WEST WORD
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

List of Issues online

November 2007 Issue

Happy Birthday to Us - 13 years old with this issue!

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Canna, Muck, Rum, Eigg, Arisaig
West Word ten years ago
Local Genealogy & History

Letters, e-mails and comments are welcome.
Contact Details & How to Subscribe to the Paper
Sign our Guestbook

All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

HOPES GROW FOR FERRY SERVICE TO OUTER ISLES
Hopes are high that the ferry link between Mallaig and Lochboisdale could be renewed after a lapse of over thirty years. A new steering group including representatives of both Mallaig and Uist is at present being set up to push for the service to Lochboisdale in South Uist.
Residents of Uist as well as Lochaber are very much in favour of the re-establishment of the route, which would cut travelling time considerably. The steering group will consist of MSPs and MPs, Community Councillors, Transport Executives and representatives amongst others.
Fergus Ewing MSP has already had a positive meeting with Caledonian MacBrayne at the beginning of the month and the group have now arranged to talk to Scottish Minister for Transport, Stewart Stevenson, before the end of the month.
They are still researching facts and figures in an attempt to find out why the service was not included in the new contract awarded to CalMac earlier this year, when the communities on both sides of the water have made their desires for the service known. The link would save up to three hours travelling time. The route from Oban takes over 5 hours and from Mallaig it would last just over 2 hours. The extra road time from Glasgow is only 30 minutes or so and the improvements intended for the A830, the A82 and at Crianlarich will make it an easier journey.

MALLAIG & DISTRICT POOL S.O.S.
SOS - Save Our Spa! is the cry going up from Mallaig & District Swimming Pool staff and supporters as an appeal is launched this month to raise £15,000 to replace the spa bath.
The existing spa developed a leak earlier this year and it has proved to be beyond repair. It is a vital piece of equipment for the Pool, not only for its social and fun qualities but also for the health benefits it brings, as well as the income it generates.
A fund - the Mallaig & District Swimming Pool S.O.S. Fund - has been set up specifically to purchase a new spa and already donations of over £2000 have been offered. There are donation forms in Walkers Office and the Co-op, and watch West Word for news of a regular Lottery with tickets you will be able to buy at a number of shops, with chances of cash prizes.
The Friends of the M&DSP are holding a meeting next Tuesday, 13th November, 7.30pm at the Pool, so if you have any new or interesting ideas on raising the money or if you wish to help in any way, please come along and give your support.
The Highland Council give the Pool a Service Improvement Grant each year which has to be spent on specific things. This year's grant will purchase much-needed new Gym equipment. This is entirely separate from the Save Our Spa Fund.

NEW BRIDGE FOR BORRODALE BURN
A new bridge is in the process of being constructed across the Borrodale Burn, North of the existing road. The bridge, a 10m diameter reinforced concrete arch structure, is starting to emerge from its foundations on the rock either side of the burn. A skeleton of steel trusses has now been built below the permanent arch location, this frame will be clad in timbers to create a form (mould) that the reinforcement and concrete will be placed onto. Once the arch is cast the form will be removed so that the walls can be built. The 16m wide bridge, when completed in February 2008, will contain approximately 150t of steel reinforcement and 600m3 of concrete.
Ian MacKay, Contracts Manager, Morrisons.

photo photo

UPDATE ON THE BURNING OF BRENNAN'S HUT
Having spoken to a local witness, regarding the timing of the fire, and following examination by a Police fire investigator, it was concluded that this fire was non-suspicious (ie not started deliberately and therefore non-criminal).

NEWS IN BRIEF
The 'Arisaig Puma' has been sighted by a number of people and has killed poultry and sheep.
Recent businesses grants from the HIE Network include £28,000 to Arisaig Marine for an upgrade of business; £4,675 to Mallaig Marine Training Centre for a feasibility study; and £2.379 to Knoydart Forest Trust towards their annual training plan. Nevis Radio receive £1,100 for a development grant for an Assessor Award and SQA in Local Radio Broadcasting Training
Highland Council are hoping viewers will vote for their project to win £80,000 in the People's Millions Big Lottery. Called 'Rain starts Play' they aim to spend the money on...waterproof suits and wellie boots for 4,100 schoolchildren so that they can go out to play in the rain!!


KNOYDART
The season of mist and mellow fruitfulness is now upon us and things are starting to quieten down. There's no better sign of the impending winter than the sound of the male bar staff grunting their sweaty way into the Old Forge carrying the hefty winter staple that is the pool table. Since its reinstatement in the pub (apart from the initial panicked and baleful looks in its direction when no-one could find the balls for a couple of days) there has been a frenzy of activity around said table, with the entire village seemingly setting the pecking order for the next few months in numerous gladiatorial fight-to-the-death matches. Betting aficionados take note - Steph "Hussler" Harris and Jim the "Danger" Ranger seem to be the odds on favourites.
We've all made an attempt to go out in style. The Las Vegas extravaganza, which was the pub theme night at the end of September, had half the village donning their mafiosa/showgirl/pimp guises with great enthusiasm. The pub was decked out with lights from the village hall, and various other home-made, glittery, tactastic decorations, which transformed the venue into a debauched arena of cleavages and cross-dressing. Kudos to Victor and James for their Cher and Gladiator meets Benny Hill efforts (those heels looked fabulous). Many thanks to big Rhona, Jackie and Ian for letting us transform the pub into such a den of iniquity. Thanks also to Isla and wee Rhona for (as ever) inspiring and leading the dressing up so enthusiastically. I'd have never had the courage to wear that outfit otherwise, ahem… Vodka works wonders too mind.
The BBC visited the village at the start of October, filming footage for future episodes of Sunday morning rural affairs staple, "Countryfile". Presenter, Ben Fogle was bobbing around the peninsula interviewing locals, photo-stalking with Jim Brown, interviewing Ian Robertson and sitting in with Aaron Bowyer on one of her classes at the school. They also filmed a great night at the Forge when Tam the Banjo (returning for the night after his defection to Mallaig), Anita and Cath were kind enough to provide some excellent music. It's fantastic that Knoydart has been given the opportunity to appear on such a primetime tv slot and I've no doubt that the programme will promote our area brilliantly, as well it should, and generate a huge amount of interest for subsequent seasons. Knoydart always looks great on film so it will be interesting to see what the final result is. The Beeb producer was unsure as to an airdate but I would imagine it will be in the next few months. The Foundation will no doubt let everyone know what date to set their video recorders (or Sky + for those lucky few).
Some sad news also. I'm told that Roger Trussel suffered a stroke at the start of the month. Thankfully Roger is made of sterner stuff and I hear that he is making a speedy recovery as we speak, so best wishes to him and his family and lets hope that he'll be back skippering the "Cormorant" very soon.
So as the summer season draws to an end it's time for me to bid you all sayonara. Farewell to Aga (back to Gdansk for the next wee while), Evelyn (decamping to Inverness), Lisa (Dundee bound) and myself (no idea where I'm going, arghh). Tootle pips also to those staff whom are staying for the long winter ahead. Sandy - hopefully not long now until the embargo ends comrade, Aggie - keep up the Salsa, Fred - here's hoping for a deep midwinter, and last but not least Steven - so long caravahhn-mate, stay sensible, I'll miss ya.
At the risk of extending this to an Academy award winning gush-a-thon, goodbye to everyone else: Rhonas' wee and big, Isla, Davy, Jim 'n Fay, Danny, Cath, Tommy, Kristy, Sarah, Stephen the Ghillie, Mark, Steph, Fraz, Aaron, Kenny and the crew of the "Western Isles" Thanks of course to Jackie and Ian for letting me clutter up their kitchen for the summer, I could go on but I fear you'll all be sick. I've had a brilliant time. All night Hawaiian shirt parties at Sandy's, crazed poker nights, Ceilidh frenzy, finally seeing dolphins in the bay, tutti-frutti sunsets (when it wasn't piddling it down) and the generally demented and utterly unforgettable experience that has been a lost Inverie summer. It's all emblazoned in my noggin to see me through the dark and damp pavements grey of winter in the city.
So until next year (fingers crossed) this is me, over and out…
Amanda Turnbull

ISLE OF CANNA
"Wir marooned!" was the cry from the New House as the weather got the better of us the other week, leaving a party of builders high and dry and the island with its very own Swiss family Robinson. It's not often that the ferry doesn't call; after all Canna harbour offers some good shelter when the wind gets up…but this time the poor wee boat didn't even venture forth from Mallaig, and rightly so. In fact it seemed to blow constantly for a fortnight. And did ye hear the rain last night? Notwithstanding it should be said that the replacement skippers and crew did a grand job during their stint. But it was still good to see the Loch Nevis back!
Quite a few folk were away for at least part of the October holiday, which depleted the population considerably and thankfully briefly. It was reassuring to know that the island was in capable hands while some of us were on a city break…and others were off in search of better weather. And imagine bumping into Sister Patricia so far from home! It's a small world…
Reports confirm that the woodcutting team have done a fantastic job. They've certainly provided us with a plentiful supply of firewood for the winter as well as making a big difference to the woodland around here. Our expert dyker stayed on to finish some of the dry stone wall work, which must seem never-ending. Let's not mention the school boundary walls, which require some immediate remedial work…let's put that one on the agenda for the official visit next month. Meanwhile back on the ranch…well done to the farming team on their achievements at the sales last month. More livestock sales to come…way to go! Woo! Woo! Etc., etc…
Touch and go it was, literally…getting the float off on the Loch Nevis. Fair play to the driver reversing two trailers down the slip whilst being observed by the entire population as well as ship's complement and passengers! There were more slipway shenanigans the other day in a gale of wind, as Barnacle Bill got the starting cord for the pressure washer in a fankle and managed to inflate his life jacket instead. Just as well no one was there to witness the ignominious antics of the hissing Michelin monster, eh? My how we laughed.
Almost all in attendance for a wee firework party up at the Manor, sorry Tighard…as a combined birthday party/housewarming. Everyone on their best behaviour it transpired, and not too much damage done. Apart from the destroyed light fittings, that is…which we blamed on one of the departed guests anyway. Other departed guests seemed to be in high spirits, too… Spooky. And there were some mighty strange apparitions at the school hallowe'en party it has to be said.
And what became of our stranded visitors? It appears that one of them happened to be a former national Swiss Chocolate Fudge Cake Champion, so a supply of flour and eggs kept them happy. Lucky for us, too. And the Lads Army? Well…supplied with the excess of chocolate and desiccated coconut, you could say that they weren't so much "marooned" as…wait for it…"macarooned!"
Geoff Soe-Paing

NEW FAMILY FOR CANNA
The Baker family are moving to Canna in the New Year to join the island community. Neil and Deborah Baker and their two children, Elinor (6) and Anwen (4) will be moving from Llannan in Wales to the island after being chosen from among the many candidates who responded to the National Trust's nationwide call for new families to move to the island. Last March, Sheila Gunn and John Clare were chosen and moved from Oban to the island open a guesthouse. Neil will be working on restoring the garden at Canna House, while Deborah will take on administration at the primary school on Sanday. When Elinor and Anwen join the school they will swell the roll by 100%!

ISLE OF MUCK
Staying on the island for the last four weeks has been the Garrett family - Jeff, Ros and Katie. They have been testing island life and have now decided to join us formally in March. Jeff has spent much of his life designing, building and hiring Geodesic Domes. These are structures made up from triangular frames covered by anything from canvas upwards. He has built one as a polly hut to test over the winter and it seams to me impossible that such a light structure could withstand the force ten gales. We shall see!
The Garretts will be living in Pier House, one of the oldest houses on the island. It was built around 1850 by Captain Swinburne who owned Muck for fifty years. When he took over from the Macleans of Coll the island community was at a low ebb. Swinburne purchased two fishing vessels, built the pier and Pier House to store the salt which was the only way to preserve fish before refrigeration. Later the upper part of the building was converted into a dwelling for the first teacher Colin Campbell and school took place in his living room. Today it has been beautifully restored by Charlie MacKinnon.
On the farm sales are over , the calf sale was better than feared and prices were only 8p per kilo less than last year. The ewes were pretty dismal though not as bad as during the last Foot and Mouth crisis when some Blackface ewes only made £1.50. This time Blackfaces made £10, Cheviotes £18, Jacob Crosses £22 and Mules £24.
Lawrence MacEwen

ISLE OF RUM
Planning applications for the Kinloch Castle Development have been submitted by SNH and the Prince's Regeneration Trust, though due to the postal strike, no copy reached the island for some time. Because of this, the Highland Council has granted us an extension on the consultation period. For planning purposes, our main concerns still lie with the associated land around the Castle and its proposed uses, which haven't been properly discussed with either the local community or SNH. We will be submitting our comments to the Council after a community meeting along with letters of support from the Small Isles Community council and The Friends of Kinloch Castle in the hope that these issues are addressed before any consents are considered. Following Michael Russell MSP's visit last month, researchers were commissioned to visit and make further enquiries into Rum, the local community and SNH's operations here. Having taken the time to speak to everyone and also visiting the other Small Isles and making the effort to engage those who are and have been involved with Rum in recent years, they are to report back to the minister with their findings. Whether or not this will elicit any changes in the current management of the village and the rest of the island remains to be seen.
Fliss Hough

ISLE OF EIGG
October may have come to a murky end, and summer seems a world away, but as I write, our renewable energy project is coming to fruition - yes, the lights are finally about to be switched on. The last phase of the installation process - the arrival and erection of four windmills at the Pipers Cairn, on the road to the deserted township of Grulin - is underway. Bringing the project to this point has been a remarkable feat, well planned and brought in in fantastic time by all concerned, and we eagerly await the big turn on. Many are the generators being coaxed along with fingers crossed and a whispered prayer, and so I won't tempt fate by being too presumptuous at this stage.
The month has passed quickly and quietly for the most part, with many folk away on holiday. Eigg's own author and historian Camille Dressler has been raising awareness of eighteenth century poet Alasdair MacAlasdair (known as the poet of the Gaelic Enlightenment) with an exhibition of his life and work in Fort William museum accompanied by a number of talks and discussions.
Eigg History Society held such a meeting, and after we had collectively worked out how to switch the new fangled projector on (phone and ask the techy guy staying at Kildonan) it was, indeed, suitably enlightening. Thanks Camille, for as always adding a different dimension. Congratulations also to Aidan McKeon for his successful poetry reading held during the Mod in Fort William. The school is now in proud possession of an interactive whiteboard - thanks to Do Coyle at Nottingham University for organising this. It will help to make our dream of distance learning a reality. Plans for Eigg Learning Centre continue to gather pace, with the first task being the digitising of the Eigg photographic archive, along with the creation of a genealogical web page and blog. Also the kids will be doing some research into making a short feature film about the buyout process with guidance Sam Firth from Knoydart. When we finally get Broadband there'll be no stopping us.
Not such a social whirl this month, but a James Bond themed birthday party helped it along - strangely, no-one was willing to be Pussy Galore for the night. October is always a good month for birthdays here, with Wes in particular celebrating his in his own unique style. Happy birthday also to Marie, Peggy, Alistair, Morag and Briony. Amy Geddes and friends provided an evening of traditional music with a Norwegian slant at the Tearoom towards the end of the month, which was a great treat.
Sadly, Jill Aldersley, known to many who have associations with Eigg for her beautiful water colour landscapes, died last week in the Lake District, following a short illness. Jill, a passionate climber and all round outdoorsy sort of a gal was a frequent visitor to Eigg, and will be sorely missed. Her funeral was held last Monday in Ambleside.
The month ended with a visit from the usual crew of ghosts, witches, dragons and other scary creatures, and very impressive they were.
Sue Kirk

ARISAIG
What a strange month October has been. Wet and warm. Buds and flowers on geraniums, honeysuckle, poppies and many, many other plants. Butterflies around well into the month. Leaves on the trees turning very slowly. And the mushroom season has been wonderful this year and even the village had a couple of unusual crops. Did you notice the Inkcaps growing on the grass at the Land, Sea & Islands Centre? And the wonderful crop of orange Shaggy Scale-heads on the stump of the felled tree at the junction with Station Road? There were a couple of little Puffballs at the Hall. Chanterelle and Hedgehog mushrooms have been big and plentiful too. (Thanks to Ross for the identifications!)

photo
Shaggy Scale-head mushrooms

Well, another successful bonfire night, in fine weather, and a great show of fireworks put on by the Community Council. Thanks to Gerry, Graham, Hugh, Gordon and everyone else who helped get it together. It nearly didn't happen though. The bonfire was too big and too close to the viewing point and the Centre. Garden waste was placed just over the boundary at the beginning of the summer and others have happily piled more on top without thinking of the dangerous position or realising that there was a telephone cable directly underneath. Additions nearer the time were placed further back in the right place and on the Sunday the wee forklift moved back the first pile. And what happened? Someone came along later and added a whole pile more - in the wrong place.
But thanks to the above mentioned stalwarts all was well in the end. The Community Council will be re-thinking the organisation of the bonfire though so things may well be different next year.
Now Arisaig Marine has its own crane, the boats on the moorings just gradually 'disappear' over the course of a few weeks, until suddenly the bay is nearly empty. Gone is the time when they all came out on one long 'crane day'.
The Astley Hall has finally got its coat of paint in the main hall (almost), though my hair has got greyer over the whole procedure! Think a painting job sounds simple? Nah…..
The lighting issue in the hall continues - we still have no light in the entrance or backstage and some missing in the foyer. This is because of the strange dip/surge thing we had months ago when some malfunction in the electricity supply took out appliances and lights etc in Highland and the Old Manse, and it isn't just bulbs that have gone but the whole units. We are still waiting for the Hydro to purchase the units so they can be installed - nearly there though.
Don't worry that Specsavers are only going to Mallaig this month, they will be back in Arisaig. Now they've sooked up all those folk wanting appointments, the last two visits were poorly attended, so they've decided to come to either Arisaig or Mallaig but not both in the same month.
You may have heard rumours of an SOE memorial planned for Arisaig. The man behind the idea is a Czech diplomat working in Edinburgh, and he has the backing of the Czech government and media. He has made a visit with a Czech sculptor who, though young, has an impressive portfolio of work ranging from small sculptures to skyscrapers in China! They have an ambitious idea to place a large long sculpture of a fallen parachutist with his parachute - although they didn't learn it here, the trainees who came were in fact parachutists extending their skills and they were later dropped by parachute behind enemy lines. The two have some decided ideas about where they want the sculpture but finding a suitable site that can be agreed on is not easy. They say they don't want the traditional type of war memorial. If it happens, it could be an asset to the village and possibly increase visitor numbers. Let's hope it does!
Ann Martin


West Word - ten years ago
The front cover of the November 1997 issue of West Word carried two stories, both bidding farewell to two stalwarts who had served the Mallaig area over the previous 8 years - Mission Superintendent Murray Campbell and the Cal-Mac ferry Iona (or if you prefer the Ten-N-A as one American visitor renamed her!).
Both were pictured prior to their departure and while the Iona was stripped of her Cal-Mac colours (she had been sold to new owners in Orkney after 27 years service for Cal-Mac), Murray was pictured in full uniformed splendour receiving a lifeboat jersey from RNLI Coxswain Michael Currie - one of a number of gifts presented to Murray and his wife Maureen at a special Songs of Praise Service and evening reception. After 8 years at the Mallaig Mission, Murray and Maureen were heading off to a new Mission posting in Aberdeen.
The first ever Feis-na-Mara was well covered in the inside paper with two full pages of reviews plus thank you letters and commendations on the running of the feis and the conduct of the feis goers from the Northern Constabulary and Highland Councillor Charles King.
On page 2, Susan Carstairs bemoaned the fact that no-one had bothered to come along to Labour MP David Stewart's surgery in Mallaig, while in the adjacent Police column concern was expressed at the amount of under-age drinking going on in the area. Coxswain Michael Currie got an 'honourable mention' from fellow crew members in the Lifeboat log and page 5's Local Fishing News didn't carry much good news other than that some landings of sprats had made (at least) the pier look busy!
In what was a forerunner of West Word's Genealogy page, local teacher and author Denis Rixson provided information for a Mrs MacGillivray in Canada, who wished to track down her husband's ancestors.
The formation of a Lochaber Credit Union had moved a step closer according to the report on page 7, and this page also carried information on the Mallaig & District Chamber of Commerce and the Highland Council's Travel Card Scheme. A Senior Railcard promotion was mentioned in the On the Rails column which also carried the suggestion that Christmas presents - with a transport theme - be they cards, videos, calendars or model engines were obtainable from Glenfinnan Station Museum. The Fool McMontys (Bertie McMinn, Kevin McDonell, Brian Ferguson, James Bremner and Neil MacDonald) and Father Ted, Dougal and Jack (Winston Mathieson, Virginia MacMillan and Kate MacNab) were among the winners at the annual Hallowe'en Parades organised by the Mallaig Community Council, while Morag MacKenzie and Daphne Heaps were among the Arisaig 200 Club winners.
The local eateries and hotels were gearing up for the festive season with the advertising of their wares via the columns of West Word. Susan and Donalda of the Rainbows End Nursery were pictured with their 'Investors in People' Award on page 23 and Barry Austin had to fight off the amorous advances of a Springbok in Namibia as he travelled through South Africa.
How they cook chicken in France was the recipe from the Old Library whilst the rather less edible attraction (unless you're a bird) the earthworm, was the subject of Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner.
Fund raising via baking stalls, organ recitals, dances and raffles continued for the River Fund in their stated aim to raise enough funds to buy a Pegasus Bed and the Mallaig Swimming Pool was also in the business of raising funds, not only for new equipment but for Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland.
Divot provided a run down of the trophy competition winners at Traigh Golf Club with Vora Shaw Stewart, Morag MacKenzie, Hugh MacDougall, Jock Summers, Dr Robbie Forsyth and Johnny MacMillan being among the successful swingers!
Venus and Jupiter are bright evening stars this month…so began Ross Campbell's Heavens Above column for November 1997, and I'm sure that information holds good for November 2007!
Mick Rodgers interviewed Mr John Northover in Roshven, who told him all about 'Earth Energy' and the skill of dowsing via divining rods.
My Personal Angle items included reference to the untimely passing the previous month of singer songwriter John Denver, recalling the night he spent at Lochailort Inn in October 1983 - as mentioned in his autobiography 'Take Me Home'. West Word was indebted again to the regular contributors from near and far who filled the pages with interesting snapshots of life in their own communities.
It only merited a mention in the Snippets and was not, thankfully, a front page headline maker…Andrew Smither and gardener Richard Lamont, planting spring bulbs found a pineapple instead - a rusted hand grenade with no pin! The Bomb Disposal team were called in to deal with it!
RMM


A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
Gillies/ MacEachen/MacDonald, Arisaig, Emigrants to Australia on the Ship Medina, 1852
Whilst browsing on "An Comunn Eachdraidh Mùideart" message board recently, we came across a heartfelt plea from Janet Conlon in Australia.
My gr.gr.grandparents were ANDREW (b.1800) & ANNA (b.1802) GILLIES. They lived Back of Keppock Ardnamurchan Inverness Scotland before migrating to Australia in 1852. They had 7 children, the youngest my gr.grandfather John. Also with them were CATHERINE (b.1830) & ANN GILLIES (b.1826).
At first I thought they were siblings to John but after checking the 1841/51/61 Scottish census - find they are not. I don't know if they were sisters, cousins or friends. I have no idea who their parents are or Anna's maiden name. Even Anna's death certificate gave me no information other than she was Andrew's wife which I already knew!
An elderly aunt told me she thought Catherine & John were siblings - but they were not. Both married into my family so I have a double connection to the GILLIES from Ardnamurchan.
On the same ship to Australia in 1852 were many families from Inverness, the McDonalds in particular I know played an important role in Catherine's family as godparents etc.
I would love to hear from anyone who thinks they can help me. Surely I have some Scottish cousins out there!

By coincidence, in September we had a visit from Christina Ball, also from Australia, looking for Arisaig MacEachen connections and, earlier in the year, a visit from Colin Smith, an Australian living in Hong Kong, searching for MacDonald of Camus a'Ruighe connections. It appears that the ancestors of all three emigrated in 1852 on the ship "Medina", embarking from Liverpool on 26th June 1852 and arriving in Port Adelaide, South Australia, on 11th October 1852.
In addition, in 2001, Cameron MacDonald, from Australia, came to see us, looking for information on the MacDonalds who left from Camus a' Ruighe, emigrating also, on the "Medina". We were able to add 5 children, of whom he was unaware, to his research.
In March 2007, Colin Smith (see West Word April 2007) visited us to enquire about the same family from which he, too, is descended. Colin only had one evening here so wasn't able to visit Camus a' Ruighe but, we gave him whatever information we had. Unfortunately, we don't have an email address for Cameron MacDonald, who is, most likely, Colin's cousin, several generations removed, so we couldn't put them in touch. It would be interesting if these are the MacDonalds whom Janet mentions as being close to her Gillies family in Australia.
We wanted to discover if there was a familial connection between these three groups. The three families and their descendants, with whom we are dealing here, are as follows:
Christina Ball was searching for the family of John MacEachen, Sheriff's Officer, and his wife Margaret MacDonald who lived in 14 Bun a' Caimbe and who, by the 1851 census, had moved to 24, Back of Keppoch. Their children were Neil b. 1826, John b. 1829, Mary b. 1831, Angus b. 1833, Christianna, b. 1835, Francis, b. 1838, James, b. 1840 and Christina, b. 1844. However the "Medina" passenger list of 1852 does not include Neil, Mary, or Christina. Perhaps Neil was married and didn't emigrate or, perhaps he went on another ship. The same speculation can be applied to Mary, by then aged 21 years Christina, who would have been seven years old, may, perhaps, have died young. We think, James, who was baptised in 1840, must also have subsequently died as, another child, born to the same parents in 1842 was baptised as James and there was only one James on the passenger list. Another MacEachen family also emigrated on the "Medina". They were John MacEachen, Tailor and Lotter of 2 x ½ acres in Moss (of Keppoch) and his wife, Margaret MacLeod. Their family was, Angus b. 1831, Catherine b. 1834, (is this the Catherine that Janet, in Australia, is wondering about?) Mary b.1838, Johanna b.1840, Betsy, b. 1842 and Peggy b. 1845. (Peggy, is not listed on the "Medina" passenger list and an indistinct entry in the Arisaig BDM suggests that she may have died ca. 1847) Now to Andrew and Ann Gillies, née MacEachen of whom Janet Conlon is enquiring . Andrew and Ann Gillies had seven children. Ann, b. 1826, Angus b. 1828, Mary b. 1834, Donald, b. 1836, Christian, b. 1839, Ewen, b. 1842 and John b. 1843, all of whom emigrated with their parents. In the 1841 census, Angus Gillies, aged 10 years is next door in the house of Allan and Catherine MacEachen. In the 1851 census, the two younger children, John, aged 9 years, described as a visitor, is staying two doors away with John MacEachen, the Sheriff's Officer whilst Christina, aged 11 years, is staying with Neil MacEachen and his wife Ann and is described as Neil's niece. Could Ann MacEachen, wife of Andrew Gillies, be a hitherto undocumented, emigrant, sister of Neil, Alexander, Charles, Hugh, Catherine, and Jane of whom we wrote in West Word in March 2007? We have not been able to establish a firm relationship between the MacEachen and Gillies families but, given the evidence of their family involvement in Arisaig and that they emigrated together, it seems likely that they were closely related. We haven't been able to find records of the other MacDonald families who emigrated on the "Medina". Were they local, living in other districts, coming together with their friends/relatives to emigrate? Perhaps someone will come knocking at the door, someday, to shed light on the matter.


Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
Letters, e-mails and comments are welcome.
Feel free to Sign our Guestbook

List of Issues online

SUBSCRIBE NOW!
The paper version of West Word contains approximately 40 pages (A4 size) including:

  • Reports from the local communities
  • Reports from the coastal ranger, lifeboat log and weather
  • Columns on local sport and politics
  • Poets corner, letters, snippets
  • Feature articles, local events, festivals and games
  • .....and lots more photos!

West Word
Morar Station Buildings
Morar
Inverness-shire PH40 4NR
Scotland
Tel/Fax: 01687 462 720
E-mail: editor@westword.org.uk

Sign our Guestbook or Read our Guestbook
(Your comments may be printed in next month's issue)

______________________________________

Copyright © 2002-2007 West Word
Page last updated: November 2007
www.road-to-the-isles.org.uk/westword

Site designed by
The Internet Guide to Scotland