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

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April 2007 Issue

Contents of the online version:

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

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It has rarely been so important that every member of the electorate casts their vote on Thursday, May 3rd, in the Highland Council elections. If we can vote with one voice, all the better. The shake up in the ward system means that instead of having our own individual councillor, we will now share three councillors with Caol, Corpach, Invergarry, Spean Bridge and Roy Bridge. The higher population in Caol especially (about 5000) means that our voice will be a very small one when the votes are counted. We have to make it as big as we can.
West Word cannot cover the candidates as the list will not be published until April 11th. Prospective candidates have until 4pm on that day to submit a Nomination paper and the list will then be published on the Highland Council website.
Unconfirmed candidates for this Ward (12) are Mairi MacLean, Chair of Morar Community Council, and Alan Henderson, ex-Mallaig and father of the musical Henderson children.
The elections are being held at the same time as the Scottish Executive elections and there are actually three voting systems going to be in operation that day. You will be given two ballot papers when you go to your local Polling Station. On the Parliamentary ballot paper, you will be asked to mark an X for one Regional Party and one Constituency candidate, listed in alphabetical order.
The second ballot paper is for the Council elections. You will be asked to rank your preferred candidates by writing 1 for your first preference, 2 for your second, etc.
Changes have also been made to the administration of the Highland areas - see page 5 for more details. Lochaber has been joined with Ross-shire and Skye. The managers of the various departments have all had to apply for the new posts, with the result that the only remaining Lochaber manager is Jim Tolmie of TEC Services.
Concerns are also being raised about the future of Community Councils and whether the changes will extend to some of them amalgamating or disappearing.. With the loss of individual elected Councillors for each ward and the change from Area Committee to Ward Forum, the established links are lost.
The bottom line is: we need to elect at least one Councillor who cares about our communities. Get out there on the 3rd and vote!

Work on the improvements to the final stretch of road from Arisaig to Loch nan Uamh is scheduled to begin on Monday June 11th. Work will start from both ends of the road at the same time, and Morrisons have promised there will be no closures during the summer months.

'It's time for a change on the island, perhaps the greatest in years.' so says Lawrence MacEwen in his Round and About article on page 11. And changes there are as Lawrence and wife Jenny prepare to move out of the farm he has managed for 38 years and son Colin and his partner Ruth move in.
On the other side of the island, Ewen MacEwen and Judy are moving from Port Mor House, which Ewen has run as a hotel for 28 years, and Lawrence and Jenny's daughter Mary and partner Toby move in to run the business. Ewen and Judy are moving 'up the hill' and Ewen will be working as a builder.
Colin and Ruth have been living in Dunblane and Mary and Toby in Old Meldrum. The fine weather has seen boatloads of equipment and furniture being ferried over to the island.
And with Toby's fondness for field sport and a quantity of bird rearing equipment being taken over to the island, Muck will soon be offering pheasant and partridge shoots to the Port Mor guests.

Let me start with a correction and clarification, in the style of the Guardian, although not nearly as amusing I'm afraid. As my dad helpfully pointed out, I accorded some trees the status of "native species" when they are, in fact, incomers. Larch and Douglas Fir to be exact. What I should have said was that Knoydart Forest Trust are replanting with native species in some areas, and non-native quality species such as Douglas Fir and European Larch in others. This is to reach a variety of objectives, with the native species mainly for biodiversity reasons, and the non-natives for quality timber reasons. Phew! To make matters worse, I'm a director of KFT. And (ahem) a countryside ranger.
Anyway, the forestry extraction is coming on well, and at seemingly incredible speed. Jim, Jo and Grant are all putting in some serious hours in banksman duties, and boat owners are by and large being helpful with operations. Sam Firth and the children are happily filming away in their bright yellow fluorescent vests, and there are some interesting new tracks being created (will we have boy-racers cruising the Inverie by-pass?!)
International Women's Day: the ladies managed to extract over £800 for Lochaber Women's Aid and the Mallaig Swimming Pool. Did you spot Isla and Jane in Mallaig. Jane (Lara Croft) nearly sparked a security alert in the banks with her makeshift guns... In other news: a successful beach-clean and barbecue was carried out, with contributing work from a great cross-section of the community. And we've several volunteer groups lined up to help out in the coming weeks. Visitors are picking up, with Doune playing host to a visiting TV crew from Italy (I managed to lead the cameraman directly into a waist-deep bog, which lessens my credentials as a Rangers yet more).
It's been pointed out that I always seem to write about stuff that I'm involved in. Well, yes, I'm afraid it does seem to be a case of "write about what you know" (or not, in the case of trees). But there's plenty of opportunity to have other stuff included in this column. So if you live on Knoydart, and are crying out to have your news included, just let me know. And if you fancy a bash at hammering something out, well, go for it.
Just to confirm those who say that my news is Tommy-centered, down Riadh-an-Dariach way (where I've had the pleasure of staying the last few days), Bonaparte the stag has gone off his cheese. Well, English cheese. Bernie informs me he's very partial to Camembert. Personally, I'm looking forward to some really tasty venison come next September....
Tommy McManmon

And it's time for change on the island, perhaps the greatest for years. On the farm, moving out are Jenny and myself; moving in are son Colin and partner Ruth Harland. I have run the farm for 38 years and with Jenny for 28, and it's time for fresh ideas. We will still be next door and it will allow me to tackle some of the massive backlog of maintenance, and Jenny and I might even manage a holiday together.
Over at Port Mor House, Judy and Ewen are moving up(hill!). Ewen has run the hotel for 27 years and will now become a full time builder.
Moving in are Mary MacEwen and partner Toby Fichtner-Irvine, Archie (4) and Izzy (2). Toby's passion is field sports so there will be even more changes on the land and Port Mor House will reopen on May 15th.
All this relocation has entailed major movement on land and sea, blessed by some remarkably fine weather. Wave has been shuttling between Muck and Arisaig piled high with furniture, bird rearing equipment and much much more.
The other programme is not going so well - that of filling our two empty houses with permanent residents. As I write none of the Canna castoffs have reached the island so the field is still wide open if anyone wishes to apply.
On the farm the sun shines and the mud has turned to dust - it's great. As lambing approaches there is a tinge of green, but it is a struggle against the geese, everywhere except on the lawns!
Jenny would like to thank everyone for their kindness to her and for looking after me, after she broke her leg. She is now on the mend.
Lawrence MacEwen


Nature news first - very early swallows have been sighted this month and the Wheatear are back, as of the 25th, also Glaucaus Gulls spotted earlier this month. Marcel has seen lots of lizards running around up the hill and Whooper swans on Loch Papadil. For those of you who watched the Rum deer herd on Autumnwatch last year, you'll be pleased to know there will be an update 'Autumnwatch Special' shown over the Easter period on BBC2.
Following all the recent publicity, there was a debate in the Scottish Parliament earlier this month regarding the fate of the Rum red deer herd. Some of us watched it live on the internet - amazing that the broadband held up and it's great that you can watch these things live. Anyway, SNH have decided that there will not be a reduction cull this year, just a maintenance cull and the annual round of meetings in May will further discuss the fate of the entire Habitat Restoration proposals.
The first of the big college groups are back - being The Cambourne School of Mines who come every year all the way from Cornwall. They are well known for discovering platinum on Rum several years ago, but don't all rush at once though, it was a negligible find (or so they say).
David Frew, the Castle manager, tells us the Castle is well booked up for the summer, so we're expecting blossoming visitor numbers - probably coming to see the deer from Autumnwatch … The Castle are still on the look out for staff for this summer, I believe they're advertised on the SNH website or you could ring Kinloch Castle for more details if you're interested.
We were delighted to hear that Muck would be getting a visit from the Sheerwater on Sundays this summer, but not so delighted to hear that we will not any more. So, If any small boat operators out there would like to step into the breach, please go ahead.
Ceilidhs - There will an Easter ceilidh on Sunday 8th - A John Sommerville (ex croft no. five) and co. band Another one on Saturday 28th April, a pre festival warm up for those of you up to it !! Mathew Watson and band will be playing this one.
Sound of Rum Music Festival. All is going to plan. Tickets have sold out (honestly) in an astonishingly short amount of time. Due to this we will be putting some more (not many) on sale at www.thebooth.co.uk on Friday 13th April at 5pm. These will be last ones available. Please don't turn up without a ticket. Look forward to seeing you all there.
Fliss Hough

A glorious end to a month that began bitterly, and we now have a whole nursery of calves, and a few lambs springing about on Eigg. The celandines are out en masse, the primroses are just coming into their own, and the volume of birdsong is slowly ascending. Visitor numbers have quadrupled in the last few days, and it feels like we are really in the throes of the season already.
We are all glad to have Scruff back, minus the ends of a few digits, which haven't stopped him getting back to work. He's been getting quite a lot of mileage out of waving them in the faces of anyone willing to look.
Bryony Kirk ran a very successful baking stall in aid of Comic Relief, and raised a fantastic £160.00. The cakes were excellent, altogether a great effort. Well done Bryony.
Two more chainsaw courses have been held here, for the basic certificate, with all candidates achieving successful outcomes, and Alistair Kirk and Neil Robertson have undertaken the tree surgeons course, but not yet been assessed. Thank goodness it's not brain surgery.
St Patrick's night was celebrated in the usual fine style, although we were without Aidan, one of our trio of Irishmen. Wes and Eddie had a lot to make up for, but couldn't come up with enough spontaneous poetry to fill the resident bards job description.
We are hoping to set up a film club here, and to that end we had a pilot night on the 23rd. Ian Kerr of the BFFI came over, bringing his equipment, and held a showing of "The Station Agent" a quirky American independent film which was much enjoyed by all who attended (37!) Not bad for such a small place. The big screen really did make it so much better than watching a DVD at home, as well as the whole social; experience making it a lot more fun. Shame about the hard chairs though.
A huge rig came over to drill holes the geothermal heating system at the school, and promptly broke down, looking big and scary and fostering rumours that we are about to embark on a ruthless exploitation of our natural resources. It's the biggest thing we've seen here since RJ's, and that's just the rig!
Sue Kirk

Geoff's report for March's West Word arrived too late to be included - and we haven't yet had one for this issue...
February appeared to be a relatively quiet month on Canna. For a while there, it seemed that almost everyone had deserted the place, what with meetings to attend and committees to gather together on the mainland and suchlike. However, it looks like we're in for a hectic spring and summer as what little accommodation available on Canna is starting to be booked up. The tearoom is gearing up already…and it looks set to be busy from here on in. It appears island life is very much a game of two halves; just as I've finally got the winter timetable committed to memory, a whole pile of summer schedules land on the passenger seat. Oh well. Events are moving swiftly along on the farm, also. One cow has calved a month prematurely and the lambing is just around the corner, so a busy time ahead. Come to think of it, much appears to be out of season. The weather doesn't know what it's up to right now, what with the rain persisting down for much of the month, interspersed with some glorious good weather days to remind us that spring is just around the corner. And the next day, back to winter. Heavy going underfoot, and still the grass doesn't seem to have stopped growing. Time to service the strimmer, I think.
Under normal circumstances it has to be said that arranging a helicopter trip on Valentine's Day might have seemed to be a wonderfully romantic (maybe over the top?) gesture. Thanks are due to the first-aiders and the Air Ambulance team who safely and promptly transferred a casualty to the Belford; broken ankle doing fine now, we hear. These sorts of events emphasise the importance of good clear lines of communication, and underline the value of the emergency services to the islands. And apparently the views over the Small Isles were spectacular.
The Northern Lighthouse Board stayed for a few days to do the annual maintenance on the Sanday Light…it was a cracking day, so what better excuse for a scientific field trip to learn about solar panels, prisms and lights, and a bit of history thrown in courtesy of our resident historian. All appears to be well with the light …and the children had a great time. I just hope they put the bulb back properly. Hmm. Bayonet or screw in? Better take both just in case…
Oh, and congratulations to Martin on his recent Mt. Killy success…well done…an admirable achievement for a good cause. I won't be whinging anymore about having to walk up the Tarbert road, then.
Geoff Soe-Paing

Canna Primary School has a new webpage - check out www.canna.highland.sch.uk
And West Word thanks them very much for mentioning it and providing a link!

A couple have been chosen from the hundreds of applicants to go to run a guest house on Canna. Sheila Gunn and John Clare, both in their fifties, will move in the summer to Tighard, a large townhouse, which they will convert into a guesthouse.
The competition attracted over 350 applications from all over the world but in the end a couple living in Oban were chosen. Sheila is from Sleat on Skye and has been running a guest house in Oban. Though not a fluent Gaelic speaker, she has enthusiasm for the language and culture inherited from her Gaelic speaking parents. She will also provide cover for the island's teacher.
John is from Cornwall but moved to Scotland a few years ago. He knows the West Coast and islands well from his time in the Royal Navy. He has extensive experience in diving and boat handling and hopes to lay moorings for visiting yachts and provide boat repairs.
The appeal for new residents for Canna was launched by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) in September 2006. After enquiries came in from across the world, including from India, Africa, the US, Canada, Dubai and across Europe, over 350 full applications were received. These applications were all considered by the NTS and by the residents of Canna in order to produce a shortlist of applicants, who were then asked to submit more detailed plans of how they would sustain themselves in Canna's small community. Following the assessment of these plans, interviews were carried out to find the strongest candidates. Interviews for the second property on Canna, The New House, will be conducted in mid April.

Well, my comment last month that the rotting copper beech at the hall may have to come down created some upset! I love trees, and hate to see them cut down - I will confess I shed tears when the pine tree across from us came down a few years ago (and I wasn't the only one!). But trees have a life span like everything else, and while people and animals lie down when they die, a tree can only fall. 'The bigger it is, the harder it falls'. The rotten heart of the tree indicates it is diseased and dying. You would put an animal to sleep in such circumstances. What would protesters like us to do? Wait until it falls - most likely into the road? How would they feel if someone was hurt? The Hall Committee were advised to have it cut down when the hall renovations took place, as it is far too large a tree to be so close to a building and goodness knows what its roots are doing - but we said no then. If the tree is felled - and we will make really sure there is no alternative - we will plant a tree in its place - a much smaller one! And as our garden is a self-seeded copper beech nursery there will be some Sons of Beech Tree if anyone wants one.
The Land, Sea & Islands Centre opened for the season on Monday April 2nd. Welcome back to our much prized volunteers! If you have a few hours to spare and want to pass on your pride and enjoyment of the surrounding area, please contact Elizabeth on 450655 or me on 450263, or go in when it's open to speak to one of team.
Thanks to all those who have handed in ink cartridges for recycling, the Astley Hall has benefited by the sum of £47.
The Brownies Panto and the Wind Band concert were both postponed last month. The Brownies have rescheduled for Saturday 21st April, and we hope the Wind Band will find another suitable date.
The reason, of course, was the sudden and unexpected death of Derek Hardman. We will miss his kindness, his concern and his help in all matters financial. For both the committees of both the Astley Hall and the Land Sea & Islands Centre, I would like to say how much he will be missed and pass on our condolences to Angela and his family.
It will soon be Sheerwater time and the yachts will be out at anchor - easy in this wonderful weather to imagine sun all summer long. Regular visitors on the Sheerwater won't see Murphy the golden Labrador around the ticket office this year though - he has just gone to the big kennel in the sky.
With all the worries about the Arisaig medical cover, concern about the future of our Post Office has been sidelined. We'll find out next month if we will still have one.
Ann Martin

Spring is here! What a beautiful time for new baby Seumas MacFarlane to arrive in the world. Seumas was born on Saturday 24th March. Congratulations to parents Ingrid and Iain.
What else has been happening? The Gaelic classes are continuing with a committed core of learners. If you fancy joining them you are very welcome. Classes start again after the school holidays on Mondays from 7.30pm to 9pm at Glenfinnan House Hotel. The charge per class is £2. The cearcall còmhraidh (Gaelic conversation circle) meets monthly. Whether you are a native speaker or have learned Gaelic you are very welcome to come along and join in. See What's Ons for more details.
A quiz at Princes House Hotel in aid of the church restoration fund was very well attended. Bob Colman was quizmaster and tested us all. Well done to the winning team from Arisaig. There was a raffle with loads of prizes. Being pregnant Cat Hunter and I selected books from the prize table rather than the bottles of wine!
We had an excellent music session with the Feis musicians and their guests from Cape Breton. The bar was packed but they still found space for some step dancing and Highland dancing. Great tunes.
Lots of children and a few adults have started music lessons in fiddle, whistle and clarsach and guitar lessons are starting after the Easter holidays.
Euan Stoddart turned 23 in March, Happy Birthday. Thankfully, he was fit to celebrate after a crash at Callop Bridge. He was unscathed but his pick-up didn't fare so well.
Happy Birthday also to Cat Hunter who celebrated her 30th.
Eileen O'Rua

Our otter story caught the attention of the press and appeared in a number of publications. Thanks to Ian Abernethy for this reproduction of his article in the Lochaber News, and thanks to Moe for the photos.
"Scarnose", the Otter, is leading the life of Riley in the west coast fishing port of Mallaig - but on dry land and not in the sea. For the three year old mammal, with no fear of humans, is being virtually hand-fed by two local trawlermen. And, if Scarnose doesn't actually live off the fat of the land, he certainly enjoys a rich onshore diet - of plaice, haddock and velvet crab!
The outgoing otter has taken a real shine to the hospitality of Sean Morrison (32) and Ben Mathieson (31) members of the crew of the prawn trawler, "Ocean Hunter".
Indeed, when the vessel pulls in to Mallaig Harbour, Scarnose is there to meet it, and has no qualms about jumping aboard. Says Sean :
"We've called him Scarnose for the simple reason that he has - a scar on his nose. "He has been coming onto our boat for quite a while, and we've tended to keep something special out for him.
"Scarnose has expensive tastes, with plaice and haddock his favourites. And now he has become so used to us that he lets us clap him like a cat! When we told some of our colleagues about Scarnose they thought we were hallucinating! But, now, most people have seen the otter and they realise he isn't shy!"

Sean and Ben have actually perfected an "otter call" where, by pursing their lips they make a squeaking noise to which Scarnose responds. The otter has even ventured up the stairs in Mallaig Fishmarket, and has been seen in various parts of Mallaig.
So Scarnose appears to have no fear, although nobody sees to know how he came by his injury. It's likely that he may have had a recent skirmish with another otter, a female of the species, called "Limpy" by the locals. Limpy's name sounds self explanatory but she appears to have gone to ground in Mallaig. But Scarnose certainly has everyone sitting up and taking notice of him, and treating him right royally.



West Word - ten years ago
The main headline on the cover page of West Word of April 1997 proclaimed 'Eigg Islanders Win Their Fight for the Island' and the story beneath the headline told of the delight of the islanders who had heard that the bid put in by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust to purchase the island had been accepted. The prophetic words of Camille Dressler ended the article: 'Eigg first and Knoydart next!'
Mallaig's oldest resident Mrs Bella Muir was celebrating her 100th birthday and her picture, cradling her newest great grandchild Liam, adorned the cover. The third story on the front page told how to anglers from Newcastle spotted 'Morag' on a fishing trip on Loch Morar, while the following day four anglers from Glasgow witnesses a 'dark shape' in the loch. The two Newcastle anglers, David White and Darren Wilson, are pictured on page 2 with more details of the 'sighting' of the Loch Morar Monster!
Local MP Sir Russell Johnston (soon to stand down as constituent MP) had again made representation regarding the upgrading of the A830 and a Fact File detailing the Inverness, Nairn Lochaber Constituency was on page 3. Pages 7 and 8 were headlined 'How Will You Vote?' and prospective candidates Fergus Ewing (SNP), David Stewart (Labour), Mary Scanlon (Conservative) and Stephen Gallagher (Lib-Dem) all had their say on four specific questions posed by Editor Jill de Fresnes.
Keeping it political, the efforts of the 'Tankers in the Minch Working Group' were detailed in the Local Fishing News column with Councillor Michael Foxley, Chairman of the Group, urging the prospective election candidates to align themselves with the plan of the Group which was, quite simply, to safeguard the waters and coastline of the Minches from the threat of oil pollution.
The 50th birthday of the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association was celebrated in the Caledonian Hotel, Inverness, via the Annual Dinner Dance, and the occasion was marked by the presentations to the Association by The Highland Council and The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. It was also 50 not out for Morar WRI and Cathie Stewart provided information on the period 1947 to 1970, an era that was presided over in its entirety by Mrs Vera Shaw Stewart.
A generous gift of £11,000 worth of computers to Eigg School was made by Mr Felix Dennis of Dennis Publishing, who was prompted into action after watching a jon Snow news report about Eigg on channel 4 news.
A meeting plus an extra-ordinary meeting the following day led to five resignations from the Arisaig Community Council and it was all over the construction of a wall at the Old Library Lodge in the village centre. Morar Community Council's meeting was a bit less heated with Rights of Way, dog fouling and telephone box relocation being items on the agenda.
Nevis Radio was getting ready to branch out - courtesy of Lochaber Limited - investing in new equipment to enable the local radio station to be heard in South Skye, Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig areas by August.
The recently formed 'River Fund' explained that their aim was to purchase a Pegasus Therapy Bed (£4000) for use in the area and that so far £1540 had been raised via various events.
Muck's Lawrence MacEwen condemned the use of the MV Iona as a replacement vessel for the Small Isles due to the difficulty and danger of the Wave getting alongside, and Lawrence also provided a page 22 article headed 'A New Tomorrow for West Highland Agriculture.'
Local lass Fiona Runcieman, working for the Christian charity 'Youth With A Mission', got caught up in the civil unrest in Albania and had to be evacuated by an Italian ship. Barry Austin meanwhile continued to enjoy his 'Sense of Adventure' holiday in Africa as his regular series of letters to West Word could testify.
The death of Jim McMahon was marked by an obituary from his employer Andy Race, the local fishmerchant, while Pictures from the Past featured one of Mallaig taken in 1958 by Leslie Pringle.
There were lots of 'goings on' at Mallaig High School; Healthy Living, Rotary Club visitations, Young Engineers Club, Music Festival and School Inspection (and School Inspection is currently ongoing at Mallaig High 10 years later!).
Rail Travel Bargains, The Steam Train and Turntables for Mallaig and Fort William were all highlighted in the 'On the Rails' column, while a page on Rob Roy MacGregor - 50% of which was in the gaelic - told the United Artists version of his life a la the movie.
Mallaig & District Canoe Club activities included a weekend at Glenmore Lodge, and other sporting matters in the West Word of April 1997 told of the outstanding success of Mallaig's Kenneth MacKenzie on winning the Gents Singles and Gents Doubles (with John MacLennan) and being runner-up in the Mixed Doubles (with Ann MacInnes) in the Lochaber Badminton Championships. Traigh Golf Course news included the re-emergence of holes 5 and 6, with the re-emergence of the Hale Bopp Comet being commented on by Fr Michael Hutson in his Christian Message.
Aunt Prudence, Down to Earth, Creepy Crawlie Corner and the Round and About features were all in evidence. There was a Wordsearch, and a quiz set by Ann Martin, who was, for the second month running, mentioned in the Snippets…just a wee reminder to Ann Martin and Jane & David Bird that everybody else is now operating British Summer Time!
I'll finish off with another 10 year old snippet…there must be a lot of hot gossip in Arisaig. What else could explain the telephone wires cooling off in the River Caimbe….

FISHING FOCUS by John Hermse, Secretary of the M&NWFA
The weather improved towards the end of the month, allowing the fleet a decent working week. Prices for nephrops continue to be high and this, in turn, has allowed for some stability in the sector. There seems to be signs of herring in the South Minch with some good marks being seen. Similarly, there are reports of cod down towards the Mull area.

Crab Days at Sea
Crab fishermen on the West Coast of Scotland are anticipating a difficult year ahead after government decisions allowing Irish vessels to fish for crab in UK waters. The agreement, made in return for paltry amounts of cod and haddock quota to supplement the Producer Organisation allocations for 2007, could allow a significant number of super-crabbers into Scottish waters.
Although the reallocation will not reduce the number of days that Scottish crab vessel can go to sea, it is expected to have a severe effect on the fragile brown crab market. An increase in product available on the market will reduce the price paid to Scottish fishermen or may make it impossible for them to sell their catch at all, a fact which the Scottish Executive appears to have overlooked.
The Scottish Executive does not seem to have allowed for the affect of the swap on the brown crab market. Landings from the nomadic Irish shellfish fleet will lead to increased pressure on the market and their landings could seriously affect the viability of local operations. These factors could have been overcome if there had been any industry consultation on the swap.
Similar to the North Sea Nephrop swap fiasco, this is yet another instance of Scottish Executive blundering and failing to consult with industry. Why (yet again) were industry not consulted? This decision displays a lack of joined up thinking and nous regarding what actually goes on in the Scottish fishing industry.
This is going to have a disastrous effect on the UK - and specifically the Scottish Crab sector. Some crabbers working the West and North Coasts are already saying that they will have to tie up.'

Firth of Lorn
We travelled to Edinburgh to hear the debate at the Environment and Rural Development Committee of the Scottish Parliament.
Ross Finnie had proposed that the Inshore Fishing (Prohibited Methods of Fishing) (Firth of Lorne) Order 2007, should come into effect next month. The Order sought to prohibit scallop dredging in the Firth of Lorne, with fines for contravention ranging upwards from £5,000.
MSP Jamie McGrigor presented a motion to annul the Order and was supported by Fergus Ewing, SNP and Conservatives. However, Labour, LibDem and an MSP from the Green Party voted against the annulment and the Order went through by 6 votes to 3.
The closure was imposed because of alleged damage to reefs in the Firth of Lorn although there was no evidence produced by the Scottish Executive to support the allegation. A spokesperson from SNH said: "The survey that we carried out of some of the scallop fishing areas didn't show any damage, but the Firth covers a huge area and we didn't survey all the areas."
The decision was a travesty, and the implications are extremely serious for fishermen. The committee accepted there was no proper consultation, yet decided that there had been enough discussion of the matter. They accepted that SNH had concluded that there was no damage to the seabed, yet they also accepted Ross Finnie's contention that this closure had to be enforced so that Scotland could meet its obligations under the EC Habitats Directive. In other words they decided that marine worms are more important than fishermen and fragile rural areas. There has been depopulation in the Highlands due to the cheviot and the stag, but I think the Government has reached a new low when they vote for marine worms, in preference to fishermen and communities.
I am extremely annoyed that the minister can get away with that kind of obfuscation. Around 20 boats, and some 40 fishermen will be affected by the ban. This decision will open the floodgate for every single issue conservation group to press for the closure of other Special Areas of Conservation around the coast. You will see areas being closed to protect starfish, or seaweed or other spurious reasons. The present administration wants to turn the West Coast into a theme park, rather than support fragile communities.
Fishermen should now show their disenchantment through the ballot box. MSPs have let the fishermen down badly and it surprises me that MSPs with fishermen in their constituencies could support this. This was a comedy of errors, but one with very serious consequences for the livelihoods of fishermen and the future of coastal communities.

Local MSP Fergus Ewing was warmly welcomed to the General Committee meeting of our Association in Inverness and was able to advise the committee on a number of issues. The proposed Marine Park, Firth of Lorn and Governance were all debated during the meeting with detailed input from a parliamentary perspective coming from Fergus.
We wish Fergus good luck in the coming elections. I would like to put on record our appreciation for all the help and support he has given MNWFA and its members, over the present term of parliament.

Crofting ROUNDUP by Joyce Ormiston, SCF Council Member

The SCF has announced its 'Charter for Crofting ' to help enlighten parliament and politicians to the needs and wishes of the population of 30,000 or so living in crofting households in the Highlands and Islands. The SCF believes that the four main crofting needs are:

The full document can be found on http://www.croftingfoundation.co.uk/charter.shtml

A working group of crofters, food producers and SCF directors has been formed to begin the creation of the 'Crofting Brand', a brand that will be able to be used by all registered crofters and small holders of crofting status. It will be a slow process to ensure the end product that carries the Crofting Brand name is quality assured and delivers the ideal image of crofting today. The Crofting Brand aims to bring to the public an environmentally friendly, locally produced product using varieties and species that thrive in the unique situation of the crofting counties.

Animal feed producers have been told to manufacture more environmentally friendly feedstuffs in an effort to control greenhouse gas emissions from cattle. As well as turning the focus of blame for global warming onto farmers by taxing their work vehicles in the recent budget, the government now thinks that cows who suffer from a bit of wind need to be fed on a less fibrous diet. No one has asked the cows what they think of the changes to their meals, but I'm sure if all the beef eating Americans were told to leave the onions off their steak it would make a bigger difference to the ozone layer than our contented but flatulent friends.

For help filling in your IACS forms Niall Campbell from the SAC will be in the West Highland Hotel Mallaig on 1st and 2nd of May. Call him on 01631563093 for more help.


The Highland and Livestock Heritage Society at Dingwall Mart collates any archive material relating to the Droving tradition, when cattle were bought from 'fairs' all over the Highlands and islands and taken over the drove roads to be sold on in the bigger 'trysts' down at Falkirk and Crieff at a profit. From 1871 onwards the cattle would have gone by train for the latter half of the journey south but the initial journey was still done on foot for many years. Drovers carried fleams or bleeding knifes to draw blood from the cattle to mix with their oatmeal and make into black pudding, they wore plaids, wrapped round them at night to keep out the early autumn frosts. The cattle, usually young stots and 'quays' [heifers] were only expected to make 12 or so miles a day with frequent stops for rest and grazing, so as not to lose condition. The journey from Broadford to Riddell in The Borders took up to 26 days, with stops at places such as Invergarry, Kings House and Callander. The Drovers played an important part in the economy of the Highlands, buying cattle at the small local fairs, and they are part of the history and culture of the Highlands. If you have any relevant material, such as photos from old sales or documents that could relate to the droving tradition and you wish to share them please contact Janey at the HLHS, Dingwall Mart, Bailchaul Road, Dingwall.

Joyce now writes up daily life on her croft - have a look at it on http://www.ormistonhighlands.com

A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
MacDonald of Camus a' Rhuighe, Ardnish

On the Ardnish Peninsula, at the head of Loch Beag, behind Àrd nam Bùth and Loch nan Uamh, lies a deserted hamlet of some thirteen ruins. The hamlet is variously known as, Camus a' Rhuighe, Camus a' Raghnaill or Camus a' Fhraoich. For the purposes of this article, we will call it Camus a' Ruighe. The 1941 census shows two families living there. Ronald MacDonald and family and John MacGillivray and family. The settlement was cleared of three families in 1851/52.
In 2001 we had a visit from an Australian, Cameron MacDonald, enquiring about his ancestors, Ronald and Catherine MacDonald who had emigrated with their family in 1852, from Camus a' Rhuighe. Cameron had the names, which appear to have been taken from the passenger list of the "Medina", of some of the children. However, when we examined the Baptismal records of St Mary's, we discovered other children of which he was unaware. The children of the family were: (1) Jannet b. 1826, (2) Isabella b. 1828, (3) John b. 1831, (4) Margaret b. 1832, (5) Lachlan b.1834, (6) Ann b. 1834, (7) Coll b.1839, (8) Ann b. 1840 (9) Donald b.1842, (10) Mary b.!843, (11) Allan b.1849. Six of the first eight children are listed in the 1841 census. Ann, b. 1837 and Ann b. 1840 may have died as infants. When talking to Cameron MacDonald, I was under the impression that the whole family had emigrated but now that seems less likely. Last week, Elsbeth MacMillan, Leven House, sent an Australian, Colin Russell, to see us and by coincidence, he is descended from the same family, his ancestress being (10) Mary MacDonald b. 1843 who emigrated with her parents on the "Medina" of 1852. The passenger list of the "Medina" shows that only Coll, Donald, Mary and Allan accompanied their parents . The marriage register shows that (1) Jannet, (b.1826) married John MacMaster from Mingary, in Arisaig 9th February 1848. I cannot find any trace of John, Isabella, Margaret or Lachlan. Were they married and emigrated with their own families or, did they remain at home?
Living with the family in Camus a' Rhuighe at the time of the 1841 census, was an Angus MacDonald aged 45. In 1853 Angus, who would then be about 57 and still in Camus a' Ruighe, married Mary MacDonald from Polnish in the presence of Neil MacEachan and John MacDonald.
In 1851, sixteen families were evicted from Kinloid, Arisaig and three from Camus a' Ruighe, by Astley. We know that many of those evicted in 1851/52 went to Australia under the auspices of The Highlands and Islands Emigration Society. This helps to explain the 54 MacDonalds, amongst which, the family above, 15 MacEachans and 11 Gillies along with many others, who emigrated on the "Medina" in 1852, bound for Adelaide, Australia.
Gillies. In the February 2007 issue of W.W. I mentioned that Christina MacEachan, Polindan, Arisaig, m. Archie Gillies from Ardnamurach, North Morar. I have since had an email from James Allan MacDonald in CT, USA giving the names of fifteen children - Archie Gillies, Ardnamurach and his siblings.
Quote: My 2nd great grandfather John Gillies b. 1841 Ard na Murach son of John Gillies and Mary McLellan was the brother of Archibald b. 1837 Ard na Murach. Archibald (with wife Christina), his brother John, his sister Margery (b. 1843), his sister Catherine (b. 1835) and possibly his sister Jessie (b. 1827) emigrated in 1871 to Glengarry County, Ontario (initially to Charlottenburgh Twp. and then moved to Lochiel Twp.). I have descendant information on all of these Gillies siblings that I would be willing to share. Christine MacEachan Gillies died on Jan 25, 1899 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Some of Archie's and Christy's children ended up in the Cleveland, Ohio, USA area.
This is the second West Word mention of my Ard na Murach Gillies. In the October 2005 issue Belle Gillies (b. abt. 1839) was mentioned on a genealogy piece on McDougalls from Arisaig by Burgess and Fiona Hay. Belle would be the sister to my John and Archie." Unquote.
On the subject of the Slochd, Ardnish MacDougall connection with Gillies; (WW October 2005) by Burgess and Fiona Hay.) the MacDougall lineage was correct but rather went astray in the Gillies lineage. Margery MacDougall did, indeed, marry Aeneas Gillies but, he was not of the Ardnamurach Gillieses although, they may have been related. The children of Margery and Aeneas were Johnny (Foxy) and Morag who lived for many years in Bourblach, Morar. Morag had a son, Aeneas, who lives in the Glasgow area. Aeneas, Earnisaig, was the son of Donald Gillies and Sarah MacKay. Donald Gillies' parents were Ronald Gillies b.1789 and Isabella ? b. ca. 1801 and they were tenants in Earnisaig in 1861. Donald Gillies was the tenth generation of Gillies in Earnisaig.. Sarah MacKay was the daughter of Finlay MacKay whose brother was Rev. Donald MacKay, parish priest in North Morar 1842 - 1870. Finlay MacKay's descendants are still farming in Bracara today.

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