge, I should just say that, should you happen to be in the area, have a wee look at it, because that particular one is the maximum span that can be achieved in this arched style. Aye, the old folk knew what they were doing!! Anyway, I deviate. What I was really getting round to telling you was that the flood has washed away a great part of my lovely path. It's not totally destroyed as the original foundation has survived O.K. but most of the new top layer, which made it suitable for "All Abilities", has been washed aside leaving a heavily rippled surface like a beach at low tide! This means that my great plans to "open" the path by inviting a group of variously disabled people down around Easter, will now have to be shelved.
The big problem is not in getting the work done, but I will now have to start again trying to raise some funding to buy more crushed lime to bring the surface back to the requisite standard. Somehow the previous funders hadn't allowed for a freak of Nature!! Ah well, "that's the way the cookie crumbles!" Enough, I girn and moan, but pay no heed, I'm really a happy chappie! What with more daylight, heaps of sunshine, school projects and lots of walks to come, I wouldn't swap it!
Finally, great to see so many of you sticking with walking the cycle track, and tackling the "Round the Islands" challenge in the swimming pool, you'll all be so fit .! Best foot forward!
Angus Macintyre
P.S. Just a wee thank you to all who turned up for my slide show with the new "Field Club", despite the trepidation, I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
The question for February came from young Angus James. "What is a redd ?"
A redd is the name for the gravely spawning bed of salmon which is usually in the headwaters of rivers or in larger burns.
Here is a short description of the life cycle of the Atlantic Salmon. (If l explain bits inaccurately for Lochaber, l hope one of you fishermen will let me know!)
The eggs are laid, between late November into February, in a hollow - called a redd - which the female digs with powerful wriggles in silt-free gravel. When the redd is sufficiently formed the female is joined by a male who shoots the milt over the eggs. One female can lay as many as 15,000 eggs. They are covered, often by other salmon digging in the same gravel bed as these are not plentiful in many rivers and burns. The fry hatch in March or early April. They feed on wee freshwater invertebrates.
The time taken for the fry to develop into parr and then smolt depends on aspects like water temperature and availability of food. It tends to be over 3 years before they transform into silvery smolts and are ready to swim downstream to the sea. The smolt run tends to last about 6 weeks in April and May. The fish may spend from one to four years at sea feeding and growing. From Scotland they apparently range along the European coast, into the Norwegian sea and off Greenland.
How salmon find their way back to the exact river or burn they were born in is not fully known and may involve the fish using a variety of its senses. The time spent in the estuary is important for the fish to acclimatise to the change in salinity.
If a salmon return to spawn, this is in the autumn, after just over a year at sea it is called grilse. Once it has spawned it will either die or become a kelt and make its way back to the sea in a very weak condition as the fish are thought not to feed much once back in freshwater. (But why then do they go for flies on anglers' lines?) When a fish returns after two or more years at sea it is then referred to as a salmon, and after spawning it dies or becomes a kelt returning again to the sea.
Dr. Mary Elliott


Lochaber's Crisis by Mairi MacLean, Chair of Morar Community Council
While tidying an old Morar CC filing cabinet Deidre found a letter which had been written by the late Donald Buchanan during his time as secretary to the Community Council in the 1970s. Deidre was astonished to discover that the content of Donald's letter should correspond so closely with views which I often express about the long standing tragedy of Lochaber's depopulated state and the need for housing and other infrastructural improvements to reverse this trend.
Donald, a native of the Isles, married to Molly, made his home in Morar and gave unstintingly of himself to local causes in the public good so he knew full well the implications of our inherited demographic nightmare and the need to find ways to halt the depopulation slide towards extinction.
Lochaber has a population density of 4 persons per square Km and the only area worse than us in the UK is Sutherland, which has two persons per square Km. To put our position into perspective we have to realise that Orkney has a population density of 19 persons per sq. Km; the Western Isles 10; the Faroe Isles 28 and Lapland (above the Arctic Circle) 2. For the European Parliament, population density, like unemployment, is a barometer of our economic difficulties and while, for example, the population density required to support a population of hunter gatherers in an area such as ours would be about 1.5 persons per sq. Km, at the other extreme a wealth generating conurbation like Glasgow has a population density of 3,400 persons per sq. Km. for all those who fear that growth in the Highlands is the slippery slope to over-urbanisation it is perhaps a sobering thought to realise just how far removed we are from even being self-sustaining in a modern economy. As if our baseline statistics weren't bad enough, the recent census shows that we have yet another population drop with all wards in Lochaber, except Ardnamurchan, showing decline. Most other areas in Highland (including Skye) actually showed increase and even Sutherland's drop was only -0.46 this time.
Lochaber's population now stands at 18,740. compare this to County Clare in the west of Ireland which is about the same size as Lochaber but has a population of almost 100,000 and which, contrary to some environmentalist's concerns about developments being synonymous with destruction, is not in the least bit 'spoiled' with thriving populations of rare plants and birds and the highly protected, unique landscape of the Burren right at its centre.
Scotland, as a whole, has been haemorrhaging its people and, proportionate to population, Scotland's losses through out-migration have been amongst the highest in Europe. Indeed, almost a hundred years ago, just before the First World War, Scotland's economic growth was worryingly retarded by the level of emigration in the working population. Thus children who had been reared and educated at Scottish expense made their economic contribution elsewhere; but of course this is a story that we in the west Highlands know very well as our twenty somethings have, traditionally, just moved on. By moving on, though, our emigrants just displace others in the city who in turn become unemployment statistics themselves and they increase the demand for housing where pressure for housing land is greatest.
There are all sorts of reasons for our economic backwardness...some historic, some more recent, but apportioning blame just wastes precious energy. Quite simply, we are not creating communities where people feel they can live. Housing is in very scarce supply and movement around the area for work or other activity is far more difficult than it ought to be. We have to turn this around. In 1965, with the Pulp and Paper Mill construction nearing completion, the Inverness-shire Planning Department's Blueprint provided for the construction of some 1600 houses by local authority and private enterprise. Nowadays, it's hard for us to envisage this scale of development and perhaps even harder to envisage how much worse the economy of this area would have been without that large scale injection of public/private enterprise. The pulp and paper mill has, of course, shed most of the workforce that helped fill those 1600 houses but Lochaber's unemployment statistics indicate that the redundant workers were absorbed into other industries which goes to show that people shortage, caused by housing shortage, is the fundamental obstacle to our growth and development. If every village and the town of Fort William doubled in size then we might just be moving in the right direction.
Often people complain about the range of shops available in Fort William without realising that what is available is just indicative of the level of demand...more people means more consumers!
Also, on current depopulation trends, we have to recognise that many services will simply disappear and schools will close. An infrastructural deficit, also inherited and scarcely improved, is to be found in the transport network which connects our communities with each other and Lochaber with the rest of the world. Trade and transport are always associated with each other and to allow free flowing commercial activity the transport network has to be modern and efficient; yet no priority has been accorded this deficit.
The situation for our Lochaber communities is very serious and we have to find solutions.


A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
MacKellaig
Alexander MacKellaig, also known as Alistair an Slataich, was born ca. 1795 and was married to Janet MacAdam, b.1801, in Arisaig. They had four sons and two daughters. These were; (1) Ann, b. 1821, (2) Alexander, b. 1826, (3) Archie, b. 1831, (4) Isabella, b. 1832, (5) Dugald, b. 1833 and (6) Donald, b. 1834.Family tradition says that all the children were born in Suin-as-Leitir, Arisaig where Alistair had the farm. This may be so but we cannot verify that as, the Baptismal Record doesn't start until 1835, after the births of the children. Ann,(1), 1821 and Isabella, (4),1832, didn't marry and were still living in Suin-as Leitir in 1881.
Dugald, (5) b.1833, married Ann MacDonald from Glenuig and had the Inn there at one time, before moving to Tarbert, Loch Nevis where they had the Inn and shop. They had three sons and one daughter. Donald (A), who built Morar Hotel and ran it for many years with his sister (B) Margaret (aka Jessie Ann). Donald also built "Sandholm" for their retirement, eventually selling the Hotel to his nephew, Callum MacKellaig. Donald and Jessie Ann were both unmarried. Alexander, (C), was also unmarried and ran the shop at Tarbet until his early death aged twenty seven, in 1898.John (D) was born in 1876 and needs further investigation. I find him in Traigh in 1891, aged 14 years. Again, tradition says that he was unmarried. If that is indeed the case, the line of Dugald dies out with Jessie Ann in the 1950s.
Archie (3) b. 1831, married Isabella MacMaster, daughter of John MacMaster and Margaret Gillies from Scamadale and they had at least 4 children.(A) John b.1861, (B) Alexander b. 1863, (C) Ann b. 1867 and (D) Jessie. Archie was a foxhunter and was known as "Am Brochair". (i.e. Fox, badger or, general vermin exterminator.) Archie moved around a lot but, in general, was based at Glenfinnan. The only one of his children I can track at this point is, Jessie, (D) who married Ronald MacDonald, Tigh na Mara, Arisaig, a brother of my gt. grandfather. Jessie died at the birth of her only child, as did the child.
Donald (6) b.1834, married Elizabeth Gillespie of the sheep-farming family and they had 9 children. (A) Sandy a' Gheamair (the Gamekeeper), Beoraid, (B) Archie, later of the Stage House Inn, and Glenfinnan Farm. Archie was also a renowned Highland dancer. (C) Angus, (D) Lexy, (E) Maggie, (F) Jessie, (G) Johanna, (H) Mary and (I) Catherine. The parents, Donald and Elizabeth, farmed Suin-as Leitir, having taken over from Donald's widowed mother, Janet MacAdam, sometime after 1861 and also had the farm of Scamadale for a period before this they then bought the Stage House Inn in 1904. Archie (B) married Catherine MacDonald and had 2 children, Ronnie and the late Donald. Archie ran the Stage House Inn for many years along with his unmarried sisters, Lexie, Maggie and Jessie. After Archie bought the Farm he and his family took up residence in the farmhouse and his sisters lived in the cottage behind the Glenfinnan Viaduct.. The other sisters had married and moved away. One of them married Mr Cameron who owned the Cameron Garage in Onich, next to the Onich Hotel. Another sister married a Cameron from Beauly and the other sister, Johanna, I have no information on. Angus (C), I have been unable to trace as yet.
Sandy a' Gheamair (A) was Lovat's gamekeeper and farmed Beoraid Mr, Morar. Sandy was married to Catherine Martin of South Uist who could trace her ancestry back to "Domhnall Gruamach" ( i.e. gloomy or forbidding), 1V of Sleat in Skye. Sandy and Catherine had 7 children. (A) Alex., (B) Neil, (C) Donald, who was Godfather to my twin brother, Donnie and myself, (D) Dominic, (E) Angus, (F) John, and (G) Catherine, who married Ruaraidh MacKay of Inverness and Kintail. It was Ruaraidh, who, when closely questioned on the subject of "taibhsearachd" or, second-sight and associated beliefs, replied, "Mo charaid, the veil of the intangible in the Gaelic language, is easily parted. Alexander (A) was a banker in Fort William and died ca. 1976- no further information at present. Neil (B) was ordained a priest, serving most of his life in Daliburgh, South Uist. He was awarded the O.B.E. for his service to Public Life in Uist. Donnie (C) was married to Ann Currie of South Uist. They owned the Central Bar in Mallaig for many years. Donald Martin, a brother of Donnie's mother, Catherine Martin, lived in, and helped to run, the premises. Donnie and Ann had 3 daughters, Catriona, who lives with her husband and family in the Lake District, Mairi who is married to Angus MacLean and who lives in Beoraid and Mairead, married to Gerard MacDonald, and lives with their family in St. Cumins, Morar. Dominic (D) was ordained priest and after leaving the Diocese of Glasgow, he served in Renton, Oban, Barra and Roybridge. Angus (E) was an ordained priest and served in the Glasgow and Motherwell Diocese. John (F) was unmarried and lived in Beoraid with Donnie and his family. More information on the lives of these 3 MacKellaig priests can be found in Paul Galbraith's " Blessed Morar"
To be continued next month.


Floyd MacDonald, Creignish, Cape Breton
Floyd MacDonald, aged 67, of Creignish, Cape Breton, died in St. Martha's Regional Hospital, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, on January 19th 2004, in the company of his wife Gerri Voerman. For those of you didn't know Floyd, here is a vignette of his sloinntearachd.
Floyd was a gt.gt.gt.gt. grandson of Dhmhnall A'Choire, Glen Forslan, Kinlochmoidart. Today, the family is known as the "Kettle" MacDonalds. Two of Dhmhnall A'Choire's three sons, Dhmhnall Bn and Iain Ruadh, emigrated, around 1790. They went, firstly, to Prince Edward Island and then, about 1814, they went to North Side, East Bay. Dhmhnall Bn was married to Mary Corbett, who was probably from Moidart, also.
Eghann Dubh, the eldest son of Dhmhnall Bn and Mary emigrated in 1801 and went to Creignish, Cape Breton, where he settled, with his wife Margaret Atkinson and his widowed mother, Mary. It is thought that Margaret Atkinson was from Arisaig, Scotland. The succeeding generations married into MacKinnons, Camerons, (Of Meoble origins.) MacEacherns and so on, down to Floyd. Floyd was married to Gerri Voerman who was born in Holland. (Thank you to Allan Gillis of Ottawa and Creignish, an old friend and relative of Floyd's, for the above information.)
Floyd visited us in Arisaig in June/July 2003. He had been very ill and upon recovering sufficient strength, he decided that there was no time to be lost in making the pilgrimage to Moidart, which he had long planned. Whilst he was here, we had no idea how ill he was, nor did he enlighten us. He set about making the most of his stay and visited A' Choire, Mingary, Castle Toiram, Uist, Borrodale, Bracara and Mallaig. Ghaoth Dail and Meoble were too difficult to reach. He set off one day, to "have a look at Skye" and phoned us that night from Harris, where he had met up with Bill and Chris Lawson.
Floyd had been a creel fisherman for most of his life but had never tasted prawns as, they are not native to the grounds that he fished. He was determined to go out on a creel boat and Henry Addison, Mallaig, very kindly took him out for a day on a rather wild Loch Nevis and sent then him home with a boiling of the much coveted prawns. What a feast he had when he arrived back in Arisaig and how he enjoyed them.
The visit meant a great deal to Floyd. He was able to see and experience these places, the tales and descriptions of which had been handed down and recounted often, through the generations, in the 200 years since Dhmhnall Bn, A'Choire and Mary Corbett sailed from Moidart. His great regret was that time didn't permit him to attend mass in Mingary Church, where his ancestors had worshipped. Unfortunately, his visit was cut short when, in Glasgow with his son Graham, he lost the use of his legs and had to be flown home immediately.
In the last months of his life, he collaberated with Allan Gillis and Murdo MacPherson, on compiling a genealogy of Creignish Parish. Sadly, it wasn't completed when he died but, his friends are continuing the work. Hopefully they will send us a copy as, it will contain many familiar names and sloinntearachd from this area.
We only knew Floyd for a short time but, he was a kind, cheerful man with a ready smile, very good company and he made friends wherever he went. He was also possessed of great courage and dignity. Sympathies go to his wife, Gerri, 4 siblings, 7 children and 7 grandchildren, one of whom, Katie Margaret MacDonald, his first granddaughter, was born the day he arrived in Arisaig.
Gus am Bris an Latha.
Elizabeth MacDonald


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