WEST WORD
COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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November 2013 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg, Arisaig
Railway and harbour news
Crofting roundup - Birdwatch
Local history & genealogy

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Local businesses challenge BID group
The local business community turned out in force on Tuesday 29th October to meet with representatives of Lochaber Live, the group behind the Business Improvement District (BID) for Lochaber.
The room at Mallaig & Morar Community Centre was packed as Lochaber Live steering group members, under the chairmanship of Fraser Coupland, fielded questions on the controversial plan.
The BID, if successful, will raise money levied from every business of a rateable value of £2000 and over. The money raised will attract other funding which Lochaber Live say will benefit the whole of Lochaber.
The Road to the Isles Marketing Group do not support the BID (see last month's West Word) and organised the open meeting to discuss the plan.
We hope to have a report on the meeting in next month's West Word. The gist if the comments made by most of the local business represented is that the BID covers too large an area and fears are that Fort William would benefit most with outlying areas seeing nothing much for this extra levy.
Voting papers went out to eligible businesses on the 31st October, together with a copy of the Business Plan and must be returned no later than 5pm on Thursday 12th December 2013. If you have a business with a rateable value of £2000 or more but have not received a voting paper, get in contact with Helen MacGillivray, BID Project Manager, helen@livinglochaber.co.uk
There must be a response from 25% of eligible businesses in the ballot, and 50% of that vote must be in favour of the BID going ahead. If successful, the payment of the levy will be through the Highland Council and will be mandatory. The BID would then commence in January 2014 until December 2018.

It is clear from these figures that a very small percentage of businesses voting 'yes' could push the BID through. It is essential then that, whether you are for or against, you must make your views known and cast your vote by 12th December.
Living Lochaber has already overspent a budget of £40,000 they were given to promote the BID and have had to go back to the Highland Council to ask for more.


KNOYDART
Well it seems October is the month of goodbyes for Knoydart as we see a few people moving on. Amy (our usual West Word writer) headed off to the sunnier (hopefully) shores of Loch Carron after 3 years in Inverie. It hasn't really sunk in that she's left, and not just gone on holiday but I and everyone else wish her all the best in her new home. Evelyn and Steph have also left, back to the bright city lights and with the decrease in tourists, it's all getting very quiet around here! The tearoom is now onto its winter hours of Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10-4, which means the fire is now being lit again - yay! The pub is also quieting off, so it is open from 4pm Monday to Friday and from 12 noon at the weekends. The return of the pool table is much anticipated…
The Forest Trust AGM and BBQ went well, despite the weather, with a great turn out and an unexpected surprise visit from former forester Danny, who it was lovely to see back again. The shed is fair coming on, its going to be a cracker when its finished.
The winners of the photo competition run by the KFT were announced and there were a lot of great pictures entered but it is Amie and Wee Anna Robertson who the congratulations go to. It seems Amie is not only talented at making amazing cakes, well done! Don't forget that there is still the Community Land Scotland photo competition to enter, closing date 30th November so if, like me, you didn't make the KFT one, there's still a chance to get your pictures in.
Other congratulations go to Mel and Jim who have just announced that they are expecting another little one next April... the baby boom continues!
Halloween is always a highlight of October, and this year is no exception. Myself and Rhona spent all day at work dressed up ducking under lots of cobwebs and creepy spiders and serving yummy pumpkin whoopie pies. The little ones looked very cute in their costumes it has to be said.
The stag season came to an end with the usual end of season dinner/party in the pub and i do believe it was a great night. The stalkers are still busy though, as the hind season carries on until February.
Unfortunately I think our warm Indian summer might finally be over as the drop in temperature has become noticeable - hats and gloves, not to mention waterproofs, are out in force! There was a wee bit of excitement the other night with the thunder and lightning which was pretty cool, wouldn't mind some more of that! Tommy returns from his adventures in Cyprus and Turkey just in time for it getting dreich and dark as the clocks went back - still adjusting to it being pitch black at 5pm... I think the fact that Tommy went about on holiday wearing his royal mail shirt deserves a mention.. now that's dedication to the Royal Mail! And on that note, I think I'll wrap this thing up
Heather Gilmour
West Word welcomes Heather as the new Knoydart correspondent - and we wish Amy all the very best for the future in Loch Carron.

ISLE OF MUCK
The road ahead for the Muck Fish Farm was outlined at a meeting on the island on 25th October. Senior staff from Marine Harvest Scotland travelled to Muck with Mark Woombs and told us that the first cages will be occupied next summer and construction of the first staff houses will commence almost immediately. Marine Harvest have engaged Robbie Gordon to supervise construction on the island. A wise move as no one knows more about the trials and tribulations of building on the island as he played a major part in the construction of the Hall and Gallanach Lodge and even many years ago a minor part in the construction of the new school. Welcome back Robbie!
Better news too on the teaching vacancy. Highland Council have filled the position starting after New Year. More details next month.
All the best
Lawrence MacEwen

ISLE OF CANNA
Martin Culbertson from Lochaber Leader came to the island to present a plaque for the new community shop which is looking great. This derelict old building has been transformed into a fantastic community space.

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Geraldine, Julie McCabe and Martin Culbertson with the plaque for the Community Shop.

Farmwise it has been a busy month weaning cows and calves and getting them ready for sale. Missed the Fort William sale due to bad weather and had to reschedule for Dingwall. Cattle prices have been very good and two new Cheviot tups were bought at Dingwall on the 25th. Sad to say goodbye to Charlie MacDonald, cook on the Loch Nevis, wish you well on your new ship and thanks for all the good breakfasts!
Geraldine MacKinnon

ISLE OF RUM
Hijacked by a migrating bird, October has all about the rare Mourning Dove. For those of you who didn't know, we had a little off course visitor from North America, meant to be heading south but thought it would drop in here instead, and as luck would have it, landed in the garden of Rum's foremost bird expert, Sean Morris. It generated a great deal of interest everywhere and brought almost 100 eager twitchers from all over the UK to have a look, take a snap, and tick a box. It has also generated a few hundred pounds in donations towards the village hall woodworm fund. Ali Morris and her gang of willing volunteers Nic and Aby, provided a pop up cafe every day to sustain the cold and shivering bird watchers all lurching over long lenses in the garden. Unfortunately after a cold night a week later, it has flown away and alas the excitement and cake is all finished.
The annual red deer rut on the Kilmory greens has been as busy as ever, with fierce competition for the 'top-spot'. With no film crews present this year, Martyn and Ali could crack on and get stuck in to all the action. Clown00, named Cassius by Autumnwatch, returned this year, but was unable to get a strong hold and was kept of by a very confident Sycamore02. Roger didn't return to rut this year, which makes us believe that he died as a result of injuries in rut 2012. Zaphod and Pythagorus both started the rut very successfully, but were ousted by older and wiser stags. They are both young though and we hope to see them back next year having learned from these experiences. Ranger Mike guided two groups on walks to Kilmory to see the rut in progress. They went really well and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to the visitors about what the animals were up to. It is great having the deer observation hide as a focal point for visiting groups like this and we had a lot of good feedback. Hallowe'en was busy with two parties, one at the school followed by one a t the village hall. Scary costumes all around with the best weirdos on Rum being our old hag aka Sean Morris, that's the costume Sean, not you!! the cannibal king of Zanzibar - Mike the ranger, which was truly impressive and Lesley's red eyes, I wish I had pictures...
Swiftly moving onto bonfire, fireworks, sparklers and stunning venison burgers at the campsite on Saturday. Like last year, almost called off to the driving rain, we braved it and the rain went away for a crisp cold evening and bonfire toffee to break your teeth. So all set for winter, The hens have stopped laying, Ian's boat is out of the water and the the shop is shut on a Tuesday night. That's that then, I suppose.
Breaking news...Isle of Rum Community Trust are looking a for a project manager to take forward the construction of the new bunkhouse check out the news page on www.isleofrum.com for more info or email info@isleofrum.com.
And congratulations to Gav and Laura on the dramatic birth of baby Maggie.
Fliss Fraser

ISLE OF EIGG
October. What actually happened in October? That month seems to have dropped off the calendar, last thing I remember it was September and now it's November, but a quick review of my photo collection proves it must have happened. My dog was definitely photographed taking exception to, and fighting with, a marker buoy on the beach in October. Johnny, Brendan, Joe and I, collectively know as The Pictish Trail (full band, Mr The Pictish Trail is just Johnny) were on tour from the last few days of September until the middle of the elusive month, so that goes a long way to explaining why it has felt so short. But you don't care about that, you want to know what has been happening on Eigg!
The biggest news is that Eilidh and Jamie Ardagh have just brought a new person - and Eigg resident (until she reaches 18 and goes back-packing around Southeast Asia) - into the world. Isla Rose Ardagh was born on the 4th of November. So there you go, the most exciting thing to happen in October actually happened in November.
OK, there was Halloween! The kids went guising on the actual day, but the fancy dress party at the tearoom was on the following Saturday - which of course was November again. There's no getting away from it, October was a bit slack.
The weather has been fickle, which is of course no surprise around these parts. Watching the weather forecast is generally a pointless exercise as the only thing that is predicable about the weather is that the forecast will get it wrong. We've missed a few boats due to high winds already, and we've been treated to cacophonous thunder-claps waking up the whole island, machinegun attacks of hailstones, tropical strength rain showers and glorious warm sunshine all in one day. You know, the usual. It keeps you on your toes though, as two temporary Eigg residents are finding out: Robert and Jamie are brothers from Edinburgh, building a small bothy on Eddie and Lucy's croft, part of a venture by The Bothy Project - an organisation who are building bothies in remote areas around Scotland with the aim of creating residencies for artists who would like to be inspired by the wonderful Scottish landscape and the lovely weirdos who inhabit it. They're finding out, like many before them, just what it's like waterproofing a house in the West Highlands - conventional methods generally presume that rain will be falling from above, not horizontally at 70mph.
Right - I remember something - The School of Daimh! How could I forget? The Daimh boys organised a feis which will hopefully become an annual event - a musical master-class weekend where you are taught traditional music by everyone's favourite Trad-heros. Punters from all over the UK - but also including Peggy Kirk from Eigg who signed up for the Gaelic Singing with Griogair - descended on Eigg for the last weekend of October. They were kept, full board at the Glebe Barn and fully catered by Eiggy bread. There was a Ceilidh at The Community Hall on the last day featuring an ever band line-up, as teachers and students played tag-team between the stage and the bar. It was a welcomed social highlight after the quietening down that has happened since September. If you want to be taught by Daimh, be sure to keep an eye out for this event next year.
So that's about it for October. Camille is away again, which is why I'm writing this issue's Eigg-report. She'll no doubt resume normal service next time. Thank you for reading, and I saw a barnacle goose the other day.
Ben Cormack

Rare American Dove Visits Rum
Birding hysteria came to Rum in the final days of October after I discovered a rare Mourning Dove feeding in our back garden among the local chaffinches on the afternoon of Monday 28th. Mourning Doves are a North American species and are extremely rare vagrants to this side of the Atlantic with only three previous records in the UK. The bird had probably been blown off course by strong westerly winds during a week when several other rare American species were recorded in Britain.
News quickly spread through the birding world after I posted photographs of the blackbird sized dove on twitter.

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A determined band of hard core 'twitchers' numbering about 35 drove up to Mallaig from all over the UK to catch the Loch Nevis on Tuesday 29th for the two hour day trip on Rum in order to glimpse a view of the bird. Luckily the bird behaved and all the visitors were able to see the bird. Tea and cake was provided by dedicated locals and a grand total of £70 was raised in donations towards community projects.
Unfortunately due to stormy weather the next few days it was not possible for charter boats to be arranged and the Loch Nevis had to cancel the day trip on Thursday. Even this didn't deter a couple of hardy souls braving two nights on Rum in order to see the dove and they were well rewarded by excellent views in Rock Cottage garden.
At the time of writing on Friday 1 November the dove is still present and with an improvement in the forecast three charters are expected on Saturday 2nd loaded with expectant birders hoping for a glimpse of our rare visitor. Let's hope the dove is still present and the visiting birders dig deep in their pockets and give generously towards community projects. Tea and cake will, of course, be provided.
Sean Morris

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Photos by Sean Morris

RELOCATION OF ARISAIG POST OFFICE
Post Office Ltd is proposing to move Arisaig's Post Office branch from its own premises to the Spar Stores in the village.
Post Office Ltd have started a consultation period with local residents which will end on 29th November. All households in the PH39 area should have received an Information sheet and details on how to respond to the consultation. There is an online questionnaire at postofficeviews.co.uk, or comments can be emailed to comments@postoffice.co.uk or sent to FREEPOST - Your Comments, PO Box 740, Barnsley, S73 0ZJ.
The move of the branch is part of a three year investment and support programme which will see 6,000 branches converting to new style branches.
The main benefit will be longer opening hours, seven days a week. Post Office Ltd say the proposed month of change will be January 2014 but there will have to be structural changes to the counters in Spar before the change.

ST MARY'S CHURCH ARISAIG STAINED GLASS WINDOW RESTORATION
The restoration of the stonework protecting the wonderful chancel window at St Mary RC Church is now complete. For those of you who have been following our journey over the past eleven months, we are delighted to report that the fundraising efforts of all involved have raised the extraordinary sum of £25,459.80. This is the most astonishing achievement and is a lasting legacy to both the Church's architectural heritage as well as the community who have come together to protect and preserve this priceless piece of art. Thanks are due to the efforts of the parish, local contributors and of course to Fr Andrew Barrett whose leadership and quiet persuasion made this fundraising project such an enormous success.

photo The list is long, but they all are owed gratitude, so thank you to The Scottish Community Fund, The Gower Trust, The Arisaig Fund, The Columba Trust, Highland Wood Energy, The Morar Mission, to Edward & Wallace for their wonderful concert, to Felicity Blackburn for her lovely painting, to the Whist Group, to those who baked and sold at the Arisaig Games, the Coffee Morning, to those who made and sold tablet, painted stones & handmade cards, to the Arisaig Lunch Club, to Hugh & Anne and the team behind the Vatersaay Boys Dance, for the special Church collections, to Fr Andrew's chickens, to our Facebook friends and to those who made individual donations amounting to £5,322. If I've missed anyone then you know who you are, and you know you have our thanks. photo

There will be a special mass to celebrate the completion of the window restoration in January led by Bishop Toal, with Fr Andrew and Fr Tony Wood. More of this will follow closer to the time, including the confirmed date, but we hope we'll see many of you there. And if you are new to our story, then you can find out more at www.stmaryschurcharisaig.co.uk or visit our Facebook Page.
Fiona Baker

Mallaig High School Pupil Contributes to new Scottish Diaspora Tapestry
Following the extremely high standard of contributed artworks to the Arisaig Games Boisdale Prize for Young People this year, the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry designer, Andrew Crummy, has adapted the winning design into a tapestry panel.
Lachie Robinson's design stood out, even amongst its counterparts of real quality, and earned him the top prize of £100.
Andrew Crummy, who came to Arisaig to judge the competition and review entries, was quite amazed at the quality of the work - not just from Mallaig High School, but Acharacle Primary too.
Speaking of Lachie's piece he said "I thought it would be just great to get at least one into the final tapestry. There were so many lovely designs. Lachie's is well researched, imaginative and well drawn, I tried to keep to the original vision as much as possible and really just tweak it to make it more stitchable. I think it is important that a young person from Mallaig School has so wonderfully expressed the sense of leaving for the new world." Lachie's response is just as enthusiastic: "The project was an opportunity to express my views on the Highland Clearances, particularly around Mallaig. The most challenging part was placing objects within the design. The Diaspora tapestry is, in my view, an excellent way to bring together many different people's perspectives through artwork, and I am delighted that my efforts have been well received as I found the project highly entertaining and interesting."

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Chas Mac Donald, Project Co-ordinator for Howling Events, who brought the school and designer together for the 2013 competition said, "What is most gratifying for me is that these young people have had an opportunity to contribute original work and ideas to a major piece of international art being created in Scotland. Lachie's design will now be incorporated into a tapestry which will be around for hundreds of years to come. That is really something. And for a young person, from our edge of our nowhere, to be considered to have produced such a high standard of work just shows that it's not where you are, but how you approach the world, that is important."
The Diaspora Tapestry is the third in a series of new tapestries to have been created by Andrew Crummy, and the second by the Prestonpans group, which also produced the Prestonpans Tapestry which was unveiled a few years ago. That tapestry was worked on by a number of stitchers from the west of Lochaber, and is currently on display at Bayeux. Andrew has been particularly impressed with the quality of stitchers in the West Word area and welcomed the news that Helen Brodie, Kinloid, will be leading the stitching effort on this panel with a team she is now bringing together.
He concluded, saying "I am very pleased that Helen is involved. She is a fine stitcher and has been important to The Prestonpans Tapestry, Great Tapestry of Scotland, and now The Diaspora Tapestry. In particular, Arisaig has been important to all these projects."
Mallaig High School's Art Teacher, Helen Race has been very appreciative of the Boisdale prize for the entire time of its existence. "For three years we have enjoyed the very varied challenges of the Boisdale Prize. 'The Diaspora' was a particularly interesting subject not only involving pupils in considerable historical, often local, research, but it also brought out a wealth of ideas in their design. I congratulate all their efforts which I felt were outstanding. We very much look forward to seeing Lachie's excellent design being completed as an embroidered panel."
Chas also wanted to underline the importance of the supporters of the project in the area. The Boisdale Prize is organised as part of Arisaig Games, effectively managed by Mallaig Art Gallery (thanks to all involved there!), and promoted by Helen Race and Margaret MacLellan in their respective schools. The prize is sponsored by Ranald Òg Macdonald, younger of Clan Ranald. It is hoped that more schools will be encouraged to get involved in the 2014 competition which will be announced shortly.
A full selection of the tapestry design entries in the 2013 competition can be seen on Chas' YouTube channel AllThingsArisaig

EXCELLENT REPORT FOR LADY LOVAT PS
Lady Lovat Primary School's HMIe report following a recent inspection has been published. It makes very positive reading and is available online.
Commenting on the report, Head Teacher, Fiona MacKellaig, said:
'I am delighted with the inspection report which reflects the very positive ethos, quality of teaching and excellent teamwork which is the cornerstone of Lady Lovat Primary School. It highlights the hard work, mutual respect, commitment and dedication of pupils, staff, parents and the wider school community. The report acknowledges our vision to continue to take forward all current initiatives of the Curriculum for Excellence to ensure the greatest impact is made on the future learning of all pupils of Lady Lovat Primary School.'
Lynne Barrie, Parent Council Chairperson, said
'As newly appointed Chair of the Parent Council and on behalf of the parents at Lady Lovat, we are very happy with the findings of the report. The HMIe inspector recognised the strong teaching, support and motivating experiences that the children at Lady Lovat experience. As a parent I was encouraged in the fact that they also recognised that the children support and encourage each other to do well. They talk with enthusiasm about their learning and interact very well with each other and with adults, this is indeed a positive. These factors, and the others highlighted within the report is testament to the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm of the whole staff team. I have no doubt that the school will continue to improve and develop the curriculum and to continue to build on the many strengths highlighted within the report.'


On & Off The Rails
So, how was it for you all on the day and night of British Summertime ending? I was privileged to be travelling with all the returning locomotives, carriages, guard's van and crew quarters from Fort William to Bo'ness, as The Jacobite stock departed Scotland for use all over England and Wales during the forthcoming Christmas season - but more about that day later. Then at night, I settled into the booked Guest House at Bo'ness (having discovered the landlady used to work in the Railway Planning Office at York, and the other occupant was a retired Signal and Telegraph man). I set the hands back on my travelling alarm clock and settled down, only to find the next morning I hadn't checked that the battery was good (it wasn't!) and that the landlady's mains clock had been re-timed one hour forward and not back!! Chaos ensued for a few minutes until order was restored!!! Travelling back to Mallaig was a pleasure on a warm, clean, well-used ScotRail train from Glasgow Queen Street. A really good mix of passengers, from returning locals from shows and exhibitions, to Club 55 visitors, a table of Vienna visitors staying at Glenfinnan Camping Coach for the night, American tourists en-route to Skye after eating and staying in Mallaig for the night etc etc. I even had a good friend drive over with her dogs to Helensburgh Upper from near Balfron, to deliver two paintings to me as we went through. She even purchased food and drink for her return car journey from the on-board catering service!
In this day and age it does seem crazy to me that there will be NO ScotRail DAYTIME Sunday service now from Glasgow to Mallaig until next Spring!! The only Sunday service departs Glasgow Queen Street at 18.20, getting into Mallaig at 23.35. Much discussion on the train took place as to why our voices are not heard to give us a daylight winter service, both visitors and locals are being penalised. Surely we deserve it. Over to you ScotRail.

West Coast Railways Jacobite News
Friday October 25th saw the last Jacobite service of the year pull into Mallaig on time for a thank you party from all the businesses in Mallaig. We had flags, bunting, helium balloons, cakes galore, children from Mallaig Nursery, etc. The weather just held out and hundreds of photographs were taken. A HUGE thank you to all the businesses in Mallaig who contributed to the cost. We never take the value, or the pleasure, of The Jacobite for granted. The logistics of running the whole operation for six months of the year - let alone the costs - and yes, I know it is profitable, but the money that comes into Mallaig on the back of it is truly appreciated. Special thanks go to An Cala and Kay Jones for the cakes; Norleen, Jennifer and helpers with the Mallaig Nursery children; Mallaig Harbour Authority for a bottle of Mallaig Harbour Water Single Malt whisky, which was raffled; a gift from Mallaig RNLI who fundraised on The Jacobite this year; and anyone I have missed out. See the photos for the fun that we had.

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Jacobite team with the cake made by Kay Jones

The good news is that next year's dates are already announced online! Bookings can be made from Monday November 18th onwards on a Monday to Friday for the dates below.
The Jacobite 2014 season will commence on Monday May 12th 2014 through to Friday October 24th 2014, Monday to Friday each week. The Saturday and Sunday service will run from Saturday June 21st until Sunday September 21st, with the afternoon Jacobite commencing on Monday June 2nd until Friday August 29th, Monday to Friday.
All fare details and conditions can be found by telephoning West Coat Railways on 0844 850 4685, or by going online at www.westcoastrailways.co.uk, or by calling the online booking service on 0844 850 3131. The First Class carriage is always very popular and booked ahead very early for birthday/celebration parties, wedding anniversaries, engagement or wedding parties. We even celebrated a divorce party one year!! Harry Potter fan club groups from all over the world book it up, as do railway touring groups. You get complimentary tea, coffee, shortbread or tablet served at your reserved seat as well. A private table for two only costs £3 more overall than a shared table for four with other travellers. You can also add on, when you purchase your tickets, celebratory champagne, flowers and chocolates, all delivered to your table. Now in your chance.

Glenfinnan Station Museum Shop goes online
After much planning, a brilliant website for Glenfinnan Station Museum Shop has appeared. As the Museum is only open by appointment between the months of November to April, it has not always been possible to obtain the merchandise sold within and on The Jacobite Steam Train shop. However, the website is now up and running and is well worth a look. There are plenty of ideas for Christmas and birthday presents. For children there are plenty if Harry Potter 'goodies' and for the older railway enthusiasts there are lots of items to choose from - www.glenfinnanstationmuseum.co.uk is the site to visit.

The Jacobite Steam Train goes away
Friday 25th October saw the last Jacobite steam train into Mallaig for the 2013 season. After another successful season, the three engines and all the coaches travelled south to be maintained and overhauled ready for future excursions down south.
On Saturday 26th October at 8.30am the K1 no. 62005 left Fort William Yard with its support coach and Ian Riley's Class 37 No 37518 (Fort William) attached to the front of the train and headed to Carnforth.
The same day an SRPS Special left Polmont at 6am and travelled to Fort William, hauled by West Coast Railways Class 47 No. 47706. On arrival at the Fort at 11.18, the passengers alighted and had about an hour to explore the town. At 12.35 pm the train then departed Fort William for Polmont, hauled by Ian Riley's two Black 5s, Nos 45407 and 44871. Forming the train were two support vehicles and eight carriages, with the Class 47 attached at the rear to give assistance if required.
The front engine (No. 45407) was driven by West Coast Traction Inspector, Peter Walker, and the second engine (No. 44871) was driven by Ian Riley. A good run down the West Highland Line was experienced and the train pulled into Polmont at the booked time of 20.36. On the route were many photographers, so there are sure to be good pictures to be seen on various websites and in railway magazines.

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WCR Traction Insector Peter Walker at the controls of the 45407

A big thank you to all who made the return journey a day to remember. Drivers Peter Walker and Ian Riley, Firemen John 'Cushty' Rogers, James Shuttleworth, Brian Reid and Mat the Bike, also train Guards Lachie and Jim from West Coast Railways.
Thanks to all at West Coast Railways for giving us The Jacobite, especially David Smith and Pat Marshall.

Friends of the West Highland Magazine
The Autumn/Winter edition of this very popular magazine is now out, priced at only £2.90 it makes good reading and is very informative. There are also some excellent photographs taken by Society members. Copies can be obtained directly from me, or at Bill's Place, Fort William Railway Station. If you require a copy, just telephone me and I can post a copy to you (Sonia at 01687 462189).

Advance information of early 2014 booked rail tours Statesman Railtours: Winter West Highlander, 0845 310 2458, statesmanrail.com
2-day tours to Fort William are accepting bookings for February 28th/March 1st departing Bristol via Cheltenham, and March14th/15th departing Hull via Leeds.

3-day tours to Fort William and Mallaig are now accepting bookings for March 7th, 8th and 9th, departing Holyhead via Chester and Preston, and March 21st, 22nd and 23rd departing Derby via Tamworth, Crewe and Preston.
All are over weekends, all diesel hauled, please note for clarity some pick up/drop off stations have not been included in my list.
The Railway Touring Company - The Great Britain VI - 01553 661500, www.railwaytouring.net The very popular tour continues into its sixth year with the Scottish leg being steam hauled. Touring from April 26th to May 4th, the full details will shortly be announced.

Competition to win Rails Across Rannoch book
A chance to win a copy of this newly published book by prolific photographer and publisher Bill Williams. £4.95 from local stockists Mallaig Tourist Information Shop, or www.northernbooks.co.uk, or PO Box 3, Ellon AB41 9EA. This book is a wonderfully captured photographic journal sub-titled 'Highlights of the route from Crianlarich to Fort William.'
Question: What date does The Jacobite 2014 season commence?
Answers on a postcard please to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD.
Closing date for entries Wednesday November 27th.
Good luck!

Footnote: ScotRail's Club 55 scheme (see previous back issues of West Word) is still available until November 30th 2013 for outward journey/December 31st for return journey. I have met many rail users who have used this offer linked with offers on First TransPennine and Arriva Trains Wales. Keep on searching the best way to travel!!

telent awarded significant contract on Network Rail Scotland
telent have been awarded the RETB (Radio Electronic Token Block) contract for Scotland's Far North and West Highland Lines by Network Rail to deliver a replacement radio infrastructure. This is to accommodate reallocation of the existing radio frequencies to allow changes to European TV and allow operational enhancements to the signalling operation.
The next generation RETB system will be implemented on the rural single track lines from Glasgow to Oban via Fort William and from Inverness to the North Coast of Scotland at Thurso. The project includes the replacement of radio base station equipment at 46 sites and radio units on over 100 trains, including 5 steam locomotives, and must be completed to allow the existing radio frequencies to be reallocated in December 2015.
See you on the train
Sonia Cameron

LOCAL HERO
The 30th anniversary screening of the film Local Hero attracted a full house when it was shown in Mallaig on Saturday 2nd November, courtesy of the Mobile Cinema. Present at the screening was the film's Writer and Director Bill Forsyth and its Associate Producer Iain Smith.
A combination of weather and mechanical problems however almost scuppered te planned showing of film as the ferry Lochnevis had to cancel her Friday sailings leaving the Screen Machine stranded at Armadale. However, the ferry did sail on the Saturday, much to the relief of the organisers, and the Screen Machine was conveyed over the sea from Skye.
Filmed at Camusdarach and Lochailort Inn on the west coast and the village of Pennan on the east, the film's gentle Highland humour is enduring, a testimonial to the skills of Writer and Director Bill Forsyth. Although it wasn't planned and was therefore coincidental, the fact that the film was screened on what would have been Burt Lancaster's 100th birthday added a certain poignancy to the occasion.
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Iain Smith (left) and Bill Forsyth in Mallaig for the special screening
of Local Hero.

The film starred Burt Lancaster, Peter Reigart, Fulton MacKay. Denis Lawson and Peter Capaldi making his first big screen debut, but the real star of the film was he magnificent Camusdarach beaches with the stunning backdrop of Rum, Eigg and Skye!
It was also good to see the karge cast of supporting roles, played by Rikki Fulton, John Gordon Sinclair, Alex Norton and Jonathan Watson amongst others.
At the question and answer session that followed the screening, interesting anecdotes and insights into certain scenes were delivered freely by both men. Both Bill and Iain were happy to chat and sign autographs before retiring to a local hostelry for a well deserved nightcap. However, they did hint they were in the process of developing a 'project' which could see them returning to the area in the not too distant future.
RMM


LOCAL COMPANY SCOOPS TOP PRIZE
An events company specialising in humanist wedding and baby naming ceremonies is planning for further growth in Scotland and the rest of the UK after scooping a business support prize worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Fuze Ceremonies was named the most promising start-up in the LESL Enterprise Challenge. The competition was launched by LESL, an enterprise trust based in Lanarkshire, to celebrate its 25 years of supporting businesses in Scotland.
As part of the prize for coming out on top, Fuze will be able to tap into a range of business development services including public relations, marketing, human resources, IT and legal provision.
It will also receive fast-track support on how to access loan and investment funds including a six figure Trust Fund established to support Enterprise Challenge winners.
On top of that, the company is getting six months of rent-free office space at the Atrium Business Centre in Coatbridge.
Anne Widdop, founding director of Fuze Ceremonies, said the business is hoping to expand quickly in the coming years. She said: 'It's been a tough first year, but we've made a great start to a business that is continuing to grow and innovate. We've just managed to secure funding to employ our first graduate in the Highlands - thanks to Highland Council and the Highland Loan fund, and not forgetting the great support from Simon Purdon at Business Gateway support in Fort William.
'Winning is not only about the prize, but the recognition by others and the belief that they have in our business has given us all a real boost. So in addition to our office in Arisaig, we've now have an admin office at the Atrium. Together with the mentoring and expertise we'll receive from LESL's advisors, will undoubtedly help underpin our plans for rapid expansion, initially in Scotland, then throughout the UK.'
Humanist wedding ceremonies in Scotland have increased rapidly in recent years. In 2005 there were fewer than 100 carried out, but the most recent figures from the General Register Office for Scotland show there were 2486 in 2011 and 3052 in 2012.
The wedding market in Scotland is thought to be worth in excess of £80 million a year. As well as baby naming days, Fuze also carries out same-sex affirmations and re-affirmations of vows and is launching its all-inclusive wedding packages in November.
Contact Anne and Fuze Ceremonies at Graham's Manse, Arisaig, PH39 4NJ
email anne@fuzeceremonies.co.uk
(m) 07789 507 832
www.fuzeceremonies.co.uk

Gaelic in the Landscape - The Rough Bounds of Lochaber
A' Ghàidhlig air Aghaidh na Tìre - Garbh-Chrìochan Loch Abar

Following on from the success of Place-names in Islay and Jura, Scottish Natural Heritage and Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba have once again collaborated to produce a work on the landscape and place-names of Arisaig and Loch Shiel, using in depth local knowledge and historical research. Many of these names have never appeared in print before.
The bilingual booklet was launched at the Royal National Mod on Tuesday 15 October 2013. It has been produced as part of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013 celebrations and received additional funding from Soillse.
The booklet celebrates the specific cultural and natural heritage of Arisaig and Loch Shiel. Local volunteer Dr Heather Clyne, with training and support from Dr Jacob King of AÀA, collected information on more than 100 place-names from members of the community.
Project co-ordinator, Emily MacDonald of SNH, said "Understanding the meaning behind place-names gives a real insight into the landscape and its links with people and the Gaelic language. This new bilingual publication, which focuses on local place name knowledge passed down through generations, really highlights these connections."
Eilidh Scammell of AÀA said, "The preservation of Scotland's Gaelic place-names is very much at the heart of AÀA and we are delighted to have been a part of this project, which we hope will secure their future in Lochaber's landscape, and help future generations understand the connections between the language and the land."
To receive a free copy of the 25 page booklet email pubs@snh.gov.uk or phone 01738 458530. A PDF version of the booklet is also available at www.snh.gov.uk


NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - November 2013

Ferry News
Just as the October West Word went to press CalMac Ferries Ltd announced the timetable for the Lochboisdale to Mallaig Service which is due to commence on Tuesday 12th November 2013 and operate over the next three winters on a trial basis. The service will be twice weekly (Tuesdays & Saturdays) with two crossings on each of the two days.

Mallaig - Armadale
Please note that the Mallaig - Armadale Skye Ferry Service is on its winter schedule now that the Coruisk has departed for the Clyde.
The Mallaig - Armadale car and passenger service is now being carried out by the Lochnevis with 08.40hrs and 16.00hrs being the departure times from Mallaig, Mondays to Saturdays inclusive.
On Sundays there is only the one crossing. This has a 16.00hr departure time.

Transport Scotland
As part of their on-going engagement with Trust Ports, Transport Scotland have given notice that they will have two representatives attending the Harbour Authority Board Meeting which is scheduled for Friday 17th January 2014.

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This photograph is a real blast from the past back to the days of the steam drifters. My thanks to Moe Mathieson for the use of the photograph.
Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154
info@mallaigharbourauthority.com

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CalMac's New ferry MV Hallaig - passing Mallaig!
She's the world's first hybrid ferry, which will enter service on the Sconser-Raasay route next summer.
Photo Moe Mathieson

LIFEBOAT LOG
The Mallaig Lifeboat, the Severn Class Henry Alston Hewat, was called into action on three occasions during October.
Saturday 5th October: Lifeboat launched at 1000 hrs at the behest of the Stornoway Coastguard to go to the assistance of the creel boat Sunseeker. The 8 metre boat had lost engine power whilst fishing in the Loch Einort area of West Skye. Being close to shore, Sunseeker's skipper issued a distress call and deployed the anchor, stopping the boat drifting towards the shore. The Small Isles ferry, Lochnevis, diverted to the casualty location and stood by until the Lifeboat arrived. The local fishing vessel Guide Us, also proceeded to the casualty.
As the Lifeboat reached Sunseeker, the skipper managed to restart the engine, but only travelled a short distance before the engine failed again. Now on scene, the Lifeboat quickly took the creel boat in tow. Lochnevis and Guide Us were released to continue on their way and Sunseeker was soon safely on its moorings at Portnalong.
Lifeboat returned to Mallaig, was refuelled and ready for service at 1500 hrs.
Sunday 6th October: Whilst involved in an operation at the entrance to Loch Hourn, Kyle Inshore Lifeboat responded to a distress call from a dive vessel aground at Airor, Knoydart. Quickly on scene, the Kyle Lifeboat aided the casualty, recovering its crew of three, but it was unable to pull the vessel clear. Kyle Lifeboat requested the larger Severn Class Mallaig Lifeboat to assist in towing the dive vessel clear of the shore. Mallaig Lifeboat was subsequently launched at 09.59 hrs but whilst on passage to the scene the dive vessel broke free from the shore, was quickly taken in tow by the Kyle Lifeboat and placed on her mooring at Airor. As a precaution, Mallaig Lifeboat stood by to assist if necessary but with the casualty back on its mooring and the crew back on board and none the worse for their ordeal, the Kyle Lifeboat resumed its previous tasking and the Mallaig Lifeboat returned to station, ready for service at 11.00 hrs.
Wednesday 30th October: Mallaig Lifeboat was launched at 20.45 hrs, tasked by Stornoway Coastguard to go to the assistance of a yacht, stranded on a sandbank in the Loch Hourn area. After an extensive search of the area, no sign of any vessel was found. Lifeboat was stood down at 2300 hrs and returned to port where it was refuelled and ready for service at 23.30hrs.
Coastguard continued with their own enquiries regarding the call out!
RMM


CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting Federation Area Representative

Changes in Crofting Commission Policy
There have been a number of changes this year through findings and determinations in the Scottish Land court and within the Commission board that impact crofting regulation and policy.
Grazing Shares. The Scottish Land court has determined that
a] When croft land has been purchased and the grazing share remains in tenancy, the tenanted share becomes an independent croft. It becomes what is known as a 'deemed croft'. The crofter of this land holds the rights from the landlord of the croft NOT the landlord of the common grazing.
b] The 'deemed croft' cannot then be sold [assigned] without going through Commission procedure.

Title deeds of crofts being assigned [sold] should specifically mention the grazing share in the purchase to avoid future problems when the croft has to be registered due to decroftings, assignations or divisions.

Regulatory applications by multiple owners of crofts Unfortunate owner occupiers [not owner occupier crofters] of land that is part of a croft that has not been decrofted or divided through the Commission now find themselves in a situation where they have to submit an application to decroft, assign or let with the signatures of all the other owners of the parcels of land. Collectively they are known as a joint landlord of a vacant croft. This comes after Commissionaires agreed to adopt a policy when it came to their attention in Dec 2012 that some vacant crofts could hold parcels of land that all were held in title by different owners. The practicalities of finding neighbours who could be absent and have no forwarding address or who could simply disagree with one owners desire to submit an application have not yet been addressed by the Commission.

Owner Occupiers and Decrofting
Owner occupier crofters who were in limbo when the Crofting Commission stopped processing decrofting applications are now able to apply to decroft again when the amendment was given Royal assent on 31st July.

Grazing Committees duty to report
Consultation is on going at the moment on the best way to prepare a Duty to Report document that will be sent to Grazing committees every five years. There are also planned changes to the way Common grazings are to be run , both should be ready for release in the New Year.

Crofting Entry Level Induction Course
I am pleased to say that there will be an Intensive two day course held in the Community Hall Mallaig on Friday 31st January and Saturday 1st February. The course will run from 9am to 5pm on the Friday and finish earlier on the Saturday. On completing the course you will receive a certificate and you will of course have absorbed a lot of useful information. Contact me for an enrolment form or for any other details. Details of this course and other up and coming practical courses on crofting in this area are on the Scottish Crofting Federation website.


Extract from Personal Angle

I note from my diary that W H Smith opened the very first Railway Bookstall at Euston Station on the 1st November 1848. now, I don't know when their Scottish counterpart J Menzies opened their Bookstall in Mallaig Railway Station but I have good memories of it - it's where, as a youngster, I bought Classics Illustrated and the Commando comics. I recall Kate MacLeod, Isa (Coteachan) MacPherson and Kate Downie working there and I also remember you placed your money on the small wooden plinth in the centre of the counter.
I remember queuing for the daily papers in the Station. People would gather in the Station at noon as that was when the Glasgow train arrived with not only passengers from Skye and Stornoway but also with the daily newspapers in the guards van. Also in the van were large cardboard boxes containing bread for the local shops, mailbags for Royal Mail, milk churns, even meat for the local butchers. The Station at noon was THE place to be.
Right behind the Station Kiosk was a set of buffers (Platform 1) and Railwayman Elliot Ironside tells me that if the guard or driver misjudged the distance and speed of the shunted wagons/coaches then the resultant thump into the buffers would shake the bookstall to its very foundations and cause all the cigarettes and sweets to fall off the back wall onto the floor of the Bookstall!

The aforementioned item segues nicely into this one as I display another photo gifted to the Mallaig Harbour Authority by Edinburgh based photographer Ian Aitken.
The photo was taken in 1972 and it's a scene that's forever etched in my mind as I worked in the MacBrayne's office at this time. Initially located inside the Railway Station, MacBrayne's moved into this building that used to belong to Mr and Mrs Isaac Wallace and known as The Refreshment Rooms. The Fishery Office, HM Customs & Excise, Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association and The Mallaig Harbour Authority all had offices in the same large building. Opposite MacBrayne's was the Railway Ticket Office with its wee enclosure ensuring escape from the rain and gull droppings when you were purchasing your ticket!
Simpson's large (green) shed can be seen behind the MacBrayne office and the Ice Factory is pictured in the middle of the photo. Quite a few people can be seen outside the Chemist Shop - was there a sale on I wonder???
Right behind the Station Kiosk was a set of buffers (Platform 1) and Railwayman Elliot Ironside tells me that if the guard or driver misjudged the distance and speed of the shunted wagons/coaches then the resultant thump into the buffers would shake the bookstall to its very foundations and cause all the cigarettes and sweets to fall off the back wall onto the floor of the Bookstall!

The aforementioned item segues nicely into this one as I display another photo gifted to the Mallaig Harbour Authority by Edinburgh based photographer Ian Aitken.

photo

The photo was taken in 1972 and it's a scene that's forever etched in my mind as I worked in the MacBrayne's office at this time. Initially located inside the Railway Station, MacBrayne's moved into this building that used to belong to Mr and Mrs Isaac Wallace and known as The Refreshment Rooms. The Fishery Office, HM Customs & Excise, Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association and The Mallaig Harbour Authority all had offices in the same large building. Opposite MacBrayne's was the Railway Ticket Office with its wee enclosure ensuring escape from the rain and gull droppings when you were purchasing your ticket!
Simpson's large (green) shed can be seen behind the MacBrayne office and the Ice Factory is pictured in the middle of the photo Quite a few people can be seen outside the Chemist Shop - was there a sale on I wonder???
RMM

Golden eagle soars high as Scotland's number 1
The golden eagle has overwhelmingly topped the vote in a campaign to find the country's favourite wild animal.
The impressive bird of prey was competing against the red deer, red squirrel, harbour seal and otter. Thousands of votes were recorded online following the campaign launch in spring this year and voting on 31st October. With almost 40 per cent of the vote, the eagle was well ahead of its counterparts. The next closest was the red squirrel with 20 percent, then the red deer and the otter, with the harbour seal in last place.
The campaign was run jointly by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and VisitScotland as part of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013 celebrations.

Birdwatch - October by Stephen MacDonald
The first of our Winter visitors arrived this month. A juvenile Glaucous Gull at West Bay Car Park, Mallaig, on the 9th and a juvenile Iceland Gull in Mallaig harbour from the 26th were the first reports. On the last day of the month, a Ring-billed Gull, a scarce vagrant from North America, was reported from the shoreline at East Bay, Mallaig, by a visiting birder. The first Whooper Swan reported were two seen flying low over Arisaig Marina on the morning of the 10th, then were located again on Loch nan Eala later the same day. Numbers on Loch nan Eala remained at two until a blustery day on the 23rd, when there were 13 present in the morning, increasing to 30 by midday when another group of 17 joined them. All birds present that day were adults. Several other groups were reported from the local area flying overhead till the month end. Goldeneye and Goosander were seen on Loch Morar from mid-month. Two separate Pink-footed Geese were seen on various dates feeding with the local Greylags at Traigh and Back of Keppoch.
Several reports of Woodcock and Common Snipe as the month progressed. An interesting find on the 19th was that of a Jack Snipe at Achnaskia, Back of Keppoch. The bird (below) had a slightly droopy wing but was released back into thick rushes and heather, as this Winter visitor from Scandinavia and Russia is normally very secretive and skulking, keeping to thick cover and only takes flight at the last minute.

photo
Photo Mike Kingswood

Flocks of Fieldfare and Redwings appeared from the 11th, with some very large flocks of mostly Fieldfares (below) from the 3rd week quickly stripping the Rowan berries.

photo
Photo Stephen MacDonald

Two female Blackcaps on the 9th and a male on the 21st, seen feeding on Elderberries in a garden near Woodside, Morar, were the first reports of the Autumn.
Two late Wheatears were seen together in a field at Traigh farm on the 21st.
Two reports of Sooty Shearwaters , one on the 6th between Arisaig and Eigg and another on the 25th, between Muck and Eigg, both sightings from the MV Sheerwater. A further 21 grounded Manx Shearwater were recovered from the local area during the first three weeks of the month. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen and reported on several occasions from Morar and Arisaig, and two Jays were seen gathering acorns in Arisaig on the 22nd.
Presumably the same male Yellowhammer was seen on several occasions in two different gardens in Morar during the month, coming to seed feeders.
A single Greenshank was seen on the Morar Estuary from the 9th.
Numerous reports from throughout the area of Sea Eagles, involving both adults and immature birds. Two male Merlins were senn on the 2nd, one at Bracara and another at Gorten, Back of Keppoch.
Information recently received of a Black-headed Gull that had been found killed on the main road between Mallaig and Glasnacardoch on 5th November 2012. the bird was bearing a leg ring which indicated that it had been ringed as a nestling on the 24th June 2009 just to the west of Reykjavik, Iceland.

Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Thanks to Editor Ann and to Mrs Bessie Barker, Wheatley, Halifax in England, who sent a letter to West Word asking:
'Could you tell me why nettle stings take away pain?
I broke my wrist in 2002. The hospital said it would be 75% right, now I get pain with it (I am 87). I accidentally touched some nettles, painful enough, but a while after the pain in my wrist had gone. I tried it again and it still works. Hope you can help.'

This response is just my musings, based on collected experiences and facts from several reference books.
The stinging 'hairs' consist of a pointed single cell with a bulbous base containing a liquid. As the 'hair' cells are brittle they are easily broken off the nettle plant releasing the irritant liquid which includes histamine and acetylcholine (AA, 1973).
The leaves, stems and roots of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) have been used for medicinal purposes for a long time. In the 1st century AD, a Greek physician called Dioscorides recorded a range of uses for nettles, such as applying the chopped leaves as a poultice for septic wounds and nettle juice for staunching nosebleeds (Chevallier, 1996). I remember doing a Latin translation about some Romans beating themselves with nettles, which would promote blood flow to the skin surface, to keep warm!
Nowadays nettle is used in herbal preparations to treat hay fever, arthritis, anaemia, and for herbal and homeopathic treatments for nettle rashes and allergic reactions appearing as urticaria. Preparations from nettles are known to have the following actions : diuretic, tonic, astringent, prevents haemorrhaging, anti-allergenic, increasing breast-milk and reducing prostate enlargement (Chevallier, 1996).
In Flora Celtica there are accounts of stinging nettles being used as a cure for rheumatism as a drink in Orkney and by thrashing the affected part in mining communities in Fife. Nettles are also recorded as being used in infusions to alleviate arthritis, growing pains, for colds and TB, and indigestion. On Gigha chewed nettles were held to nostrils to stop nose bleeds or applied to bleeding wounds. Nettle fibres were used to make twine and sometimes to make a fine cloth similar to linen. On Vancouver Island, Canada, nettle stem fibres were used to make cords; and fishermen rubbed their hands with the leaves before handling fishing gear.
As to why nettle stings alleviate your pain, maybe the pain-removing effects of the nettle stings are to do with increasing the blood flow to the area? Or perhaps the acetylcholine interacts with some nerves? This chemical is present in humans and is one of the neuro-transmitters (message carriers between nerve cells) in our involuntary (not consciously-controlled) nervous system. Your Doctor may be able to explain the pain-alleviating effects of stinging nettles from current medical research. Are there any West Word readers who are able to supply more explanation?
Dr Mary Elliott
References:
A Chevallier (1996) The Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants
the AA (1973) Book of the British Countryside.
W. Milliken & S Bridgewater (2004) Flora Celtica


WIDE WORLD WEST WORLD
Another varied month when we've been taking here, there and everywhere. We wonder where we haven't been?

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We at West Word are delighted that Arisaig's Thomas MacKinnon decided to take us on his round the world trip! Here is what we hope is only the first photo of him (centre) on his travels. With Thomas are his friends Niall Annette and Ruaraidh Fairbairn who went out to Thailand with him at the start of his trip. Here they've been diving at Shark Island, Koh Tao, Thailand.

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Henrik Chart, who has recently moved to Morar, took his copy with him on a recent trip to the tiny coastal town of Præstø in Denmark.

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We had such a good time at a Hallowe'en Party in Musselburgh last year we thought we'd go again! Blair and Julie Martin took us.

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Richard Lamont took his copy from Arisaig to Dunblane and had a read beside Andy Murray's golden Royal Mail box. There was practically a queue of people waiting to have photos taken beside it!

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Michael & Ann Currie packed their issue in Mallaig and took us to Nanortalik, Greenland where they read it with a couple of Inuits.

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Ben and Grace MacDonald from Morar took West Word to Islay where they visited the American Monument on the Oa which commemorates the sinking of two troop ships in World War I.


AONGHAS MACILLFHIALAIN (1892-1978)
Angus MacLellan from Malaig Bheag (Mallaig Vaig) was better known as "Angus the Yank" around Mallaig and "Angus the Butcher" in Uist. A tradition bearer and storyteller, Angus had a wealth of knowledge about local and clan history, Gaelic place-names, the clearances, songs, stories, supernatural tales and folklore. There are many recordings of Angus made by Calum Maclean in 1953, and later by Iain Fraser, Donald Archie MacDonald and Alan Bruford, which are held at the School of Scottish Studies and are available to listen to online on the Tobar an Dualchais website.

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Famous for his adventurous and entrepreneurial lifestyle, Angus was a crofter, a fisherman, a seaman, a butcher and a west coast Gael who travelled the world and returned home. Angus joined the Merchant Navy at the outbreak of WWI and sailed the world's oceans for many years. It is said that, with his prodigious memory, he was able to recount the minutest details of every voyage he made and to hear the tales of his experiences made for an exciting evening. During his travels in America he would arrive in a port, immediately look up MacLellan in the phone directory and then make a call to introduce himself, upon which he would be invited to various people's houses where he received much hospitality from fellow Gaels. In the twenties he came 'ashore' in New York and spent nine years there where he ran a steak house. He was a regular visitor at the Highland and Cape Breton Club which abounded there at the time and so he was able to carry on sharing his Gaelic songs and stories in the New World as he had done at home.
When he returned home to Scotland, Angus lived in South Uist for many years and turned his hand to many a trade including running a butcher's shop. Angus was active well into his eighties and settled in Mallaig Vaig where he would regularly be out in his fishing boat or making creels.
Do you, or anyone you know, have any stories or reminiscences about Angus? Sophie Maureen Stephenson (great-grand-niece to Angus) is gathering anecdotes about him in order to piece together a biography which captures his spirit of adventure and love for storytelling. She hopes to record interviews with people who remember him, since his character really comes to life through the telling of the many tales of his travels and entrepreneurial endeavours. If you have information or photographs to share then please get in touch with her by email: sophie@sophabulous.co.uk

Kin Connections by Marlene (Màiri Éilidh) MacDonald Cheng (mcmcheng@shaw.ca)
We continue with MacIsaac family genealogy in this issue.
According to our excellent Moidart History Group, there were five MacIsaacs of Moidart who fought on the side of the Bonnie Prince and were taken prisoner after Culloden: Angus MacIssac (sic), Glenfinnan; John MacIsaac (Voiler (sic)), Kinlochmoidart; Duncan MacIsaac, Lochans; and Angus MacIsaac and John MacIsaac of Smirisary. After Culloden the clans who fought on the Jacobite side were scattered far and wide. Some were imprisoned and some were dead. Some managed eventually to make it back to their homes, but life was not the same. Almost immediately after Culloden the structure of the clan system fell apart. Chiefs and Lairds were forced to send their children to England to be educated; otherwise, their lands would be confiscated and destroyed. The younger generation of the ruling class got a taste of living in more wealthy environments and did not want to live where their parents had lived; most didn't care about their poorer clansmen. The ordinary people had no one to turn to, as they had in the past. They worried about their children's future. Just twenty-six years after Culloden, emigration began in earnest.
Angus MacIsaac of Smirisary, who fought at Culloden, was thereafter referred to as "Aonghas Mór Chùilodair" - Esteemed Angus of Culloden. He was most likely born between 1725 and 1730. In 1801 another Angus Mór MacIsaac was born in Smirisary. His father was John MacIsaac, son of Aonghas Mór Chùilodair, and his mother was Margaret MacDonald. Angus Mór (b. 1801) married Peggy MacDonald, born about 1806, and they had ten children - Sarah, Donald, John, Angus, Ranald, Alexander, Simon (1), Isabell (1), Simon (2), and Isabell (2). Four of their children died young: Angus at the age of 9, Simon (1) at the age of 3, Isabell (1) at the age of 2, and Isabell (2) about the age of 7. Angus Mór was a crofter and Grounds Officer for surrounding areas and was a well- respected member of the community. He died in Smirisary on 2 April 1876. His wife, Peggy, died between 3 May 1843 (when their last child was born) and 1851 (when the census was taken). It is quite possible that she died in childbirth.
Sarah, the eldest of Angus Mór and Peggy's children, was married to another Angus MacIsaac of Smirisary. They had four children: Margaret (Peggy) who died the day after she was born; Margaret (Peggy), who was given her name in honour of her dead sister; Isabella; and Allan. Sarah and Angus's son, Allan, is the grandfather of Donald MacIsaac, the last of the MacIsaacs still living in Smirisary.
Ranald, another child of Angus Mór and Peggy, was married to Katie MacDonald. They had nine children: Angus Mór, Margaret (Peggy), Charles, Catherine (Kate), Alexandrina, Norman, Ranald, Archibald, and Allan. Their son, Angus Mór, and his wife Johanna MacPherson, were the grandparents of the piping MacDonald brothers of Glenuig (Angus, Allan and Iain) and their sister Sandra.
Throughout the years, these MacIsaacs intermarried with other families in the Smirisary area - MacPhersons, MacDonalds, MacMasters, Corbetts, MacNeils, Gillieses and others.
It is interesting to note that Angus Mór (b. 1801) changed his surname to MacDonald between the censuses of 1851 and 1861. About that time, MacIsaacs in Smirisary and surrounding areas, who were emigrating to Australia and elsewhere, changed their names to MacDonald. It wasn't unusual for people of Clan Ranald to change their names to MacDonald, the most predominant Clan name. In addition, I can imagine that people who were emigrating elsewhere might want to change their names to MacDonald - a more common name than MacIsaac (Mac Iosaig in Gaelic) and easier for non-Gaelic speakers to pronounce. But Angus Mór did not intend to emigrate, as far as I can ascertain, so I don't know why he changed his name. It must have been strange for family members to have different names, some MacIsaac, others MacDonald. In various birth, marriage, & death records after 1851, some who were originally MacIsaacs changed their names back and forth between MacIsaac and MacDonald. Some changed from MacIsaac to MacDonald and left it at that.
The MacIsaacs of Smirisary must have felt tied to their land because at first they did not join their clan folk in the mass exodus of the late 1700s and on into the 1800s. After 1820 and on into the 1850s, there was huge pressure from rich landowners to put the people off the land so that they (the landowners) could raise sheep and/or use the land for deer hunting. It was so bad that the locals were starving and had to apply to a poor fund in order to feed their families. As much as they wanted to stay, it became more and more difficult to do so. People began leaving in droves. It was hard to leave their homeland, but they had few choices. In the next issue of West Word you will learn about more MacIsaacs from Moidart who emigrated from their homeland. Let me know if you would like more information on the MacIsaacs mentioned herein.


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