Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
May 2005 Issue
VE DAY: 8TH MAY
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
A BOAT CALLED ARISAIG
The generosity of our local communities has resulted in the gift of a boat called 'Arisaig' to a family in Sri Lanka. And soon there will be another, called 'Morar'. In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster in the Far East, collections in Arisaig, Morar and the surrounding area raised more than £2500 and it was decided to do something practical with the money. It was sent free of charge by Mallaig's branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland to a friend of Ranald and Su Coyne, Wickrama Jayawardena in Sri Lanka.
The original idea was to purchase one 19ft fibre glass boat with outboard engine and fishing gear, and the rest of the money would go to ordering six smaller boats.
However, Mr Jayawardena has written back advising that the money would be better spent on a second 19ft boat, rather than the six small ones.
The fishing boat Arisaig has been presented to Mr Wimaladasa, a single man, seen here with his whole family - father, mother and brothers. We hope to carry more on the family and their village in a later issue.
Wickrama Jayawardena has advised that so many small boats are being donated that a better use of the remaining money would be to buy another 19ft boat. The small ones can only be manned by a single fisherman, cannot go far out to sea as they have to depend on a sail and the wind, and can only go out for a few hours at a time.
NEW TRAILS BIKE CLUB
A group of local youngsters keen to form an official trail bike club in the Mallaig area have formed a committee and drawn up a plan of action to take the idea forward. They have appointed an Events Co-ordinator and a Fund-raising Co-ordinator and their future plans include a beach clean-up and the formation of a website.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh has agreed to give financial support for the first three years and to provide a piece of ground behind the water treatment plant where the group can practice. Other help has been forthcoming from PC John Bryden and members of the Mallaig Motor Cycle Club, Bertie McMinn and Tony Austin, and Andrew Russell, Chairman of the Scottish Auto Cycle Union who came all the way from Dunfermline to address a meeting. The Mallaig Club will join the SACU and Mr Russell has agreed to come to Mallaig again to train officials and club members and to set out and approve the trials ground as a formal event site. SACU has a National Program of small projects to educate and help young people ride motorcycles legally and safely, and provide insurance and a code of conduct.
The members have been busy designing a logo and drawing up club rules. West Word looks forward to publishing reports and photographs of their future activities.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Listening to the radio while typing in Robert's piece on West Word - ten years ago I'm hearing and reading about VE day celebrations. Ten years ago we all really pulled out the stops locally for the 50th anniversary, with street parties and bonfires - is anything being done here for the 60th anniversary? I haven't heard of anything. Is this because there has been less 'publicity' from the powers that be? Is it all getting too far away? One thing that has been encouraged nationally has been for veterans to access lottery funding to return to places where they saw service-if any reader of West Word has done this, or knows of anyone who has, we'd love to hear about their experiences. I've only just realised that the peace treaty was signed on my father's 25th birthday on the 4th May - what a present!
Lots of meetings and angst going on about the future of the primary schools - but you'll find nothing in West Word pages. This is very frustrating for us, but we can't carry any reports until things have been resolved.
We carried our last column from David Stewart MP last month, as the boundaries of the electoral wards have been changed. We thank him for all his monthly articles, always geared towards West Word's area, and we thank also his able assistant Olivia Bell - I shall miss our monthly emails, Olivia.
On another completely different note - years can go by without a date standing out, although in the first 12 years of the 21st century there'll be one a year. This month we have two - 05.05.05 and 20.05.2005
News in Brief…
- A fatal accident inquiry in Fort William into the death of Ronald Brown at Arisaig has ended, with its findings to be given at a later date. Barr Construction Company Ltd have already been fined £40,000 after admitting health and safety breaches in relation to Mr Brown's death, which occurred when he became trapped in an aggregate hopper while working on the construction of Arisaig By-pass two years ago. The local community raised a cairn to his memory near the site of the accident.
- Residents of Glenuig celebrated the tenth anniversary of the opening of their Village Hall on Saturday 2nd April with performances from top Scottish artistes. Glenuig first become famous as a venue for traditional musicians during their ten year run of Music festivals, which helped raise funds to build the hall. 1000 CDs of the 10th Glenuig Music festival of 1994 were issued for the occasion, and a commemorative booklet of articles has been published. Now the community are turning their efforts to rebuilding the community shop. Good luck to them!
- There is a new threat to our island communities as record high fuel prices could eventually start to affect ferry fares throughout the Caledonian MacBrayne network. The ferry operator currently participates in an arrangement known as 'hedging', where fuel is sold to the transport company by a third party at a fixed price - removing the risk of rising prices affecting the buyer. However, CalMac's current hedging agreement is due to expire this summer, which could leave the company facing doubling fuel costs. The company will only increase fares in line with inflation this summer but cannot rule out above-inflation increases thereafter if oil prices remain high.
- Thousands of small newsagents may face closure if proposals to change the way their newspapers and magazines are delivered go ahead. The current 'universal supply rule' ensures that wholesalers are obliged to deliver newspapers and magazines to every retailer - big or small - throughout the region they operate in. The rule also ensures that customers pay the same price for publications regardless of their location. However, new rules being considered by the Office of Fair Trading may favour supermarkets and big chains as they are considering removing the universal supply rule for magazines - enabling wholesalers to deliver to any shop in the country - not just those in their own regions. Separation of magazine and newspaper delivery could make delivery costs to small independent newsagents prohibitively high as supermarket chains would be able to negotiate good deals with big discounts from wholesalers while smaller newsagents would struggle to afford the higher charges that wholesalers could impose to continue delivering.
- Following the storms there are increasing fears that further erosion may create new islands in the Western Isles. On South Uist, the Atlantic Ocean is in danger of breaking through to flood into four freshwater lochs on the west coast of the island after parts of coastline as much as 50 metres wide were torn away by the recent bad weather. There are similar concerns on the island of Vatersay, where the north and south parts of the island are linked by a narrow, exposed strip of land which is less than 200 metres wide at high tide. Benbecula resident Susan Cooper has posted some of her photographs which show the extent of the damage caused by the January storms throughout the Western Isles on a website. View her images at http://community.webshots.com/user/stellamaris123
Our thanks to the Scottish Islands Network Newsletter for the last three items.
The big event of April was the wedding at Glaschoille House - frequent visitor Neil Birnie from Wilderness Scotland married Claire on a miraculously rain-free day. The Old Forge provided the marquee and bar, and Dave Marriott pulled all the stops out to produce a stunning buffet. Special mention has to go to the hard work of the Forge staff - and Hannah's herculean effort with the dishes (which were subsequently donated to the village hall). A great night, with a good local turn-out at the ceilidh.
Work is continuing on the Pier, with difficulties with the coffer-dam pilings meaning that, well, they're not going to be used for a coffer dam. The next pier issue is related to the large blocks that are going to be used in the construction - and where they are going to be stored. It looks like a large area of the beach towards Millburn is going to be used for this purpose - which was not in the original plans. The old slipway is currently being reconstructed as part of the pier contract.
The village generator has finally been repaired, and the hired one returned to the mainland on the Spanish John. The hydro scheme seems to be working fine (touch wood). Dave Marriott has retired from the Knoydart Hydro board - the community thanks him for all the time he's put into it over the years.
Community discussions have been ongoing regarding various development schemes, with the plans for the sawmill perhaps being the most advanced. Tim has proposed revitalising the building, and turning it into a working concern again, with most people agreeing that this can only be a positive thing. The Forest Trust may have an opportunity to turn part of the area into an office and working space. The Trust have been conducting interviews for rhododendron cutters, with trained chainsaw-operators coming from far and wide to attend an interview. The woods are still choked in places with rhodies, and further clearance is sorely needed. Congratulations to Lynn and Koa, who have been allocated Farm Bothy, and will be moving in as soon as Mark's cleared up all his fishtanks and flippers. Mark and Angela have moved into their new house, which seems to have appropriately named itself "The Long House" - the builder's housewarming party promises to be a cracking evening.
Royal Mail are advertising for a postal assistant - someone to cover me for my holidays. No word as yet on how many are applying for the post, which earns the lucky winner the right to drive the hallowed post van.
Over 20 tickets have been sold in Knoydart for the Sound of Rum music festival - we're not sure if it's the music or the socialising opportunities which we're looking forward to most! Look out for various Knoydart boats arriving over the weekend. It sounds like there's a healthy contingent going over from Mallaig, Morar and the Small Isles - the weekend has the potential to be the ceilidh of the year. Pray for nae midges or rain…
Knoydart residents wish to pass on their best wishes to Rick, who's unwell in Raigmore Hospital. Haste ye back, Rick - we're thinking of you.
ISLE OF MUCK
25th April, and many of the islanders gathered in the Craft Shop. They had come to join Alan Lamb's last service here before his retirement on 1st May and listen to an inspiring sermon delivered with more than a touch of sadness. For 11 years ago, Alan left his first retirement to fill the vacant charge of Arisaig, soon to be joined to the islands. And for 11 years Alan and Helen have cared about and for all those who attend church in our parish and many who do not. This was marked after the service when I presented them with a card beautifully painted on slate by Claire Walters and a cheque from everyone on the island. And we sat outside in the sunshine and enjoyed a final meal together. A memorable evening!
On the farm, lambing is nearly over and it has been much better than I feared considering the condition of many of the ewes. Just as many twins as usual but too many barren which of we had been scanning would have been apparent a couple of months ago. Like last year a number of these were among the 'mules' and in future they are being replaced by Lleyn crosses. Two Lleyn tups went out with the ewes last November together with two Blackfaces. At the start of lambing far more than half the lambs were Lleyn crosses, though in the 2nd week it was nearer 50/50.
ISLE OF RUM
Life is usually hectic in early summer, but preparations for the festival are making things twice as crazy. Needless to say, everything is sorted and tickets have almost sold out. However if anyone out there still wants one they can try online at www.thebooth.co.uk or ring 460225 for last minute availability. And for anyone reading this who already has a ticket, PLEASE don't forget to book onto a ferry, we would hate to see anyone stuck on the mainland. There will be free workshops available in fiddle, drums, bodhran, spoons, whistle, Irish dancing, guitar and willowcraft. If you wish to participate in the music workshops please bring your instruments.
The school is still mostly roofless and under repair, but despite this and school operating temporarily in the village hall, we have managed to acquire a new teacher, Mr Stuart Poole, who will be starting later in the summer.
Lucy Galbraith, who until recently was the chef at the Castle, has been appointed the new Manager, and to replace her as the chef we have the delightful Chris, from Glasgow.
Stuart is back from his travels in New Zealand, full of stories of exotic places, animals and food. However, he has put all these thoughts aside and donned the rubber gloves and got back to his chosen vocation of delivering the new calves into the world. When he's up to his armpits, we know he's glad to be home.
ISLE OF EIGG
Despite the weather during the first half of the month more resembling February than April, spring is now well underway on Eigg with masses of Primroses, Bluebells & Ramsons bursting into flower everywhere & the first Early Purple Orchids appearing at the end of the month. Gardeners on Eigg are complaining though that plants have not advanced very much due to the low night temperatures. Our SWT warden also tells us that spring migrants did begIn to arrive in earnest throughout the month, after a slow start: Sand Martin on the 3rd, Willow Warbler on the 12th , followed by Common Sandpiper and Cuckoo on 18th, Swallow on the 19th, Blackcap on the 21st and Common Tern on the 30th . Nothing particularly unusual appeared though 3 Canada Geese flying over on 13th was an odd sight for Eigg. More expected was a passage flock of 96 Pink Footed Geese heading north on 20th while a count of Black Guillemots on the same day (courtesy of Eric & his boat) produced an impressive 265 birds! The first butterflies are also on the wing with particularly good numbers of Peacocks, a species that was absent from the island throughout most of the '80s & '90s. Surely this is another example of the benefits brought by the Trust's conservation policy in only a few years.
The first Minke whales have also been sighted in our waters. Should any Leatherback turtles follow them so far north, the children of the Eigg Wildlife Watch are ready to warn anyone about careless disposal of plastic bags on the beach and at sea which can all too often be mistaken for prey by the beleaguered turtle, skeletons of which are sometimes washed up on our shores. They have produced a beautiful display about the danger facing Leatherback turtles - with a fairly large but not quite life size model of the turtle and its favourite prey, the jellyfish, which can be seen at the Old shop interpretation display.
Whilst farmers on Eigg are busy dealing with lambing, much preparation is underway for the summer season, the hall nearing completion in readiness for the 12th June celebrations, steady advances being made in the Eigg alternative energy project. A lovely new display for the pier centre waiting room about visitors to Eigg in the 1930's has been prepared for the Eigg History Society by Susanna Wade-Martins, an active member of the society and author of "Eigg, an island landscape," now re-edited with new photographs from our 3000 photo archive. The History Society mug featuring a detail of the famous Eigg pictish slab is now for sale in the island craftshop, which has also stocked up on Aidan MacEoin's CD "Rustic", a must buy for anyone this season. Aidan is planning "a poem and a pie, or a pint" events, so watch this space …Meanwhile piper Donna MacCulloch has got her tented music and dance studio up at the pier, so visitors beware, you are entering a culturally active zone when you set foot on Eigg! The community certainly enjoyed the workshops and shows by the Collaborators theatre company - the Flight of Icarus and the Snow Queen, which enchanted young and old alike on Friday 29th April, kicking off the island's summer programme of music and drama. Next, the "Uncommon Harp" with Scottish harpist Ruth Walls, and then we are all off to Rum for the festival! See you there!
Lawrence writes above about Rev Alan Lamb's retirement, and I know it will be covered fully in the next issue of West Word. There is going to be a service celebrating his Ministry in the Church at 6 pm on Sunday 8th, followed by a reception to mark his retirement at the Hall, to which everyone is invited. It is a sad time and marks a big change in the way of things.
The Land, Sea & Islands Centre is entering its sixth season, and is doing very well signposting visitors to places to stay and things to do. There is always room for more volunteers, so it could be open for longer each day, so if you can spare a few hours once or twice a week, enjoy meeting nice people and would like to share your enjoyment of your community and its heritage, please let Elizabeth Fleming know! The SOE book has proved a big seller, with a number of sales from the internet, and there are all sorts of crafts made by local people on sale too, so if you're looking for that gift with a difference, don't forget to have a look in the Centre's shop.
The Astley Hall now has a slide projector and wall screen for people to use, and by the time of the concert on the 10th I hope our new A-boards will be in evidence. If you don't know what I mean by that, you will as soon as you see them! We are getting two, courtesy of the Promoters Arts Network of which we are members, and they have clear Perspex covers to protect the posters. Any group which has something on in the Hall can borrow the A-boards, so get in touch with me if you want to use them.
You may notice on the boards and the latest 'What's On in the Astley Hall' flyers (available from the Hall or Post Office, folks) that we have suddenly added Talla Arasaig to our advertising. This is in response to a request from the Community Economic Development Programme, which is part-funding all these recent additions, to use a bit of Gaelic if possible. Using the simple Talla Arasaig (Arisaig Hall) allows us to have Arisaig in the title (even if the spelling is confusing!) for those few people who don't know where the famous Astley Hall is!
A great concert from the Scottish Guitar Quartet, lovely mellow music that relaxed the listener immediately - and what talented composers they are. A very small audience though, which is a shame - but two people had come all the way from Kilchoan to hear them. I hope more of you will take the chance to hear Chris Norman and his Ensemble, my favourite CD (apart from Dàimh, Cliar and Harem Scarem of course!) and what I particularly enjoyed when he came two years ago was hearing him set the scene of baroque and renaissance flute playing and match it with the right flute from his large collection.
The puppets had a good audience however, and the workshops were well attended considering everything else seemed to be happening that night! We seem to be providing a mini tour for some artistes with the islands taking them too - such as the puppets and this month Ruth Wall. I think her recital will probably be in the Club Room-come to listen and enjoy a glass of wine….
Jim Porteous Wood was given a good farewell on Friday 29th April by the community in the unconventional style which we associate with him. Robert writes in this month's Personal Angle of how Jim designed the logo for the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association. Arisaig has also visibly benefited from his talent. The Old Library has an ink drawing of the establishment which has been used in publicity material; the Land, Sea & Islands Centre logo was done by Jim and he donated the fee back to the Centre; and most prominent of all, he drew the beautiful map used by Arisaig Marine on their timetables and posters. And I'm sure there's more...
Some months ago some Arisaig residents held a meeting to explore the idea of having an 'Arisaig Week' which could result in extending the season a little and involve the partnership working of various groups, individuals and businesses in the village. Lots of ideas came out of that meeting, and now we want to pursue them - ideas which included ways of involving young and old, using the Hall and the Centre, and attracting 'roots hunters' who come back to the motherland to find where their ancestors lived. We will also discuss the possibility of an Arisaig website for groups and items of local interest, and have a look at the funding which may be available in the run up to the Highland Year of Culture 2007. Please come along to talk about it over tea or coffee. Wednesday, 11th May, 7.30 pm in the Astley Hall.
Road to the Isles Agricultural Show
Once again the date of the Road to the Isles Agricultural Show is fast approaching - this year it will be Saturday 11th. June and it will be held as usual at Camusdarach, by kind permission of Andrew and Angela Simpson. The committee are hoping that there will be the usual strong support by exhibitors in all sections of the Show. The cattle and sheep classes are always well supported and the Highland Cattle are a very attractive addition to the stock lines.
The Industrial section has the usual wide variety of classes in Floral Decoration, Handicrafts and Knitting - fancy making a child's poncho, or entering a photograph of "stormy weather"? (that should be easy this year!) - and Baking and Produce - how about 4 oven scones or a plate of goodies for afternoon tea?
Schedules for all the classes are available at local Post Offices, Spar shops and other outlets in the area. They are also available from the secretary on 01687 450 655. Remember you have to be in it to win it, so give it a try!
Events in and around the Ring this year will include a Sheepdog Demonstration, a Highland Pony Pageant illustrating how ponies have been used through the years, and a parade of the Highland Cattle with some information about this ancient breed which is becoming more and more popular. Many of the regular exhibitors will also be in attendance, including the Plant Nurseries. If any local organisations or groups would like to have a stand at the Show then please contact Angela on 01687 450 221. The Show is an ideal way of reaching out to the local community to get your views or interests across so do contact us. There are lots of jobs to be done in the week before the Show to get everything ready, so if you have time or energy to spare then do come along and give a hand. It's all good fun and many hands make light work!
All this should add up to a good time for all so do come along on the day and enjoy all the thrills and spills of a good day in a beautiful location.
Lastly, please remember the Show Dance in the Astley Hall in the evening when Dodgieground will be providing the music.
This is an appreciation of Ian Pragnell of Bespoke Highland Tours, at Camusdarach Bothy, who died last August. Ian worked at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow for 27 years, becoming one of its most successful and respected scientists. He was highly regarded within the leukaemia research community and his expertise was acknowledged by his presence on a number of influential grants panels. In the mid 1990s he was appointed as a Personal Professor at Glasgow University in recognition of the excellence of his research. Ian's unassuming nature hid the fact that during his career he published over 100 scientific papers, many of which were in the top international journals. He spoke regularly at key international meetings and operated at the highest levels of international science. He retired from science in 1999 and spent his remaining years pursuing his other passion, namely organising cycling and walking trips throughout the highlands and islands of Scotland. Ian started Bespoke by hiring out cycles from the Bothy at Camusdarach in 1986. Over the years this developed into a busy business with personally organised cycling, walking and self-drive holidays, most of the clients coming from the USA, Canada and Europe.
In 1999 Ian decided to retire early and run the business full-time. His love of the Western Highlands and Islands was obvious and his knowledge extensive. He really wanted people to enjoy this area in the way he did. He was instrumental in setting up the Road to the Isles Group Website and gave a great deal of help to members who were starting out on the e-mail trail. He also managed the Group Central Information Point for the first few years: fielding enquiries to all those members without access to the internet and the wide range of enquiries from all over the world for information about the area.
His love of walking in this area and knowledge of the popularity of long distance trails made him very keen to develop a walk from Fort William to Mallaig. The Marketing Group are taking this idea forward in his memory and are investigating ways of funding the way-marking of the route and then its commercial development. Ian foresaw great benefit to the whole area from encouraging more walkers into the area.
Many people can make their mark on their professions, but Ian did much more than this. He made his mark on 2 completely different professions and people from all over the world in many walks of life talk of him with great affection. He delighted and charmed all who met him and he will be sorely missed.
Arisaig Highland Games and Clanranald Gathering - Wednesday 27th July 2005
The year 2004 saw the re-constitution of the ancient 16-member Council of the Isles by the installation of the Council of Finlaggan on Islay in June 2004. As was the case during the Lordship of the Isles 1154 - 1493, the Council will act as an advisory group to the Chiefs of Clan Donald.
It seemed an auspicious moment to endeavour to restore the ancient Arisaig and South Morar relationship with the Chief of Clanranald, as he has ardently strived to strengthen the bonds between the descendants of those who left these shores, and the descendants of those who remained in Scotland. Accordingly, the Arisaig Games Committee decided to ask Ranald A. Macdonald, Captain and 24th Chief of Clanranald to open the Arisaig Games. Clanranald was accompanied by Lt. Col. Ruairidh Allen, Clanranald's Lieutenant and the North Carolina Commissioner of Clan Donald; Lt. Col. Allen's wife, Diane, who is Convenor to Clan Donald in North Carolina; and MS Bhal Smith, President of Clan Cameron, Australia, N.S.W. who was accompanied by the President of the Clan Cameron Society in Scotland. The Toiseach, or Chairman, of the Council of Finlaggan, Major Bruce Macdonald, extended his stay in Scotland to attend the Games. An Comunn Eachdraidh Àrasaig brought along local historical and genealogical material, and additional material was provided by Clan Donald in the USA.. The day was a great success with the beautiful venue, lovely weather and good crowd, conspiring to give a real Highland welcome. The success of the event prompted the Games Committee to redesignate the annual event as "The Arisaig Highland Games and Clanranald Gathering", the first of which will take place in July 2005.
This year, in keeping with the popularity of last year's hallmark effort, Clanranald will be the Chief of the Games and we will again, have a Clan Donald, Clan Cameron and An Comunn Eachdraidh Àrasaig tent, with Clan and emigrant information. Returning this year will be Lt. Col. Allen, his wife, Diane, and MS Bhal Smith.
At 11 a.m. on the morning of the Games, there will be a procession through Arisaig village, led by Clanranald and The Lochaber Schools Pipe Band. Everyone is welcome to take part in the procession. Do join in, and lend an air of festival to the village. This year we have received an invitation to form an alliance with the Loch Norman Games, in North Carolina, as "Sister Games." Competitors have been noted to participate in both our Games and those at Loch Norman. We hope that this "sistership" will bring benefits to both games and help to strengthen the bonds between the two communities, indeed, between Highland descendants, worldwide.
The following greeting has been sent to the Loch Norman Games from Arisaig, Scotland, on the occasion of this year's games on 15th, 16th and 17th April 2005. The Captain of Clanranald travelled to North Carolina to deliver this message on a personal level and to officiate at these, our Sister Games as an official link between ourselves and our overseas kith and kin.
To the People of Loch Norman, North Carolina. U.S.A.
Arisaig Highland Games Committee and the people of Arisaig and South Morar, Scotland, would like to extend very special greetings to the people of Loch Norman and to express our sincere pleasure at the new association between our sister Games. The 24th Captain and Chief of Clanranald, will address you today, carrying a message of love and fellowship to our cousins across the ocean and, strengthening the blood ties between the clanspeople of the ancient lands of na Garbh Chriochan.
This, our first message of greeting to you, comes in the year that we have instituted the first Clanranald Gathering in Arisaig, certainly since the Chief lost his patrimony in 1827.
In July 2004, Clanranald consented to be our Games chief and to open the event at Traigh Farm. In this he was ably supported by our kinsfolk, Major Bruce MacDonald, Lt. Col. Ruaridh and Mrs Diane Allen and Mrs. Val Smith of Clan Cameron, Australia, N.S.W.
Looking ahead to the "Year of Highland Culture 2007", we will be holding our 3rd Clanranald Gathering and 71st Highland Games, where special efforts will be made to welcome home any of these descendant exiles whose hearts are so close to ours and who wish to visit the old home.
The beauty of Arisaig has not diminished over the centuries and the welcome that we extend to the people at Loch Norman and, indeed, to exiles worldwide, shines as brightly and comes with hopes of a long and happy association in the years ahead.
So what is it?
The strange object which suddenly appeared on the Morar River, and which we featured on last month's front page, has been creating a lot of interest. So what does it actually do?
Well, it's not what one person suggested - intended to catch fish for fish suppers, with the top bit being a big potato peeler for the chips. No, of course, it's a Rotary Screw Trap. It has been shipped over from Canada to try to work out the marine survival of the salmon and sea trout smolts, and is in the experimental stage of a five year programme being run by the Loch Morar Association and the Lochaber Fisheries Trust.
The device traps the migrating smolt as they head downriver and out to sea. The sea trout smolts are kept for the brood stock programme, the salmon are tagged with a tattoo like mark and released upstream from the trap. They swim back down and the numbers re-caught provide more data. The data give a base line so that the smolt production of the catchment of both salmon and sea trout can be worked out. This with give figures on the marine survival of the smolt - i.e. how many adults return.
An Information Board will be erected at some time to explain the project. Meanwhile, if anyone would like to know more, you can contact Viv de Fresnes who will be happy to tell you more.
JAMES PORTEOUS WOOD
A notable commission was of a large gold rose bowl which was presented to President Eisenhower. He also designed furniture and race trophies, and was the first person to present the Guinness harp in three dimensions. Following on from the Faberge tradition, he designed statues of wild birds made in gold and semi-precious hardstone, carefully selected for their evocation of the creature or its terrain.
In 1982, after having left Aspreys, he was invited by King Hassan II to design a centre piece for the table of the Islamic conference. It depicted Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock and was reputedly the largest (175cms diameter) and most important piece of silver, enamel and fine engraving exported from the UK. He painted numerous Scottish landscapes, which he enjoyed doing most, as well as portraits. His cityscapes included London, New York and Paris, of which he was particularly fond. His fine calligraphy included illuminated manuscripts on vellum, such as large genealogical trees of titled families showing all the arms with burnished gold.
During the Second World War, he was part of the design team at the Royal Engineers in Ripon, North Yorkshire, for the portable Bailey bridge, and made maps from photographs of enemy territory. Both will undoubtedly have saved many lives, but with characteristic modesty, he never spoke about this vital work.
He returned to live in Ripon, where he was a freelance artist and designer, and most of his commissions came from either Scotland or London. During this period his drawing of the Queen's Coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1953 was published the following morning as the complete front page in the national press. Every fortnight for seven years the Birmingham Post featured one of his large drawings they had commissioned, mostly public schools and major industrial subjects within 50 miles of Birmingham. Much of his work was of book illustrations.
His past 25 years were spent at his beloved Arisaig, where his studio had magnificent views of Rhum and Eigg. He worked prodigiously until shortly before his death, producing many evocative seascapes, landscapes and portraits. His paintings were exhibited in the Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Scottish Water Society.
With his billowing pipe and quick wit, he was a familiar and much-loved character in Lochaber. He helped local concerns and good causes, such as the Mallaig Heritage Centre, with artwork and he sponsored an annual art prize for Mallaig High School to encourage young talent. His drawings are much in evident in the district, such as his painting of the Shearwater, Arisaig's small isles ferry and map of its routes. When asked when he would retire, he answered defiantly: "I will never retire." And he never did. He married Margaret Porteous Wood (nee McCombie) in 1946. They honeymooned in Arisaig, and even then he spent most of the time painting, while his new wife looked on with characteristic patience. The house where they stayed then was within view of the site of the shoreside house they designed together 30 years later. He is survived by his widow, Margaret, and son Keith.
At his funeral at Arisaig cemetery on Friday 29 April, mourners at the graveside were alerted to the arrival of the hearse by strains of a lament played by a lone piper. He led the hearse which soon appeared winding its way along the shoreside road from the village.
The funeral was conducted at the graveside by his son Keith who said his Father's memory would live on in his many paintings and other works in Arisaig and around the world. He paid tribute to his Mother's vital contribution towards Jim's achievements by sustaining him over their 60 year marriage. He thanked the Belford's surgeons and nursing staff in the Surgical and Bellhaven wards for wonderful friendly and tender care that money simply could not have bought. He also thanked the Arisaig doctors and local district nurses who had done so much to improve Jim's quality of life, and indeed even to save it on several occasions. The funeral was immediately followed by a memorial meeting at the Astley Hall where many of Jim's friends gave moving, and often entertaining, reminiscences about his full and eventful life, and the whole village was invited to share in refreshments.
West Word - ten years ago by Robert MacMillan
VE Day Celebrations, Mallaig, May 1945, was the cover story of the 32 page West Word from May 1995. Sprinkled throughout Issue 7 Volume 1 - cover price (appropriately?) 50p - were references to this special time with Paul Galbraith, who served 5 years with 6th. Airborne Division, recalling VE Day Memories, a photograph of Local Air Cadets on the Mallaig line, a poem about the Arisaig Home Guard by Arisaig Station Master Sandy Mac, and personal recollections of VE Day came from Bob Poole, Parachute Instructor with SO Unit in N. Italy. Adverts and information on the planned VE Day commemorations for the area were carried in West Word with street party events, bonfires, etc, lined up for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Inverie and the Small Isles. On Page 3 Highland Councillor Charlie King thanked everybody who supported him in the local election via his Council Corner and there was local controversy regarding the change over from Ambulance Drivers to Ambulance Technicians.
'Steam Trains Return to the West Highland Line' was the headline on Page 5 alongside an In Memoriam for Margaret Joan Becher. Morar Village Centre Improvements were detailed, Hugh Allen of the M&NWFA reported on good landings of prawns and whitefish by the local fleet, and Mission Superintendent Murray Campbell took over from Robert MacMillan as a member of the Local Health Council.
Small Isle Primary School pupils visited Mallaig Police Station and the Muck, Eigg and Rum children told of getting their fingerprints taken and of visiting the cells!
Morar's Molly Grigor recounted more tales from her South American trip in the Andes Mountains, whilst Mallaig Heritage Centre's Malcolm Poole produced a page on the history of Knoydart subtitled 'A Paradise Lost'.
The closure of the Morar Shop was lamented by locals who feared that the Post Office would also close, while Traigh Golf Club, Morar Angling Club and Mallaig Football Clubs were all featured in the Sports Section, along with a description of a game of football on Muck by John Morris.
From the May 1995 edition of West Word: pictured above on the far left is Sgt Bob Poole. Other members of the Para Training School in Italy in 1945 are (l to r) CSM Donald MacDonell MM, Sgt Charlie Wingrove, Lt McHale, with Capt. Temple in the driver's seat. The dogs are Bruno and Bruce. Photo was courtesy of Mallaig Heritage Centre and Donald MacDonell.
Victory in Europe
Extract from the Oban Times Saturday May 26th 1945
Thanksgiving and Rejoicing
Mallaig - The village and the ships in the harbour were gaily decorated with flags and bunting for the V.E. Day Celebrations, which began on Tuesday afternoon with a special thanksgiving service in St. Columba's Church, at which the Rev. R.C. Aitchison officiated. In the evening an effigy of Hitler was paraded through the village and appropriately hung on a huge bonfire at Glasnacardoch Fank. Loyal toasts were honoured at the bonfire, and the crowd enjoyed open air Highland dancing to pipe music by A. and R. MacLellan, Morar. The Village council supplied free refreshments, and through the generosity of Mr. S. Martin (M.V. Elizabeth and Helen) all the school children received ample helpings of ice cream. Rejoicing was spontaneous and a dance in the hall terminated the first day's festivities. Next day another thanksgiving service was held in the Parish Church, a retiring collection being taken for the Welcome Home Fund. In the afternoon many attended a football match and shooting competition, followed by a grand Victory dance.
The snippet (above) celebrating the end of World War Two in Europe was passed to me by our English Teacher Miss Gavigan. The article was included in a commemorative edition of the Oban Times published ten years ago. Jim Morton
Does any West Word reader remember being there? Let us know!
M.E.M. Donaldson - Herself, by John Telfer Dunbar
The following are two e-mails received after last month's article about M.E.M. Donaldson's photographs of local people. Thanks to both Jim Cameron for his suggestion about the information on the photograph on page 46 (see below) and to Jean Ritchie for her kind information as to where one can purchase the book.
A. & E. MacDonald.
I enjoyed reading the names of the characters and their locations which I have added to my copy of "Herself", however I would question the name of the character examing his peat cutter see page 46, I would suggest that this was Lachlan McAskill sitting above his croft at Cuagach on Eigg, behind him you can plainly see the northern flanks of the Sgurr, also part of the road leading south to the Bealach Clithe,leading on to Galmisdale and the pier. I myself have often sat at this point of a summers evening watching the world go by. Lachlan was an uncle of Dugald McKinnon's (Bayview Eigg) mother, my wife in turn being a niece of Dugald.
Regards, Jim Cameron
"HERSELF" is available from www.farnsworthbooks.com @ 35 dollars if anyone is interested.
Marine Conservation Society
The UK charity dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its wildlife
www.mcsuk.org Registered Charity No. 1004005
TURTLE ROADSHOW URGES SCOTTISH SEA-USERS TO LOOK OUT FOR LEATHERBACKS
On Thursday 26th May the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) will launch the West Coast leg of the Scottish Turtle Roadshow, currently touring key fishing harbours around the entire coast of Scotland and the islands to urge fishermen and other sea-users to report their encounters with critically endangered leatherback turtles in Scottish waters.
The Roadshow is funded by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and is part of a national Action Plan for the conservation of turtles in UK waters. Roadshow presentations will be held as follows:
- Thurs. 26th May - The Scottish Series Marquee, Tarbert in Kintyre, 6.30pm
- Fri. 27th May - Castelbay Community Hall, Barra, 8.00pm
- Sat. 28th May - Grimsay Boat Day, Grimsay, 2.00pm
- Tues. 31st May - Harris Hotel, Tarbert, Harris, 8.30pm
- Thurs. 2nd June - County Hotel, Stornoway, Lewis, 8.30
- Fri. 3rd of June - Gairloch, 7.00pm (venue to be confirmed)
- Mon. 6th June - Kyleakin Hall, Kyleakin, 8.00pm
- Tues. 7th June - Portree Community Centre, Portree, Skye, 8.00pm
- Wed. 8th June - Fishermen's Mission, Mallaig
Five species of turtle have been recorded in UK and Irish waters, with four of these, the Kemp's ridley, leatherback, loggerhead and green turtles, all having been recorded in Scottish waters. While the other species tend to occur as wind-blown strays, leatherback turtles regularly visit Scottish waters each summer, probably to feed on the abundance of jellyfish found there. The most recent report of a leatherback turtle was of a freshly dead specimen that washed up after the gales at Port William in Dumfries and Galloway in January this year.
The talks will stress the importance of reporting leatherback encounters and MCS will hand out free information posters and the UK Turtle Code, a code of conduct for sea-users including information about dealing with entangled turtles and reporting sightings and strandings. MCS is also investigating why leatherback turtles occasionally entangle and drown in fishing gear, especially the buoy-marker ropes of static gear such as crab pots, creels and tangle nets.
"Each year around the UK coast, a few leatherbacks become entangled in ropes associated with bottom-set static gear, but we don't know why", said Peter Richardson, MCS Species Policy Officer "Through the Roadshow we are hoping to meet and interview fishermen who have accidentally caught a turtle in their fishing gear. Their stories will be invaluable in helping us understand why this happens and will help us design guidelines to mitigate against future fatal turtle entanglements."
While the reasons the Port William leatherback died are unclear at present, leatherback turtles face a variety of threats throughout their range, including habitat destruction, hunting and egg harvest at their tropical nesting beaches, as well as accidental entanglement and drowning in fishing gear at sea and ingestion of marine litter such as plastic bags and balloons.
"Leatherbacks feed on jellyfish, but unfortunately they appear to confuse plastic bags and other floating litter with their prey. Autopsies done on leatherbacks found dead on Scottish shores have revealed horrendous amounts of rubbish blocking their guts, which have led to the animals starving to death,' said Peter Richardson, 'It's the UK's responsibility to protect these critically endangered animals while they are visiting our seas, and that is why MCS is not only campaigning for cleaner seas fit for life, but is also working towards preventing future turtle entanglements in fishing gear.'
For further information about the Scottish Turtle Roadshow schedule and copies of MCS materials, or if you have ever accidentally entangled a turtle, please contact Peter Richardson, MCS Species Policy Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the MCS office on 01989 566017.
The UK Turtle Code was produced by the Turtle Implementation Group (TIG - see above) and is based on the previous Scottish Turtle Code produced by SNH in the mid-1990s. TIG has also produced an Advisory Note, which contains more detailed information for local authorities and public aquaria and advises on the rescue of live, stranded turtles. Both the Code and the Advisory Note are endorsed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Scottish Executive and the Sea Fishing Industry Authority (SeaFish). The UK Turtle Code is online at www.euroturtle.org/turtlecode.
West Word is now receiving a number of emails and letters from people researching their family tree. We hope our readers will respond if they have any information. This is for genealogical purposes only and is not intended for people looking for friends they have lost touch with.
I'm looking for…. my great great grandmother, Marjorie MacKinnon, who was from the Isle of Muck. She married a John Fraser, and they emigrated to Canada where my great grandfather Alexander Fraser was born. John was born in Inverness-shire, Scotland. Marjorie would have been born prior to 1796, as her son Alexander was born about 1796. Is there anyone on the Isle who may be able to help me?
Sue Fraser email@example.com
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