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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
October 2010 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
MALLAIG TO LOSE ITS FISHERMEN'S MISSION
He told West Word: 'We have a duty of responsibility to our long serving employees and the community. We intend keeping a presence in Mallaig although at present we don't know where he will be based, to continue our welfare work in the fishing community and provide support to visiting fishermen. 'The building is significantly underused at present - the cabins hardly used at all - and the takings are down over five years, less and less year on year. For many modern boats there is no longer the need for their crews to access the shore accommodation and subsidised catering provision which the mission centre traditionally delivered. We receive no Government funding and as a charity, like so many others, we see a downturn in our donations and income.'
Mallaig's present Superintendent, Paul Shone, is retiring to North Wales on the 27th October, and Assistant Superintendent John Purdon will take over the day to day running, with Murray Campbell, a former Superintendent at Mallaig, providing supervision three or four days a week. A new temporary part-time assistant manager has just been appointed to help John. It was suggested at the meeting that the community might find a way to buy the building and keep it running, and while this was not met with much enthusiasm there are some ideas being generated which might provide a possible solution.
The RNMDSF has seven centres remaining - Mallaig, Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Scrabster and Eyemouth in Scotland, and Newlyn and Brixham in England. The Mission will retain a presence (i.e. a Mission Man) in these places and the closure of the centres will enable them to extend a presence to areas which hitherto have not had one, such as Campbeltown, Oban and Pittenweem.
Councillor Allan Henderson said 'It is sad to see the Mission go as it was so much part of Mallaig's recent history, but with the change and decline in fishing it was inevitable. However I very much appreciate the way we have been kept in the loop by the Mission and the offer to trade until sale, without putting up the shutters is to be commended. I am sure some community spirited business will grab the opportunity to develop this prime site and safeguard the jobs'.
The communities of North West Lochaber have been shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic accident on Tuesday 28th September 2010 which claimed the lives of these two young people.
Roddy, 17, worked for Marine Harvest and was a talented accordionist. Kirsty, 20, worked at the Old Library Restaurant in Arisaig and had been volunteering during her summer holidays with a charity which runs activity camps for children with serious illnesses.
Over 500 people attended Roddy's funeral at Arisaig on Thursday 7th October, overflowing from the church and along the road outside. There will be a service for Kirsty in Morar Church on Tuesday 12th October, followed by a cremation in Inverness on Wednesday. Two Books of Condolence were placed in the Mission' and a page created on Facebook received hundreds of messages.
Our hearts go out to the families of Roddy and Kirsty.
ISLE OF MUCK
Another month has passed and it would be good to report progress on Muck's big three projects. (the Community Hall, Power Scheme and finding a new family with the school in mind.) All have hit problems but I hope by November I will be able to give you better news.. On the farm it has been sale time - the highlight of the farming year when all the efforts of the previous twelve months are converted into money. Here the results have been mixed. At Dingwall lambs made record prices and above last year's which were nothing to complain about. Calves on the other hand were back but they were very good last year. But the last sale at Dingwall on the 30th was a sad occasion. It was the last sale we are likely to share with Duncan Ferguson from Sandavore in Eigg. For Duncan is retiring and he and Eileen are going to live on Lismore. It has been great to work with them and hope that everything goes well in Lismore.
Finally on a happier note Jenny and I have just spent a few days on Orkney, a community brimming with self confidence and co-operation. It could also be one of the best places in the world to farm! Perhaps in the next few months I could tell you a little about it.
Bye for now.
ISLE OF RUM
SNH are buying a new fuel tanker which weighs 26 tons when it is full so when they send it off they will get more fuel and it reduces the times people go off. They are also fixing the dam up at Coire Dubh. The battery inverter will soon be working and the reserve office is to be refurbished soon.
There is only one child in nursery at the moment but two more children will be coming in next August. The nursery is planning to do a trip round the village and is starting a topic on Bog Babies. Sarry Brown, the nursery assistant, will be studying for her nursery qualification this year.
The Community Trust is hopefully going to advance on their housing programme and the plans for the new tearoom and shop. They are also looking for a new trust office area. The campsites on Rum have done very well this year. We have had a lot of visitors.
The School have been measuring the rainfall from the 20th to the 26th of September. There was a big difference between Tuesday and Friday, 345ml down to only 0ml! We were also able to help the contractors at Corrie Dubh by proving the amount of rainfall when they were not able to reach the dam.
Nell McEoin and Cara Kilpatrick
ISLE OF EIGG
September has been an eventful month on Eigg, starting with the Royal visit on the 9th which was reported in last month's issue. This was actually the third royal visit on Eigg, as Princess Marina visited in the late 50's after the launch of a lifeboat in Mallaig and again in the early 60's to call at the Lodge on Sir Steven Runciman, a great friend of Greece, her native country. This time, Princess Anne came on an official visit to acknowledge the work done by the community to provide itself with a pioneering green grid and cut down on household carbon emission through the Big Green Challenge. This really felt like the ultimate recognition of what community buy-outs can achieve and it was very heartening to hear a member of the royal family, perhaps the biggest landlord in the country, to acknowledge that this was a great way forward to achieve community development. Princess Anne did not fail to acknowledge the role of the Highland Council in this achievement, and Lochaber in particular which must gone right to our IEHT chairman's heart, as everyone knows the dedication John Hutchison brought to his job as Lochaber area manager. All those that were present were also impressed by the way Princess Anne found time to have a word with practically everyone, displaying great people skills and a sense of humour. She was obviously moved by the pipe tune that had been especially written for her by our resident piper Donna MacCulloch and asked for it to be entered in the book of Royal pipe tunes, which pleased Donna no end! I felt also personally very honoured to have been asked to present her with a copy of "Eigg, the history of an island," an island which certainly played its part in the success of the day as it looked fabulous in its bright autumn colours under a clear blue sky.
Fabulous is also how our other visitors described their experience of the island during the Indie festival organised by the Fife based Fence Collective, which brought about 30 musicians and 200 people to the island on the last weekend of the month. Despite the fairly low temperatures brought on by the north wind, the September harvest moon loomed bright in the sky adding drama to the scenery by the beach campsite and the Cuillins of Rum where a bonfire brought together the last revellers on the Sunday evening. What a birthday treat it was for Frances Carr and for Sarah Boden and Johnny Lynch who between the two of them were responsible for the event and its success: 5 star reviews for the music in the Scotsman, for this eclectic assortment of dance music on the Friday (including Francois and the Atlas mountains, all the way from France), and on the Saturday, acoustic singers and indie bands which were also joined by Daimh and, closing the night, Eigg's very own metal heads, Massacre Cave. Those of us that had the necessary staying power will never forget the sight of the mosh pit where Ross and Gabe enthusiastically threw themselves in their transvestite get-up, Ross' legs encased in black tights (very fetching) and Gabe in his spotted Spanish Style 'Come Dancing' dress (borrowed from Ailidh M)...
Another personal highlight of the night was witnessing Kenny from King Creosote joining Calum-Alec MacMillan in the chorus of his Gaelic song. Johnny promises more great crossover styles for the next event which he is already planning. So, following on from the Wes and Maggie ceilidh-croft concept, Sarah has now introduced the equally successful concept of the ceilidh-farm! But in the meantime, she can now peacefully settle down to training her new collie dog which - to add to the pressure of organising the weekend - decided to escape in the wilds of Arisaig as she was bringing it back to Eigg, so a big thank-you is in order for all who helped tracking him down!
Meanwhile, the school saw the installation of its new white board which enabled our school kids to connect with a school in New Jersey, which brought much excitement to everyone at Eigg Primary. A Canadian visitor involved in IT and education came along to see how it all went and was extremely impressed by the array of IT equipment our head teacher has secured for the school, which he felt was utterly amazing for such a small island, so well done Hilda!
Another exciting event was the fitting of the new stained glass windows in St Donnan's church. Lancashire-based stained glass specialist Karl Theobald from Perceval Ltd, actually finished the rose window on site and after a week of his hard work's the church was utterly transformed. With work on the roof now completed, this is all the exterior work done and a meeting with the architect, Fr Barrett and the congregation is now awaited for the next phase of the restoration to be discussed. Watch this space for more details on the 100th anniversary celebration of St Donnan's church, which is anticipated for May 2011. Last but not least, the whole island is joining me to wish Peggy Kirk a very happy 80th birthday on 8 October! Another great occasion in store...
Eigg October birthdays
Marie Carr, Alastair Kirk, Peggy Kirk - 80 this year, Ailidh Morrison.
The events of the last few weeks have been grim, starting with the hunt for the missing yachtsman, with helicopters flying low near the village for days. But news of young Kirsty and Roddy has shocked everyone in the wider community, and Thursday 7th saw the biggest funeral Arisaig has ever had, to say goodbye to Roddy - so many were there (around 500) that there were far more people outside the Church of Scotland than in it. Our deepest sympathies go to Ruaridh and Heather, John and Jan and the families. On Tuesday 12th there will be a service for Kirsty in St Cumin's, Morar.
The yachts are coming in again so we know the summer is over - although we have had some truly lovely days in October so far, the nights are certainly drawing in.
So ends this year's run of concerts in the Hall. 'Fires of Love' played in the clubroom as they had no need of the PA, and a cosy evening it made, with absolutely beautiful singing and playing of unusual instruments, with explanation of each piece. The Poozies, near the end of the month, played to a big audience and drew fans from Skye, FW and beyond. Excellent again, lovely harmonies and excellent musicianship, and with such a range of styles there was something for everyone. Not to mention Elidh's special 'Poozies' Punch' which was extremely popular!
Thank you to those who made a special effort to support these concerts after my comments last month. There will be a few concerts next year, starting with Duncan Chisholm in May, this time appearing with Allan Henderson. My thanks to the 'regulars' who support the concerts when they can, and many grateful thanks to Joanna MacEachen and Anne Baillie for all their help with serving refreshments, running bars, and clearing up - couldn't have managed without them!
And now we will have Yoga in the Hall too - there was a very good, well attended full day of it at the beginning of the month.
At last we have some advance on turning the waste ground opposite the hall into a car park. After many years of waiting, the plot is about to be sold to the Hall and we have enough money to be able to make quite a start on it. More about that next month.
The new panel to Alasdair MacMaighstir Alasdair has been erected at the Catholic Church, replacing the old, faded one - thanks to Camille Dressler for her hard work in getting it there. Soon we will see the village map in place - hopefully more on that next month. Organized by the Community Council and designed by artist Felicity Nightingale, it should be a useful attraction.
NEW ALASDAIR PANEL FOR ARISAIG
September 30th offered the perfect weather for Fort William based company All Around Signs to install the panel designed by Canan Ltd in Skye for the LEADER funded project celebrating the life and works of the great 18th century Alexander MacDonald, Alasdair MacMaighstir Alasdair.
The project, which started with a major conference in Strontian, includes the replacement of the old Arisaig panel and a leaflet to guide visitors to the sites associated with the poet throughout West Lochaber (the leaflet can be found in the Land Sea and Island Centre in Arisaig as well as the Mallaig Heritage Centre and other outlets) and will also see in due course the launch of the conference proceedings in book form at an event which is planned to be held on the Isle of Canna next spring. This will probably focus on the Birlinn poem, Alasdair's major epic work, which he allegedly started to compose on the island in traditional bardic fashion, ie lying in the dark and in this particular occasion in the shadow of an upturned boat near Canna harbour.
The text on the panel was edited by Domhnall-Uilleam Stiùbhart and translation of extracts from the poem in praise of 'Mòr Thir' ( ie the Clanranald land) - Alasdair's final version of the poem composed after his move to Sanndaig near Arisaig - was provided by the great Gaelic scholar Ronald Black.
Our thanks go to the Arisaig Fund and the Arisaig Community Council for contributing to the cost of the panel, which should now provide eye-catching information on the poet, whose life is now much better known to West Word readers thanks to local historian Elisabeth MacDonald, who also carried out a guided visit to Sanndaig as part of the An Tilleadh events at the Arisaig games.
Camille Dressler, Ealan nan Eilean/Island Arts.
The panel is on the same site as the old one, against the wall of the old cemetery at St Mary's Church.
FROM THE EDITOR
I know, I know - 'crisper and clearer' I said last month and so it was but some photos tinged with green! We had teething problems - of course! Having said that, the colour issue was met with enthusiasm and compliments so let's hope it isn't too long before we can have another one. If anyone wishes to sponsor a double spread it will cost £150.
You'll read about Jill de Fresnes' great double achievement. You will also in Wide World West Word that we met up in Orkney. A tale of missed opportunity...
We knew we were going to be there at the same time - by chance - and I had intended going to see her at Kirkwall Cathedral on her big day. But I left home before confirming day and time, Jill had changed her mobile number, the message I was meant to get wasn't received...Two days after the ceremony, we were coming away from seeing the spectacular Neolithic tomb of Maes Howe just as Jill arrived to pay it a visit. We only had time for a windswept photo with a hill in the background - shame! With all those amazing sites to choose from!
What a cracking weather we've had for the last couple of days. Today as I finish off the paper the date is 10.10.10. These dates of course only happen twelve times in a hundred years! Yes, the paper is late, it's been a difficult issue to do, but as always when it's late it proves to be A Good Thing as there are usually last minute additions.
Our thanks as always go to Morag and Ewen for printing this month, and to Chrissie MacDougall for sticking stamps and labels onto envelopes. And of course to everyone who sends something in!
Scottish Fishery Statistics
Scottish Government statistics for the year 2009 show that the Scottish Fishing Fleet and the number of Scottish fishermen is the lowest ever recorded.
The number of active fishing vessels based in Scotland was 2174 vessels in 2009 - the smallest fleet size ever recorded. As well as there being fewer boats, the fleet has also downsized as there are currently 1483 vessels of under 10 metres - more than 2/3rd of the Scottish Fleet.
The number of fishermen employed on Scottish boats at the end of 2009 stood at 5409 - a decrease of 1% on the figures for the previous year and the lowest ever recorded. However, if 2009 marked the nadir of the Scottish Fishing Fleet as regards fleet and fishermen numbers, it would seem that after last month's Scottish Government initiative to offer 'Fleet Resilience Grants' (decommissioning under a different name), a further 30 - 40 boats, including some from Mallaig, will take the opportunity to leave the industry, continuing the rather sad decline of a once proud industry.
Perversely, the statistics also show a 10% rise in the volume of landings in 2009 when compared to 2008 and a 2% increase in volume, but this is due mainly to a significant rise in mackerel prices and the amount of mackerel landed. What is significant to Mallaig and the Minch fishery is the registered 9% fall in the value of shellfish which includes the vital prawn fishery. RMM
Meeting with Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead
The Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead and Dave Thompson MSP, visited Mallaig on 15th September to attend a meeting requested by Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association. Twenty fishermen and fishing representatives delivered a range of questions to the Cabinet Secretary on the important issues that are affecting them at the present time. The exchanges were robust at times but the meeting was well chaired by Dave Thomson
Main topics discussed were the growing problem of unregulated creel numbers, lack of fishing opportunities due to EC Emergency West Coast management measures, lack of pelagic quotas, ground sharing with aquaculture, renewables, MPA's etc, and marketing initiatives.
Mr Lochhead said he would look into providing assistance with marketing as well as attempt to expedite the EU Regulations which presently created an anomaly allowing fishing for squid on the East coast but not on the West! With regard to renewables, MPA's, SAC's etc, he said that management measures would allow little impact on commercial fishing. Let's hope this proves to be the case! There was also to be a Prawn Summit to be held in Edinburgh the next day which Mr Lochhead said would discuss and hopefully explore the problems surrounding spatial management of creel fishing.
All in all, the meeting provided much needed discussion on the problems facing the beleaguered West Coast Fishing sector. It remains to be seen whether the Scottish Government can provide any succour in the coming months.
John Hermse, MNWFA
Front row (l to r): John MacAlister, Chairman of the MNWFA; Richard Lochhead MSP; Dave Thompson MSP; and John Hermse, Secretary MNWFA.
News in Brief
- A house in Arisaig was badly damaged by fire early on the morning of Monday 13th September. Fire crews came from Mallaig and Acharacle to tackle the blaze at a house behind the Arisaig Hotel. The kitchen was destroyed and the reminder of the house was badly damaged by fire and smoke. No-one was injured in the incident.
- A full scale air and sea search for missing yachtsman Neil Mackenzie, Aberdeen, was carried out over several days after his wife Sarah reported him missing on September 14th. His car had been left at Arisaig Marine and his yacht Solitaire located on the other side of the peninsula, lifejackets and personal possessions found inside. It then transpired that his dinghy had been found a few days earlier, washed up at Glenuig.
On the 29th September a body was found on a beach in Canna but at this time no identification has been made. See Lifeboat Log for details of the search.
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
Mallaig Lifeboat was launched on three occasions during the month of September, with all three launches related.
Thursday 23rd September: A clear, sunny day with good visibility and a light breeze were the weather conditions when the Mallaig Lifeboat was launched at 9.12 hrs at the request of the Stornoway Coastguard to assist the helicopter Rescue 100 and Tobermory Lifeboat to search for the yacht Solitaire, reported overdue.
Searching commenced from Glasnacardoch southwards with the Lifeboat offshore and the Y-boat inshore, but minutes after rounding Arisaig Point the Lifeboat was informed by Rescue 100 that they had located Solitaire at anchor in a small bay south of the peninsula. Two members of the Lifeboat crew subsequently boarded Solitaire to investigate but regrettably no sign of the lone occupant was found, and it seemed that the yacht had been at this anchorage for several days.
A thorough search of Arisaig Bay and surrounding islands was carried out to no avail. The search continued into Loch nan Uamh whilst Tobermory Lifeboat combed the shore from Ardnamurchan Point to Glenuig. Lifeboats rendezvoused at the mouth of Loch Ailort and searched in towards Eilean Shona and Loch Kintra. After 9 hours of searching both Lifeboats were stood down, but the final act of the day was to remove Solitaire from her lonely anchorage and take her to Arisaig Marina and into the hands of the local police. Mallaig Lifeboat back on station at 1800 hrs.
Friday 24th September: Mallaig Lifeboat launched at 10.49 hrs at the request of HM Coastguard to search the Loch nan Uamh shoreline for missing yachtsman Mr Neil MacKenzie. Lifeboat and Y-boat commenced searching from the west of where the yacht Solitaire was found to the upper reaches of Loch nan Uamh. The search continued west along the Ardnish peninsula to Glenuig Bay and Smirisary, but no trace of Mr Mackenzie was found.
Whilst on passage home, the Lifeboat checked out the Bellows Islands but to no avail.
Lifeboat refuelled, ready for service at 16.30 hrs.
Wednesday 29th September: At the request of Northern Constabulary, the Lifeboat was launched at 12.30 hrs to convey Police officers to the Isle of Canna following reports that a body had been found on the shore in the South Tarbert area of the island.
Arriving at Canna at 13.30 hrs, the Police then carried out their enquiries, and on completion of those enquiries the body was taken to Canna Pier and placed on board the Lifeboat for onward transportation to Mallaig and the relevant authorities.
Lifeboat was refuelled and ready for service at 16.40 hrs.
JILL IS STUDENT OF THE YEAR
Jill de Fresnes, the former learning centre manager in Mallaig, now an academic researching the lives of the Scottish herring girls from 1900 to 1950, has been named the Orkney College UHI student of the year.
Jill has just graduated as the first PhD student whose supervision was led by Orkney College UHI, part of the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands. She has recently moved back to Edinburgh after spending more than 20 years in the Morar area where she was the first learning centre manager in Mallaig.
Jill was appointed as a research fellow at the UHI Centre for History before she completed her PhD, and is currently working on a project looking at the social history of forestry. She has given 12 conference papers on her fishery research, which included work in Mallaig, Stronsay, Wick and Iceland, as well as organising the joint UHI/Napier University (Edinburgh) conference Travels and Travails of the Scots Herring Girls which was held at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Isle of Skye.
Much of her evidence was captured in filmed interviews which Dr Heddle said were at the cutting edge of visual ethnology.
Jill commented: 'I am absolutely delighted to win this award, and to have finished my studies! Without UHI it would have been impossible to live in Morar, commute by ferry to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI which hosted my studies, and work through the Centre for Nordic Studies at Orkney College UHI.
'UHI really is an incredible model for postgraduate education, giving opportunities to those living, working and bringing up families in the more remote areas of northern Scotland. 'I was very lucky to have a great supervisory team - Dr Donna Heddle, Dr Gillian Munro and Professor Margaret Grieco. I was also very privileged to be able to interview and spend time with women who had worked in the herring industry in the first half of the 20th century from all around the coast of Scotland as part of my research. I would like to thank them all very much.'
Apart from dealing with such long-distance learning, Jill's achievement is the more remarkable at the age of 42, with four children ranging in age from 21 to six who have all been brought up in the North West Highlands. She has been involved with UHI for over 10 years having been the first learning centre manager in Mallaig. She was also the founder of the Mallaig Marine Training Centre, and project-managed a transnational Northern Periphery Programme project for UHI - Community Learning Networks - while still based in Mallaig. She hopes to be able to continue working in the field of social history and education. She was also the first editor of West Word, a post she held for nearly six years.
Jill was presented with her student of the year certificate and £100 prize money at the Orkney graduation ceremony on Friday, 17th September.
Local Mooring Association created to manage Glenuig Bay moorings
After community consultation, brokered by The Crown Estate, agreement has been reached on the allocation of moorings in Glenuig Bay, on the Sound of Arisaig.
The issue of moorings in the Bay had been contentious since Glenuig Inn Ltd. applied to position 10 moorings within the Bay. At a public meeting held in Glenuig Village Hall, on Thursday 30 September 2010 The Crown Estate and the local community came together to discuss a way forward. Through consultation with existing users an agreement was reached that will provide for most existing moorings to remain in place. Areas for commercial moorings have been set aside to be laid by Glenuig Inn Ltd. and Glenuig Community Association will act as a Moorings Association to manage the remaining moorings within both Glenuig Bay and Samalaman Bay. The new arrangements will allow the Glenuig Inn to expand its business into the leisure sailing market as well as the watersports market, and the local community to keep their boats in the Bay as they have for many years.
Alasdair Carmichael, Chair of the Glenuig Community Association said: 'Without their help and patience of Paul Bancks of The Crown Estate, and P.J. Korbel from their managing agents, Bidwells, it would not have been possible for these issues to be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties."
Paul Bancks, coastal manager for Scotland at The Crown Estate said: 'This is an excellent example of our day-to-day management and facilitation that goes largely unnoticed, but which plays a vital role in managing the limited marine resource around Scotland's coast. We are delighted to be able to assist the local community at Glenuig and look forward to working with them in the future as they manage the local moorings resource for the benefit of the whole community.'
Fishermen and boat owners have moored in Glenuig Bay in Moidart without consent for a number of years. Then, in 2008, the new owner of the Glenuig Inn applied to The Crown Estate and Scottish Government for 10 commercial moorings in the Bay to attract new business and provide facilities for visiting yachts.
The local community were very concerned that they would be 'evicted' from the Bay and would no longer be able to keep their boats close to their homes and businesses.
As owner of the seabed, The Crown Estate commissioned a survey in August 2010 to look at the optimum arrangement for moorings within the bay. The subsequent report, by local company Wallace Stone, identified a number of locations that would accommodate additional moorings and allow access to the important jetty and slipway in the Bay.
Dedication of St. Patrick's Church Mallaig
On Friday 10th September 2010, we had a Penitential Service led by Fr. Andrew Barrett, which I am sure helped us to prepare for the dedication ceremony.
On Sunday 12th September, Holy Mass was celebrated in St. Patrick's with the children of the parish leading the singing and prayers. After Mass the children enjoyed a party outside the church.
That same evening, an Ecumenical Service was led by Fr. Joe, with Rev Richard Begg, Fr. Andrew Barrett and Supt Paul Shone in attendance. The theme of the prayers was on St. Patrick and his apostolate, music was led by Stella Nova.
On the 13th September, feast St. John Chrysostom, Holy Mass was celebrated in St. Patrick's followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament till noon. We prayed for Pope Benedict's visit to our countries.
The culmination of the celebrations was the Solemn Dedication of the Church of St. Patrick's Church and this was held on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, 14th September. This was led by Rt. Rev. Joseph A. Toal, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles and concelebrated by several priests from around the diocese. The Mass was very well attended, with the choir in good voice singing parts of the Mass in Latin, with Simon MacDonald and Theresa MacDonald singing the litany of saints also in Latin (no mean feat). It was a very moving and beautiful ceremony with a lot of symbolic rites including the baptismal rite, the sprinkling with holy water and the anointing of the cross on the walls and the Altar with the oil of Chrism. A fire was lit on the altar with incense added and finally all the candles were lit symbolising the light of Christ among his people. Mass ended by the singing of the hymn St. Patrick for Scotland. This hymn was written in 1935 for the occasion of the opening of this church. After the celebration we had a wonderful buffet, provided by the parishioners, at the Fishermen's Mission to whom we are grateful.
You are all cordially invited to visit St. Patrick's Church for Holy Mass or for a moment of private reflection. At the entrance of the church you can see a wee exhibition, which will be on for the next few weeks.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support. May God bless you all.
Fr. Joe Calleja
Chapel House, Morar
On and Off the Rails
Jacobite Steam Train
The popular Jacobite steam train is nearing yet another highly successful summer season. Despite the so-called recession and economic climate, most trains have been full, with coach parties being a big contributor to numbers.
It's understood that West Coast Railways (the operators of the Jacobite) have secured a further five year contract to operate the steam service between Fort William and Mallaig. This is good news for Lochaber and our area, as it brings vital revenue to shops, hotels, restaurants, cafes, etc. One good decision made by West Coast Railways was to include Arisaig as a 'booked' stop, enabling passengers to alight at Arisaig and catch the train on its way back to Fort William. This has proved to be very popular, with tourists wishing to visit the Land, Sea & Islands Centre and the Czech monument. It also allows tourists who stay in or around Arisaig to take in a steam train journey without travelling the whole length of the West Highland Extension.
West Highland Jacobite Statesman
Saturday 2nd October saw the first of two special land cruises, operated by Statesman Rail, to visit Mallaig. The second trip is due on Saturday 9th October. Into Mallaig at 12.20, departing Mallaig at 14.10.
The first trip started at Peterborough, [picking up en route from Manchester and Preston. Staying overnight in Fort William on Friday 1st October, the train arrived at 9.15 behind a vintage class 47. On Saturday, the passengers transferred to the Jacobite stock and Black 5 no. 45407, for a journey to Mallaig and return.
On returning to Fort William they stayed overnight, with a 9.35 departure on Sunday using Statesman Rail liveried coaches and the vintage West Coast Railway's Class 47 Diesel, returning to Peterborough at 11pm.
The second trip is departing from Swindon on Friday 8th October, using the same itinerary as the first, but with pick ups at Cheltenham, Stafford, Crewe and Preston. The Saturday trip to Mallaig will also use the Jacobite stock and arrive and depart Fort William and Mallaig at the usual Jacobite times.
The Royal Scotsman and the Statesman Rail tour meet at Arisaig
Photo courtesy of Moe Mathieson
Royal Scotsman visits to Mallaig
The Royal Scotsman Land Cruise visited Arisaig and Mallaig on Saturday 2nd October and crossed with the Jacobite Statesman at Arisaig. There are two more planned visits to Arisaig and Mallaig on Saturday October 9th and Saturday October 16th.
The timetable change for ScotRail (Glasgow Queen Street to Mallaig)
From 24th September the Glasgow Queen Street to Fort William to Mallaig train reverted back to an 8.21am departure from Glasgow with arrival into Mallaig at 13.35 instead of 14.09 (13.25 on Saturdays and Sundays).
The 12.20 departure from Glasgow Queen Street to Mallaig continues until 31st October, as does the 12.12 departure from Fort William to Mallaig. This service continues until 11th December.
Change of Black 5's on the Jacobite rota
Due to worn wheel flanges, Bert Hitchen's Black 5 no. 45231, The Sherwood Forester, returned home prematurely. It was due to share duties with Ian Riley's Black 5 no. 45407 until the end of the Jacobite season; but on close inspection it was found to have excessive flange wear on its wheelsets. It was therefore decided to return the locomotive south to its home at Bury for remedial work to be carried out.
Ian Riley's Black 5 no.45871 has now arrived at Fort William yard, and will share duties with its sister locomotive no. 45407.
The withdrawal of Black 5 no. 45231 is very regrettable, and makes an even stronger case for a turntable at Mallaig. Consistent running of a locomotive in one directional mode (chimney in - tender out) causes excessive wear on driving wheels, as they are always against the same running rail. If locomotives could be turned at Mallaig then the flange wear would be equal on both sides of the locomotive and not just on one side.
Although the Fort William to Mallaig line is only just over forty miles long, it has severe curves, which in turn have the necessity of 'check rails'. These stop the wheelsets from lifting on curves, but also increase flange wear. You may have heard a 'squealing' noise while travelling on a train whilst encountering a bend, well, that is due to the wheel flanges being 'forced' against the railhead sides.
It is especially noticeable in dry weather, and several years ago all ScotRail class 156 Super Sprinters were fitted with nylon flange bearings in order to alleviate this happening.
Network Rail Engineering Update
During the month of September Network Rail, in conjunction with Babcock Rail, continued its commitment to upgrading engineering infrastructure on the West Highland Line. This included replacement of time-expired RETB (Radio Electronic Token Blocking) system designed by 'Storno' in the early 80's. All base stations have now been upgraded with the modern comms design RETB equipment, and should enable a more reliable signalling network. For those of you that read my column and would be interested to know more about RETB signalling on the West Highland, I may decide to do a 'feature' on this subject during the winter months as there is less to report on train movements, etc.
Renewal of UPS Units for TWPS
As part of Network Rail's commitment to rail passenger safety, a 'fail safe' signalling system was introduced across its network two years ago. This was in light of several 'unexplained and unproven' incidents of trains passing a signal at danger (called a SPAD). This system was installed at all West Highland Stations, although it was felt at the time as being a bit 'over the top'. However, the system relies on a constant reliable power source to enable it to perform correctly, and so it was decided to provide a 'back up' in case of a 'mains failure', something that is quite common in the Highlands due to adverse weather conditions.
All (Train Warning Protection Systems) are fitted with an UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) which contains sealed lead-acid batteries and an inverter to change direct current into alternating current. As these batteries only have a set life, they have to be replaced every so often, so every UPS is changed at a predetermined date. This operation is now complete on all stations between Fort William and Mallaig.
Engineers' Train visits Mallaig prior to line closure
Tuesday 5th October saw a network Rail Engineers' train visit Mallaig, checking rail and bridge/viaduct conditions between Fort William and Mallaig. This was to evaluate any work to be carried out during the line closure. The unit was 95001, for those of you who are trainspotters.
Starting Friday 22nd October, from the 10.15 pm departure from Fort William on that date, all trains in each direction between Mallaig and Fort William until the 8.30am departure from Fort William on Monday 25th October, will be replaced by buses. Please allow extra time to catch the bus all weekend as bus departure times can sometimes be earlier by a few minutes.
See you on the train.
'GINGER' - A LOCAL SUCCESS STORY
When Anna Skea started up a knitwear business at home in 1980, little did she think that she would eventually be the proprietor of a shop in Edinburgh's Morningside Road, selling under her exclusive label.
Anna's original hand crafted designs are very individual, using the soft colours and textures of the landscape of the local area. They are made up in the workshops in Morar and Edinburgh using all natural yarns - her wool and wool mixes come from Peterhead - and the accessories she buys in are all handmade in Scotland. She makes made to measure garments and also off the peg articles - coats, jackets, dresses, tunics, hats and scarves, gloves and socks. Anna also handpaints designs on garments using natural dyes.
Anna Skea Knitwear was originally housed at Beoraid, Morar, in what was the old village hall, later moving to premises at Morar Railway Station (where West Word's office is now). On her trusty knitting machine, Anna was turning out original garments to her own designs and finding a ready market for them.
(l to r): Jennie, Sarah and Anna in the shop which is also the workshop. Jennie and Sarah are wearing Anna's designs.
In 1996, three years after changing the name to 'Ginger', Anna took on the little shop at Arisaig Hotel, and in 2002 moved to her present outlet beside Morar Motors.
In 2003 'Ginger' began to expand when Anna took on another knitter, Rhona MacLean, and, continually coming up with new designs and with several machines on the go, her output increased and she felt the need to expand. After trying craft shows and exploring other avenues to extend the seasonal aspect of her business, last autumn Anna went to Edinburgh to seek out suitable premises and found them at 410 Morningside Road. She put Rhona there as manager, and took on Sarah Crossland to help her in the Morar shop. A few months later Jennie Boulton joined them as a graduate placement.
Anna says 'It's been a very tough year, but it's worth it - the winters are busier in Edinburgh and the summers are busier here. It's an exciting adventure and the business feels very much alive. The clientele in each place are quite different.'
The team have been working hard towards a new Spring collection for Edinburgh, made of lighter yarn suitable for summer wear. Jenny is trying her hand at designing and will be producing two styles of jumpers for men.
Prices for accessories (jewellery, scarves, handbags and throws) start from £12, knitwear with the exclusive 'Ginger' label from £60. The shop is open all year round, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm, and items can be purchased online at www.ginger-morar.com
COASTAL RANGER REPORT
Well readers, I don't suppose that you need a Ranger to tell you that the "Season of mists and mellow Fruitfulness"
(Autumn or Fall to those not familiar with the works of Keats) has arrived! The only problem with the "fruits" bit in my garden, is that all my apples were blown off the tree with the northerly gales that we suffered a month ago and were hopelessly bruised and bashed! However, I am pleased to report that all these poor apples did not have to go to the compost heap, but instead have gone to flavour some prime pork locally! Other than that, I feel that, like all the other seasons this year, Autumn has not quite gone to plan. It seems to me that it, Autumn, is quite unsure as to what stage it should be at! In late July this year I encountered the beginnings of the change of colour in the bracken and began to celebrate, thinking that I was going to be rid of the stuff early (it is my walking curse what with its tangling effect and its harbouring of ticks!) However, realising that it had made a mistake, it just accelerated its growth and the cursed plant grew to some eight feet in places! Making some of my walks like jungle expeditions! Worse than that, as late August and September approached, it suddenly realised that it should no longer be growing and promptly began to collapse. O.K. so you think that's fine? Just you try forcing your way through collapsed tangles of eight foot bracken stems!!
But that's it, here we are in the beginning of October being treated to a few blinks of nice sunshine with the nights very rapidly closing in and the pleasure of the "downie" more attractive than rising before sun-up! But face it we must and prepare for the winter as best we can! Having said that, maybe we are in for an "Indian Summer" as all the other seasons have been cock-eyed! Just cross the fingers.
So has the Ranger done anything useful in the last few weeks? Nah, not really, just the usual humdrum toddling around the countryside! I have been actually quite a good boy recently, and after a couple of visits to the Physio I have been doing a few exercises and not eating quite so much! On the exercise side I am careful not to overdo anything, and whilst doing my bit in the fitness suite at the Pool I marvel at the willpower and stamina of others as they go through their routines. Truth is that I do the resting for all of them as they pound the boards and punish the steppers etc! It is impressive though to see what a mix of folk from young to ?? work on their wellbeing, and at the same time help the Pool to survive through usage.
It has been a hard month for me with six birthdays to get correct. With the brain in its present state of decay, locating suitable presents and choosing the right cards is a major difficulty for me, and I find that trying to think like either a two year old or a sixty two year old becomes ever more challenging - and I want no cracks about the sixties! The other hard thing during the month was the "Navigation Day" that we Rangers had set aside. With several unavailable for various reasons, it was left to only four of us to participate. My luck as usual held true, and I was partnered with one who is doing a "Mountain Leader" course (which involves climbing hills of "mountain" stature - "Munros" etc.) one with seven foot legs and the remaining one with a perpetual motion leg engine! Geez! What a trio, I was knackered by the end of the day! There is another "Nav Day" scheduled for the 22nd. of this month and I'm seriously considering a "sicky"!
Apart from the usual walks, I have been chuntering back and forth to Ft. William quite a bit with various meetings and assisting the Glen Nevis Rangers when required, but now with the regular programme of walks completed I am looking forward to a nice relaxed few weeks with no calls on either my legs or my grey cells!! Despite this I do look at getting in some relaxed walking with my happy walkers - does that include you?? - if not, why not give me a ring and see what the plans are. I know that I have to keep moving or the stiffness that now plagues my bones will turn to solid non flexible units, so I'm relying on you to keep me from becoming a stick insect! With a Ranger "get together" at the end of the month, perhaps I will have something to tell you next month, but all that I can say this time is that we have had our long awaited "Job Evaluation" and after four years it has been decided that we are still worth what we were all that time ago! Ah! The wheels grind slowly!
Why not join me in the fitness suite at the pool and help me watch all the enthusiasts strutting their stuff, it's educational and you might even get a notion to try something! Stay well and be good.
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
Quite a few birds on the move as more of our Summer visitors depart and the first of our Winter visitors arrive.
One of the best records concerns a Nuthatch, first seen on a peanut feeder in an Arisaig garden on the 31st August and which has been sighted regularly since. Historically, records of these birds are rare in the Highlands, but in recent years reports have increased. In Spring 2008 there were sightings in both Morar and Arisaig but the birds did not linger for more than 2-3 days.
Other interesting sightings involved a Long-Eared Owl which landed in the sea on a bright, sunny day in front of some stunned holiday makers by Traigh golf course. The Owl managed to flap/swim ashore and after resting and drying out on the sand for about 30 minutes, it managed to take flight and make for the trees behind Traigh House.
The first three juvenile Manx Shearwaters were grounded in Mallaig on the 10th. Numbers peaked on the nights of the 14th and 15th when there were string Westerly winds. On the morning of the 15th, amongst all the Shearwaters was a Leach's Storm Petrel, which had been found grounded at Mallaig High School by staff arriving for work. They are seldom seen from land except when there has been severe or sustained West or North-West winds. The bird was exhausted, but after a couple of days rest it was released at Traigh.
The first Pink-footed Geese reported were on the 16th and there were several other reports of geese up to the month end.
A late Swift was seen flying over Traigh golf course on the 7th.
Still a few Waders passing through, with two Whimbrel at Traigh on the 8th to 9th. Several sightings of Bar-tailed Godwits, including four at Silver Sands and three on the Morar Estuary on the 10th. Occasional Greenshank were seen at Traigh, and by the month end there were at least three residing on the Morar estuary. Also at Traigh, there were regular sightings of Redshank, ringed Plover, Dunlin, Turnstone and Curlew. A possible Purple Sandpiper was seen flying over the mouth of Loch nan Ceall on the 27th.
Several Raptor species reported this month, including an Osprey passing over the Kinloid - Creag Mhor area on the 2nd. Peregrines were seen on several occasions at Gorten and Traigh. Sea-eagles were reported from Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig. Sparrowhawks from Morar and Arisaig, Hen Harriers from Gorten and Rhue, and Barn Owls from Mallaig.
Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Last month West Word printed this letter:
'Hi [to Ann, our Editor] from Duncan Grey:
I was recently at the end of the Glenuig road and heard what I think could only have been the howling of wolves in the distance. Can this be true?'
As far as l know (and please let the Editor know if you have wolf-news!) there have not been any releases of wolves in West Lochaber. Could Duncan have heard visiting dogs having a howl or could it have been some of the stranger noises deer can make as autumn approaches? As for the road casualty a visitor saw early one morning and thought it was bits of a wolf - could that have been a massacred deer?
At this time of the year red deer stags are starting to roar for the rut (breeding season) and also hinds sometimes make quite blood-curdling sound if disturbed. In early September while out surveying vegetation, l saw and heard a hind leading a group make a long, gurgling, moaning noise. Maybe she was giving directions to the group; or, maybe she was expressing something like: "What are you doing on our hill wearing that daft bunnet?!"
Well, these are my best guesses, now over to residents of Smirisary and Glen Uig: are the goats attracting unusual marauders?
Dr Mary Elliott
TRIPPING THE NIGHT FANTASTIC
This month we are pleased to welcome a new regular series on the Night Sky.
Despite being 3.1 billion miles away and not due for another 52 years, Halley's Comet is in evidence this October as Earth passes through the comet's ghostly trail, seen by us as the Orionids meteor shower. Peaking around the 22nd, the meteors can be seen emanating from the northern part of Orion, which will be due east after midnight. The near-full moon may drown out some of them though, and you'll want to be away from any street lights.
While looking that way, try to find Gemini and Taurus - somewhere between them another comet may be seen - Hartley 2. At a mere 11.2 million miles away this will be the closest we have been to any comet for centuries. Binoculars will help once you know where to look but, again the moon will probably drown it out. A better time to see Hartley 2 is at the start of the month, when it is high up and slightly east. Look just under Cassiopeia. Although not as close as at the end of the month, with the new moon being on the 7th it should be clear viewing. NASA's Deep Impact will get considerably closer - 600 miles, when it carries out its fly past - so even if you don't see it, expect the holiday snaps on the NASA website before long.
While Mars is relatively close to us just now ('relatively close' still being 80 million miles), it unfortunately won't be seen this month as it sets about an hour after the Sun. The only planet that can be seen during October is Jupiter, which will be well up in the East after sunset, drifting to the South by late evening. Up to four of its moons may also be seen, providing they're not hiding behind the planet when you look. Again, binoculars will help and the best time to see them will be at twilight, while the planet is relatively dim.
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
Right: Steve Brown, Arisaig, was in Boston so where else would he go to read his copy! To the bar which featured in the popular TV series of the same name!
Below left: Agnes & David Fraser (Mallaig) attended a family wedding in Las Vegas on 8th September. They were enjoying a day trip to the Grand Canyon and had been on the Sky Walk before this picture. (Left to right) David Fraser, June McNab, George McNab & Agnes Fraser at an Indian ranch called the Trading Post. Their next stop was the Hoover Dam.
Below right: Iain Greig (right of photo), formerly Eigg and Lochaber, now Ontario, congratulates West Word on its colour copy, which he took to Georgian Bay on the shores of Lake Huron in Ontario, to show his cousin Ian MacKinnon (left), eldest son of Charles MacKinnon who emigrated to Canada in the 1920's, he was the eldest son of John MacKinnon of Bayview, Isle of Eigg. Ian was born in Montreal, Quebec. Iain says 'We are both in touch with our relatives on Eigg and in Lochaber, West Word of course completes the picture for us both.'
|Editor Ann (left of photo) met up with former editor Jill accidentally on purpose in Orkney - a tale of poor communication. Between two editors of West Word? Surely not! Ann took a copy to show Jill 'colour at last!' That hill in the background is the fabulous Maes Howe burial chamber. Can you also spot Fiona de Fresnes - sorry Fiona!|
|Gemma de Groot (Morar) went to Montana where she had her picture taken with West Word at the oldest trading post in the Flathead reservation near Flathead Lake and Glacier Park in Northwest Montana. In the picture is also Keyadani MacDonald who descends from Angus MacDonald of Knoydart. Keyadani belongs for the most part to the Lakota and Sioux tribes but a small part of her is Scottish and next year she wants to visit and see for herself where this Scottish ancestor came from.|
A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald (email: email@example.com)
The MacKays of South Uist and Bracara
Around about 1800, Angus MacKay and his brother, whose name I do not know, were evicted from Lord MacDonald's Skye estate during these early 19th century clearances. They settled in South Uist where Angus became the first grocer on the island.
Angus MacKay, b. ca. 1780, married Marion Steele, b. ca. 1780, and they had two sons whom we can name and another son whose children arrived in Morar, classified as servants. One of Angus' sons was Rev. Donald MacKay, b. about 1810 and ordained in 1841 and R.C. parish priest of North Morar from 1842 -1871. From Morar he moved to Drimnin where he served from 1871 - 1877, dying in Oban in 1877. Whilst in Morar, he employed a number of his nieces and nephews about his house and croft.
Another son of Angus MacKay and Marion Steele was Finlay, b. ca. 1812, who married Jessie MacDonald. (cousin to Flora of the '45). See explanation below. Finlay and Jessie's family were; (1) Sarah, b. 1831, see note 2. (2) Mary b. 1832, married Alexander MacDonald. (3) Angus b. 1835. see note 3. (4) John b. 1836, married Mary MacDonald. (5) Elizabeth b. 1839, married Donald MacDonald. (6) Alexander, b. 1841, married Mary MacCormick. (7) Donald, b. 1843. See note 1. (8, 9 & 10) Hugh, John and Peter, may not have survived infancy. (11) Kate, b. 1851, married John MacPherson. (12) Donald James, b. 1858, married Jessie MacPherson Note 1. Donald MacKay, born in Uist in 1843, nephew to Rev. Donald and described as his clerk, married in 1873, Joanna ? b. ca. 1852, from Moidart. In 1881 Donald is described as farmer and shopkeeper in Bracara. Their family was Mary Ann, Chrissie Ann, (aged five in 1881 but, not in 1891 census) John, Jessie, Lizzie and Alexander b. 1888.
Mary Ann married Mr Anderson and they had a son, Donald Aloysius Mackay Anderson who was married and in turn, had a son R.M. Anderson. He has been in touch with me and is interested in the second cousin relationship between his g. grandmother, Sarah Mackay and Flora MacDonald of the '45. I offer a possible explanation at the end of this article. John was unmarried and had his own croft in Bracara now occupied by his grand- nephew Alex. MacKay and his wife Elaine née MacDonald, and their children.
Jessie emigrated to new Zealand, married there late in life but had no children. Lizzie married William Macdonald (Uilleam mòr Raonull Lotaidh) of an old Ardnish family known as "the Lotties". Lizzie and Willy had two sons, Big Donnie and Johnnie. Donnie married Pam MacKinnon and had two daughters. (See WW May 2008) Johnnie was married late in life but had no children.
Alexander (Alex. MacKay of Bracara) married Margaret (Peggy) Gillies of Scamadale and they had three children. Joan who married Rab. Bowie, Dolina who married Nigel Clark and Alistair who still lives in the family croft with his wife, Catherine, née Cameron, of Swordland, North Morar.
Note 2. Sarah MacKay was b. in 1831 and described in the 1851 census as niece and servant to Rev. Donald. She married Donald Gillies, b. 1827, who occupied no. 2 Earnasaig, North Morar and his parents, Ronald and Isabella Gillies were in no. 1 Earnasaig. The children of Donald Gillies and Sarah MacKay were, Peter Finlay, Ronald Thomas, Donald Andrew, Eaneas (Aoghnas or Angus), Elizabeth and Catherine. Below is Sarah's epitaph which was published in the Oban Times on 17th April 1917.
"An interesting link with the past has been severed by the death at Bracara, North Morar, on the 6th March, of Mrs Donald Gillies. The deceased lady, whose maiden name was Sarah MacKay, was born 81 years ago at South Uist and went to Morar when 20 years old, to act as housekeeper to her uncle, the Rev. D. MacKay. She was of the MacKays of Reay Country and her grandfather, Angus MacKay, was the first grocer in South Uist.
Her mother, Jessie MacDonald, was first cousin to Flora MacDonald. Mrs Gillies' husband, Donald (1827-1914) who died at the ripe old age of 88, represented the 10th generation of Gillies's at Ernisaig Farm on North Morar.
Their eldest son, Peter F Gillies, is in the employment of the Perth Gas Corporation, where he has been engaged for over 20 years. A photograph of the deceased Mr & Mrs Gillies was taken a few years ago and the caption describes Sarah as 'Second Cousin to Flora MacDonald.'' It cannot be true that Sarah MacKay and Flora MacDonald were 2nd cousins. Flora was born ca. 1722 and Sarah was born in 1831. There may a family relationship albeit spanning several generations.
A possible solution to the relationship question is that; Jessie MacDonald and Flora (of the '45) were 1st cousins. Flora's father was Ronald, 2nd of Milton, brother of Maighstair Alasdair, Episcopalian clergyman and 1st of Dalilea, father of the bard. Jessie, as a MacDonald, was possibly a daughter of one of the other brothers, James, Roderick, Somhairle or Angus.
Other household dependants of Rev. Donald, were Mary MacKay, niece and housekeeper for at least ten years and who may have gone to Drimnin with him, Ronald, nephew, two nieces called Catherine, one aged 11 and one aged 17 in the 1851 census. Mentioned also, is Archie MacKinnon, aged 20 and described as a cousin. Catherine MacKay, aged 17, b. Uist, married Donald MacLellan of Stoule and their daughter, Mary, b. 1860, married Neil MacLellan, Eigg, b. 1842, grandson of Neil MacQuarrie. Neil and Mary MacLellan had thirteen children.
In Earnsaig, there was another family of Gillieses. Iain 'ic Alasdair of Ardnamurach, North Morar, married to Catherine MacLellan. They had nine children of whom six emigrated to Cape Breton. The other three remained in Scotland, one of whom, Margaret nighean Iain 'ic Alasdair, married Donald Gillies of Earnsaig which suggests that there was another family of Gillieses there as distinct from these in nos 1 and 2.
Donald and Margeret Gillies had eight children, one of whom, William I have written about in the past. William, b. 1827, d. 1909, emigrated to Canada in 1865, after the death of his first wife, Jessie MacPherson. He married a second time to Jane Campbell of Cape Breton. Two of William's nephews, Allan and Alexander, also went to Port Hood, Nova Scotia, in 1905 and left behind a sister, Catherine.
"Both were pipers and enlisted in the army during WWI. Alex died in Vancouver in 1921 as a result of his war injuries. He was not married. Allan married and his many descendants include Rev. Andrew Gillies and the famous NHL hockey player Allan MacInnis." Courtesy of Allan Gillis, Ottawa.
Catherine Gillies, b. 1839, married Angus MacKay b. ca. 1810 in South Uist in 1834 in North Morar. Catherine Gillies and Angus MacKay had a son, Alexander - 1879-1974, who married Effie MacDonald. Alexander and Effie had a daughter, Margaret who married Ronald MacDonald, Glenuig (Ronald the Whaler) and their children are Sandra m. Chris Aldridge, Dr. Angus, G.P. Portree, m. Emily MacLeod of Baddeck Cape Breton, Allan , author of the "Moidart Collection of Pipe Music" and Iain, formerly Musician in Residence, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, and Tutor of Gaelic Language and Music Course, Benbecula Campus of Lews College, amongst other visiting tutorships. These three brothers are among the elite of world pipers.
Dr. Angus MacDonald, Glenuig and Portree, g.grandson of Angus MacKay says, "My grandfather's mother was a Gillies from Earnsaig, his father having gone to Morar from Uist to help build the Bracarina Church which was opened in 1832. Most of these Gillieses went to Cape Breton and are frequent visitors to this side of the pond. I would be pleased to share any information I have, with any enquirers." firstname.lastname@example.org
Any more information on this most interesting family will be most welcome.
Correction: In the September issue, I mistakenly wrote that "the Anchorage" was the family home which Archie MacLellan built. This should have read "Harbour View" which is now the Tea Garden. The Anchorage was the home of George and Ina Aitchison (Angusina MacLellan). Thanks to Helen McDonell for spotting the error.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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