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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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February 2014 Issue
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS FRIDAY 31st JANUARY
Children learned about the customs and origins of Chinese New Year. They made Chinese tangram pictures, paper dragons and lanterns. Some wore red in their clothes - the lucky colour. Two came to school in Chinese dress and there were also masks on display. At assembly we all tasted noodles with sweet and sour sauce and prawn crackers. It was a really enjoyable day!
There was plenty of tartan on display. The Nursery children - Josh, Christian and Ailsa made shortbread which was delicious! The Primary classes studied Burns and his poetry. At assembly the classes showed art work with a Burns theme, all joined in Scottish Country dancing, tasted shortbread and oatcakes, toasted the Bard with apple juice and sang Auld Lang Syne.
Knoydart celebrated in style with a supper in Inverie village hall with a veggie haggis and the real thing - in a tin! Iain Wilson addressed the haggis and opened it using various weapons, while Andy Tibbets played the pipes.
Is it nearly spring yet? I know January is stereotypically rotten but this rain is driving me (and probably everyone else!) mad. The two sunny days we had were much appreciate, can only hope for some more soon! It's just a shame Jackie, Ian and the kids didn't bring it back from the Caribbean with them, when they got home last week, 3 weeks out there, while the rest of us sat home and shivered! They're not the only ones who have been jetting off mind you, Anna and Iain Wilson have just flown off to New Zealand for the next 3 weeks, visiting Calum and seeing the sights... lucky beggers.
Soo... Going beyond the weather, Well, the pub's still shut at the moment but that doesn't mean people are staying home and not socialising. There's been a couple of lovely "pop up" pub nights courtesy of Knoydart Lodge on a Friday, which have been a bring BYOB affair but dinner is included for a small fee. This is nice, especially for all the people who have wee ones as it usually starts around 5pm. Well done Bob and Morag. And speaking of dinner, it was of course Burns Night on the 25th, which entailed the usual fantastic supper in the hall (I'm told there were about 90 of us crammed in and I can easily believe it!). Iain Wilson was back in the hot seat for the Address of the Haggis this year, but it wasnae just your average haggis. For the first time, we had a special rare breed, a wee veggie Haggis which was followed by the "real" (in a tin) thing and as he does every year, Iain made a grand job of wielding a weapon of sorts and hacking it to pieces with his usual crofter grandeur. Andy Tibbets bag pipe playing should probably get a mention here, It was just kazoo-tiful...
The speeches also went down a treat, with our new unsuspecting foresters, Iain and Amie, being roped in (apparently no one warned them to hide from Mr Wilson in January!), Dave Smith with his toast to friendship (the pup was a great prop I thought), And Rick, who had a hilarious Beelzebub piece. Not quite what you usually expect that's for sure. Good job everyone, and to the people who cooked because the food was amazing. I don't know how they get the venison to be like that. The ceilidh which followed was fantastic, it's still my favourite one of the year I have to say. We were all knackered by the end but it was great fun. Never mind Zumba... Ceilidh dancing is where it's at!
Next month, the Ukulele band is performing a concert, so they are all hard at work rehearsing for that, should be a good night, if last years was any indication. Looking forward to the special guest appearances in certain songs! I think that's all for now, see you next month
ISLE OF MUCK
Another month but still no change in the weather. My brother Ewen who records the rain daily tells me that there have been only two 'dry' (24 hours without rain) days in the last three months. This is remarkable and I am sure unprecedented. It certainly feel like it.
This month I am returning to the subject of steamers - not the Loch Nevis on whom we are almost entirely dependant now that Sheerwater is on the slipway but the bigger picture. In my Christmas stocking I received a remarkable book which was compulsive reading; Pentland Hero by Roy Pederson. This is the story of Andrew Banks and how he brought into service across the challenging Pentland Firth a catamaran the Pentalina. This vessel I am told by my friends in Orkney is much more reliable than the Hamnavoe, a much larger Cal-Mac type car ferry. Any ship that traverses the Pentland Firth must be suitable for the West Coast. But it is recorded that when the Scottish born designer of the Pentalina approached Cal-Mac with an offer to design a similar ship he was quickly shown the door. Though Cal-Mac have dipped a toe in the waters of innovation with their hybrid ferries the far larger prize of high speed at vastly reduced fuel consumption has so far passed them by. We have all been taught that dinosaurs are no longer present on this earth. It does appear however that one might still be present - on the West Coast of Scotland.
On a lighter note the major event of January was in the Hall where the island gathered to celebrate the Immortal Memory organised by the Parent Teacher Association in aid of school funds. Here we were joined by a party from Inverness who had come to shoot. By a strange coincidence among that party was Stewart Edwards who owns a fish farm in Achiltibuie and supplies Marine Harvest with young stock. More important on the night were their musical instruments and together with singing and recitation by the scholars ensured a very pleasant evening. Over £400 was raised.
That is all and I do hope that we will have some dry weather.
ISLE OF CANNA
Sorry for the small piece this month but it has been very quiet on Canna apart from the sound of wind and rain!!
An unusual gull arrived and despite looking at several bird books and creeping around with cameras trying to get a picture, we have so far been unable to identify it. It is small, dumpy with a grey head, black legs and beak and black wing tips. Possibilities were a Laughing Gull or Sabine Gull. Any theories anyone?
Birds seem to be the theme this month as a buzzard was found caught in a barb wire fence by its wing, it was successfully removed and although no bones are broken, it has a nasty cut on its wing but is going to be looked after till this heals.
ISLE OF RUM
January has brought a flurry of activity some unexpected but mostly quite exciting. The bunkhouse contractor James McQueen arrived on site and has spent the month clearing and flattening, enter chainsaws and diggers and pecker stage right... quite noisy and some very bright lights but cleared it is... and so much land... who knew?? If only we could get them continue along through the woodland and provide us with some more useable land (sigh) but no, that raggle taggle scrubby woodland is apparently special (only to bureaucrats who live elsewhere, but such is life). Anyway, we are all very excited by our building site - something is ahappening folksů
Next, arrival of baby Maggie Copland, our latest Rum resident and along with Debs Ingram pushes our burgeoning population up to 44 and we now have a competent spinner on the island, now all we need is some homegrown wool to spin - sheep anyone?
Burns' night at the village hall was a relative success, bonus points to Marcel again for the production of Rum 'Staggis'. Extra bonus points to Mike 'rockstar' Ingram for finding enough enthusiasm for putting the band back together and we played briefly, should have played before the after dinner exodus, but we knocked out a few tunes and suitable impressed the masses. Thanks to Dave for the Cullen skink; Lesley for the organisation; Emily for the joke and Rhys for his annual recital of 'to a mouse'. Wicked.
As you may have heard, we got some funding for a much needed new playground for the little ones and visiting little ones. The former playground has been in a state of serious disrepair for a number of years and with most of the equipment either broken or having exceeded its safe lifespan, it's time for change. It'll be sited in front of the village hall below the new kitchen extension. Work is due to start as soon as the rain stops.
The Development officer post has been re-advertised, see isleofrum.com for more details, closing date is 14th Feb.
ISLE OF EIGG
The funeral of Stuart Miller on 8th January was so well attended by family and friends from his native Glasgow as well Arisaig, Mallaig and Muck where he was well known for his long stint as diver and fisherman before his new career as crofter, that it did put some balm on our wounded hearts. The small Church of Scotland overflowed with the 200 mourners that came from all airts to listen to the heart-felt tribute paid by John, his brother in law and Morag his wife's younger sister. Larger than life, Stuart aka Scruff, the lover of a good yarn with an infectious enthusiasm (sadly too few of us perceived that it had abated in the recent months) had certainly left his mark on the island in many ways, through his building work, his way of thinking outside the box - the idea for our pier causeway was his - and for being the person who donated the first £100 to the fledgling Isle of Eigg Trust. A rainbow appeared over the graveyard as rain fell gently over the mourners, somehow like an answer to our wishes for him to rest in peace next to the old lady that he spent so much time looking after! A big thank you to Cal Mac for extending their stay on Eigg by a good hour that day.
Life affirming events were badly needed after such emotion-filled days, and the now usual pilgrimage to Glasgow's Celtic Connections was made by many of us. There was a further reason to attend this year as Saturday 18th January was the debut date for Metta, the new and innovative folk quintet outfit headed by Eigg's very own banjo player, Damian Helliwell: 3 gigs on the one night, what a way to start! It went down extremely well, and to sample what it sounds like for yourself, you can download a free EP on the Metta website! Damian will now have to compose a tune for his new niece as well as his nephew, as his sister Tamsin and husband Stuart MacCarthy are now the proud parents of Freya Esme, Eigg's latest resident, born on 28th January! Congratulations! As to grandparents Karen and Simon, who returned from New Zealand looking very healthily tanned, they have another big event to get ready for, as Catriona is planning to return to Eigg in September with her Kiwi fiancÚ for a big island wedding! Eigg's tea-room sessions with Gabe and our favourite mainland banjoist resumed on the 25th, conveniently allowing me to celebrate my 57th birthday in style. If you hear I was juggling with plates and dancing on tables, don't believe a word of it! Our first bookclub session was a much quieter event, but went down very well, with a monthly read now planned for the year.
Medical matters were much on our mind when we said adieu to Iain Mathie, whose ill- health forced him to go back to Greenock where he hailed from, despite the happiness that finally moving on Eigg had provided him with in the past couple of years. Iain was the bass player of the Sting Rites, Greenock's answer to the Sex pistols, as well as many other 80s and 90s' bands and his wry sense of humour and stoicism will be much missed.
The future of our medical service was the topic of discussion for our meeting on the 15 January with NHS Highland representatives, Dr and Mrs Gartshore and Alan Knox from the Scottish Ambulance service, to unveil the latest plans for the proposed West Lochaber Practice. Having a document to scrutinise was a welcome step in getting to grip with the big changes proposed, but the fact remains that without sufficient training to date on Eigg and no training as yet provided on Rum or Muck for the first responder scheme, the new proposal from SAS to embark on an emergency responders scheme feels distinctly lacking in realism. Massive concerns remain about emergency care for the Small Isles and a lot of work will still be required to alleviate these.
Sean Morris from Rum posted this photo on our Facebook page and told us:
'I was stranded on the mainland because of a cancelled ferry so did a bit of birding round Arisaig
and saw this nice Slavonian Grebe on 22nd January'
Thanks for the photo Sean.
MEGAN STARS ON BBC ALBA
Follow Chrissie Gillies (Raasay), Mairi Alice Bartlett (Lewis) and Megan MacLellan (Morar) as they leave the cosy comfort of their homes to train as ghillies and swap their mascara and hair-straighteners for tick-removers and guns. Filming took place in Ardnamurchan where Chrissie, Mairi Alice and Megan were apprenticed to Head Keeper Niall Rowantree and fellow keeper Stevie Grant. CAILEAGAN NA H-OIGHREACHD / GHILLIE GIRLS starts on Monday 17th February, 10pm, on BBC ALBA.
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
There were three call outs for the Mallaig Lifeboat during the opening month of 2014.
Thursday 2nd January: Lifeboat launched at 02.55 hrs to convey Police personnel to the Isle of Eigg to investigate the sudden death of an islander there. Once Police had concluded their investigation, the body was taken on board the Lifeboat and subsequently back to the mainland. Lifeboat arrived back at Mallaig at 07.40 hrs, refuelled and ready for service at 08.00 hrs.
Friday 10th January: At the request of the Stornoway Coastguard, Mallaig Lifeboat was launched at 20.00 hrs to go to the assistance of the fishing trawler Guide Us which had suffered complete engine failure 1 mile north of Isle Ornsay Lighthouse. The skipper of the fishing vessel had managed to alert the Coastguard to his predicament before he lost communications due to low battery power, but fortunately the weather was fairly calm with a full moon illuminating the area much to everyone's advantage.
Utilising radar and searchlight, the darkened vessel was located at 20.30 hrs and a towline quickly established. Lifeboat berthed the Guide Us alongside Mallaig Pier at 22.30 hrs.
Tuesday 28th January: Lifeboat launched at 23.20 hrs to medivac a patient from the Knoydart Peninsula. A 45 year old male was experiencing chest pains at his lodgings in Airor on the north side of the peninsula.
On scene at 23.40 hrs, the Lifeboat was unable to berth at Airor Pier due to the low tidal conditions. Consequently the Y-boat was launched with three crew proceeding ashore to recover the casualty, who was able to walk down the beach and board the Y-boat. Once casualty and Y-boat were recovered on board, the Lifeboat set off for Mallaig, berthing there at 00.10 hrs on Wednesday morning. The casualty was handed overto the awaiting ambulance team for onward transmission to Belford Hospital.
You can visit the Mallaig Lifeboat Fundraisers page on Facebook
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR
The new Village Esplanade Development Plan proposed by the Mallaig Harbour Authority to link the new Marina Facility Building with the Marina Shorebase is close to being submitted to the Planning Authorities.
The Esplanade, which will incorporate car parking, a view point with interpretive boards, cliff face lighting and also widening of the road at the corner, is being submitted for Planning Approval following the Nevis Estates plans for the Marina Facilities Building and Crannog.
Plans of both schemes were on display and widely discussed at the Open Meeting held in the High School and organised by the Mallaig Community Council last December, when members of the public were unanimous in their support of the whole development.
Since that meeting there have been two new elements to the proposals: 1) the inclusion of one more parking space; and 2) proposed upgrading of the Slipway onto Lovat Beach. The lengthening and widening of the Slipway is to improve small boat access to the sea although it is anticipated that kayakers will continue to use Smiths Beach and the East Bay foreshore.
Two disabled parking bays will be located at the entrance to Lovat Pier at The Fish Market Restaurant.
The Planning Authority will consider the submission within the next month or two but even if given the go ahead soon the development will not now be ready for the summer of 2014.
If interested, please call in to view the plans which are on display in the Harbour Office.
This 68 metre well boat Ronja Atlantic (above) has been using the port's facilities during the month of January, berthing with salmon for the Marine Harvest factory. When fully laden with 160 tonnes of salmon, the draught of the vessel is 6 metres so the Ronja Atlantic could only make use of the port when tide heights were suitable. A portent of things to come?
CLIVE DENNIER HONOURED
At the annual Highlands and Islands Media Awards were held on 7th February in Inverness the Barron Trophy was awarded posthumously to Clive Dennier in recognition of the contribution he made over his lifetime to journalism.
During 2013 the Highland and Islands media community lost one of its most popular and respected journalists, Clive Dennier, who died as the result of a hill walking accident. He went missing on the weekend of 23rd/24th March while hill walking in the Kinloch Hourn area of Knoydart. He suffered head injuries in a fall and a massive search failed to find him. A walker discovered hid body, which had been washed down a river, at the beginning of June.
The Barron Trophy is an annual award for lifetime achievement in journalism in the Highlands and Islands. Representatives from Clive's family attended the Awards ceremony and his sister Judy collected the award.
CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting Federation Area Representative
Crofting Grants Likely to go
Under the new CAP reform it is very likely, unless undue pressure is put on the SG that crofting grants will be amalgamated into the SRDP in 2015 to include all farms under 50 ha in Scotland. This will reduce the pot significantly for crofters and it will also do away with the main incentive for keeping land in crofting, the specialised grant system. With Crofting regulation set to tighten even more through the registration of crofts process, all crofters could be left with is the Bull hire scheme. The SG has also decided to do away with the proposed small farmer scheme that would have reduced red tape, and unless Pillar 2 delivers a range of options in the next RDP that are going to be specifically designed for crofting then there will be a lot of stick and no carrots for crofters.
Pressure is being put on the SG by the Scottish Crofting Federation to save the grants scheme, and if everyone would use the consultation response to voice how they feel about it then it could have some effect. The consultation for Pillar 2 support ends 28th Feb and Pillar 1 ends mid March. I can print out consultation forms for both. For Pillar 2 it is important to do the ready reckoner on the Scot Gov website to check if you will be worse or better off and respond accordingly. If you find you will be worse off and you don't respond then you will be too late after end March. Any help please see me.
The Mallaig course was well attended despite the snow on the second day and all enjoyed a visit to Hughie and Ann MacDonald's croft at Craigmhor after John Mackintosh presented the certificates. Further courses are planned for the rest of 2014 and to date will include Practical Sheep handling and lambing, Practical cattle handling and calving, land improvement and wool processing. The next practical course date is set for end April and will be the sheep day. Further courses will continue as and when I can source tutors and venues. There has been a lot of interest in dykeing but would need to find somewhere with a dyke. Also I will be trying to arrange the Animal transport certificate day during 2014.
Attendees at the Entry Level Induction to Crofting Course held in Mallaig on 31st January/1st February.
Well done to all. More courses are planned for April, May, June and September and will include practical sheep handling and lambing, practical cattle handling and calving, land improvement and wool processing. Clck here for more details on courses.
On and Off the Rails
Short notice Competition to win free entry tickets to Model Rail Scotland 2014
As previously mentioned in depth in the December 2013 issue of West Word, Model Rail Scotland (the annual Scottish gathering of Model Railway enthusiasts) will be held on Friday 21st February, Saturday 22nd February and Sunday 23rd February at the SECC in Glasgow. I had hoped to have confirmation of an allocation of free entry tickets for the event to run a competition in the January issue, but only received the good news to go ahead late January. If you have not yet purchased your advance tickets and want to try to win one of several pairs, have a go NOW!
Competition: Where is the event being held?
It is as simple as that!! Put your name, address and phone number on a postcard, also stating which day you would want to attend plus the answer to the question, and send to me: Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD. Competition entries to be received by Friday, February 14th. Good luck!
With 45 layouts, 150 Exhibition Stands, Gauge Societies, Clubs, Demonstrations, Sales Stands (everything from technical books, model locomotives, box sets of trains, track, wiring, to mugs, badges pens, DVDs, logo T-shirts and beanie hats, even story telling for children. The show team are proud to promote the development of the hobby, and with much talk of 3D printing technology, are pleased to announce that 'Magic Models' will be providing a 3D printing demonstration during the show. This is a Scottish company and this exciting development within the hobby can turn a vision into something physical fairly quickly. I predict ;large crowds around that stand.
Full information on Model Rail Scotland can be obtained from www.modelrail-scotland.co.uk, OR you can ring me on 01687 462189. Enjoy the show!
Roll all over Scotland with Scot Rail Club 55
As I mentioned in January's West Word (although somehow the title line became Club 66! Sorry!) if you are 55 years of age or over, with a Club 55 ticket you can travel anywhere in Scotland for £19 return. You have until March 31st to travel your outward journey, with the return journey valid for one month after the purchase date. This means that the offer is valid to return after Easter. Simply visit scotrail.co.uk/club55 to find out more or pick up a leaflet at any manned railway station.
ScotRail Franchise - update
On Wednesday February 5th, Steve and I are privileged to be invited to attend a meeting in Stirling at which all five ScotRail franchise bidders will lay out their proposals (see December 2013 West Word for full details of the bidders). These are very important times, and I hope to cover some of the details in next month's West Word. The successful bidder of the ten year franchise will be announced in October 2014. The new franchise starts on April 1st 2015.
East Coast Mainline Franchise
The Government has now confirmed a short list of bidders to re-privatise the East Coast Mainline. There are three contenders for the Aberdeen to London important train route.
1) A joint venture between Sir Brian Souter's Stagecoach and Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Trains - to be called Inter City Railways.
2) Aberdeen's First Group - to be called East Coast Trains.
3) A tie-up with train operators Keolis and Eurostar (both owned by the French State) to be called East Coast.
The franchise is expected to run for a period of around eight to nine years, with the provision for an extension of up to two years at the discretion of the DFT. An announcement about the successful bidder is expected in autumn 2014, with the contract expected to start in February 2015.
Network Rail Work on West Highland Extension nearly complete
The planned work by Network Rail between January 4th and February 1st has taken place without any disruption to regular ScotRail services and locals living near the railway line. Even Phil Hunkin who lives near Morar level crossing slept throughout the night during the whole exercise, waking every morning to find a huge machine outside his window!
A big thank you to Network Rail and their contractors for their commitment to a safer railway, and for carrying out the work without disruption and moving heavy machinery so quietly throughout the hours of darkness.
West Coast Railways Annual Gathering
January 16th saw the Annual Gathering of WCR personnel at the Mercure Hotel in Glasgow. Last year's event was in Wakefield. As the company operates trains throughout the UK, their staff are based at different locations, so every year a different venue is sought.
Steve and I were among the invited guests, which numbered over 100. From about 3pm onwards, the staff and guests gathered in the foyer of the Mercure and were reunited with friends and colleagues old and new.
After everybody had arrived, we made our way downstairs to the Conference Centre, where we were shown a brilliant slide show by WCR employee Roland Parker. The show lasted about two hours in total, with a break halfway so that we could all get a refill at the bar.
Ronald's duties with WCR take him the length and breadth of the UK so he spends any spare time taking photographs at various locations. There were some stunning shots taken around Lochaber when he was working The Royal Scotsman. During the show there was an impromptu 'Guess the Location' quiz, which proved to be very hilarious as we all did our very best to guess correctly. As in all planned rail journeys, things don't always go to plan, and we were shown various shots of unforeseen incidents which were unplanned and amusing.
A superb dinner was served at our tables, with a huge variety of choices, finished off with fresh fruit, cheesecake, coffee and tea.
The evening went so quickly, and at midnight the younger ones took off for the casino and various waterholes in Glasgow City Centre.
The last group arrived back at the Mercure at around 5.30am, just in time to tuck into a hearty fried breakfast!
Our group left the hotel at about 10am on Friday, the women heading to M & S, the men folk taking off to the Transport Museum, joining back up at Glasgow Queen Street for a 12.21 departure to Fort William and Mallaig.
Steve and I would like to thank WCR Directors, David Smith, Pat Marshall, Keith Marshall and Traction Inspector Peter Walker for making our stay such a memorable one. To be among so many steam train legends, it was a privilege to be invited.
West Coast Railway Calendar Competition
Following on from another very successful Jacobite Steam Train season in 2013, WCR decided to publish a Limited Edition (300) Photo Calendar using photographs taken by John Cooper-Smith and Peter Van Campenhout. Showing some stunning shots of steam in the Highlands, these calendars were available for £30.00 on the West Coast Railway's website. WCR Director Pat Marshall has very kindly donated two of these collectable calendars for me to use in a competition in my column.
In order to win one of these collectables, just answer the following question: On what date does The Jacobite Steam train start in 2014? Is it a) May 2nd; b) May 12th; c) May 22nd? Send your answers to me, Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD, on a postcard to reach me no later than February 25th 2014. Good luck! I know that January has passed us by but - believe me - these Calendars are a collector's dream!!
Morar Railway Station
Those of you who travel, or live near to, Morar Railway Station may have noticed that the old concrete letters spelling MORAR that lay hidden in the undergrowth opposite the West Word office on the east side of the platform have now been given a new site between my flower tubs on the same side as West Word's office - and very good they look.
The undergrowth has now been removed, the bank cleared, the brambles, Japanese knotweed and rhodies taken away (not too sure it includes the deep roots!!). I can only assume that the Network Rail workers were responsible for re-siting the letters and all of the bank work. If it was, a huge thank you is due. To do all that in the dark with the weather conditions we have experienced is brilliant.
Incidentally, does anybody out there in West Word land know the original construction of the concrete MORAR lettering and who sited them at the Railway Station?
I was told many years ago that it was Morar schoolchildren who were involved, but I don't know how true that is. If anyone can come up with a different story,, or confirm that one, I would like to hear it.
First Touring Train to Mallaig 2014
To the best of my knowledge, the first touring train of 2014 to visit Mallaig will be on Saturday March 8th, 11am to 1pm. The honour goes to Statesman Rail who are hosting a three day tour, departing from Holyhead via Chester and Preston to Fort William on Friday March 7th. Guests will be hotel booked in the Fort William area that night, visiting Mallaig for, we hope, two hours on the Saturday. The haulage is being provided by West Coast Railways and the tour is called 'The West Highland Railway Tour'. I hope the spring bulbs that I planted at Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig Railway Stations will be putting on a good display by then.
Online Caledonian Sleeper Dream Ticket Sale
Scotrail have announced an online ticket sale. Customers will be able to save one third off sleeper tickets bought online between now and February 28th. The discount will be available on all Sleeper tickets except Bargain Berths, Berth Supplements and Flexipass tickets, and are available for travel up to 12 weeks from the date of booking in advance. go to www.scotrail.co.uk/dreamtickets for full details of this offer and how to book. Remember there is no Caledonian Sleeper service on Saturday.
See you on the train.
HOLIDAY HAUNTS 1958
I recently acquired a copy of a book entitled Holiday Haunts 1958, Scotland. The book was produced by British Railways and outlines train journeys that can be taken in Scotland in that year, it also has a gazetteer of virtually every village and town in Scotland that can be accessed by train.
The section that covers the West Highlands is very comprehensive, an example of train fares for that year include:
Return fare from Mallaig to Glasgow was 54 shillings 4d (which is about £2.72), if you travelled midweek it was cheaper 43 shillings 6d (about £2.18)
Return fare from Mallaig to London was 188 shillings (about £9.40)
The journey from Fort William to Mallaig is described as follows:
"Many people aver that the forty miles or so from Fort William to Mallaig is the finest railway journey in Britain. It certainly encompasses every aspect of Highland scenery. There is not an uninteresting minute in the whole route. Corpach, Loch Eil, Loch Sheil, Glenfinnan, where Prince Charles Edward Stuart raised his standard in 1745 - throughout, the glory of intimate detail and extension of vision is maintained. The journey seems leisurely, but one becomes apprehensive that it must sometime end! And indeed it does. The train winds round graceful hills and beside still waters, with stops at stations, until Arisaig is reached. By that time we have beheld the Hebrides from the compartment window, and gazed out to the horizon's rim of the Atlantic. From Arisaig to Morar, the next stop, a magic view of the Small Isles - Eigg, Muck and Rhum - is gained, with, near the train, white flashing sands, creaming waves breaking, rivers rushing down to the sea, woods and green hills. After Morar it is a short run to the terminus, Mallaig, the railway port, with its fishing harbour, and its endless agitation of seagulls' wings flashing overhead. A steamer, awaiting passengers and mails for the Hebrides, is at the pier. Fishermen and fishcurers are busy. There is a faint saline taste of herring on one's lips. In that uplifting, buoyant Atlantic air there is also the taste of sunlight itself."
Amongst the adverts there is one for the Marine Hotel, Mallaig, the telephone number is short - Mallaig 17!
Has much changed??
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
A bumper bundle this month, with a couple we've had on file until we could print them in colour.
The Mallaig Tuesday Night Busy Bee Girls took a copy (one?!) to the Christmas Markets in Prague in December 2013.
Front l to r: Marion Carr, Linda McLean, Heather Simpson, June Foxwell, Rita MacDonald and Eileen MacPhie
Glenfinnan's Frances Whyte checks the paper whilst husband John seeks a vindaloo...
in India of course, with Taj Mahal in the background.
West Coast Railway Directors Pat Marshall and David Wright reading their West Word at the West Coast Railways Gathering at the Mercure Hotel, Glasgow in January.
Ex-Jacobite Steam Train Driver Frank Santrian and Jacobite guard Florence MacLean enjoying a good read of West Word paper at the same Gathering.
Below left - Gillie, Manager at the local Marine Harvest fish factory and (right) his friend Calum Watt who took their West Word to Tenerife to read it outside the Ibrox bar before Rangers beat Arbroath 3 2 !
Cousins Jennifer MacPhee and Rachel MacNeil took their West Word to the top of the Empire State Building in New York during a recent family holiday with their mums, Grandma, Aunty Clare, Great Aunty Rene and Rachel's Granny, Anne.
One we've been saving until we could print in colour, you can see why.
Arisaig's Colleen MacLean took her copy to read while floating in the Dead Sea!
We included Gordon Cook from Kintore in Aberdeenshire in last month's issue.
He also sent us this one of this glorious sunset in Playa de Las Americas in Tenerife
Gayle McGeever took her copy from Arisaig (via her job in Aberdeen) to Rio de Janeiro.
That's the Sugar Loaf Mountain in the background!
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
Another fairly windy and wet month with nothing exceptional reported.
The Kumlien's type Gull was present in Mallaig Harbour throughout and there were at least two other Immature Iceland Gulls seen there at various times.
Whooper Swans were present on Loch nan Eala, Arisaig, throughout, along with Teal, Wigeon and Mallard. On the 17th a female Tufted Duck was seen feeding on the loch.
Little Grebes were seen regularly on Loch nan Ceall and on the 22nd a Slavonian Grebe was seen on the loch from the south shore.
There seems to be a regular flock of 9 Canada Geese in the area now. On the 17th they were in a field near Traigh Farm, feeding along with 112 Greylags and 2 Pink-footed Geese.
Red-breasted Mergansers and Goldeneyes were seen in good numbers on the Morar Estuary and Loch nan Ceall, Goosanders were seen on the Morar River and Dipper and Grey Wagtail were seen on several occasions around the Hydro Dam, Morar.
The single Greenshank continues to winter on the Morar Estuary, mostly seen in the Bourblach area. Two pairs of Shelduck were back on Loch nan Ceall by the month end. Several reports of larger than usual numbers of Siskins feeding on garden feeders during the month - usually only ones and twos in January. At least a dozen at a time in one Morar garden from the 10th, which were joined by 2 Lesser Redpolls from the 24th.
Yellowhammers reported from several Arisaig gardens and one garden even had a female
Bullfinch on a peanut feeder from about mid-month.
A female/immature Hen Harrier was reported from the Bunacaimbe - Back of Keppoch area on several occasions during the month, it or another bird was seen hunting over fields near Mains Farm and Loch nan Eala.
Sea Eagles were reported from the Morar Estuary and a pair were occasionally seen harrying the wildfowl and Herons around Loch nan Eala.
A Jay was seen at the Millburn plantation on the 3rd.
A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald
Croit a' Ch¨bair or Cooper's Croft
Malcolm Poole, of the Mallaig Heritage Centre, passed me an old 'photo of a house in Morar for identification. Upon sighting the photo, I realised that I was very familiar with the house which, unfortunately, was demolished in the 1990s, to make way for the new Morar/Mallaig road.
The house was known to everyone locally, as 'Croit a' Ch¨bair' or, Cooper's Croft. (Note 1) It was situated at the shore side of Sunset Villa, Silver Sands and Golden Sands in Morar village and was practically invisible to anyone walking on the main road through Morar. The house was built of stone with lime mortar and was almost certainly, slated - the slates disappearing after the cooper, John MacLellan's family emigrated to Nova Scotia c1924. By 1950, the building was pretty tumbledown, though the chimneys and gable ends were still standing.
My knowledge of the history of this particular MacLellan family begins with the 1841 Census, in Caolas (Kyles) Mhorair (Tarbert) with Donald MacLellan, aged 60, b. c1780 and his wife, Mary Kelly, aged 50, b. c1790 in Ireland. In 1841, they had 6 children. John 30, Margaret 25, Ann 25, Donald 20, Archie 15 and Isabella 15. In the 1841 Census ages were rounded up or down for the 1841 census so, the above ages are approximate.
Also in the house were John's wife, (See Note 2) Catherine aged 25, with their children, Mary 6, Angus 4 and Donald, 3 months. There too, was a lodger, Neil MacKinnon (See Note 3) By 1851, the family had changed somewhat. Donald b. 1780, has passed away and the household in Caolas Mhorair consisted of Donald's son, John MacLellan, wife Catherine and four more children. These were, Alexander 8, Margaret 6, John 4, b 1847 who would become 'a Ch¨bair' and Janet aged 2. Next door lived Mary Kelly (Donald's widow), aged 70 and her daughters, Margaret 40 and Bella 27, both unmarried, along with a niece, Anna MacDonald, aged 6 months. In 1861, the family was still in Caolas Mhorair and John ( later to be known as a' Chubair) was aged 10 and had two new sisters, Catherine 7 and Sally, 6. The census enumerator also listed, in the same house Mary Kelly, Isabella, her daughter and two grandchildren, Anna MacDonald, 10 and Kirsty MacDonald aged 20? Mary Gillies, aged 80, is a lodger. There is not much change in 1871 except there is no further mention of Mary Kelly nor Mary Gillies, the lodger so presumably, they have both passed away. However, a grandson, Angus Gillies aged 7, is there.
In 1881, three changes are significant. John MacLellan, (A' Ch¨bair) has a wife, Jessie, maiden name MacLellan. (see note 4). They were married about 1873 and had moved to Morar to No. 1, Beoraid Mˇr i.e. the farm of Beoraid M˛r They have four children. Ann 7, Mary 5, John 4 and Donald, two months. John MacLellan, widowed and father of a' Ch¨bair, is staying with them.
Iain a' Ch¨bair' sister, Sally, hadn't appeared in the previous two Morar censuses so I checked the 1881 census in Tarbert. Sally/Sarah is there with her parents, John aged 80 and Catherine aged 65. Why, then, is John in the same census, described as widowed and living in Morar ?
In 1891, John and Catherine are still in Tarbert with four unmarried sons and daughters. John passed away before 1901 and Catherine, in 1901, is aged 91. In Tarbert with them, is Angus Gillies, 34, cooper and agricultural labourer and Maggie MacDonald, 25, both grandchildren of Catherine. Angus Gillies is the only person in the census years, 1841 - 1901 who is described as a 'cooper' although his uncle had the patronymic 'Ch¨bair'. Iain was always described as a carpenter. Accessing census details after 1901 is difficult so, I stopped at this point. The (C¨bair) MacLellans left Morar in the early 1920s and went to Nova Scotia. A descendant, Fr. Vincent MacLellan, who died some several years ago, visited Morar on a few occasions. He taught in St. Francis Xavier University, N.S. for many years. Any futher information on this MacLellan family will be appreciated. Our Canadian Diasporan cousins, please respond if possible.
Note 1. The Cooper's Croft was not a registered croft. After Iain MacLellan came to Morar, sometime after 1890, two adjoining crofts, Clach Odhar, belonging to MacLellans and Gorten a' Lairig, belonging to MacDonalds, each gave up a strip of land, some forty yards wide (ie. eighty yards) extending all the way to the shore. This was to make space for Iain MacLellan to build a house and allow grazing for one cow and follower. My own thoughts are, that Iain a' Ch¨bair must have been closely related to both these MacDonald and MacLellan families for this accommodation to take place.
Note 2. John MacLellan, Caolas Mhorair, and Catherine MacDonell, Bracara, were married in Bracarina Church in 1836. ( See page 74 of Blessed Morar by Paul Galbraith)
Note 3. Neil MacKinnon, Sleat. married Flora MacLellan, sister of 'illeasboug (MacLellan) Bruinacory and they had six daughters.
Note 4. Jessie MacLellan's parents were living in Cross Farm, South Morar in 1841. They were Archie MacLellan, aged 50 and Rachael MacLellan aged 40. Their marriage record states that Archibald MacLellan, South Morar, married Rachael MacDonald of Aird, Sleat, in Bracarina in 1834. (See page 74 of Blessed Morar by Paul Galbraith.) Their children were, Angus, 10, Ketty 4 and Janet/Jessie aged 1. Also in the house was Ann MacLellan, aged 70, presumably Archie's mother, Ann, aged 35 and Elizabeth aged 25, who were possibly Archie's sisters.
In 1851, still in Cross Farm were Archie, 56, Rachael, wife, aged 38, born in Sleat, Janet or Jessie, daughter aged 14 and another daughter, Marion, aged 5 years.
In 1861, Jessie, Archie's daughter, was a housemaid in No. 1 Beoraid.
The MacLellans who took over Riverside croft lived in Bun Mhorair (on the Morar side of the riverbank, at the first bridge which was built over the Morar river) where Archie and his family lived in 1861, which makes me suspect that, they are the same MacLellan family as the present-day Riverside MacLellans.
The relationship between the two families is this.
Gilleasbuig MacLellan = Margaret MacDonald.
Ronald, son of Gilleasbuig was the first tenant of Seacrest, Morar.
Angus 'Ruadh' MacDonald, nephew of Margaret MacDonald, was first in Gorten a Larig.
Allan MacLellan, brother of Ronald, was 2nd in Seacrest.
Hugh MacDonald, son of Angus Ruadh, was 2nd in Gorten a Larig.
At sometime, during their tenancies, a provision was made for Iain a' Ch¨bair but as yet, I have not been able to establish the relationship between the families except that, Ronald and Angus Ruadh were first cousins.
Kin Connections by Marlene (MÓiri ╔ilidh) MacDonald Cheng (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Now we shall examine MacLellan families who emigrated between 1800 and 1830 from Morar, Scotland, to Antigonish and Inverness Counties of Nova Scotia. Archibald (Gilleasbaig) MacLellan (son of Neil) settled at South River, Antigonish County, about 1804. Archibald's brother, Angus, came to Nova Scotia in 1815. He resided at South River for a time, but later moved to Inverness County, Cape Breton. We shall discuss his family later in this segment. Archibald stayed at South River. He was married in Scotland to Mary MacDonell (or MacDonnell, as it was spelled in Nova Scotia). Mary was the daughter of Alexander MacDonell, son of James MacDonell. Archibald and Mary had seven children - James, Donald, Angus, Catherine, Mary, Margaret, and Nancy.
James (Seumas mac Ghilleasbaig) lived on the original homestead at South River. He was married to Janet MacGillivray of Dunmore, Antigonish County. James MacLellan was a great character and everyone sought his company because he was so much fun!! He had a good friend in his youth, Dougall, who was called "The Old Squire". One day James was teaching Dougall how to dance "The Squirrel's Reel", a title James had concocted. The words to the reel were original:
"Round the hickory, Seonaid; thall 's a-bhos, thall 's a-bhos; (hither and thither) Thall 's a-bhos, Seonaid, round the hickory tree."
James had placed chairs around the room. As they danced around the chairs, there were many collisions, making a great deal of noise. The old lady was upstairs listening to this ramble and called down a reprimand. James responded, "Hush, hush, devilish old woman. Be as quiet as a cat; you don't know the terror that is coming!" The old lady got quite a laugh and for years she never ceased delightedly relating James' answer.
James and Janet MacLellan had three children - John, Isabella, and Catherine. A very sad event occurred; their son John was visiting in Antigonish. It was springtime and the river that flowed through town was covered by ice. John didn't realize that the ice was starting to break and he fell through the ice to his death. Needless to say, this was a great blow to the family - not only was John the only son, but he was a promising young man and much loved by everyone for miles around. John's sister, Isabella, married John MacGillivray, and his sister, Catherine, married Lauchlin Cameron.
Donald MacLellan, son of Archibald and Mary MacLellan, moved to Lakevale, Antigonish County, and married Mary MacDonald, daughter of Allan BÓn MacDonald of Cape George, Antigonish County. They had four children - John, Archibald, Mary, and Isabella.
Angus MacLellan, son of Archibald and Mary MacLellan, was married to Catherine Boyd, daughter of Hugh Boyd. Angus and Catherine moved to Glen Road, not far from South River, in Antigonish County. They had seven children - John, Neil, Hugh, Angus, Mary, Isabella, and Ann. Their son, John, married a daughter of another Archibald (Gilleasbaig Ruadh - Red Archie) MacLellan. I hope to be able to deal with that family in a subsequent column.
Catherine MacLellan, daughter of Archibald and Mary MacLellan, was married to Alexander MacGillivray (Vamy). They had eleven children, all girls except for John, the baby of the family: Mary, Isabella, Catherine, Margaret, Sarah, Mary Ann, Janet, Christy, Marcella, Liza, and John. Is it any wonder that John left home young and his whereabouts were unknown! Mary MacLellan, daughter of Archibald and Mary MacLellan, was married to Hugh MacGillivray (who was deaf). When his wife Mary passed away, Hugh married Ann MacDonald, daughter of John (Iain BÓn Ďg) of Cape George, Antigonish County. Hugh and Mary had six children: John, Donald, Catherine, Mary, Isabella, and Christy. Hugh and Ann had children: John (nicknamed 'Curly), Angus, and Hugh.
Margaret MacLellan, daughter of Archibald and Mary MacLellan, married Alexander BÓn Gillis of the 'Oban' Gillises and they lived at the rear of the MacIntosh farm at South River. They had six children: Joseph, Michael, Mary, Ann, Isabella, and Catherine.
Nancy MacLellan, daughter of Archibald and Mary MacLellan, was not married. This marks the end of the first generation of Archibald and Mary MacLellans' family.
Angus MacLellan was a brother of Archibald, pioneer settler at South River. Angus settled first in 1815 on part of the original farm owned by his brother Archie. Angus was a tailor and was known as "An Taillear" - 'The Tailor'. He had been in Ireland in about 1808, fighting with a Fencibles regiment, before coming to Nova Scotia. He married his wife Catherine MacLellan (daughter of Donald, son of John, son of John) in Scotland. A brother of his wife Catherine was John (Iain Ruadh - Red John) MacLellan who settled in Inverness County, Cape Breton. Only five years after they came to South River, Angus moved with his family to Broad Cove Marsh (now called Dunvegan) in Inverness County, Cape Breton. Angus and Catherine had four children, all born in Scotland: Archy, Neil, Donald, and Martha (who died young).
In the next segment we shall examine more MacLellan families and their connections in the 'New World'. As usual, if you would like more information on a family or wish to add to my information, please don't hesitate to contact me.
WOODLAND IN NORTH MORAR IN 1622
Documents concerning North Morar in the seventeenth century are scarce so it was pleasing to come across the following in William Fraser's 'The Chiefs of Grant', Vol III, Edinburgh 1883. It takes the form of a contract between Allan MacRanald (Macdonell) of Lundie and John Grant of Freuchie. Allan is acting for himself, his father Ranald, and his son Donald. The Macdonells of Lundie were cadets of the Macdonells of Glengarry - a family which had recently acquired the lands of Knoydart. North Morar is thought to be one of the earliest Macdonell possessions and Allan claims his family held the lands of Kylesmorar, Culnamuk, Swordland, 'Arethomechenane' and 'Brakegarrowneintoir' (part of Bracara).
(Arethomechenane is the only place-name which I cannot trace. The first element 'Are-' is probably for Óirigh or shieling and, if the listing is in geographical order, then perhaps it lay between Swordland and Bracara).
It is obvious that Allan felt he was not getting much return from his Morar tenants and was keen to make money from the woods growing there. He therefore sells them to John Grant with whom he agrees to split any profits. He viewed the locals as 'evil neighbours' but restricted John Grant's activities to land that was 'not manured' (i.e. the uncultivated hillside). Reading between the lines it seems that trouble was half-expected from the natives but this was the Allan Macdonell who is described as the 'hero' of the Raid of Kilchrist by the Reverends A & A Macdonald in their history of 'Clan Donald' (Vol III, p 319). Gregory in his 'History of the Western Highlands' (p 302) states that the raid also involved 'the merciless burning of a whole congregation in the church of Kilchrist, while Glengarry's piper marched round the building, mocking the cries of the unfortunate inmates with the well-known pibroch, which has been known, ever since, under the name of Kilchrist, as the family tune of the Clanranald of Glengarry'.
Whichever slant you prefer it is clear that Allan was a robust and formidable warrior and no doubt the Morar tenants trod circumspectly. It was probably in their interests to play the long game.
At the heart of this matter is the issue of who controlled the woodland. In much of the Highlands and Islands timber resources were so scarce that they were guarded jealously. In later times the threat came from outsiders. (See The Hebridean Traveller pp 181-5 for other examples). Here the challenge came from a Highland chiefly family. Unfortunately we do not know what actually happened on the ground. Were all, some, or any of the trees cut down? Here follows an edited version of Fraser's summary. Where he has given the original text this appears inside quotation marks. Where the language is difficult I have given a modern version in italics and within square brackets.
Contract made between Sir John Grant of Fruquhye on the one part, and Allan Makrenalt, apparent of Lundie in Glengarrie, for himself, and taking the burden upon him for Renalt Makallane of Lundie, his father, that the said Renalt shall ratify and allow this present contract and disposition...
Narrating that the said Renalt McAllane of Lundie and the said Allan, his son, have certain woods pertaining to them in heritage, "growand and standand wpone [growing and standing upon] their landis of Killeismorarche, Kilnamuk, Swordelane, Arethomechanane, and Brakegarrowneintoir," outsets, shealings, and grazings thereof, in the country of Morar, lairdship of Glengarrie and shire of Inverness, "quhilkis ar altogidder wnprofitabill to thame, and quhairof they neuer hawe reapit nor can reap or get anie commoditie, in respect they lye in the far and barbarous Hielandis, circuite and invironit about with euill neychtbouris, quha continewallie cuttis, destroyis, and takis away the samen in great quantitie, but the consent and guidwill of the said Renalt and Allane," [which are altogether unprofitable to them and whereof they never have reaped nor can reap or get any commodity, in respect they lie in the far and barbarous Highlands, encircled and environed about with evil neighbours who continually cut, destroy and take away the same in great quantity, without the consent and goodwill of the said Ranald and Allan] so that the care and keeping thereof breed them not only great expense and charges, "bot also euill will, hatrent, and deidlie feid," [but also evil will, hatred and deadly feud] nor would any merchants hazard to come and buy the same upon their warrandice, for fear of their lives; for remedy whereof, and to make the woods profitable to the said Renalt and Allan, and that merchants might have free access to the woods to buy and transport the same, the said Allan, for himself, with consent of Donald his son, and taking burden on him for Renalt, his father, that he shall ratify the contract, and the said Donald, with consent of his father, hereby bind and oblige themselves to sell and dispone, and by the tenor of this contract sell and dispone to the said Sir John Grant of Freuquhye, knight, his heirs, assignees, and successors, or any person he or they shall sell the same to, all and sundry the woods and bushes pertaining to the said Renalt and Allan, upon the foresaid lands of Killismorarache, etc, and all the growing trees, fallen timber, old wood, and young growth within the said woods and lands, with the whole bark, roots, and boughs thereof, to be dealt with, cut, sold, and transported by the said Sir John and his foresaids at his and their pleasures; ...
And to the effect the said Sir John and his foresaids may the better sell, and make use of the woods and timber, the said Allan and Donald his son, hereby set and in tack let to the said Sir John and his foresaids the ground and place whereon the said woods grow, and all the bounds within the said woods "nocht manurit," [not manured] grass and pertinents thereof, for the space of thirty-one years, or for longer space, as the same shall be in cutting and transporting only, the entry to be at Whitsunday next, 1623; reserving liberty of pasturage and grazing to the said Allan and Donald, their tenants and occupiers of the lands, according to use and wont, ů For which disposition and others above expressed, the said Sir John Grant hereby binds himself, his heirs and successors, etc., to pay to the said Allan and his foresaids "the tua part" of all such sums of money as the said Sir John should receive for the said woods, at such times as he should receive them, and this upon his honour and credit; Dated at Freuquhye, 6th October 1622.
Taken at face value we must assume that, in 1622, there was enough timber on these North Morar farms to provide a financial incentive for Allan MacRanald and John Grant. What later evidence do we have of tree cover? Roy's Map (Protracted Copy) of the mid-eighteenth century implies that there was still a reasonable amount of natural woodland in the area in the years following Culloden. However by the time of Boulton's 'Plan of North Morar' in 1834 woodland is conspicuous by its absence. On the Loch Morar shore of Culnamuck farm, Boulton writes 'Birch trees along here' and towards the eastern end of Bracara farm he marks 'Oak Stools'. However the overall impression is that, by 1834, North Morar had lost most of its tree cover. This is confirmed by the first Ordnance Survey six-inch maps of the area which were surveyed in 1873.
In the absence of solid data it is probably unfair to blame Allan MacRanald. He may have authorised the contract but we do not know what happened over the following years. Perhaps Sir John Grant did not exert himself. Perhaps there was local opposition. However since about 1750 there appears to have been significant loss. Should the blame really attach to sheep and muir-burn?
Denis Rixson, Mallaig Heritage Centre
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