COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
November 2006 Issue
Happy birthday to West Word - 12 years old this issue!
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Hopes for a Merry Christmas have been dashed for many families with two bombshells in recent weeks. Hard on the news that Farepak Hampers had collapsed came the news that Marine Harvest are cutting jobs at their Mallaig harvest station. This is a further blow for the community still coming to terms with the news that their savings have been lost along with those of thousands of others all over the country.
The Daily Record of 19th October headlined the Farepak crash as 'Christmas in Mallaig gets cancelled', going on to say that more than half the villagers have collectively lost £40,000. 20,000 Scots have altogether lost an estimated £8 million. Under the Farepak scheme, savers put away money regularly which they could redeem in the form of vouchers for food and other goods.
At first a glimmer of hope was held out to Farepak customers, with the British Retail Consortium, who represent a number of high street retailers, said they would make a 'goodwill gesture' to the victims, but later they said they could not come up with an offer. MPs have called for Farepak to be investigated and prosecuted but it is unlikely that savers will get their money back.
Then last week Marine Harvest announced they were cutting their Mallaig workforce by one third, giving one week's notice to 14 of the 49 staff. Marine Harvest say that new technology introduced at Mallaig has streamlined production, and less staff are needed to do the job. It has been claimed that a high salmon mortality rate this year is also to blame. More redundancies are possible as reduced fish stocks have an effect on the industry.
The harvesting station was only opened in April 2004 and created ten jobs in the area, while redundancies were caused in the Outer Isles by the change of location. Fears were raised over possible future job losses in the industry earlier this year when Marine Harvest was taken over by Geveran Trading
At the time an 'industry insider' said 'This is a terrifying prospect for the Scottish industry which has relied on diversification for its survival until now. This will give one company control of most of the mainland and the Western Isles.'
OUR BOWLERS TO REPRESENT SCOTLAND
The Mallaig Bowlers (left to right) Chris Gray, Alan Eddie and Dennis Eddie are itching to get going and are extremely proud to be representing their country at the Championships.
Concrete Bob and Sir William McAlpine engine nameplates arrive at Glenfinnan.
Wednesday November 1st was an historic day at Glenfinnan Station when the train nameplates, once again, were at the Station - this time, however, they arrived by car, not as they used to (from 1986) on the diesel engine 37425,
After the engine was scrapped EWS, who owned the nameplates, approached The Railway Heritage Committee with a view to designating the plates to a suitable final resting place. And so it was that on Wednesday November 1st, the nearest date to the anniversary of their naming ceremony twenty years ago, the nameplates were handed over to Glenfinnan Station Museum Trust. They will be on display in the Museum in time for the opening of next year's season, beside the McAlpine tunnel which is already an exhibit.
The engine 37425 was given its two nameplates (one on each side) in two ceremonies on the 14th October 1986. The Sir Robert McAlpine nameplate was unveiled at Fort William Station, and the Concrete Bob one on top of Glenfinnan Viaduct. It would be nice to see photos of either unveiling.
The handover ceremony took place on the Station platform, followed by a lunch, with speeches, at the Glenfinnan Dining Car. Sir William McAlpine, great grandson of Robert McAlpine (known as Concrete Bob) whose company constructed the Mallaig extension, including Glenfinnan Viaduct, was present to witness the handover, as were officials from First ScotRail, EWS and the Railway Heritage Committee.
Concrete Bob worked mainly with the Scottish Region and was constantly used on the Glasgow/Mallaig route. One of its more unusual jobs was when, after an absence of more than 20 years, trainload fish traffic re-appeared on the Mallaig Extension in March 1987 with a trial movement of a fish consignment bound for Grimsby. An Icelandic vessel landed the fish at Mallaig on 6th March and it was taken south in eleven insulated Interfrigo wagons which were worked as a separate train to Mallaig Junction Yard for attachment to the following day's 06·01 Speedlink service to Mossend. The fish was packed in palletised boxes, the total load, including ice and packing, being almost 200 tonnes. The operation was the result of several months of planning by Icelof, a consortium of Icelandic and Scottish businesses. It led to further similar consignments, until the traffic was suspended in mid-summer, owing to circumstances at the Iceland end. As a result, 15 of the Interfrigo vans were stored at Mallaig Junction Yard, Fort William.
In the book The West Highland Mallaig Extension in BR days written by Tom Noble, the engine and wagons are shown running empty approaching Corpach Wharf on 23rd May 1987. The vans were being moved to Fort William in order to accommodate a steam-hauled special at Mallaig the following day.
What a great time of year. Hillsides burnished with gold and orange, raging storms followed immediately by days of flat calm and sun...anyway. Enough waxing lyrical. What's been happening in the Knoydart peninsula?
The Post Office has moved premises - next door, and now boasts alarms, safes, and some interesting shopping choices including rabbit, tripe, and giant pairs of underwear. Bernie has promised (threatened?) to show films depicting various Napoleonic victories throughout the day.
The Arts Promotions group staged the final show of the season: Ross and his superstar group, the Goat Island Ceilidh Band. A great night which, in usual Knoydart style, kicked off properly at 11pm and finished in the wee small hours. Many thanks to Ross to pulling the band together from far and wide - everyone was especially impressed by the Gaelic singing.
Timber extraction should be starting this month - we have to go for it soon in order to get the first phase of work before the heron nesting season. So, a wee bit of disruption may be in order, but the eventual result will be a safe, useful wooded area that we can all be proud of. Following on from this, the Forest Recreation Plan is coming along, with a visit timetabled in the next couple of weeks from a top mountain bike trail designer. We're hoping to get lots of people enjoying the woods, and mountain biking is a sport which looks like it can only get bigger and better.
Big mountain rescue exercise this weekend - Mick Tighe, a regular to Knoydart, is involved, and will no doubt be thinking up some weird and wonderful situation for the MR boys to tackle. Looks like the lifeboat may well be coming along as well. What else....a lot of birthdays just now - including a couple of 40ths - I didn't realise there were so many Scorpios in Knoydart. Explains a lot....
Now for a bit of poetry:
There was a young man called Tim
Who said "Sandy - you do the Bin!"
I'm off to the states....
....oh, never mind. I don't think my poetical prowess comes anywhere close to Anne's. Basically, Tim and Hannah are now back from the USA, where they had a great time visiting family and getting baked in Monument valley. Good to have you both back: as someone said last week: "Knoydart isn't Knoydart without Tim the Bin!"
ISLE OF CANNA
It's that time of year again, and most folks remembered that the clocks went back…Weather's been a bit blowy of late, and turning colder this month. Time to look out the hat and gloves.
National Trust office has been 'inundated with responses' to the call for more families to Canna. Press interest seems to have tailed off for now and hopefully we can get on with things. The deadline is approaching and I believe that there have been over a hundred applications. With the nights drawing in and some stormy weather on the way…now's the time to come and get an idea of island life…
The Pressure Washer has arrived on the pier…and appears to have done a good job of getting rid of the horrible slimy stuff. This can only be good news as it avoids the use of chemicals, some of which can turn pretty nasty, and certainly a lot easier than a yard brush. Even so, the slipway always seems to get larger each time.
It might be expected to have been a fairly quiet time on the farm at this time of year, but folks are busy with the usual maintenance, fencing and there's a barn being renovated…so plenty to be getting on with. Awaiting the arrival of five new tups sometime this month, and then cattle are off once again to the sales in Fort William in the middle of November.
Renewable energy meeting is due to take place sometime this month, weather permitting. Meanwhile, engineers are here servicing the generators and installing another backup. So far so good, and disruption to services has been kept to a minimum. Talking of disrupted services look on the bright side…if our broadband link stays down for another month or so we'll save a fortune on (online) Christmas shopping!
The Ratters are still here and thankfully no reports of activity rodent-wise. They should be finished around the middle of December, all being well. They were all game for a laugh at Hallowe'en, and descended upon the wee school en-masse on the 31st. As I recall it was a particularly windy day. When several bedraggled souls lurched around the corner across to Sanday I wondered whether they'd been at the rat poison. Pity they'll miss the Christmas Party! Reported sightings of a 'weird, fiery orange ball' in the sky heading west turned out to be nothing more than a migrating pumpkin…quite late in the year, too, for pumpkins…so I'm told…
ISLE OF MUCK
First the political bit! - the Marine National Park. Proposals like these have winners and losers! Winners would be tourist providers and losers would be fishermen - no wonder they are less than enthusiastic. But if the Scottish Office repatriated the idiotic Common Fisheries Policy, gave local fishermen control of fish stocks in the park and paid compensation for environmental restrictions (see letter's page) it could be different. Then everyone could be a winner at least in the longest term.
Back to Muck: October covers the autumn school holiday when many islanders disappear across the water. At one point there were only six people on the island! However everyone was back in time to start planning for a slice of the Highland Year of Culture 2007, though what is on offer is only just beginning to filter through. We are hoping for the Ceilidh Trail again, drama and even classical music. Entries for the Daisy Prize are now closed, judging is soon to take place and the winners will be in West Word. On the farm, plenty of warm weather again to keep the grass growing though everything is a bit soggy. It has also been a remarkably easy autumn for ferrying and the wool is now away to Evanton and feed and straw back. The straw is for the pigs and calves to lie on. Wave managed to take 14 big bales in one load! All the new tups are home, including three Suffolk lambs from Audrey MacDonald (she still has two good ones for sale - Arisaig 267!
Good luck Canna with your search for new islanders - it isn't easy! Perhaps you could point the runners up in our direction. I have always had Canna near the top of the list of places where I would like to live if it wasn't Muck! I would certainly learn how to breed good sheep!
Next month, 'Only the best', an agricultural short story in West Word.
ISLE OF EIGG
Not much to report from Eigg this October, so let's start with John Chester's wildlife report. After an almost whale-less summer a couple of Minkes were recorded offshore towards the end of the month as were regular Porpoises & the odd Common Dolphin. Bird passage was reasonably good with some of the highlights being as follows. First there were 3 Great Northern Divers back at Laig on 29th, a good passage of Whooper Swans from 2nd on, c100 Pink Footed Geese over on 18th, both adult & juveniles, White Tailed Eagles late in the month and regular Hen Harrier & Peregrine sightings, the return of our wintering Greenshank, sightings of both Barn & Short Eared Owls, a big movement of 500+ Redwings on 20th-21st & the first Fieldfares on 26th. The Cleadale House Sparrow saga continues with Mairi Kirk reporting four returned birds at her feeding station at the month's end - where are they returning from? Major sighting though actually occurred in September with the island's first Little Egret which dropped in to Kildonan on Sept 28th. A few more like that wouldn't go amiss! With all the mild weather Red Admiral butterflies continued to be reported throughout the month & flowers just kept on appearing long after their usual seasons. Odd flowering dates included Field Gentian on 26th & Burnet Roses in full flower at the end of the month! Another manifestation of global warming… Meanwhile on Eigg, rearguard action against this phenomenon has been started by our "tree man" (aka Wes Fyffe whose birthday it was this month) who has been gathering nuts, sloes, and a variety of tree seeds in order to start planting even more trees in the spring.
A couple of important meetings did take place on the island however. One was to decide the future of the Cleadale Day Care Centre now operating solely as location for the nursery until completion of the extension to the school in the spring. It was decided to let the building revert to use as accommodation, as there is a demand for housing for young people in particular on the island. It is therefore very likely to be turned into a three persons' bedsit. As to the photo archive and the library currently housed in the building, they are scheduled to be housed in the brand new room built in the school as community resource centre in the pilot project from the Eigg Learning Centre Group.
The project which developed from the 2006 Eigg Rural Voices report, involves creating alternative or enhancing existing learning networks in the five remote communities of the Small Isles and Knoydart and is spearheaded by three academic institutions: the UHI, the University of Nottingham and the Open University. All three universities are internationally renown for their work with the development and application of new technologies and all have extensive research experience in technology-enhanced learning in both formal and informal settings.
A meeting took place on 6th October with all the stakeholders involved in the project: representatives of the 3 universities, John O'Kane from HC, John Fisher from Mallaig High School, a NHS representative, members of the ELCG, Hilda Ibrahim, head of Eigg Primary and Eigg residents. At present, the idea is for all these people to work together create a vision of how the premises will be used. Ideas include a development of the archives to make them more accessible to the wider public, use of a white board by the Small Isles Primary schools, video-conferencing for a variety of user-groups, including islanders wishing to enrol as UHI students. Another meeting of the stakeholders will take place in Mallaig on November 10th. Watch this space to hear about these exciting developments.
Two events of far more importance as far as the younger islanders were concerned, was Bryony's 11th birthday , celebrated with a Princess and Pirates party at the hall and the eagerly awaited guising night for Hallow'een! Good fun was had by all the witches and warlocks who roamed Eigg road last Saturday, and it was not even raining…
After all the news last month it seems we have had a quiet month in Glenfinnan. The boats were taken in from the loch and autumn finally arrived. No sooner had the golden colours appeared on the trees than a storm came and blew them off. Still, it makes for great walks kicking and crunching leaves.
The first pint of ale from the Glenfinnan Brewery was poured in Glenfinnan House Hotel on Friday 20th October! Here's to many more.
Our Àine turned 2 and all she wanted was a party and a cake. So we had an energetic and exhausting afternoon partying with the pre-schoolers of the village.
Ingrid and I have been working to plan and organise the events for Glenfinnan 07. The project group will be meeting next month and you will hear from us soon. We have been successful in securing funding from the Community Council and Highland 2007 and we will know by the end of November the result of our application to Awards for All. Fingers crossed!
You will have noticed the boardwalk has been constructed leading to the River Callop. The bridge will be going in over the Callop but we don't know when as Ennstone Thistle pulled out of the contract and it has now been awarded to another firm.
The art class is still meeting on Tuesdays. We had some pleasant evenings painting Ronnie MacKellaig and Grahaeme Young. We are often looking for volunteers so if you fancy being captured on canvas talk to Gail Wendorf. We will give you a glass of wine, a blether and you get to keep your clothes on!
I have the results, courtesy of DJ, of the Glenfinnan Gun Club shoot on Saturday 21st October. There was an excellent turn-out of 40 guns.
First competition, "John MacLeod Memorial Shield", won by Graham Nairn.
Second competition, "Duncan Stoddart Memorial Quaich", won by Kenny Jones.
Local Shield, "David MacDonald Shield", won by Alan Currie
Under-18 competition won by Christopher Shanklands
High Gun for the day, "Joe MacLeod Cup", won by James Henderson
Ladies prize, "McDonald Brothers ", bouquet won by Fiona Shedden.
Congratulations to all the winners.
The Gun Club are having their annual ceilidh cruise on Saturday 28th October.
There should be plenty news next month as there will be Halloween parties, the village tidy, Guy Fawkes night and the Community Council AGM to report on. The AGM is on Sunday 26th November in Glenfinnan House Hotel. Please come along and hear what the council have been working on and take the chance to give us some feedback and raise issues you would like us to address. Eileen O'Rua
The Fisherwoman of Arisaig
Career change, C-change, Sea change, Call it what you will but there's no doubt that Lorraine Crawley is doing something now that she never in her wildest dreams ever thought she would be doing just a few short months ago. 'If someone had told me 9 months ago that I would have my own boat and creels and that I would be going to sea fishing for velvet crabs I would have laughed at them,' says Newcastle born Lorraine, who has lived in Arisaig for the past four years. 'But here I am doing it and, I must say, enjoying it too.'
Lorraine, a support worker at Glenfinnan who also helps out at the Arisaig Nursery, just happened to bump into local fisherman Alex Gillies in the village one day and in the course of the conversation discovered that Alex was thinking of retiring and therefore selling his 5.7 metre boat and creels. 'I know people think I'm stupid,' says Lorraine in her strong Geordie accent, 'but when I heard that Alex's boat was called Seonag I knew I just had to buy it. My mammy who died last year was called Joan and as Seonag is the Gaelic for Joan it seemed to be fate. It just seemed to complete the circle somehow. I love being on the water. I've been coming to Portnadoran on holiday for the past 18 or 19 years and I just love it here - so now I'm staying to be a creel fisherwoman. There's not too many of us about!!'
Lorraine's boat does not have a hauler so she has to shoot and haul the creels up out of the water by hand, but as well as firming her biceps she's already encountered and overcome problems and difficulties. She had to visit the Belford Hospital for treatment when she was stung in both eyes by some 'scalders' brought up with the creels; she's suffered a crushed knuckle and thumb after being caught by the claws of a brown crab; and she's hit the rocks twice! 'No real emergency,' she laughs, but on one occasion the fibre glass boat was holed so Lorraine had to make an emergency landing at the Boathouse at Rhu.
'Local fishermen have been so helpful to me,' said Lorraine, 'advising me what to do and helping find bait for my creels. It's been and continues to be a big learning curve but I'm getting there.' Lorraine currently operates 40 creels from the Seonag, CY797, but by this time next year she hopes to be shooting and hauling 100 creels, catching even more velvet crabs for the Spanish market.
Coastal Ranger Report
October slips by, not unnoticed I have to say, but suddenly we find ourselves plunged into early darkness and in freefall towards the winter. As I write this, the northerly gale has died down, I hear of the first snow on the Grampian mountains and the first frost is forecast to grip us tonight, aye, somehow that was a brief autumn! Having said that, the trees are still bravely hanging on to their green leaves, with only mostly the Birch and Sycamore showing much sign of wear, although the rowans have been mostly stripped bare of foliage, leaving huge bunches of rowan berries looking somewhat forlorn! Where have the fieldfares got to Stephen? I know the geese were a bit confused last month as to whether to go sun hunting south or not, but surely the berry pickers can't miss a bonanza like this!
The beginning of the month brought an interesting change in the walks routine, as a phone call from the Arisaig Gardening Club got me out with a number of their members on a "Fungi Foray". Thanks to the kindness of the Smithers family, we had the chance to "hunt the mushroom" in the grounds of Arisaig House. Once we got our eyes "tuned in" it was surprising just how many varieties began to make themselves available to us, the only problem being that none of us was what you might call an expert! In fact our combined knowledge, even allowing for several reference books, was not sufficient to name more than a few very obvious types. However it was good fun and the walk back down the "Glen" and through the "Gardens" after a picnic lunch was much enjoyed on a beautiful sunny day. Maybe some day we can return with a knowledgeable person, and train ourselves to pick the ones that we can actually eat! Following on from this I got myself embroiled in "Telford's Tales" through no fault of my own, but more of this later!
The high spot (or so some thought!) of the month was the travel to Glenmore Lodge (near Aviemore) for my "Walking Group Leader" training. This involved staying there from Sunday to Thursday, rising for a 7.30 breakfast and finishing after the last lecture at 9pm! Long days! I have to admit that I did actually enjoy some of it, particularly the outdoor navigation section which involved going out onto the grouse moors (deep heather) and locating various geographical features purely on timing, pacing distances and compass work. It was strange to have hares and grouse taking off literally from beneath your feet, something we don't get much of. O.K. don't think I didn't spot it, I know damn well that hares don't fly, but you know perfectly well what I mean!! Anyway, the outcome of all this is that once I have climbed another 40 "quality mountains" (in my case anything up to 600mtrs. that's close to 2000ft.) with a minimum of four hours walking, then I can apply for my assessment to see if I am up to scratch! It's a race now Assessment or Retirement!!
Now "Telfords Tales". This was a wee production inspired by the Great Glen Way Rangers that involved us getting dressed in period costume (I was O.K. as I was a fisherman!) and acting out a potted history of the Caledonian Canal - on site in front of 30 or 40 people! We all had to learn lines, but I again was fortunate as all I had to do was rant at the skipper of a passenger boat and demand that I got my sailing boat through the locks first! Being much practiced at ranting my part was a dawdle!! The rest of the month was more ordinary with an excess of "performance indicators and interim reports", but finished on a cheery note as I had a helper in Ronan Macintyre on placement from Lochaber College. This prompted some interesting walks which I plan to use in my programme for next year, so it certainly was well used time.
Finally, by the time you read this, I would expect my walks list for 2007 to be printed, so if anyone wants a copy, you know what to do!
Phone: 01687 462 983
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald - October 2006 Bird Report
October was fairly typical with most of our Winter visitors starting to appear. No rarities reported, although a Leach's Petrel seen from the Small Isles ferry between Eigg and Mallaig on the 14th was a good find.
The first Whooper Swans were seen flying overhead from the first day of the month, but none settled on their usual haunts until the end of the month, when a group of 5-6 birds were on Loch Eilt, and 2 adults and a juvenile were on Loch nan Eala from the 30th. A group of 17 were seen struggling low over the Sound of Sleat in strong winds on the 25th, eventually landing on the sea about ½ mile offshore from Silver Sands, Traigh. There was a strong passage of Pink-footed Geese overhead for 3 or 4 days mid-month, with 300-400 seen in one flock over Arisaig on the 18th. Most flocks were coming in off the sea and heading East. They rarely settle on the ground about here, but 4 were present in a field at Traigh along with the Greylags from the 23rd until the month end. The first Goldeneye was back on Loch Morar on the 17th, with several there by the end of the month. There were about a dozen Wigeon around the Caimbe at Back of Keppoch from mid-month and 22 counted on Loch nan Eala on the 15th, when Water Rail were heard calling in the reeds. Great Northern Divers were seen at Traigh on the 18th with more seen at Rhue, Arisaig and Loch nan Uamh.
Wader numbers seem to have tailed off, with just small numbers of Golden Plover, Lapwng and Redshank seen. There were still a few Ringed Plover at Traigh and the Morar Estuary. A few more Woodcock and Snipe were reported on hill ground around Arisaig. The first Purple Sandpipers were back on the rocks at Westbay Carpark along with the Turnstones on the 31st. The first Redwings were seen on the 15th, but no Fieldfares until the last week, but both still in small numbers, still plenty berries on the trees yet.
A few Goldcrests were reported in gardens and around houses in Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig about the middle of the month, and even a Grey Wagtail spent several days in a garden in Mallaig. Five Goldfinches were seen regularly on garden feeders at Fank Brae, Mallaig and 2 Jays were seen in Arisaig mid-month. The Immature Icelandic Gull was still in Mallaig at the end of the month.
West Word - ten years ago
New Arisaig Houses Become Homes was the headline story on the front cover of the November 1996 issue of West Word (price - 75p) and alongside it was a photograph of the 15 new houses at Strath View. Other front page stories told a) how the Community had taken the initiative at Knoydart following a wide ranging and frank discussion with the Knoydart Foundation; and b) the amazing success of the Eigg Benefit Ceilidh held in Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms in George Street.
Charlie King's Council Corner on page 3 started off thus: 'After years of discussions, local petitions and negotiations over land we are at long last on the first steps to seeing the district's new Health Centre, Sheltered Housing and Day Care Centre Development about to become a reality.' The proposed locations of the new developments were incorporated into the story.
Hugh Allen's Fishing News has been written from an alcove off the Central Lobby in the House of Commons as Hugh and Duncan MacInnes (Western Isles) fought to seek compensation for Nigel and Fiona Johnston, following the enforced sale of their fishing vessel Moyallan due to Government legislation on banning the carriage in Scottish waters of monofilament gill nets.
Page 7 was devoted to an interview on local issues that Editor Jill de Fresnes had carried out with Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Mr Fergus Ewing, and if you wanted to know what swans eat - Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner was the place to go.
An indication of how long it takes to get some developments up and running is to note that the West Word of ten years ago contained an article highlighting that a group had recently been formed to promote and provide a Hydrotherapy Service for Lochaber. Ten years on Mr Mark McCann, who has been leading the campaign for all that time, is still pursuing his dream. The Hydrotherapy Pool, however, is now within touching distance!!!
A slightly larger pool, Loch Morar and its Monster Morag was featured in another Fact or Fiction story while Lawrence MacEwen (Isle of Muck) told of the crofters and the land that belongs to everyone.
Two of the photographs in the middle pages were of weddings, so it's happy 10th anniversary wishes to Michelle Hunter and David MacPhee (Ballachulish) and Gail Campbell and David Cousens (Lossiemouth). The letters page alongside contained a telegram sent to David and Michelle's reception from two amazed tourists who had witnessed her Mallaig style hen night celebrations! Doune's Tony Robinson continued his Tales from The Tall Ships on board the Eda Frandsen - Biz et al, while Alasdair MacArthur recalled the traditional gaelic tale of 'The Old Woman of the Nuts.'
Marine Scientist Ross Campbell had been busy writing, providing a two page article on a new concept - Biodiversity - and Arisaig's Andrew Simpson had also been exercising his mind by compiling a crossword with a difference, e.g. superfluous characters as letters in the clues!
Regular contributor Bramble (Spiced Apple and Wild Hazelnut Tea Bread), Neil Robertson (Down to Earth), Ann Martin (What do you know….?) and the Round and About team were all represented as was Supt Murray Campbell and the Rev ben Johnstone (two people who have moved on to pastures new) and their Mission and Church Message.
Morar sailor Fraser Grigor told of the unusual way he had learned to speak Spanish and the Mallaig Police column revealed an entry in the Police Log Book dated 9th February 1929 - Wednesday: at 8am wired Inspector at Fort William as follows - Station Hotel here totally destroyed by fire at 10.40 pm last night. Loss estimated at between forty and fifty thousand. No person injured!
There was a photo showing pupils of the Church of Scotland Manse School when Miss Duncan was the School Mistress (1920's) while the present day Mallaig Primary School page was devoted to autumn and hallowe'en. Liam, Primary 3, providing the joke - what name did the witch give her cooking pot? Answer - it was called Ron!
A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Note: Tòrr Beithe: The English translation is probably "The Birch Mound or, Hillock"
Torr Beithe is situated on the Rhu Peninsula, on the hill above the large bay before reaching Millburn. The bay is called, Saideal Tòrr Beithe. There are six or seven ruins visible on the hill from which one can see Loch na Ceall and Arisaig on the north side and Loch nan Uamh, Ardnish and Glenuig on the south side.
We had an enquiry earlier this year, from Marlene MacDonald Cheng in British Columbia. Marlene was wondering if we had any information on ancestors of hers who had been in Tòrr Beithe, Arisaig, in the 1770s.
Marlene said: 'In my research I came across the name of Angus MacDonald, son of Alasdair Ruadh MacRaoghnuill. Angus was born in 1735 at Tor-a-bheagh, Arisaig, Scotland. I couldn't find this place name in your wonderful place name list. Do you know of this place, and where it is exactly?
Also, I am hoping that you may have some information on this family.
I also know that Angus was married to Catherine MacEachern (daughter of Lachlan) in Scotland; they had 5 children - John, Alexander, Ronald, Lachlan, and Janet. Angus and his wife emigrated to Nova Scotia about 1790, ending up at red Banks, Inverness Co., Cape Breton in 1807. His wife died, and Angus eventually remarried to Mary MacEachen of Hillsdale, Cape Breton. They had 5 more children - Hector, Ronald, Angus, Christy, and Margaret.
I believe I may be related to these people, both on the MacDonald and the MacEachen (MacEachern?) sides. I would be very grateful if you can help me with this'.
Coincidentally, West Word recently received an enquiry from Melissa MacDonald, Virginia, who was searching for information on the same family.
Melissa said: 'Just wondering if you know of anyone that can help me shed light, guide me to more information on my Clanranald MacDonald's. My GGGG grandfather was Alasdair Rhuadh Mac Raognuill "Red Alex" son of Ronald, b. 1690 (93?) in Tor-a-bheagh, Rhu (Rhu?) Arisaig, Scotland and my GGG grandfather (his son, one of 2 others as we know..) was Aonghus Dhearg MacDonald "Red Angus" MacDonald, b. 1735 same area. He had 2 brothers, older Ronald who went to PEI, and Iain who moved onto the clanranad Estates and then to Australia. They all 3 served with the Frazer Highlanders. My GGG grand-Angus MacDonald married a Catherine MacEachern in Scotland, had 5 kids: John "Big John", Alex "Red Sandy", Ronald (a sea capt died young), Lachland, and Janet. They immig'd to Port Hood, Nova Scotia where she died and he then married my GGG grandmother Mary MacEachen and had 5 more kids: (my GG grandfather) HECTOR, Ronald b. 1812-96, Angus "Big Angus", Christian, and Margaret b. 1823-1901.
Then came GG grand-John Hector MacDonald b. 1811 NS, then my grandfather James Angus MacDonald b. 1891 Port Hood, NS, married to Agnes C. Beutell, my father James Angus MacDonald b.1923 Cleveland, Ohio, then myself, Melissa Ann MacDonald, my 2 brothers: James 'Scott' and Colin 'Bruce', and our children.
Is there anyone living in Arisaig that might help with my Clanranalds? I have a relative in Canada that is in contact with an Allan MacDonald there in Arisaig area that I am waiting to hear from but is there anyone else you can direct me to??'
A few years ago we had another enquiry from Shiela McCormick in Texas, formerly of California. Shiela is, apparently, descended from the same family of Tòrr Beithe and was planning to come to Scotland in search of information. Unfortunately, however, she had an accident and was unable to make the journey. Sadly we have now lost her address and email therefore, cannot contact her, so, Shiela, if you read this, please get in touch! Given the information to hand and the possible Tòrr Beithe connection, it is fairly likely that Melissa, Shiela, Marlene and Jeannie are related to each other.
We think that these Tòrr Beithe people of old may also have been the ancestors of the MacDonald family of Taigh an Lòin, Back of Keppoch, Arisaig, the only remaining member of which, Jeannie MacDonald is now resident in Moss Park, Caol.
To document the Taigh an Lòin family, we will start with recent family members. Jeannie's father, William, b.15th March 1880 d. 15th April 1959 and was m. to Isabella "Lottie" MacDonald b. 1876. They had four children, Rev. Fr. John, Donald and Alina, all of whom remained single and are now desceased. Jeannie, the surviving sister is aged 93. William's parents were, Allan MacDonald, b. Kinloid on 31st October 1837 ( his sister Margaret, was also born in Kinloid on 27th April 1840) and Ann MacIntyre b. 6th Jan. 1851 dau. of John MacIntyre and Ann MacLeod, Keppoch. The marriage record states that Allan MacDonald, Strath and Ann MacIntyre, Gorten a' Chaolis, were m. Feb. 1879. William (b.1880) was to be their only child as, tragically, Allan was drowned in Arisaig Bay, before the child was born. In the 1881 census, Ann and her son, William, were in the Mains of Arisaig. Allan's grandparents were, Alexander, or, Allan Mór MacDonald, and Sarah MacEachen, Kinloid.
Now back to Shiela McCormack who, in her initial contact, said that she had letters of a correspondence written to her family in the 1950s, by Arisaig relations. Again, by coincidence, we were given letters written to Willie MacDonald, Taigh an Lòin, in the late 1950s, by William MacDonald, Wilmington, California. Willie, Taigh an Lòin, has sent a record of his genealogy going back to Angus Borrodale of the '45 and in return William, California, has sent his genealogy back to Allan a' Slataich, a brother of Angus Borrodale and John 1V of Glenaladale. It would be fascinating to see if Sheila has copies of these genealogies. Could William from California have been Shiela's father? We had assumed, initially, that Willie MacDonald's (Taigh and Lòin) line back to Angus Borrodale would be directly through the MacDonald line but, it is possible that it came through Angus Borrodale's granddaughter, Ann MacDonald who is said to have married Angus MacLeod from Skye ca. 1785 and bearing in mind that Willie Taigh an Lòin's grandmother was a later Ann MacLeod. This is, of course, still, speculation. It is clear that, both Williams considered themselves descended from the same root; that of John V. of Glenaladale of Clann Iain Òig.
The ongoing task now, is to try and fill in the gaps between 18th century and the present day. If anyone out there knows anything………?
"Moran taing" to Tearlach MacFarlane, for the use of his marvellous family trees, so generously given.
Last month West Word printed an email from Rosalie MacEachern. She has written to us again:
Most of my family emigrated from the west coast of Scotland to Antigonish County, Nova Scotia, between 1786 and 1803. I am wondering if there are families still in the area with the same surnames. I would also like to know if any such families know of relatives who emigrated in the same time period.
My family includes a Donald MacEachern of Arisaig, emigrated 1786: Margaret MacDonnell MacFarlane of Knoydart and later Glenfinnan, 1801 and MacFarlanes of Glenfinnan, 1801.
My family also includes four MacGillivray brothers - Andrew Ban, Captain Alexander, Angus Ruadh and Donald Riabach, who emigrated from Arisaig along with their sister Mary, the wife of John Ruadh MacEachern. They left behind a sister Catherine, the widow of Donald Gillis, Kinlochmoidart.
There are also MacDonnells of Glengarry, 1801; Gillies or Gillis of Morar, 1801; MacDonalds of Arisaig, 1801; Boyds from Clanranald Estates in 1801; McNairs of Invernessshire-shie (perhaps this is a misspelling of Inverness-shire?), 1801 or earlier; Camerons of Achintore, 1801-1803.
I also have a Dougald MacDonald, blacksmith, 1801 who is said to have come from Nougant, Scotland, a location which I have been unable to find.
I understand there are no MacDonnells in Knoydart today, but staff of the Old Forge Pub kindly suggested I try Mallaig as many people moved there through the years.
To the best of my knowledge none of the families I have listed were prosperous which likely contributed to their decision to emigrate. A few came as young men and there were a few young couples but most were middle-aged by the time they emigrated. emigrated. All became landowners and farmers in Nova Scotia.
With the exception of the Camerons who all converted, all these families were born Catholic. Ironically, a son of one of the Cameron pioneers became a controversial Catholic bishop in Antigonish in the mid-1800s.
I look forward to hearing from anyone who may be able to make a connection with the names. I can provide more detailed information.
Thank you for the opportunity to make this enquiry. I have so enjoyed learning about the west coast communities your on-line newspaper.
MacDONALD, Robert Benedict "Robbie"
MacDONALD, Robert Benedict "Robbie" - Antigonish, passed away peacefully at home on October 27, 2006, surrounded by his family. He was 91 years old. A native of Antigonish, Robbie was a son of the late John Hugh MacDonald and the late Catherine Elizabeth (Sutton) MacDonald. He is survived by his wife, Constance (MacEachern); his daughters, Marlene (Mantis) Cheng, Victoria, B.C.; Dorothy, Ottawa, Ont.; Bernadette (Walter) Chambers, Tyngsboro, Mass.; Heather (Brian) Robertson, Kingston, Ont.; his sons, Gregory (Marion), Weymouth; Ian (Patricia), Calgary, Alta.; George (Patricia), Antigonish; his sister, Mary Vienneau, Halifax; his 16 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren will be sadly missed by his wife, family, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and his many friends. Funeral will be on Tuesday, October 31, at 10 a.m. in St. Ninian's Cathedral with Rev. Andrew Gillies, Rev. Hugh D. MacDonald, Rev. Tom Morley and Rev. Bill Crispo presiding.
Robert MacDonald was the father of Marlene Cheng MacDonald, contributor to West Word who has visited us here, in Arisaig, several times, the last being October 2005 when she travelled up Loch Mortar to visit the home of her ancestors at Òban. Robert MacDonald was the descendant of Dhòmhnaill an Òbain, Gillies and his wife Ann MacDonald (Martin) from Knoydart, also of "Fear Gaothdail", John MacDonald, brother of Bishop Hugh of the Morar MacDonalds. In 1801, Dhòmhnaill an Òbain, with his wife and family, sailed from Druim an Daraich on the "Dove", bound for Nova Scotia and thence to Antigonish where the they settled. An online reader in America has sent this email:
RE:Arisaig Historical Society article. The iron grates on top of the old graves were called "mortwatchers". They prevented the bodies form being stolen.
THE MACLEANS OF JUDIQUE INTERVALE by Allan J. Gillis, 2006
Hugh (Eoghann Ban) MacLean (ca. 1761-bef. 1853) was a native of the Isle of Eigg in the Small Islands. In the Eigg Roll of 1765, he is listed as Ewen McLean, age four, grandson of Flori McDonald in Sandaveg. An uncle, Donald McLean, age eighteen, is also listed. He married Elizabeth Fraser (ca. 1764- ), daughter of Effie McLean and John Fraser of Kilmory in the Isle of Rum. Elizabeth's elder brother, Alexander Fraser (1755- ) settled at Sight Point (South Cape Mabou). (see: HIC, p.140)
Hugh "Bàn" and his family emigrated to Pictou in 1791. After some time on the mainland of Nova Scotia, they moved to Judique Intervale in the colony of Cape Breton Island, probably in 1798 or 1799. They settled by the Judique Intervale Brook, just north of Neil MacDougall, another Eigg settler who had also come out in 1791. (see: HIC, p.206; MJI, all)
Of their family, the eldest boy, Hugh "Òg" was born in the year before they left Eigg. The next son, Alexander (Alasdair mac Eoghainn Bhàin) was born at Big River, Pictou County, in 1792. In the 1813 militia roll, Hugh "Bàn" is listed as age 58 with a household of three adult women, two sons of minor age and three girls of minor age. He is listed as a farmer at Little Judique with 300 acres, with no title at that time. Hugh had 50 acres cleared and had a horse, two oxen, eight horned cattle and twenty sheep. His eldest son, Hugh "Òg" is listed as a farmer with 200 acres, passed by Council. His second son, Alexander , age 21, is listed as a farmer with no property. Neither of these sons were married at the time.
As far as we know, Hugh "Bàn" and Elizabeth had the following family: Hugh 'Òg', Alexander, Stephen, Donald, Euphemia, Elizabeth, Margaret/Sarah, and Mary.
John L. MacDougall observes, "This family appeared to be peculiarly gifted mentally. Eoghain Òg and Alexander were recognized poets in their day, although their education was quite limited. Woe unto the man who came under the fire of their satire. And yet, they were kind, sociable and hospitable." (HIC, p.205)
HUGH "ÒG" MacLEAN (1790- ), born on Eigg, m. Mary MacRae (ca. 1792- ), d/o Murdoch (Murchadh nam Ciad) MacRae of Kintail, Scotland, and Beaver Meadow, Antigonish County (see: HAMI, p.77; HAMII, p.71). Shortly after their marriage they moved to Sight Point, where his maternal uncle lived, and remained there for almost twenty years, before returning to Judique Intervale in 1833.
Hugh "Òg" was talented verbally and his satires on his neighbours caused them a great deal of annoyance. John L. MacDougall notes: "Before Allein Beg [Allan "Beag" MacDonald] came here he had lived for years at Sight Point. One of his neighbours was Hugh McLean, better known as Ewin Og, who had wit to burn. He was a poet, with a penchant for playful sarcasm. Allein Beg and Alexander McLeod, an innocent neighbour, were the special objects of his raillery. Allein Beg would come in a rage to kill Ewin Og for his satires. Ewin Og would restore peace by composing on the spot, a song in praise of Allein Beg. The latter was propitiated, and went away comparatively happy; but before he reached home a fresh satire, much worse than the first, was red hot on his heels. It was not a happy life. The three men sold out at Sight Point, and left the place, Allein Beg coming to the Banks, Sandy McLeod buying a farm at Deepdale, and Ewin Og going to River Dennis. Far enough to ensure the preservation of the peace. Poor Ewin Og! He was never bad at heart; but the exuberance of his poetic genius sometimes outran his judgement." (see: HIC, p.333) It seems that Hugh "Òg " inherited his father's property at Judique Intervale (see document I). Mary and Hugh "Òg" had issue: I. Hugh, II. Murdoch, III. Stephen, IV. Janet, V. Anne, VI. Elizabeth, VII. Mary, VIII. Margaret, IX. Flora.
ALEXANDER MacLEAN (ALASDAIR mac EOGHAINN BHÀIN) (1792- ), b. at Big River, Pictou County, was a farmer and a noted poet. He moved to Rear Judique Intervale and married Marcella MacIsaac "nighean"Illeasbuig Bhàin" (see: MP, p.681) They had issue: I. Catherine, II. Hector, III. Archibald, IV. Hugh, V. John, VI. Mary, VII. Elizabeth, VIII. Donald, IX. Flora Anne. Alexander was a widower in 1871. Shortly after 1871, this family moved to Big Brook near River Denys, having lost their property in debts to the Port Hood merchant Peter Smyth. Six of Alasdair mac Eoghainn Bhàin's poems have been published in Failte Cheap Breatuinn; three others were notated by Angus Stephen Beaton of Port Hood. The ninth, Òran Pheadair, is included in the Appendices to this article. Of the several beautiful tributes he composed, the most memorable is the bardic piece in which he lauded Father Alexander "Mor" MacDonald of Judique and Mabou and his "Sliochd an Taighe" relations of Lochaber. Fr. A.D. MacDonald, in Mabou Pioneers, notes: "Alexander MacLean was a man of poetic talent whose eulogy in the case of the Right Reverend Alexander "Mor" MacDonald, Vicar General, Mabou, entitles him to high rank among Gaelic bards. In light vein and happy turn of humor, he composed songs rhat enlivened many a festive gathering in pioneer days." (see : MJI, p.270; MP, p.139)
He also praised the priest's housekeeper, Mary MacDonald, who treated him as he thought a bard should be treated. One of his elegies is that for Angus MacEachern, son of Ronald MacEachern "Donnchadh" of Creignish, who died in 1857 in California, far from his home and relations. This song can be heard on the recent CD Songs of the Scottish Highlanders in the United States Besides songs of praise and humourous satires, he was also capable of pure vitriol, as can be seen in Òran Pheadair One person in Judique for whom I played this song was delighted to hear it again after many, many years. "My God!" he exclaimed, "That's beautiful! It's so sgaitaich."
STEPHEN MacLEAN (c. 1806-bef. 1901) m. Catherine _____ (ca. 1815-bef. 1901), with issue: I. Hugh, II. John, III. Ranald, IV. Alexander, V. Joseph. They lived in St. Peter's, Richmond County; nfi.
DONALD MacLEAN; nfi.
EUPHEMIA (OIGHRIG/ERICK/EFFIE) MacLEAN ( -pre 1871) m. Neil MacInnis (b. Scotland, ca. 1789- ) of Rear Judique Intervale, with issue: I. Simon, II. Hugh, III. Catherine, IV. Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH MacLEAN m. Archibald MacLean, s/o Sarah MacLean (d/o Roderick of Rum) and Allan MacLean "Tearlach" of Coll and Rear Port Hastings, with issue: I. Allan, II. Anne, III. Elizabeth, IV. Hugh, V. Sarah, VI. Mary, VII. Flora. (see: HIC, p.140)
MARGARET/SARAH MacLEAN ( - bef. 1871) m. Hugh MacEachern "Cooper" ( -bef. 1871) of Craigmore, with issue: I. Donald, II. Angus, III. Hugh, others?
MARY MacLEAN (ca. 1806-1870s), n/m., lived with her sister's family in Craigmore; nfi.
HIC = History of Inverness County, John L. MacDougall, Truro, 1922
Mr Gillis' article covers many generations and we can only print a small part here. Anyone wanting to know more, please contact Allan & Elizabeth MacDonald.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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