WEST WORD
COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

List of Issues online

January 2007 Issue

HAPPY NEW YEAR! . . . BLIADHNA MHATH ÙR!

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Eigg
West Word ten years ago
Coastal Ranger Report
Local Genealogy & History

Letters, e-mails and comments are welcome.
Contact Details & How to Subscribe
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

So what will 2007 hold for us in this corner of North West Lochaber?
Some predictions include:

Do you have any others? West Word looks forward to reporting on them for you.

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BY BANGER TO BANJUL
Mallaig Marine Superintendent Mr Keith Dickson is pictured here with his sponsor bedecked Volkswagen Golf, on Mallaig Pier prior to his departure on the 27th December to compete in the Plymouth to Banjul Challenge to raise funds for the Royal National Mission for Deep Sea Fishermen in Britain and the Don McMath School, Banjul, which is in Gambia. Keith and co-driver Tim Mowat hope to raise £10,000 via the rally. The Challenge is to buy a car for less than £100 and then drive it to Banjul, which means our intrepid drivers will pass through 6 countries, travel for 22 days, drive 4425 miles, use 160 gallons of petrol, cross 2 seas and drive for 110 hours in temperatures of -10ºC to 40ºC on poor roads. When they arrive the car will be auctioned locally and the proceeds donated to local Gambian charities. You can make a donation and keep up to date on Keith and Tim's progress via the website www.themissingmen.moonfruit.com


KNOYDART
A stormy December meant that there were three weeks in a row during which the ferry and other boats found it difficult or impossible to come into Knoydart - Mondays always seemed the worst, for some reason. However, the new pier has been proving essential, with the "dog-leg" providing shelter in conditions which would have been impossible with the old pier.
It seems to be the start of the flitting season here in Inverie, with Steve and Cath now in Farm Bothy and Sarah in the new Post Office flat. Accommodation is as pertinent an issue as always, and the Foundation is still working hard at creating policies which will enable local workers to have somewhere to live. We still have people in sub-standard accommodation, and others effectively homeless, and this is a situation everyone is trying hard to remedy.
Knoydart Forest Trust has been awarded money from the Big Lottery as part-funding towards plans for the next five years, which includes the re-structuring of the forest and implementation of the Recreation Plan. They've been very active throughout the past month as well, with road-repairs and rhododendron eradication coming on well. Although the road to Airor is basically becoming one big repaired pothole - surely Highland Council can't have forgotten about our wee peninsula? My postvan isn't designed for off-roading...unlike a Foundation Landrover which was driven a bit too quickly off-track by persons unknown, causing a lot of damage and the subsequent removal of keys from ignitions throughout the peninsula.
Seasonal festivities were introduced in fine form with the world première at Inverie Primary School of "The Very Hopeless Camel". Star performances from all who took part - I bet the video taken by Mark will be fought over in 20 years time when Knoydart's budding actors become international stars. Special mention has to go to Ewan, who despite being in awe at the size of the audience, turned in a confident and amusing portrayal of a rather confused camel who was, at the end, a very happy camel indeed.
Christmas was quiet as always, with a lot of people away visiting families, but things soon started to pick up with the arrival of people for Hogmanay. Not quite as many visitors as previous years, with the weather perhaps putting some off (or was it the lure of ceilidhs at Rum and Eigg?) A great New Year nevertheless, with main celebrations at the Bunkhouse and Jim and Sandy's A-Frame. Dr Woombs - you're never too old to party...
All the best for 2007 to our friends in the small isles and on the mainland - we look forward to meeting up with you for a wee dram at some point.
Tommy McManmon

ISLE OF CANNA
Last month saw the Ratters' departure! A few green faces on the way to Mallaig we hear, due to the weather conditions and nothing absolutely whatever to do with the night before. No doubt. Thanks for the farewell dinner, many happy times and all the good work they've put in over the past year on Canna…it's a quieter place without them. We made some good friends and are sorry to see them go. Best wishes to the team and good luck to Biz and Paul for their wedding next year. We'll see you back in the summer, on holiday this time!
Although the team have finished their work here, monitoring will continue for another year at least. This will involve checking the perimeter bait stations regularly, which should provide information on the activities of mice and other small animals. The test monitoring project at the school was a great success…no rats, and the mice are back. Three cheers for the mice!
The school Christmas Extravaganza was well attended this year, thanks to the last minute arrival of friends and relations coming to stay. Thanks everyone, for the food and goodies, and it was wonderful to hear the schoolhouse resounding once more to so many joyful voices raised in festive celebration. Next time we'll try to pick some carols that people actually know…
The Christmas Trees made it out in time, but it was a close call for the Christmas Dinner that mysteriously missed the last ferry…one turkey might have gotten away if it wasn't for the Skipper and crew of the Five Sisters who, despite appalling conditions, battled her way full throttle through wind and wave to deliver the festive goods; a true and valiant spirit! Aye, the turkey wasn't the only embarrassed bird on the pier that day.
It's quite strange for us as you can imagine, being involved in the whole process of bringing families to Canna…and quite a hard task already to decide which applications to put forward. We anticipate that the process will become more difficult as time goes on, and we've been amazed at the number (and quality) of applications. Don't worry Lawrence, we'll be sending a few of them your way!
The short list for new families has been drawn up, and we'll be expecting to see quite a few folk out to stay for a few days in the forthcoming months. No decisions to be taken lightly, and no guarantee of course that we'll get it right. Whatever the outcome, we hope that the coming year will be prosperous not only for Canna but for every community, however small or remote.
Happy New Year, folks!
Geoff Soe-Paing

ISLE OF RUM
Planning permission has recently been submitted jointly by SNH and The Phoenix Trust to the Highland Council Planning Department for a new activity centre on the Isle of Rum, replacement accommodation for the hostel, currently in Kinloch Castle. The proposal is for 40 beds and two independent hostel kitchens rather than one, in recognition of the fact that the existing hostel kitchen cannot cope with the number of visitors when it is busy. It contains an education centre, and other facilities which will be removed from the castle.
Floor plans for the castle restoration proposals were also submitted for approval in principle from the planners. There has been full consultation with the planners and Historic Scotland, and agreement reached over both the plans for the castle, and the new Hostel. Once approvals are in place, the Phoenix Trust will be able to approach potential funders with a viable scheme in place. Building work on the new hostel will not commence until funds for the total restoration of the castle are in place. The restoration of the Bullough Mausoleum was completed satisfactorily in November 2006.
Thanks go to to Douglas King, Hon Sec of the Kinloch Castle Friends Association, for this information.
Chrissie MacDougall

ISLE OF EIGG
December saw the wildest weather for a long time: 5 Mondays in a row without a ferry is certainly a record in recent Eigg history, but we may have to get used to such disruption if the climate continues changing as we are told it does. Still Christmas parcels managed to go through, thanks to John, who is still our best postie and the king of the tennis table, even though he has had to concede the 2006 Laig Bay Scrabble championship to Brian, and the snooker title to Simon!
The run of bad weather prevented Maggie but not me and Felicia from attending the inauguration at the Scottish parliament of "Travelling the distance", an artwork celebrating the contribution women have made to democracy in Scotland, and featuring words written about and by 100 women, who all nominated each other: Leslie Riddoch nominated Maggie who nominated me - thank you Maggie - and I in turn nominated the island women, as on Eigg as well as all the other islands I have been to, it is the island women who have the vision and the sense of purpose to make things happen! Not that men don't make their contribution, but it is nice to see the role of women highlighted for once.
The return of all the young ones from Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Falmouth brought a lot of life to the island as families gathered together for the festive season which kicked off with the Christmas dinner at the Old Pier which saw some 40 islanders gathering together for a great meal, followed by the Christmas play on Thursday 21 December. Written by Aidan Mac Eoin, it which was a great success, featuring pirates looking for a treasure and led by some little dancing fairies to Bethlehem where they finally found the real "treasure" in the manger. The primary and nursery school kids and the school staff were absolutely brilliant as per usual and Katie MacKinnon was justifiably proud of her fairy great-granddaughter Catriona! Then Santa visited Eigg the day after at the community hall where fun was had by all. After the Christmas Carol service held at St Donnan's church, beautifully illuminated with lovely brass candelabras polished for the occasion and decorated with greenery and flowers, many in the congregation went for the now traditional Christmas Eve at Cuagach, whilst late on Christmas Day, nearly half the island ended up revelling at Eddy and Lucy's new house under the Cleadale cliffs! It was deemed a must to try the acoustic of the house, not entirely finished yet, but near enough for Eddy and Lucy to have had their first Christmas dinner there. Button box, pipes and banjo made for a lively ceilidh and there was plenty of room in the sitting room for an eightsome reel! More revels with the Eigg shop's party before the islanders gathered together again for Hogmanay at the hall, featuring the Fantabulous Ceilidh band led by Kathryn Nichol of Sandy Bells' fame with Julian Sutton on the button box, Tom on flute and guitar and Eigg's own Damian Helliwell on the banjo. They were joined by Donna on the pipes, and Lindsay on the "Sexyphone" for some more cool tunes. Energetic dancing followed the Bells and a great time was had by all, whilst as is now customary, the great music carried on for a good few days until Kathryn and Tom's departure!
2007 started well for Eigg, an important year for the island, as it is going to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its ownership by the community in partnership with the SWT and the Highland Council, which should see the island producing its own lekky in time for the anniversary Ceilidh! To the great relief of our island directors, the initial phase of this project is now completed with the installation of a large shed near the telephone exchange which will house all the necessary electric equipment. Well done! Everything is therefore on course to get the solar panels in situ by February. Bliadhna Mhath Ùr !
Camille Dressler.

ARISAIG
Some (thankfully short) power cuts over the festive period reminded us of the bad old days of ten years ago or so, when the electricity would go off and stay off! I remember one Christmas rushing my turkey from my non-operational electric oven to my absent neighbour's gas cooker in an effort to cook the dinner. I must have covered some distance rushing back and forth basting it and adding the veg. Anyway, things are better now though I'm sure quite a few gave up on New Year and went to bed when the lights went out about 10.30pm - but they were restored with about 15 minutes to spare to the Bells - cheers to the Hydro boys! The Christmas party went well as did, (see right) I believe, the New Year Dance. As I said last month, there are a lot less children than there were a few years ago but most of them came and Heather organised some great games with Arthur's help.
Decision time is coming - whether or not we have a programme of concerts and drama etc. this year. The grants have changed and are now much harder to get - we'll have to see. We have the Scottish Opera at the end of the month - where else can you sample the Opera for £7 or less? I wonder how big the audience will be?
Corrie's are in the process of digging a trench right along the waterfront just now, from the Land Sea & Islands Centre to the shop car park - and possibly beyond-for the new sewage works. The Community Council have been very busy this year tackling the upcoming Local Plan and the issue of a Marine Park, which I'm sure West Word will be reporting on in the coming months. Apart from that, some interesting things planned for the village this year perhaps…
Ann Martin

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The Canna Seabird Recovery Programme
On December 19th Biz Bell and her Wildlife Management International Ltd (WMIL) team left Canna on the Loch Nevis confident that Canna was now rat free and that the local mouse population was flourishing.
When John Lorne Campbell gifted Canna to the National Trust for Scotland in 1981 he was hopeful that not only would the island and its community be well looked after, but so would its rich wildlife, particularly its internationally important seabird colonies. Indeed because of the large number of nesting seabirds Canna was declared a Special Protection Area (SPA) under EU legislation in 1995, which gave the colonies extra protection.
The seabirds on Canna have been monitored for over 35 years by volunteer members of the Highland Ringing Group. During the late 1990s group members became concerned about the declines in seabird numbers on the island. Between 1995 and 2004 shags declined by 50%, razorbills by 62% and the island's important Manx shearwater colony dropped from over 1500 pairs to under five pairs. Research by the Highland RG and the NTS showed that an increasing rat population was decimating the eggs and chicks of the breeding birds. Brown rats are not native to Canna, they were accidentally introduced from boats hundreds of years ago. The recent run of milder winters appeared to have resulted in a large explosion in the island's rat population.

The NTS drew up a plan to eradicate rats from Canna. Funding was secured from the EU Life Nature Fund, with the trust and SNH also contributing. WMIL a New Zealand firm that specialises in eradication campaigns won the tender to conduct the campaign. WMIL had previously eradicated rats from Lundy in the Bristol Channel, so had a good track record.
Volunteers were also recruited to help the WMIL team and so in September 2005 they arrived on Canna to begin the mammoth task of clearing the island of rats.
The first job was to set up a bait station grid. Plastic tubes (kindly constructed by prisoners at Edinburgh jail) were to be laid out on a 50m grid all round the island, though on the higher exposed tops the grid was every 100m. The bait stations, plus the wires that hold them into position, were carried or dragged out in dumpy bags across the entire island. Up slopes, down cliffs, onto islets - a massive undertaking. It took almost two months to get the full grid established. In all 4338 bait stations were laid out covering the entire island (see map). As the grid was being established we were trying to source the poison we wanted to use. It had to be a first generation poison, which would only kill rats and not the island's important birds of prey. It also had to be in a wax block, so that it would not get blasted out of the bait stations by strong winds or soaked by the rain. It also had to be one licensed for use within the EU.
Eventually the only poison in a wax block we could find was Ditrac Blox, containing diphacinone. Unfortunately it was no longer produced in the UK, so we had to import 23 tonnes from the USA. On the 28th October the poison was delivered to Canna on the Spanish John.
One problem was that although the poison would kill rats it would also kill other mammals. Rabbits could be excluded from the bait stations by placing a wire through the entrance, so that they could not squeeze in. Mice, however, could still access the stations. The Canna woodmouse is distinctive from its mainland counterpart, being slightly larger and darker. It was decided to capture a sample of mice and ship them of the island whilst the poisoning campaign was in operation. Over 150 were caught, with half being sent to Edinburgh Zoo and the rest to the Highland Wildlife Park at Kingussie, for safe keeping.
Between the 2nd and 4th November every bait station received at least 10 blocks of poison. For the next few weeks each station was checked every five days, bait take was recorded and new bait added. It was estimated that by the end of November over 90% of the rats had been killed. Poisoning continued throughout the winter and at the same time a monitoring grid was established to look for signs of surviving rats. The monitoring grid consisted of rat 'goodies' such as soap, candles and chocolate wax blocks (which were made by melting down candles and adding cocoa powder to the molten wax). These proved attractive to the remaining rats and teeth marks could be used to confirm rat presence.
The last known rat was poisoned at the end of February 2006. Since then, and over the summer, regular checks were made of the monitoring grid with no rat signs being detected. At the end of summer, a small group of mice were returned to the island to see how they would fare. They were studied by students from Napier University, who demonstrated that the mice did well on their return to Canna. Over the summer there had been, however, a few unconfirmed reports of rats.

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In September 2006 Biz Bell and her WMIL team plus a small group volunteers returned to Canna for more intensive monitoring work. A grid of over 5900 monitoring points was established across the entire island and was checked thoroughly once every 5 days. No signs of rat were detected, but lots of signs of mice. The mice were obviously now flourishing in the absence of rats. It was also obvious that many had survived the previous winter's poison campaign on the island. We are pretty certain that if any rats had survived, they too would have been attracted to the blocks as natural food supplies drop in the winter, but no such signs were found.
During December 2006 the bait station grid was dismantled and a permanent monitoring line established. This will be checked regularly up till March 2008 to confirm that all rats have indeed been removed from the island.
It is now vital that we prevent any accidental re-introduction of rats to Canna. Both the Loch Nevis and the Spanish John have been provided with bait stations and poison, which are installed on board in order to reduce the chance of any ship assisted re-introduction. Mallaig harbour also uses bait stations to control rats and poison has been provided to the other Small Isles to try and reduce rat numbers on their piers. It is hoped that all fishermen will be vigilant, particularly those that berth overnight at Canna, disposing of any vagrant onboard rat well before they reach the island.
A quarantine and contingency plan has been established on the island. All items arriving on Canna will be checked for signs of rats. Any suspect package or cargo will be isolated and checked and if necessary quarantined and surrounded by traps. Permanent trapping stations will be maintained on the island around the pier and along the shore road to the Square.
If there are any potential sightings, these will be followed up with an immediate site visit and questioning of the observer. This may well lead to further intense monitoring and the establishment of a trapping grid to deal with any intruding rat. It is vital that we remain vigilant so that the tremendous work done by the WMIL team is not jeopardised.
The removal of rats from Canna will obviously benefit the island community, who suffered so much damage and loss from rat activity. It is also hoped that the island's important seabird colonies will start to recover and return to their former glory. There are already some promising signs. In summer 2006, follow the rat eradication, surveys showed that the number of breeding Puffins and Razorbills had shown a significant increase, whilst Manx Shearwaters managed to produce chicks for the first time since1997.
The project will continue up till May 2008. If you want further information or wish to follow its progress you can check it out on the project website at www.nts-seabirds.org.uk . This has been a tremendous undertaking by many people, a lot of whom were volunteers. We are grateful to all of them and to the Canna islanders for their considerable assistance. It looks as though the project has been a success, we now look forward to see how the island's wildlife responds in the absence of the rats.
Bob Swann
Canna Seabird Recovery Project administrator

FISHING FOCUS - By John Hermse, Secretary of the M&NWFA
The deal from the December Council was broadly good for the West Coast Prawn sector as the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was increased by some 13% to 19665 tonnes. The days which we are allowed to catch the increased TAC have however been cut in a bid to reduce effort on cod catches. Given that West Coast prawners only catch a minuscule amount of cod, this effort cut does not seem to have any logic but then most of the fisheries measures emanating from Europe seldom make any sense. For example, this years December Council negotiation process was initiated many months ago with strategies, counter strategies and non- papers (there is such a thing) flying about like confetti and treated with reverence and importance (as if they meant anything). There is no doubt that the Scottish Industry and the Scottish Executive were well prepared for the annual Brussels bash but this did not count for much as the EC changed the goalposts and wrong footed our UK "Team" shortly before the negotiations were due to begin.
When it comes down to the nitty gritty, it is political horse trading and Machiavellian posturing from the best negotiators which wins the day. In Ben Bradshaw (the UK minister as UK is the Member State), we have an extremely poor negotiator, who doesn't want to understand or help the fishing industry as it may interfere with his impeccable green credentials. It must be remembered that Ross Finnie, our well informed Scottish Minister, must sit silent and allow this to happen as the UK has eminence when negotiating on behalf of the Scottish Industry. We are lucky on the West Coast this year that we have had a decent enough deal from Brussels, more by luck that anything else. The North Sea prawn and whitefish fleets have however been on the end of yet another disastrous series of cuts from Brussels.
It was with incredulity that I read the comments from Islington South and Finsbury MP Ms Emily Thornberry - whose constituency includes the PM's former London home - who stated that the "seas are important to everyone - not just those who represent constituencies on the margins of Britain". The poor dear was probably referring to Hastings or Brighton as she probably has never heard of Scotland or indeed Mallaig!
Have a prosperous 2007.


Crofting concerns
This month we start a new regular column, contributed by Joyce Ormiston, Scottish Crofting Foundation Council Member.

Crofting Reform Bill
The Reform Bill in its amended form goes through parliament at the end of next session . A Committee of Inquiry headed by Prof Mark Shucksmith is being set up to discuss in full a further reform bill with consultation groups locally. It is crucial that crofters attend these meetings and that we begin formulating our ideas for the future of crofting now or we will find that there will be others, not even involved in crofting, who will come forward more forcibly with their ideas for a 'vision ' We all need to have ideas and opinions gathered before the discussion groups begin so as not to miss a valuable opportunity to have our say. If not then it could happen that the real needs of the crofting community are overlooked in favour of the views and 'visions' of the idealists with the loudest voice .

Bull Scheme
Adverts have recently appeared to remind those hiring a Dept Bull that the Crofting Commission have extended the deadline for people submitting applications for bull hire. There is a big decrease in the amount of bulls applied for this year and it is hoped that extending the deadline to 22nd Jan will help raise the numbers and keep the scheme going.

Induction courses
The Crofting Induction courses start in the High School, Fort William on Jan 10th and are very popular. The SCF are looking for people who can provide experience and time for a fair remuneration to help with organising future courses and courses in other areas . Please get in touch with your local SCF Rep if you can help.

Transport Regulations
New regs coming into force on the 5th Jan will mean most of us need to have Short Journey Authorisation for any journey over 40 miles and under 8 hours done in connection with an economic activity. You will have to self certify your competence and have no animal welfare convictions. Travelling to Shows will be exempt from authorisation as the purpose of attending shows is primarily pleasure - longer journeys [over 8 hours] will require a Long Journey Authorisation and vehicle and container approval. Derogations from some of the more less economically viable and impractical aspects of vehicle and container approval have been obtained but not a full derogation as was hoped, making things difficult for crofters from the islands and remote areas . From Jan 2008 a further cert of competence will be required proving that the individual transporting the animals has had some training, this will be by a theory test [Hopefully it is expected to be a relatively not too difficult test with several multiple choice answers] for short journeys [under 8 hours] but will be a lot more extensive for those seeking longer journey authorisation.
Joyce Ormiston, SCF Council Member


West Word - ten years ago
Rachel Carr's photograph of Loch Morar in the Winter Sun adorned the cover of the January West Word of 1997 and although the local MP Sir Russell Johnston is also on page 1 criticising the Government's Cold Weather Payments Scheme, the main story is headlined 'Disappointment over proposed Scottish Office Delay for New Road' - a somewhat similar sentiment that we feel 10 years down the road (so to speak).
Inside the front cover were details of a West Word Writing Competition with TV presenter Melvyn Bragg and Glenuig's Iain MacDonald set to be the judges.
Page 3 was almost totally 'given over' to a detailed report on the Housing Development at Strath View in Arisaig, officially opened by Mgr Thomas Wynne, while on page 9 Glenuig's Billy McKail's Charity Mission to Mostar (Bosnia) told of houses being demolished by the bomb blasts and gunfire of the Civil War.
The Fishing Scene told of an initiative by the Mallaig & North-West Fishermen's Association - backed by the Highland Council - to produce a blueprint for fisheries management off the Scottish shores, the Study/Report to be carried out by Mr Ross Campbell, a Marine Biologist and an experienced fisherman. Tankers using the Minch was another topic on the fisheries page.
Editor Jill de Fresnes had visited 99 year old Bella Muir at her home in Lovat Terrace with Bella reminiscing about 'Christmas & New Years Past in Mallaig'. On the adjacent page Morar journalist Fraser Grigor provided 'The Hogmanay Ball - a Once Upon a Time' tale!
Pages 6 & 7 provided 'a quick flick through the last 12 months' with Mallaig's East Bay Watch Babes and Kilchoan visitors to the Muck Open Day illustrating the Editor's Review of 1996.
There were two articles (with further ones to follow) in West Word's occasional series of 'A Sense of Adventure'. Intrepid traveller Barry Austin (Eigg & Arisaig) was off to Ethiopia while Inverie's Giles Trussell was on board the 30ft yacht Cascade, hoping to complete the North Atlantic Circuit 1996/97.
The Gàidhlig '96 initiative was described (in both languages) on page 24 whilst over the page 'The History of Morar Motors' penned by Roy Stewart told of some of their 'escapades to make a business viable'. Roy also pops up on the letters page thanking everyone for his retirement party!
Jo Cowan provided the January News from the Encounter Group while Camille Dressler (Eigg), Ann Martin (Arisaig), Lawrence MacEwen (Muck), Anne Trussell (Knoydart) and Eoghan Carmichael (Glenuig) were among the West Word informants in the Round and About Section.
Mallaig Primary School pupils provided their New Year Resolutions and I wonder if Donna Clarke (Primary 4) ever managed to a) stop fighting with her brothers; b) stop biting her nails and c) stop eating sweets. Over to you Donna!
RMM


A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)

Clann Eachainn as a' Àrasaig - The Arisaig MacEachens.
Below is a short genealogy of one branch of the Arisaig, MacEachen families. It is that of Tommy MacEachen, (Post Office) his cousin Cathie MacDonald, née MacEachen, Silversands, and their siblings.
Tommy tells us that his family came originally from South Uist, to Gaoidail and then to Back of Keppoch. It is more than probablenthat they are descended from the MacEachens of Howbeag in South Uist, one of whom, Neil MacEachen, later changed his name to MacDonald. Neil MacEachen escorted Prince Charlie on his flight across the outer isles after the '45 and left with Tearlach from Loch nan Uamh in 1746 thus going into permanent exile. Neil's brother, John MacEachen, held a tack in Glenuig Between 1759 and 1772 and when he lost that tack he came to Gaoidail and became known as Iain Bàn Ghaoidail. Eventually the family left Gaoidail, settling in various places and there are descendants in this area, to the present day.
We haven't yet been able to trace Tommy and Cathie's forebears back before the 1841 census where we find them living in the area classed as "Traigh". The place where they actually lived, was called, the "Bealach" which was a hamlet behind the whin bushes as you come down the hill to Cuillin View and Port na Luchaig. (sorry, rather a "ropach" description) Living there in 1841, was Donald MacEachen aged 30, Tommy and Cathie's g.g.grandfather, with his wife, Johanna, née MacEachen, aged 25 and their son, John, b. 28th June 1838.
By 1861, Johanna MacEachen, living in Port na Luchaig, is a widow with seven children. John, 23, Catherine, 22, Johanna, 16, Angus, 14, Catherine, 12, Donald, 11, and Alexander, 8. This and an entry in St. Mary's Death Register, suggests that her husband, Donald MacEachen, d. on 8th November 1855. There is a marriage recorded on February 12th 1861 between John MacEachen, Strath, Arisaig, son of Donald and Johanna, and Margaret Campbell, Glenelg. John was possibly living in Arisaig with MacEachen relatives at that time. In
1871, Johanna, a widow, aged 60 years, is living in Gorten a' Chaolais with her son Donald aged 20. Also in 1871, in Port na Luchaig, we have John, his wife Margaret (g. grandparents of Tommy and Cathie) and their children, Ann, 9, Alexander, 7, James, 3, Donald,1, and Mary, 2 months.
In 1881, John MacEachen is described as a widower living with his aforementioned children but, there is an additional child, John, aged 6 years which indicates that Margaret died between 1875 and 1881.We haven't been able to find a death entry for Margaret In 1891, only Ann, Mary and John are still at home with their father, John, now aged 68. Below are the descendants of John and Margaret MacEachen - not necessarily in order of age.
1. Donald, son of John and Margaret, m. Lexie (Alexandrina) MacLeod, Arisaig, b. 1878, d. 1963, (grandparents of Tommy MacEachen) dau. of Ewen MacLeod and Ann MacInnes and twin sister of Peggy MacLeod, ex nurse who died in 3, High Land, Arisaig in 1967. Donald and Lexie lived in the croft of Achadh na Sgiath (Achnaskia) and had 8 children. A. Angus, (Post), b. 1901 who m. Anne MacPherson, Cross Cottage, Arisaig and their children are, Morag (m. Donnie MacKenzie, Ballachulish, now dec.) and had James and Angus, Tommy, (Arisaig Post Office) who married Rose Milne, Arisaig, and had Allan, Margaret, Joanna and Donald, Donnie (Morag's twin) who was unmarried and was drowned in Oban and Chrissie, who lives in Penicuik.
B. Mary Ann, b 1903, who married Angus MacDonald, born in Glenan, (poss. his people originally came from Tougal) and known as "Angus Beasdale" as he was the stationmaster at Beasdale Station. They had no children.
C & D. Margaret (Peggy) b. 1910, and Jessie Ann, b. 1912 were both unmarried and died in Arisaig in the 1990s.
E. Alexander (Alasdair) b.1907, was married to Isabella ("Bellac I'n Dubh") MacDonald, born in Tougal, a sister of the above Angus MacDonald (Beasdale) They had no children.
F. Morag b. 1905, m. John (Johnny Bàn) MacDonald of Silversands, Arisaig and had 3 children, Cathie, d. aged 2 years, Margaret Mary who had Gerad, Norman, Jim, Catherine and Annette. The last 4 named are, as far as I know, in the Fort William area. Gerad m. Mairead MacKellaig, Beoraid, Morar and they have children. Donnie who m. Cathie MacEachen, Silverbeach, Arisaig and had, Sarah, Mary, John, Margaret and Anne.
G. John (Iain Dhomhnaill Ruadh) b.1902, was ploughman in Traigh Farm, remained unmarried and died in the 1970s.
H. Hugh (Ewen) b.1908 was brought up in Silverbeach with his uncles and aunts. He m. Ella ? and they lived in Crieff. Their children were, Annette, Sydney, Graham, John and Hugh. nfi.
Back to the remaining 5 children of John and Margaret MacEachen. Their son, 2. Alexander, had the croft at Silverbeach, Bun a' Caimbe and his sisters, 3. Ann and 4. Mary. lived with him. Mary had been married to Angus Gillies, Moss and had three children, Angus, killed aged 18 in the 1914-18 war, Katie, who as a young women fell off a bicycle and developed breast cancer from her injury and died, and Margaret who became a nun and died ca. 2002. On the death of her husband, Angus Gillies, Mary left Moss and came to live with her brothers and sister in Silverbeach.Their brother, 5. James, m. Kate Walker from Uist (grandparents of Cathie, Silversands) and had 2 children, Katie, who died young and John. Kate Walker died in childbirth so James and his son, John, who were living in Glasgow, came home to live with Sandy and the sisters at Silverbeach. .James' son, John, (affectionately known as Johnny Ruadh) inherited the croft and also, became a coal merchant and contracter in Arisaig. He m. Mary MacKellaig. dau. of Archie MacKellaig, and Beatrice Cattanach, (from Knock, in Aberdeenshire) Shore Cottage, Mallaig. Johnny and Mary MacEachen had 7 children. Mary who died at birth, Cathie, m. Donnie MacDonald, Silversands and they had, Sarah, Mary, John, Margaret and Anne. Archie m. Isobel Boyd, Mallaig.and they had John. Beatrice m. Sandy Hay, Inverurie, James m. Pat Smith, Rum, and they had Christine. Margaret m. Malcolm MacArthur, Harris and Donald, m. Eileen MacFarlane from Lochinver and they had Donna. Johnny Ruadh died on Aug. 21st 1966 and his wife, Mary MacKellaig, died in July 2000.
6. John, the youngest child of John and Margaret, went to Glasgow and married. He has descendants but my information as to this branch of the family is too sketchy to include here.
We hope to follow up this article in later editions, with more MacEachen genealogies some of which can be directly traced back to the Howbeag MacEachens and from them, back to the MacEachens of Druim an Daraich ca.1615


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