Community paper for Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Glenuig, Arisaig, Morar,
Mallaig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
January 2003 Issue
Contents of the online version:
Unpleasant as it is to begin the new year with pessimism, the facts have to be faced that Mallaig and the surrounding communities face a very uncertain future. The decisions being made in Brussels are looked at in this month's edition by Hugh Allen, Secretary of the Mallaig & Northwest Fishermen's Association (see article below), and next month by Robert Stevenson of West of Scotland Fish Producers Organisation.
Without these problems, landings for Mallaig fell for the third year running. Figures made available from the Scottish Fishery Protection Agency show Mallaig now depends on the shellfish sector which counts for 76% of the value of landings.
Whitefish has gone from 4735 tonnes (£5,128,164) in 2000 to 2831 (£3,093,129) in 2001 to 1923 tonnes (£1,727,793) in 2002, while shellfish has remained reasonably steady, dropping from 2558 tonnes (£5,940,867) in 2000 to 2241 tonnes (£5,758,828) in 2002. Pelagic landings have gone dramatically from 4125 tonnes (£873,912) in 2000 to 733 tonnes (£73,985) in 2002, though that is a better figure than 2001’s 508 tonnes (£84,018). Last year was the worst sprat fishing in eight years and while this year’s catch is up on that the poor quayside price means the catch value is not much different.
Our thanks to MHA’s Harbour Update for these figures.
MORAR ROAD CLOSURE
The access to Morar from the south will be altered in the near future, necessitating a closure for some three weeks to enable work to be done. The roundabout will disappear, and the slip road will be raised by a considerable amount.
Barr’s had hoped to commence this work at the end of January, but the long spell of freezing conditions has held up the timetable.
Their concrete plant has been frozen up, and even if this were not so it has been the wrong conditions for laying concrete or tarmac.
The road closure will probably now happen at the beginning of February, with ample warning notices posted. Morar will still be accessible from one entrance only, at the north end.
COMMUNITY PLANNING IS COMING !
Coming to a venue near you this month…..the event which had them all talking in North Lochaber, Ardnamurchan and Fort William is going to hit North West Lochaber on Wednesday 29th January.
Every region in Scotland must come up with a Community Plan, and in Lochaber the Wellbeing Alliance is masterminding the logistics of collecting in the information. The Alliance consists of representatives from the Highland Council, Lochaber Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Health Board, etc etc...and the team doing the footwork come from Voluntary Action Lochaber, LCNL and Community Education.
The team will be based at the Mallaig and Morar Community Centre throughout the day, but will also be at various venues throughout the area, in Arisaig, Lochailort and Morar, ready to capture your opinions through a very short interview questionnaire. Five minutes of your time to help form plans for the next five years can’t be bad….
This isn't just one more questionnaire, or a pointless exercise because ‘it will change nothing’. The powers that be are taking notice of the results and where changes and improvements can be made, every attempt will be to do so. They want to know what you like and don’t like about the area you live in, and what you would like to see happen.
MBE FOR RONNIE
LOOKING BACK - LOOKING FORWARD
In our January 2002 issue, we looked forward to a lot of new improvements we hoped would be coming to fruition in the area before the end of the year.
How have we fared?
A new surgery in Arisaig. The site is cleared and has been awaiting developments for months now. But the tendering process has now started….
A new Police Station in Mallaig. Again the site has been cleared and ready for use for a long time. At last a two storey building has received planning permission and work is expected to start at the end of January.
The refurbishment of Mallaig Playing Field. Work to lay matting under the surface is due to start in January but good weather is essential. New funding is being sought as time had run out on the original grant.
A new Playing Field for Morar. .The tender was due to be returned at the end of November so work should be beginning soon….
Will the piers ever be finished on Rum and Muck?
A new pier for Eigg. This is coming on well and with relatively few problems.
The return of the annual events after Foot and Mouth. Well, yes, the Agricultural Show, the Arisaig and Mallaig & Morar Highland Games returned. But increased legislation and costs and shrinking numbers of willing helpers put the future of such events in jeopardy.
Community grants. The Community Economic Development grant was launched but with poor take up in this area to the attempt to start up local groups to administer smaller grants. LEADER+ (WHELK) has just begun to bring money into Lochaber until 2006.
A new printer for West Word. A wish last year but becoming firm reality. Any month now…..
We’re looking forward to some positive and encouraging headlines in 2003!
BRUSSELS DECISIONS AND PROSPECTS FOR 2003
By Hugh Allen, Secretary, MNWFA.
It has been well rehearsed in the Press that the Scottish fishing industry faces bleak prospects for 2003, but the truth of the matter is there is still much work to be done and options to be explored in a bid to find a way around a crisis that has been artificially created by un-elected and unaccountable civil servants in Brussels.
The deal that was agreed by the Council of Ministers in December has nothing whatever to do with fish stocks or conservation, and indeed when literally interpreted, would prove entirely counter productive to conservation; the deal is all about European politics, trade-offs and money.
In the 16 years that I have been attending, or following the December Council meetings, I have never seen the Commission operate in such a blatantly arrogant and cynical fashion. There is quite rightly already talk of referring the matter to the European Ombudsman.
In straightforward terms, Annex XVII of the TAC Regulation (which sets the quotas for the year), dictates that those fishermen who work with nets of 100mm and above will have their fishing time cut to 9 days per month, plus a further 6 days made up from two in respect of the last round of decommissioning, two for steaming time and two for the next round of decommissioning, to which the Government has presumably committed itself by signing up for the package.
Those fishermen who work with nets of less than 100mm will have 25 days. In practice, on the West Coast this means that prawn trawlers working with single nets would not be affected, because the prawn quota remains the same, and few boats work more than 25 days a month anyway. West Coast twin rig prawn trawlers, subject to Scottish legislation that requires them to work with 100mm, would either have their month reduced to 15 days, or have the option of changing to a single net with a smaller mesh size, which as everyone knows, does more damage.
In other words, the smaller the mesh, and therefore the more immature fish that you catch, the more days you have in which to do it. There are also further serious implications for the prawn market, which is already oversubscribed, in that more small tails will be landed, and there will be the obvious temptation for whitefish boats to diversify into prawn fishing with smaller mesh size nets in order to achieve their complement of days.
These measures are due to kick in on the 1st February 2003, and because they are contained in an Annex to the TAC regulation, rather than as a regulation in its own right, can be expected to last for at least 11 months, and possibly even rolled-over or tightened for 2004.
So how did they come about, and how did the UK find itself isolated and our own ministers forced to vote in favour of measures which they knew may well annihilate part of the Scottish fleet, while at the same time achieve a negative conservation result?
The answer to the second part of the question is that as the British Ministers openly admitted, Commission officials had blatantly threatened to use Emergency Powers if their demands were denied, and the Emergency Powers would have led to a total closure. The Ministers were like turkeys forced to vote for Christmas, but given the choice between stuffing or cranberry sauce.
Following the international demonstrations in Boulogne, the European Fisheries Action Group was formed with co-operation among several nation states, united in their opprobrium for the Commission proposals, albeit for different reasons, and working to their own agenda. This Group met most days, and initially the meetings were well attended. But gradually the numbers grew smaller and smaller, as country after country was “bought-off’ with a deal to suit their demands, until finally only Scotland, England and Ireland were left.
If anybody needed further proof that, none of this was about conservation, they have only to look at industrial fishing in the North Sea which was unaffected by the negotiations, and in some cases by-catches were actually increased. Not only does industrial fishing remove the first component of the food chain in the marine ecosystem, but the by-catch of other species, both permitted and illegal is nothing short of a scandal. Just prior to the Brussels talks, two Danish trawlers were arrested with 500 and 700 tonnes of immature whitefish in their catch, and while we were out there, there was a further incident of another Danish vessel that had 1,000 tonnes of illegal by-catch. If left to grow, that 1,000 tonnes could possibly become 10,000 tonnes in two year’s time, and to give an idea of the scale of the problem, I saw about twenty industrial trawlers “grounded” in Esjberg last year because they had been caught with illegal by-catch.
While negotiations led to appalling prospects for the Scottish fleet, who in common with other Northern States have long since ceased to received European subsidies for new builds or modernisation, the same talks sanctioned further subsidies for new building and modernisation for the Southern States especially in Spain.
The UK Government could achieve better results from Europe, simply by fielding Ministers with a higher political status. Whatever one’s opinion may be of Elliot Morley, regardless of his own credentials, he is only a very junior Minister. Although he leads negotiations, a curious quirk of Devolution has meant that the second in command, Ross Finnie, is in Scotland, a more senior ranking Minister, in that he operates at Cabinet level.
On the other hand, the French for example, who always get their own way, send a senior Cabinet Minister to lead negotiations, which in turn delivers a powerful message in Brussels as to how important any given country regards fishing to be to its national interests.
Edward Heath was unequivocal on this issue when he deliberately traded away the British fishing industry as part of his ticket to the Common Market, and we have been fighting a rear-guard action ever since.
As to where we go from here, immediate priorities for industry representatives and officials now start with efforts to have Annex XVII removed as being inappropriate and achieving the opposite result to that which was, in theory, intended.
There is also the high-risk possibility of mounting a legal challenge, which might have stood a better chance if the Commission had invoked Emergency Powers. But a decision taken by the Council of Ministers becomes a legally constituted regulation, and since several States are beneficiaries, they could well jointly defend any action, with the potential for enormous costs if the case was lost. Thirdly, there will have to be rapid dialogue over transitional aid to support those vessels whose sea time, and therefore income has been halved.
Whereas the Regulation as it stands, is clearly divisive in that it allows part of the fleet to work away unaffected, and the other part to have their activities curtailed, any form of compensation package payable to the disaffected vessels, would be divisive in the opposite direction. But if this prevents diversification into the prawn sector, it is probably a price worth paying, if it can be achieved.
Fourthly, further work will have to be undertaken on a cod recovery programme, as national proposals must be submitted by the end of March, and after a re-evaluation of the scientific evidence, plans for restructuring the fleet accordingly, must be in place by July 1st 2003.
One final observation might address the alliances and the co-operation that have been painstakingly built up over recent years by the fishing industry, both with conservation groups and the scientists, but which evaporated into thin air when the chips were down. Having also been well and truly shafted by the Commission, the Scottish industry is now hard put to find a friend.
The Minister is due to make a statement to Parliament on Wednesday (8th Jan) and we shall meet again with officials the following day. Whatever that statement may contain, will probably determine the next move.
Yo Ho Ho and a pinch of (old) salt
There can hardly be anyone who hasn’t seen one of the articles about wicked little Arisaig telling lies to entrap innocent tourists. Has it been a fallow time for news? It featured in the Mail at the beginning of December, and since then to my knowledge it’s been in the Press and Journal, the Record, the Sunday Post, and finally the Times! And probably every other newspaper as well.
It started with a freelance writer in Skye who was doing a piece on Robert Louis Stevenson and rang me up to accuse us of lying in order to attract visitors to Arisaig. When I pointed out we didn’t need to lie to get visitors, he asked me ‘Why? What else have you got there?’ He asked me if we were going to be making anything of our John Silver’s 150th birthday (2nd Jan) and I said no, we hadn’t even realised that it was. He said the Post Office staff had told him we’d put up a blue plaque on Silver’s house—of course they had said no such thing.
By the time the article reached the Times, we were planning the 150th anniversary and the Tourist Board had printed 80,000 guides advertising the event.
The guide mentioned in the original story was a ‘600 page glossy guide to Arisaig’—I can only imagine they meant the Tourist Board brochure where the claim fills up a whole line. Tourist Chiefs are supposed to be so embarrassed they’re going to bin the lot.
The final word is an article by an historian in the Sunday Times of the 5th, which is tongue in cheek (we don’t sell plastic parrots either or wooden legs made out of Caledonian pine) but is an open letter to the Tourist Board in our defence!
Literary characters are often made up of composites of real people. While I argued at the time that Stevenson himself had named the friend he’d based the character of Silver on, the name could have come from our local inhabitant.
Lies? The claim originally came from our then Parish Priest who was convinced of the truth of it. Who are we to argue? Isn’t it all a bit of romance? As the Times also said ‘Some 150 islands around the world claim to be the original Treasure Island.’
A Happy New Year 2003 to one and all.
Christmas has come and gone again all too quickly, the first event being Christmas Dinner in Inverie Village Hall which was packed for the occasion. Carols were sung at the beginning of the evening and a scrumptious meal set in front of the gathered throng.
Next the school concluded Christmas Term with an unusual enactment of the Christmas story as if reporting from the Middle East, each pupil playing his or her part very well, interspersed with well known carols; parents, brothers, sisters and friends joining in. sadly it was an occasion when we had to say farewell to the Reverend Doctor Ben Johnstone (he says just call him Ben), who had been visiting Knoydart for many years as Minister and also as part of the Lifeboat team. Ben leaves Mallaig to take up a position in skye and we wish him and Annette health and happiness in their new venture. The school children presented Ben with a bread board made of Knoydart Ash wood, inscribed by the children and presented Annette with a bouquet of flowers. The morning concluded with delicious refreshments made by the parents and head teacher Eilidh Klemm.
There were carols again on Christmas Eve, this time by candlelight, as the excitement gathered momentum for the young and festivities were under way.
New Year saw fewer visitors in Knoydart and some locals away. However the pub was open, there was a bonfire on the beach outside and fireworks at the end of the pier to herald the start of 2003. We also heard some booming reports ricocheting round from the Sound. Was this anything to do with Jamie at Doune?
ISLE OF MUCK
Sadly the remarkable spell of fine weather (17 days without serious rain) did not last until Christmas Day but the weather was never bad enough to hinder getting to the island or the seasonal celebration. These commenced with the school party on the 20th. The increasing school roll made casting for the Nativity Play easier than in previous years. This year it was ‘Granny goes to Bethlehem’ with the original story heavily adapted by Eileen Henderson and a team of parental scriptwriters. The leading role, ‘Granny’, was played by Angus Graves with a superb supporting cast who showed no problems in memorising their many lines. The audience was most impressed. The play was followed by party games, a buffet supper and then Father Christmas arrived with his sack full of presents.
Christmas Eve saw many of us in the sheep fank singing carols to the light of 100 candles and a glowing brazier. The singing was even better this year due to the presence of Ian Nimmo-Smith and his talented family. And there was more the following day when I led the annual Christmas Day service in Port Mor House where Ewen MacEwen and Judy Taylor provided lunch for everyone.
New Year’s Eve saw us once again at Port Mor House, though by then the numbers had been greatly increased by the many friends who had joined us to see in 2003 with music and dancing. The beach was crowded next day with participants in the traditional New Year’s Day hockey match. It was earlier this year because of the rising tide.
On the farm, 2003 means more plans for the future. This summer I will be dipping my to into the waters of Agri-tourism with a trailer ride round the farm every Wednesday to coincide with the arrival of the Sheerwater. Mull Meat is back again with the Mule ewes due to start lambing on the 20th March. The Tobermory community butcher’s shop is keen on more local pork so I am hoping to get another sow. This autumn Isle of Muck Farms in conjunction with Lochaber Siding attended three Farmers Markets in Fort William. This year it could be more. If any farmer or gardener in the Small Isles would like to share the stall or contribute produce, do get in touch. It won’t make you rich but every little helps.
Bracken control; in 2002 we achieved around 70% control of all the accessible bracken on the island using a rotary slasher. The rest should have been sprayed. This year I am hoping to cover the whole area using both methods. Weed control in grassland, nettles, thistles and rushes, I am hoping to experiment with a number of sprays. More on this later.
Lastly there will be further commentary on the agricultural scene not strictly related to Muck.
ISLE OF EIGG
The ongoing easterly winds coupled with the spell of cold weather this December have resulted in some westerly bird movements, reports John Chester, our wildlife warden. Amongst species to reach Eigg were a flock of 54 golden Plovers, up to 3 Jack Snipes and a Snow Bunting. Water rails also seem to have come in, as evidenced by a dying bird found on his Cleadale croft by Neil Robertson and another caught by a domestic cat in the marshy area of Cuagach.
The most notable occurrence though has been the numbers of Little Auks appearing offshore, with 8 counted off Kildonnan Point by Stuart Miller, who also spotted a passing Killer Whale. Equally unusual are the unseasonable records of Gannet and Puffin offshore.
Meanwhile this dry weather almost brought the Cleadale population to the brink of despair: no TV picture for days on end. (As a result, be prepared for the mushrooming of satellite dishes by the side of the road next year as Sky digital comes to the rescue.)
On the plus side, the calm weather made all the socialising that goes on at this time of the year even more enjoyable. The Lunch Club Christmas special at the Cleadale Day-care Centre, was well-attended, as was this year's panto - "James and the Giant Peach" put on by Karen Johnstone at the Primary School. Starring Lachlan MacFadyen (7) in the roles of James and the Grasshopper, Bryony Kirk (8) and Kirsty-Ann Robertson (6) as Aunts Sponge and Spiker, Glowworm, Spider and Centipede and wee Kathleen Robertson (4) as Ladybird and Silkworm, this brilliant production was much appreciated by a packed island audience which also included our visiting Japanese friends Taro, Asako and wee daughter Rio, who made a long-awaited return visit to Eigg after 7 years.
As to Santa, he had no trouble landing his sledge at the tea-room. And with two new windows in St Donnan's Church, the Christmas Eve carol service at St Donnan's was as warm as it was heartwarming. The church looked ever so beautiful with all the candles, flowers and greenery decorating it. A big thank-you goes to Mairi Kirk who provided all the parishioners with a wonderful spread of delicious Christmas nibbles, much appreciated by young and old alike.
House ceilidhs and Christmas visits followed in the usual fashion and we are now looking forward to the New Year ceilidh featuring Eilidh Shaw and Friends. Those who did not get the Harem Scarem CD "let them eat fishcakes" in their Christmas Stockings should rush to get one immediately: lovely voices and tunes make it a must in any traditional music collection. Happy New Year to you all!
What beautiful weather - as long as you don’t have to drive anywhere, and you’re not a bird or small mammal - or in fact a Barr’s worker!
The dance on New Year’s Day was reportedly one of the busiest ever. There were a lot of visitors in the area and most of them tried out their dancing skills to Fergie and the band, many after attending the excellent Daimh bash in the Inn at Lochailort.
The Christmas Party was also well attended, the usual 40 or so children out of a village population of 70 under the age of 11, with mums, aunties, grandmas and a dad or two. Our youngest baby this year was Euan Dempster Barrie at the age of 9 days old. Thanks to Santa for handing out all the presents, sandwich makers Bridie, Joanna and Betty, cake and sausage roll bakers Jackie Ross and Daphne Heaps, Anne Cameron for the party games and Arthur Campbell for the loud voice and skill with the tape recorder. We must also thank Lodge Mallaig for once again giving us a supply of sweets and apples. Also thanks to Lindsay Fleming for being Santa’s little helper earlier on in the month. Thanks also to Hugh Cameron and Duncan Lee for putting up the hall decorations.
The school roll is set to drop in the next few years as there are 11 in P1 and 10 in P2 at present (or the other way round) with much smaller classes working their way up the school.
I haven’t managed to make a Quiz Night this winter yet, and January looks no better as I shall be at Su’s talk in aid of her next trip to Romania. Here are the results of the one held on Friday 6th December when six teams battled to win 97 available point:
1st. Fuctifino Ltd - Gus and Noggie scoring 72,
2nd. The Dull Sparks - Martin Cameron, John Cassidy, Margaret MacEachen - notched up 67 points.
3rd. What the Butler Saw - Isobel Morton, Jim Morton, Maria Martin and Fiona MacLellan - with 66.5.
The Astley Hall is as busy as ever. Scottish Opera is visiting this month, the Guides are due to start meeting soon and Feis Eige hopes to be offering fortnightly music workshops. Meanwhile it’s time for me to put another funding package together for an arts promotion programme for 2003/2004. Lined up possibles already are Blazin’ Fiddles in March, Daimh in April and Harem Scarem in May, with the Scottish Guitar Quartet giving us some jazz in May or June.
It’s a shame we still haven’t got satisfaction on the heating and lighting in the Hall, at least the Christmas parties were warm enough.
While talking of the Hall, we are going to miss Jack very much indeed. He kept an eye on everything, made running repairs as needed and helped out at many functions and events. In a way I feel the signed tiles are a tribute to his memory, as he was so tireless in getting the job done. I think everyone will be pleased to think that wee Tam will have a home with Marian.
Let’s hope 2003 is a much happier year than last, for everyone.
Local Photographers Rule OK !
Dr Iain Gartshore has a photograph in Outdoor Photography this month. (It’s a shame we couldn’t reproduce the picture of himself and Mary in its full glory with the lovely beach behind them).
He isn’t the only local photographer to find fame however, for the Marine Harvest 2003 international calendar has no fewer than four out of its six photos taken by people in the West Word area.
The blurb says that ‘Staff around the world have captured the spectacular scenery and wildlife’ in their areas. The Highlands and Islands comes out tops then, unlike the Country Life calendar which David Stewart MP was disgusted with!
Stephen MacDonald, Morar, and West Word’s new ’birdie’, has an entry with a shot of puffins on the cliffs on Westray; Marine Harvest’s Lab Manager at Lochailort, Tony Laidler, has got the November slot with Bernary; and Arisaig’s Arthur Campbell has not one, but two out of the six scenes, the loch at Arieniskill and the viaduct at Glenfinnan.
Odds and Ends
Basking Sharks are safe at last after an historic UK success at the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting in Chile. In an 11th hour vote at the UN's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Santiago, Chile, basking sharks were uplisted to CITES Appendix II. A similar proposal by the Philippines also saw whale sharks uplisted.
The Scottish Islands Network produced its first copy in December and West Word seems to be on their mailing list. The Scottish Islands Network has been established to promote, publicise and advance the interests of Scotland's islands and Editor Graeme Robertson has been making a database of 400 contacts. He has travelled around many island communities and writes: ‘Encounters with blistered feet, bike-saddle sores and cow pats have all been very character building experiences.’ the SIN website (yep, that’s right) is www.scottishislands.org.uk.
Recycling for good cause: don’t throw away your ink cartridges, old mobile phones, or even your Christmas cards! Hand your ink cartridges and phones into Ann Martin or Arisaig Post Office or leave them in the Astley Hall - they’ll make money for the Hall or the Environmental Group, whichever you specify. Your Christmas cards can be recycled - leave them in special boxes in Tesco or WH Smith or give them to Su Coyne in Arisaig. The Woodland Trust is hoping to better last year’s record of 34 million cards (671 tonnes - enough to stretch from London to New York). Proceeds will help the creation and care of new woodland across the UK. 22 new woods have been created in the last four years.
Coastal Ranger Report
Double oh two, have you completed your mission? You have thrown at us throughout the year, lashing rain in July, severe storms in June, glorious May and two of the best and mildest winters for a long time! Double oh three is standing by, can we face his mission!!!
But seriously, what a year it’s been. Fair enough, there were periods when it looked as if the country was about to sink completely, but our mini climate in God’s own country, gave us by far the best weather in the Britain, despite the best efforts of the forecasters!
My year has been a bit different. For those of you who follow my column (hey hey the numbers are rising!!) you will know that I was interrupted in the early part of the year with a brief visit to the Belford, and enjoyed a short recuperation period messing about with O.S. maps in giant scale, for some poor Indians to try and understand and commit to computer status! Obviously my walks suffered for a while, but nevertheless the numbers overall were pretty good although down on last year, as I believe most people’s were.
Having said that, the numbers that trailed after me over hill and dale, on a monthly comparison were actually fractionally up, long may it continue. Each year I have tried to incorporate one new walk in the programme, and despite both attempts at Sidean Mor (the new one for 2002) taking place in disgusting weather, still a few hardy souls enjoyed the challenge. I must admit, I get a good feeling when walks are finished and the participants are smiling and promising to come again. Yea! Maybe it is all worth while! So far I haven’t decided what new walk I can put in for this year, so I’m open to suggestions?????
Throughout the year, in the background, the Loch an Nostarie path has been taking shape, so a big thank you to those willing volunteers, particularly Iain whose machinery made the project viable. All the sleepers are now in place, and by the look of the ground in between, they are being well used! Perhaps what we really need is a boardwalk all the way!? Those of you who do the walk will have noticed that we have installed some fancy signposting to go with the route markers, so there is no excuse for not getting out there and enjoying the scenery!
I still have to cart and install some ridiculously heavy route markers for the last bit to Loch Eireagoraidh, and then all will be complete, and it’s over to you! To further complement this work, I am in the process of finalising my little booklet of walks round Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig, and it looks like there is just a slight possibility that the Council will bear the cost of printing. If so, I hope that it can be a free handout, but if I have to find the money to have it printed, there might have to be a very small charge to cover the costs. I will of course do my best with the begging bowl (am I really always on the scrounge?) as I feel that this type of leaflet has long been needed.
Enough! I apologise for this page of boredom, but the truth of the matter is that I have actually been taking some of my holidays this month, and I haven’t really done anything worthy of note! And anyway it’s been Christmas and all that! I will just have to wait and see what January brings and try and do better next month! In the meantime I wish you all the best for 2003 and try to incorporate a walk or two with your local Ranger (01687 462 983) in your resolutions (preferably in the ones you keep!)
A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
A look back over the year.
Jan 2002: Mrs Dean
I had an article in January 2002 re Gillies’s of Ernisaig and Bourblach, and from that article I received recently from J R M Anderson a copy of the Oban Times obituary column, 17th April 1917, which states:
‘An interesting link with the past has been severed by the death at Bracara, North Morar, on the 6th March, of Mrs Donald Gillies. The deceased lady, whose maiden name was Sarah MacKay, was born 81 years ago at South Uist and went to Morar when 20 years old, to act as housekeeper to her uncle, the Rev. D. MacKay. She was of the MacKays of Reay Country and her grandfather, Angus MacKay, was the first grocer in South Uist.
‘Her mother, Jessie MacDonald, was first cousin to Flora MacDonald. Mrs Gillies’s husband, Donald (1827-1914) who died at the ripe old age of 88, represented the 10th generation of Gillies’s at Ernisaig Farm on North Morar.
‘Their eldest son, Peter F Gillies, is in the employment of the Perth Gas Corporation, where he has been engaged for over 20 years. The above photograph of the deceased Mr & Mrs Gillies was taken a few years ago. The Photo has the title ‘Second Cousin to Flora MacDonald.’’
JRM is wondering if anyone can help him make the link to Flora.
Lo and behold, Donald and Jenny Gillies from Perth got in touch and we filled in some spaces. They were very informed on the family and I promised them Mrs Dean’s contact number; alas, it is ‘buried in the mountain’ but I will find it and pass it on.
Nov. 2002: MacQuarries of Eigg, and MacAskills.
I had an e-mail from Fiona Glover in B.C., Canada, who has thrown a spanner in the works. She is descended from Hector MacKinnon, so am I.
According to the history of the families, Margaret MacAskill was the daughter of Doctor Donald MacAskill and married Lt Neil MacQuarrie. This is confirmed by a family tree kept by Duncan Ferguson in Eigg, and family details to be found on ‘Eigg: the story of an island’ by Camille Dressler.
However, Fiona has a death certificate which puts Margaret as the daughter of Kenneth and Mary MacAskill of Eigg, rather that Doctor Donald. Hmm. The plot thickens, must get myself to Eigg and Edinburgh in the spring time.
Dec. 2002: The MacIntosh Family.
I had a wonderful letter from Morag MacDonald, née MacIntosh, who now lives in Pitlochry, and was one time of Kinloid, Back of Keppoch and school teacher in Arisaig (and subscriber to West Word).
She informed me that Farquhar Mathieson was first cousin of Archbishop Donald MacIntosh, Glasgow, 1922-1943, because his mother was a sister of Christine, the Archbishop’s mother, who’d married Kenneth Mathieson, and she and Kenneth had a shop in Salen before Farquhar and Marjory came to Arisaig.
Of Provost John MacDonald, she tells me he was the son of John MacIntosh and Mary MacDonald. He was born in Glenfinnan on 25th October 1837, studied in Blair’s College (1851-55), then went to Scots Benedictine Monastery of St James, Ratisbon, Bavaria. Ordained in 1860, he arrived back in Scotland in 1861. He was stationed in South Uist and latterly in Moidart, until his retirement in 1919. He was the last of the Scots Clergy to be trained in Ratisbon before it was closed.
The aforesaid John MacIntosh and Mary MacDonald were Morag’s great-grandparents.
Of Msgr J E Brown, she tells is her own first cousin, and was born in Winnipeg in 1916, son of Anne MacIntosh and William Brown. Ordained in Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver, in March 1942, he served in various parishes in British Columbia before retiring a few years ago. He celebrated 60 years of his priesthood in March 2002 and Morag is very much in touch with him.
She also has a photograph of Sarah MacLellan, ‘Granny Riverside’, her own father John MacIntosh, who has the farm at Glenan Cross, and the Archbishop taken in front of the MacDonells house at Bracarina.
Sarah MacLellan was grandmother to Ishbel Portnadoran.
Happy New Year to all readers.
Allan Gillis in Ottawa has kindly sent us this article he wrote a few years ago. Under Captain John MacDonald, the brig Alexander left Arisaig for Prince Edward Island, carrying 210 passengers. They became known as the Glenaladale Settlers.
A Cape Breton Connection to the "Alexander", 1772
by Allan J. Gillis ©1997
It is with very great interest that I recently read James P. Lawson's article "Passengers on the Alexander", which appeared in The Island (Spring/Summer, 1991). He is to be commended for taking on the almost impossible task of identifying all of the emigrants on that ship. He has obviously done his research well and his account of them is both informative and enjoyable.
It happens that I am a descendant of some of the "Alexander" people and more of my relatives in Judique are descendants of others on the same ship. Judique, which is on the west coast of Cape Breton (that other Island!), was where Michael MacDonald of South Uist and Prince Edward Island settled in 1775, the first European to do so. He may also have been one of the passengers on the "Alexander" who didn't waste much time in seeking freehold land elsewhere.
" ...very early in their experience of Prince Edward Island, some of the immigrants decided not to remain, but made up their minds to cross over to Cape Breton, where they hoped to deal directly with the government... " (SCPEI p.30)
There has been, ever since, a connection between Judique and Prince Edward Island. If one examines the Dominion censuses for the Judique area from 1871 to 1901, one will always find persons born in P.E.I. It seems to have been a good spot for Judiquers to find wives but there are males from "the Island" recorded as well. This was also true in 1813, when a militia list for the Judique area contained a fair number of young men who had been born in P.E.I. Some of these were from families who had come over on the "Alexander".
Using Mr. Lawson's article and a few other sources, I think that I am able to add a bit more information on the "Alexander's" passengers. Some of this is tentative and needs more research. Other items are quite definite. I'm sure that much more could be done to tie in many Judique people with their relatives in P.E.I. I, for one, am looking forward to the gathering in P.E.I. this coming summer, where I hope to encounter some of my long-lost relatives!
The following is some information that I hope will complement Mr. Lawson's fine article.
1. Mr. McInnis "the mason" (alone): This was Robert MacInnes "Clachair" (stonemason) of Blair Atholl, Scotland. He married Mary MacEachern of Kinlochmoidart and P.E.I. She was a daughter of Hugh "Bàn" MacEachern and Mary MacDonald and was a sister of Bishop Angus Bernard MacEachern of Charlottetown and Savage Harbour. She had two sisters and a brother who settled at Judique, Inverness County, Cape Breton.
Robert MacInnes and his family were among the earliest settlers of Judique and his name appears on the first petition for land in the Judique area (1789). Most of the other petitioners were also Scotch who had come to P.E.I. in 1772 or later. The MacInnises are still on the property in Judique that Robert MacInnes settled in the late 1770's or early 1780's. (see: MHIC pp.189, 209, 233; MJI p.7; 1789 Petition)
2. Ewan (Eoghan or Hugh) MacEachern was a son of Hugh "Bàn" MacEachern of Kinlochmoidart and P.E.I. He was a brother of the bishop and a brother-in-law of Robert MacInnes (above). He is one of the petitioners of 1789 and he settled at Judique for a number of years. He later sold his property at Indian Point, Judique, to the MacDonalds and MacDonnells and returned to P.E.I. The MacDonnells are still there. (see: MHIC p.190; 1789 Petition)
3. Hugh "Bàn" MacEachern of Kinlochmoidart and his wife and six children (see above) moved further east to Savage Harbour. (SCPEI says Hugh Bàn, wife and nine children, p.44)
4. Donald MacEachern - b/o Hugh "Bàn", moved to Savage Harbour. (SCPEI pp.30-31)
5. Alexander (Sandy "Retland") MacDonald, may have been on the voyage. He, also, was one of the earliest settlers at Judique and his descendants are still there and are yet called "the Retlands". He doesn't appear in the 1789 petition but some of the MacDonalds mentioned may be of his family.
6. Father James MacDonald, s/o Miss ______ MacDonald "Maighstir Alasdair" and Ranald MacDonald, was a first cousin of Capt. John of Glenaladale. He was born ca.1736 and went to the Scots College in Rome at age 18. He was there eleven years and was ordained in 1765. For the next seven years he was a missionary in Scotland, with his headquarters at Drummond. He was fluent in Gaelic, Latin, Italian, French and English. He died at the home of Colin MacKenzie at Scotchfort in 1785. (His last words, spoken in Gaelic, meant "Keep the Faith!") Being the only priest on the island, he was buried without the benefit of a proper Catholic ceremony. Although he had ministered to the needs of the Acadians as well as his own people, all of them carelessly forgot, in time, the exact location of his grave. They had no Gaelic-speaking priest on the island until Angus Bernard MacEachern arrived five years later. Also, it is recorded in HCCENS that his cousin, Father Augustine MacDonald, was later buried next to him. (SCPEI pp.13-14, 19, 27-28, 31-31)
7. Donald MacDonald, brother of Fr. James, was said to have been born at Culloden. He and his brother Ranald were the progenitors of the "Tracadie" MacDonalds of P.E.I. (GSOI pp.63-64)
8. Ranald MacDonald, brother of Fr. James and Donald (see above)
9. John MacDonald (ca.1754- ), son of Ranald "Borrodale" MacDonald, son of Angus, was about 18 when he sailed for P.E.I. in 1772.
John was a cousin of Captain John of Glenaladale and one of his early cronies in P.E.I. He later returned to Borrodale and his papers are widely quoted in the article "Clanranald's Tacksmen of the Late 18th Century".
"In a letter written to him by Captain John of Glenalladale in 1806 there is a reminiscence of the times when he lived on Prince Edward Island. [Your old acquaintance, the Sandhill River, where you have caught many a trout, eel and perch, guzzled many a draught of rum, cracked many a horse joke, swore like a trooper and stunk like a badger.]
By 1780 he was a merchant in Quebec although there are no details of this. In 1785, on the invitation of his uncle Alasdair an Oir, Glenalladale [Alasdair "of the gold"; bought the Glens from Captain John: my addition], he returned to Scotland to factor the Glens and to assume at the same time the tenancy of Borrodale." (GSOI pp.71-76)
10. Donald Henderson (and his wife), Eigg. Donald Henderson appears in the "Eigg Roll" of 1765 and is listed there as age 20 and single. (ER)
11. Neil Henderson is in the "Eigg Roll" as Neil McErrick of Galmisdale (an approximation of the Gaelic for Henderson - MacEanruig). He was 18 in 1765 and was single at the time. (ER)
12. Lauch(lan) MacKinnon (and his wife) could be one of the two Lauchlan MacKinnons on Eigg in 1765. The first is Lauchlan MacKinnon of Cleadale, age 29, married to Marjory MacDonald, age 26. They have two sons: John, age seven, and Malcolm, age two.
The other Lauch(lan) MacKinnon is Lauchlan MacKinnon, age 19 in 1765, of Fivepenny in Eigg. He was single and may be the one who actually emigrated (He was closer in age to the two Hendersons and to Alexander MacDonald, and more likely to go with them each being single or recently married.) (ER)
13. Alexander MacDonald could be any one of three young men of that name in Eigg in 1765. The first is Alexander MacDonald of Cleadale, age 19, son of Widow Ann MacDonald. The second, also from Cleadale, is Alexander MacDonald, age 22, son of Mary MacLeod. The third, by the same name, is age 27 and is from Howland, Eigg. (ER)
14. Dr. Roderick MacDonald, cousin of Capt. John, studied medicine in Edinburgh and practised in the Highlands and in P.E.I. He drowned while crossing the ice at Tracadie Bay. He left a wife, two sons, and four daughters. (They moved to Vernon River in 1801). Their descendants are known as the "Doctor" MacDonalds. (SCPEI pp.36-37)
15. Michael "Mór" MacDonald; trader, poet, ship captain, md. Anne MacEachern, d/o Hugh "Bàn" in 1772. (MHIC p.233) The first white settler in Judique, he came from P.E.I. in 1775. He composed "Fair is the Place". (see below)
FAIR IS THE PLACE
"O 's alainn an t-aite
Th'agam 'n cois na traghad
'N uair thig e gu bhith'g aiteach ann
Leis a'chrann, leis a'chrann,
Ni mi'n t-aran leis na gearrain
'S an crodh-bainne chuir mu'n bhaile;
'S cha bhi anna oirnn's an earrach.
Chuirinn geall, chuirinn geall."
"Fair is the place
I have here by the sea,
When it come time to till it
O. With the plough, with the plough.
I shall make bread land with horses
And put the cows to graze;
We shall not be in want in spring,
I wager, I wager."
From a song by the South Uist bard, Michael "Mór" MacDonald, composed at Judique, Cape Breton, in 1775, translated in The Emigrant Experience by Sister Margaret MacDonell."
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