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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
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August 2013 Issue
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
IN MEMORY OF THOSE LOST AT SEA
So read the words on the plaque in front of the memorial unveiled on the afternoon of Saturday 10th August 2013.
A damp day didn't deter the small crowd of people gathered for the ceremony near the Caledonian MacBrayne office on Mallaig Pier. After Piper Cameron MacBeth opened the ceremony, Charlie King gave the background to the commissioning of the memorial.
He spoke of how individual memorials to lost fishermen had been hung on the walls of the Fishermen's Mission Café, but when the Mission closed the building and the memorials were returned to the families, the idea of one memorial for all was born.
Two years ago a group of local people got together and, after placing a letter in West Word to gauge support, an informal committee was formed.
Funds were raised and a sculptor, Mark Rodgers from Knoydart, was commissioned to make the statue. Sadly, halfway through the project, Mark died suddenly. The committee are grateful to Mark's family who not only returned his commission fee but also donated the collection made at his funeral to the memorial fund.
Unfortunately, no-one could be found who would be able to finish Mark's work, so the committee had to start again from scratch.
Iain Chalmers of Chainsaw Creations in Culbokie was commissioned to carve the memorial. The result is eight feet high and is flanked by two carved blocks featuring objects associated with the sea.
After thanking all who had supported the venture, especially Mallaig Harbour Authority, Pimmy McLean, Harbour Master, Liz McLean and the committee, Charlie asked Christopher, Liam and Michael Dyer to unveil the plaque in front of the statue. The brothers lost their father Michael in the Silvery Sea disaster in 1998.
Christopher, Michael and Liam Dyer (l to r) performed the opening ceremony
Blessings were read by Rev Alan Lamb and Fr Joe Calleja, after which all those present were invited to the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre for refreshments.
Thanks go to all who contributed to the cost if the memorial:
Mallaig Harbour Authority; Scottish Fishermen's Organisation Ltd; J & J Denholm Ltd; EWOS; Sunderland Marine; Lodge Mallaig 1056; Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association Ltd; Morar SWRI; Wallace Stone; Sue Yeomans; Mr & Mrs Jonker; Mr & Mrs Wuyts, family and friends; Anne Baillie and her fellow RBS fundraisers; the group members - Johnnie MacMillan, Charlie King, Pimmy McLean, Rita MacDonald, Sandra McLean, Ann MacLean, Moe Mathieson and Liz McLean. The memorial is made from Redwood (Wellingtonia) which has the same properties as Cedar. Iain Chalmers, Chainsaw Creations, is a regular at the Road to the Isles Agricultural Show and married to Arisaig woman Marie Cameron.
Arrangements are in hand to have floodlights and some landscaping at the site.
Photos courtesy of Moe Mathieson and Richard Lamont
What a fab summer!! Can't ask for better weather than this, eh? I think just about everyone has been in for a swim to cool off at some point over the last month, whether its been in the sea, the river, at cable bay, follach or aff the pier!
It was also another month for amazing music. We had Sharon King and the Reckless Angels firstly: a lovely, little, intimate gig in the hall with a chilled out atmosphere as Sharon and her anges sang to us about mythical creatures and Cairn O Mohr. Folky, country and Scottish: so good I bought the album.
Next up was Darrell Scott, another gorgeous gig in the hall, totally packed out and no wonder. His second time returning to Knoydart and hopefully not his last. This country star had the whole hall entranced. Great night and great craic.
Lastly (but most definitely not leastly) was Mystery Juice. What a night. Having the gig on a Wednesday might have dissuaded some folk, but not Knoydart: it may as well have been a Friday night on a full moon. An electric night with simply incredible music and possibly even more incredible dance moves. Punk, funk, Scottish, rock… you need to see this band live to fully appreciate this unique blend of genres. I highly recommend them and might have to find out where they're next gig is and book the time of work (instead of just calling in sick again… sorry Rhona!). Fantastic night had by all, I hope they come back again.
And news just in… Banana Sessions are returning 26th August to Inverie Village Hall!!!
I feel like I've been welcoming and saying goodbye to people a lot the last few months, and another farewell is in order this month too. Mark O'Brien said cheerio to the pub and the peninsula, heading back to Skye; we wish him all the best.
Lots of folk buying their party frocks for the biggest event of August: Evelyn's birthday party. Looking forward to seeing everyone dressed to the nines… and dancing to Sketch.
Another date for the diary is the Knoydart Community Garden open day, Saturday 7th September from 12pm onwards, free entry. A fun day out for all: competitions, kids activities, tea and cake, BBQ, raffle, and lots more. All welcome.
And that's all I can think of for the mo, cheerie!
ISLE OF MUCK
The weather of July did not turn out as I predicted a month ago. At times the heatwave over England and eastern Scotland moved northwestward and we enjoyed some periods of hot sunshine. Even when it was mist and drizzle it was warm - good growing weather. The silage crop which looked fairly dire in June turned out at least as heavy as usual.
This month we said good bye to Len, Rhoda and Arla Whatley who have left the schoolhouse for Pitlochry. Two years soon pass and filling the school vacancy takes a lot of hassle. So in the interim Liz Boden from Eigg is filling the gap. Good news for Muck as Liz is popular with both the parents and pupils.
July 13 and Colin took Wave over to Rum with the Muck team for the Small Isles Sports. I had not been to Rum for a number of years and I was very impressed by how tidy Kinloch was. Even the road verge in front of the Castle had been strimmed. Less impressive was Rum's success in the sports field. Muck excelled in the junior events and Colin chucked the shot further than anyone else. However we failed in the Tug O War and completely in the axe throwing. Despite this we narrowly won the shield over Eigg. Well done everyone who took part.
July also saw the return of the Ceilidh Trail. Talented musicians and great music especially as it has not been amplified. Duggie the Dyker has been back too having said goodbye to the desert islands in the Sound of Harris. He stayed long enough to return our dykes to 100%. Soon we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the wedding of Sarah and Willie MacRae. The island will be full. More on that in September West Word.
ISLE OF CANNA
Islanders have been busy preparing for our 3rd Canna Feis which is on from the 7th-10th Aug. There is a varied programme of events on, culminating in a Ceilidh day on Saturday 10th. Looking forward to meeting old friends and making some new ones. Hope some of our fellow 'smallislanders' can make it over!
Camus Arts Centre (formally St Edwards Church) will have its premiere performance during the Feis, this is a play called Illumination by Donna Worthington.
Lochaber BIG group (Business Improvement Group) facilitated by SAC came for the day on the 20th for a farm visit. The group is made up of local farmers who meet 3-4 times per year to discuss issues relating to the farming industry and ways of changing and modifing their business to hopefully make it more profitable. the weather was perfect, almost too hot! It was an interesting and very informative day. Thank you to Niall Campbell at SAC for organising the event and the farmers who gave up their time to come over for the day.
Shearing finished on the 14th and all ewes and lambs are now back on the hill where they will stay till the lamb sales begin, not long now!
Hope to see lots of you over for the Feis.
ISLE OF RUM
There's so much going on, our events calendar is full to bursting! Rum hosted the Small Isles Games this year and we welcomed very big teams off boats from the opposition - what can I say, there were a lot of children, Rum's chances of taking the trophy on home turf were diminishing by the second. We had a solitary visitor from Canna, but like the other teenagers, took advantage of the main event which turned out to be lounging on the grass. Muck were the overall winners, swiftly followed by Eigg, but Rum did win the tug o' war, we beat all comers including the menacing team from the mainland. The evening ceilidh was a stormer, which is what you would expect when Ross, Tam and Gabe take the stage, supported by Paul Thompson on the drum and who was that piper (Angus Binnie)? And who let him loose with the microphone, can't say we've had Bob Marley at a ceilidh for a while!
Next up was the Screen Machine, what heaven to be able to go the pictures on a Friday night, well I was actually on the mainland but everyone else thoroughly enjoyed it, so please please come back Screen Machine (and bring Star Trek next time).
Last weekend was the second annual Midgefest, yes, some midges did make a guest appearance too, there was a good turn out including RangerTommy from Knoydart with a squad. Lots of arts, crafts, a treasure hunt and Rangermikes biodiversity games, which were enjoyed by the throng of children.
TV crews were two a penny this month. We had BBC Alba, The One show and BBC Scotland filming a variety of things, made us all feel very special.
The builders are still down at our lovely Harris Lodge making repairs to the roof, big thanks to Paul Thompson, Billy, Galen and Steve Brook and of course Tam, the foreman...for all the hard work they're putting in.
Big tides this month so a few of us tried our hand at fishing in the river, not very successfully though. After a couple of hours, the river gained a few extra spinners but we all went home empty handed and hungry, except Marcel (uber fisherman) who went to Kilmory and came back with an armful of good sized seatrout.
Next month we have more ceilidhs to look forward too and not forgetting the weekly craft and market fair for all your lovely pressies and yummy things.
A big Rum welcome to Casey and Jed and a special mention to Nell who flew to America and went to a Taylor Swift gig in Philadelphia.
ISLE OF EIGG
With the fantastic weather continuing in July, Eigg has been at its best for our summer visitors. The combination of heat and rain has made for abundant growth and in Cleadale, the meadowsweet has taken over the hay fields, with their creamy plumes filling the balmy summer evening with their heady scent.
We are missing Donald's cows however as the loss of his herd means no more close cropping on our doorstep! This is hampering the boules tournament at Laig and John the Post is finding hard to adapt his style to sandy conditions…. Rogue sheep are now welcome on his patch!
Eigg's farmers market has been very well attended so far, with record selling of ice cream and Dan's Scottish antipasto at Galmisdale Bay has also proved very popular. The Littlest Gallery in the West coast has also its fair share of visitors, and watch out for the "Exceptional Soup" now available in Cleadale! However, what has happened to the mackerel? No show so far, and there is a worry that the lack of sand-eels is also affecting sea-birds and other marine life…
Farmwise , clipping is well underway, with many helpers' hands making light work! At Laig, our Spanish and French volunteers have been introduced to the skills of shearing, crogging and rolling, whilst at Sandavore's Lawrence has been showing how it's done the old Muck way, ie barefeet!
Loads of birthdays this month, Meggie, Saira, Erin, Mia and Catriona as well as George, Jacqueline (happy 21st from us all! ) and Donna! As if we needed any excuses for beach bonfires and scrumptious feasts, although as far as I know Meggie is getting the prize for the biggest number of birthday cakes, no less than three, all huge!
It's been a lovely month, what with the singing group at the Glebe Barn inviting us all to sing with them, Mystery Juice who rocked the island - including the debut of the not quite teenage duo, the "biker boys" aka David and Finn (thanks to Donna's music workshops this month) . This was followed by Blaze, who ended their West Coast Old Rockers Tour on Eigg (Mick Jagger, you're not the only one who can still do it!) with Ian Leaver giving John Travolta a run for his money on the dance floor, and of course our Pictish Trail boys, fresh (well almost) from their Glasto success. We also had the visit of tall ship Lady of Avenel, courtesy of the Cape Farewell project, and it was a lovely sight to see her anchored on Laig Bay and very interesting to visit her once she had made it to Galmisdale pier. Another highlight was the arrival of the Highland Film truck Screen Machine to Eigg: it was a real treat to sit in the plush red seats of the surprisingly capacious film truck and have a real cinema experience at the top of our pier!
It's been a very sociable month for friends and family visits, with many familiar Eigg friends around, some from as far as Holland, and for once, we did not have to say: "if only you had come last week, the weather was so beautiful!' It was just so nice to enjoy the long summer evenings on the beach without a midge in sight!
It's been a great last few weeks on Eigg for Grace, Erin and Heather who are moving to Morar as Erin will be attending Mallaig High. Sad to see them go, but they won't be far, and we wish them the best in their mainland venture. Sad also to say goodbye to the Kendrick family who have now moved back to the mainland. We hope to see them again soon, but in the meantime we promise to keep the Green Drink concept up! A great way to discuss meaningful topics in a relaxed way! Next month, watch out for more music events on Eigg, the return of Gabe and Damien for our Pier session, a talk about an MPA fro Marine Mammals in our part of the world and a plastic art residency with James Gow at the end of the month.
'Blush' the seagull chick has found national fame after it was rescued from Mallaig by the SSPCA (who have named it). Obviously the target of a stupid and cruel 'joke', the young bird has been sprayed with something pink - though experts can't discover what it is nor can they remove it, even though they have experience in cleaning birds from all sorts of oil. Blush can't be released back into the wild until it moults these feathers as other birds would attack it. Luckily it is unharmed by the paint. Thanks to Ashley MacDonald for sending the photo taken by Kelsey MacBeth.
Marion Affleck sent us this photo of a pine marten which she took in her Mallaig garden last year, and which has been posted on their facebook page by The Vincent Wildlife Trust, which is concerned with the welfare and conservation of Pine Martens. They give Mallaig a mention too, along with a summary of the photo.
Arisaig Highland Games on Wednesday 31st July
Arisaig Games 2013 was another successful day for Arisaig and the wider community. Lochaber Schools Pipe band led the Parade through the village at 10.30am watched by an enthusiastic crowd of tourists and villagers alike. the Pipe Band then led a parade round the Games Field, followed by Ranald, 24th Captain and Chief of Clanranald; his Lieutenant Rodney Allen MD, Lt. Col. (Retd) US Army and wife Diane from North Carolina; Donald MacLaren, Chief of MacLaren (Balquidder); Hector MacDonald of Borve, Cadet of Sleat; Esme Douglas, Standard Bearer; and Allan MacDonald, Chairman Arisaig Games. Allan MacKenzie, Cape Breton, 'Piped the Call' to Clanranald to address and open the Games.
Lochaber Schools Pipe band march through the village.
Esme Douglas, 9, from Newcastle, raised the Arisaig Games Flag and Margaret MacLellan, Mingarry, sang the opening song, Oran Eile don Phrionnsa, composed by Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair.
The crowd was truly international, judging by the many foreign languages to be heard. Arisaig Games Committee is very appreciative of its sponsor, Adelphi, owners of the new Ardnamurchan Distillery at Glenbeg, for the very generous support, both financially and personally by its Directors, who recognise the great historical contribution Highland culture makes to the wider world.
Tommy MacEachen, Arisaig, was presented with a special award at the Arisaig Highland Games by Allan MacDonald.
Tommy, at 77, has been competing at the games for 60 years!
Photos by Arthur Campbell
We are also very proud of our Committee workers, who have shown dedication, ability and flair to organise and deliver a Games of outstanding quality for the enjoyment of visitors and locals alike.
(See more photos on www.arisaighighlandgames.co.uk)
Christine Haynes and Pauline Elwell, Morar, with the panel theyhave sewn for the Great Tapestry of Scotland. This panel is entitled Gaelic Resurgence.
Second Highland Seashore Roadshow a success at Traigh beach
Photos by Angus Macintyre
A busy day in the beach
A temporary 'beach village' of marquees, stalls and displays was created at Traigh Beach near Arisaig last Wednesday (24 July) as part of the second Highland Seashore Roadshow encouraging people to enjoy and learn about the Highlands' seashores.
Over 120 attendees enjoyed the activities and displays on offer, including:
- Magical storytelling from George MacPherson, world-renowned storyteller.
- An interactive stall run by Gemma and Kerry from the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust - including a sperm whales tooth!
- Sand-sculpting from well-known local artist Greg Dobson.
- Bird-watching with ornithologist Steven MacDonald, equipped with a telescope.
- Puzzles and activities - including a beach scavenger hunt - run by The Highland Council Countryside Rangers Angus MacIntyre and Fiona MacLean.
- Talks from biologist James Merryweather, who explored the finds of the scavenger hunt under microscope.
- Making multi-coloured crabs with Janet, The Highland Seashore Project Coordinator, and her assistant Callum.
The sand-sculpting competition saw families and children from across the country construct dolphins, minke whales, mermaids, giant star fish, crabs and ornate castles on the beach. The entries were judged by Ranger Angus MacIntyre and artist Greg Dobson. The winners of the children's prize were Harris and Coen Gillies, for their giant star fish. The winning entry in the 'Family' category was given to the diving dolphins, made by the Graham and Robinson families from Perth.
The winners of the sand-sculpting competition were the diving dolphins
by the Graham and Robinson families from Perth.
A lobster in the making
Highland Seashore Project Coordinator, Janet Ullman said: "The Roadshow at Traigh Beach was a brilliant day, despite the windy weather! The people who attended were mesmerized by George's storytelling; amazed at the size of the sperm whales tooth and baleen brought along by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust; fascinated by amazingly diverse microscopic life James found on the scavenger hunt; entertained and educated by the Rangers, Steven the ornithologist and Highland Seashore Project team; and well-fed by Claire Gunner and her team of cooks.
"It was fantastic to see so many people enjoying the coast, learning about our delicate seashores, and creating lasting memories. I want to extend a huge thank you to The Highland Council Countryside Rangers and all of the local groups, charities and experts who have been involved and who work so hard to provide information, access, research and protection for our coasts. It would not be possible without them."
The Highland Seashore Project was launched in February, 2013. It is run by The Highland Biodiversity Partnership and has been funded by The Highland Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Crown Estate Marine Stewardship Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR
Two extra lengths of pontoon (costing £26,000) should be placed in-situ later this month in the south-west corner of the existing pontoon structure. This will enable all the locally owned small boats, of which there are quite a few, to be moored up in the one area. This will release berthage for visiting yachts.
A Wi-Fi service is now available to yachting personnel using the pontoon. It became fully operational on Tuesday 23rd July and if you click on "Pontoon Wi-Fi" it should magically appear!
The grand naming ceremony and launching of the Harbour's new 6 metre Pioneer-multi launch - courtesy of MV Fame - passed by unnoticed last month but its purchase should assist the harbour workforce in a variety of tasks like lighthouse maintenance, pier and ladder inspection, moorings inspection, pontoon cleaning etc., etc.
Friday the 12th of July marked the second birthday of the 1,000 tonne capacity feed storage shed on Mallaig Pier. The shed has been extremely well used over the past 24 months with over 54,000 tonnes of fish farm feed being stored for onward transmission to the fish farm sites on the west coast of Scotland and Shetland.
Here's a photo from a bye gone era courtesy of Mr Steve Simpson, Harlington. It shows the kippering girls knitting on Mallaig Pier as they await the arrival of the silver darlings.
MALLAIG LIFEBOAT LOG
A busy busy month for the Mallaig Lifeboat called into action on eight different occasions during the seventh month of the year.
Sunday 7th July: It was a beautiful morning when at 07.40 hrs the Mallaig Lifeboat was launched to go to the assistance of a 10 metre yacht called Curadh suffering engine problems south of Mallaig. With no engine and no wind to sail back to Mallaig, the Curadh had requested Lifeboat assistance via Stornoway Coastguard.
Once alongside the yacht (at 07.55), two of the technically minded Lifeboat crew boarded Curadh and investigated the engine problem. After bleeding the fuel system the engine restarted. As a precaution the yacht returned to Mallaig under her own steam to see if the problem would recur, but with all systems functioning the three man crew of the Curadh decided to try again and at 08.50 hrs departed Mallaig to continue a southward passage. Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 08.40 hrs.
Monday 15th July: At the request of the Mallaig Harbour Master via the Launching Authority, the Lifeboat was launched at 1615 hrs to assist in the berthing of the deep water trawler Aquarius which had suffered complete engine failure. The towing vessel Adventurer II had towed Aquarius all the way from Rockall but was unable to enter Mallaig Harbour due to its deep draught and state of the tide. With Adventurer II at the Harbour entrance, the tow rope was handed over to the Lifeboat for the last mile into harbour. With gentle tugs on the tow rope, Aquarius glided nicely onto the end of the fish pier and was made secure alongside at 17.10 hrs. Lifeboat ready for service at 17.30 hrs.
Wednesday 17th July: Mallaig Lifeboat tasked by Stornoway Coastguard at 21.30 hrs to convey an injured person from the Isle of Rum to the mainland. The casualty had suffered a badly lacerated hand which required hospital treatment. As it was a fairly calm evening the Lifeboat only took thirty five minutes to arrive at Rum and, with the casualty awaiting on the pier side, was soon heading back to Mallaig. Arriving there at 22.35 hrs, the casualty was handed over to Ambulance personnel for onward conveyance to the Belford Hospital in Fort William.
Friday 19th July: Mallaig's Severn Class Lifeboat was launched at 17.33 hrs at the request of Stornoway Coastguard to go to the assistance of the yacht Free Will aground in the entrance to Kinlochmoidart. Whilst entering the channel to Kinlochmoidart, the skipper of Free Will navigated the wrong side of a large rock and found himself in a tight corner and was quickly swept onto a flat reef by the ebbing tide. Fortunately weather conditions were benign and the yacht soon settled on the reef. When the Mallaig Lifeboat arrived on scene (18.20 hrs), the 9 metre yacht was high and dry with its two occupants and their dog on board other craft that had reacted to the call for assistance. With the yacht's anchor reset, it was agreed that nothing could be done but await the turn of the tide in the early hours. The Lifeboat then transported the two casualties and their dog to Mallaig for an overnight stay. A local fisherman at Ardtoe agreed to monitor Free Will's refloating in the early hours and this he did, taking the boat to Ardtoe once it had floated free to await collection by her owners!
Monday 22nd July: Stornoway Coastguard requested the launch of the Mallaig Lifeboat to go to the assistance of the yacht Autumn Child aground in Glenuig Bay. Whilst entering Glenuig Bay to moor for the night, the 9 metre yacht struck a submerged rock and became hard fast on a falling tide. When the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 21.15 hrs some thirty minutes after launch, Autumn Child's two man crew had taken to their inflatable so were safe but, with the tide falling, it was not long before Autumn Child listed over onto the reef at a very precarious angle. The yacht slipped into a narrow cleft and was literally being kept afloat by the weight of her keel. Her bilge was unsupported, with a gap of 2 - 3 feet to the nearest hard. It was obvious that the yacht would flood through the cockpit on the next rising tide so a plan to prevent this was hatched. An 'eureka' moment from one of the Lifeboat crew then followed, suggesting the deflation of the large Avon fenders and positioning them under the bilge, making them secure under and over the hull. The fenders were carefully set in position using the Y-boat oars and with the ropes gingerly passed over and under so as not to upset Autumn Child's list.
Once in position, the fenders were re-inflated using the Y-boat's footpump. As a further precaution, a search of a Glenuig resident's garden resulted in the crew acquiring three fence posts by kind permission of the villager who must have been surprised to find three RNLI crew members at his door at half past midnight! So with fence posts as props, fenders re-inflated and the casualties in the local hotel, the Lifeboat returned to station to change crew and plan an early morning monitor and hopefully recovery of Autumn Child on the flood tide.
Tuesday 23rd July: Launched at 05.20 hrs to go to the aid of the yacht Autumn Child that had run aground on a falling tide at Glenuig the previous evening. Vessel was successfully re-floated, all gear recovered and subsequently towed back to Mallaig. Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 09.20 hrs.
Tuesday 23rd July: The second call out of the day occurred at 14.30 hrs with the Lifeboat called to assist a local creel boat which had suffered engine failure. On scene at 14.50 hrs, the Lifeboat quickly established a tow line and towed the 9 metre Sangsara back to Mallaig, arriving there at 15.30 hrs.
Wednesday 24th July: it was a clear, cloudless sky when the Mallaig Lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat launched at 10.15 hrs heading for Loch Moidart to aid the yacht Bribon which was hard aground and listing over on a reef on the south shore of Eilean Shona within Loch Moidart. The three crew had abandoned the vessel but, with Bribon listing well over onto the starboard side, steps were taken to ensure that the 9 metre yacht would float off the reef on the next tide.
For the second time in two days, the Lifeboat's larger fenders were brought into use and positioned under Bribon's bilge and secured, so with nothing more to be done, the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig with the casualties and their tender to await the incoming tide.
At 17.30 hrs - two hours before high water - the lifeboat returned to Loch Moidart to find Bribon at the point of floating clear of the reef. Two crew members and the yacht's skipper boarded the casualty and made ready to come clear and recover fenders and anchors. Unfortunately, one fender would not come free and was at risk of flooding the propeller. As a precaution, Bribon was towed to Mallaig Marina so that a local diver could free the obstruction.
Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 22.15 hrs.
ON AND OFF THE RAILS
Last Month's Competition
Many thanks for all the entries to last month's competition to win a copy of West Highland Line, published by Amberley Publishing and written by John McGregor. The correct answer to my question was 122.75 miles, and all the entries had the right answer! However, only two lucky people were pulled out of the hat. These were Duncan Johnston from Dalmally, and Susan MacIntyre from Helensburgh. Congratulations to both of you, your books will be sent in the post direct from me.
Harry Potter and the Steam Train of Gold
Did any of you peruse the two page article, headlined as above, in The Scottish Sun on Sunday on July 21st 2013? Earlier in the week, travelling on the afternoon Jacobite, we were visited by a photographer and reporter commissioned by the paper to report on the journey, talk to passengers about their observations of the Jacobite package and interview local businesses. The result was a very well observed article. The 'glitch' was that the large photograph (one of ten used) in colour of the train crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct and captioned as such was in fact Loch nan Uamh! Oops! John MacMillan, happily smiling, was given a head and shoulders colour shot, and the new businesses in the Morrison Building and the Chlachain were well reviewed. All in all an informative article, well written, and as the headline said 'a Steam Train of Gold'. How true that is, both for Mallaig and for West Coast Railway.
Scottish Memories Magazine - August edition
Talking of local publicity, the edition of the above magazine, out now, is a 'Railways Special'. There are lots of references, articles and adverts identifying with this area, and the Road to the Isles, Arisaig's Land, Sea & Islands Centre, Glenfinnan Musuem, Mallaig Heritage Centre and 'working on the West Highland Line' all get good credits.
There is also a Scottish Rail Preservation Society (www.srpsrailtours.com) advert for the departing journey of the steam engines and coaches, as an excursion, to close the 2013 Jacobite season. The date is Saturday October 26th, and full details of this southbound journey over the West Highland Line can be obtained on the website or by telephoning 0131 202 1033. why does that make me feel a little bit sad? Haste ye back West Coast! - but of course there are many journeys left yet between now and the end of October!
The last afternoon Jacobite of 2013 will be on Friday August 30th, the Royal Scotsman continues to visit us on a regular basis, Pathfinder tours will visit again later in theyear as will UK Rail Tours, Statesman Rail, etc.
Nor should we forget the ever reliable ScotRail services. So often, as I travel between stations as Station Adopter doing my gardening, I see children from Mallaig travelling to and from Fort William for a day out. It teaches them to form the habit of travelling by rail, hopefully for life.
Visiting ex-BR Southern Region Driver
Colin Saunders from Portsmouth, formerly a driver with British Rail for 49 years, and his son Ian were guests aboard The Jacobite steam train recently. They travelled up from their homes in Portsmouth, bringing with them a wreath to put on the front of the engine. A week earlier Colin's mother, Gwen, died, and Ian's wife Michelle had a special wreath made for the occasion.
L to r: Colin Saunders, driver Bobby Duncan, Iasn Saunders and the Jacobite team
at Glenfinnan with the Black 5 44871 bearing the wreath.
Photo Steve Roberts
Both Colin and Ian are friends of Colin Green, who is a boilermaker at Ian Riley's Locomotive Works in Bury, Lancs, and Colin S. does firing turns during The Jacobite season. Both Ian and Colin had turns at firing Black 5 no. 44871, with driver Bobby Duncan at the controls. They would like to thank both old friends and new for making their stay in Lochaber a memorable one. Ian's wife Michelle is expecting their first child on October 13th, so congratulations from all The Jacobite team!
See you on the train.
(Ed: a printing error means that the August competition in the printed paper will be re-run in September)
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
A fairly typical July, with lots of newly fledged birds appearing and waders passage starting to build towards the end of the month.
A single Black-tailed Godwit appeared in the field at Traigh on the 1st, presumably it was the same bird that was seen on several occasions in or near the same field until the month end at least.
Returning Whimbrel were seen and heard from the 17th. on the same day there were at least 12 summer plumaged Dunlin on the shore at Traigh, plus several Golden Plover resting on the rocks just offshore. A few more Storm Petrels seen in the Sound of Sleat during the month, but relatively small numbers of other sea birds, with most feeding farther offshore from here. towards the end of the month. However, many of the Razorbills and Common Guillemots seen in the Sound of Sleat had chicks with them.
Breeding Terns had mixed fortunes. There were good numbers of newly fledged Arctic and Common Tern from the offshore islands at Traigh, while the Terns at the mouth of Loch Nevis produced very few chicks this year.
On the 27th, a Red-breasted Merganser with a brood of 12 small chicks was seen at the west end of Loch Morar.
Long-eared Owls were heard calling near Silver Sands mid-month, and on the 22nd at least one adult and 2 fledged juveniles were seen just as it was getting dark.
A Lesser Redpoll that was bearing a metal ring was found freshly dead at Rhubana View, Morar, on the 26th May and was found to have been ringed at Brandon, Suffolk, on the 22nd December 2012.
Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
My thanks go to Catherine Hepburn for sending this photo to West Word and asking about Burnet Moths.
The life cycle description and some of the other details come from the Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland and the AA Book of the British Countryside.
From the very clear photo which Catherine took, l think this is a Six-spot Burnet Moth (Zygaena filipendulae) for the following reasons. The 6 red spots on each of this moth's greenish-black front pair of wings, are arranged in three distinct pairs, with the pair nearest the body separated by a vein but looking like one spot. The Six-spot Burnet Moth is the most widespread of the 7 species of Burnet Moths found in the British Isles. It can be distinguished from the Five-spot Burnet Moth whose spots are arranged in 2 pairs, with the 5th spot always the odd one nearest the wing tip.
The wing colours can vary with the direction of the light as the colour is not a pigment, but is created by the layered structure of the scales which cover the wings. The arrangement of the scales interferes with the light waves, like a thin layer of oil on a wet road does. In a rare form the red colour is instead yellow.
Burnet Moths are found as caterpillars (= larvae) from August to June, in flowery grasslands usually coastal in Scotland. Sometimes a larva may overwinter twice, presumably this depends on the food supply and temperatures. The green caterpillars of all the 7 species of Burnet Moths found in the UK, look very similar and rely mainly on camouflage for protection. They pupate in early summer and the remains of the chrysalis (pupal) case hanging out of a cocoon may be seen on a grass or other plant stem in the mid-summer. Adults are on the wing between June to August, often feeding on thistles and knapweed. Burnet moths live in colonies, thus if you see one, the chances are there may be more nearby.
The main food plants of the Burnet Moth caterpillars are bird's foot trefoil which contains cyanide derivatives, and vetches. The cyanide substances are retained when the caterpillar metamorphoses through the pupal stage and into the adult moth. If attacked, Burnet Moths exude a yellow fluid which contains hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid). The moths are not harmful to humans - unless eaten ! The poison deters birds and other predators, once tasted they learn to avoid eating these brightly-coloured moths which are able to be day-flying as a consequence.
On Mull the endemic Slender Scots Burnet Moth (Zygaena loti scotica) is found at a few coastal grassland sites. When Uncle Jim was in charge of The National Trust for Scotland's (NTS) Conservation Volunteers, he led several work parties to clear bracken and whin to improve the habitats for this rare Burnet Moth - and it worked !
Dr Mary Elliott
Paul Waring & Martin Townsend (2009) Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. 2nd Edition
The AA (1973) Book of the British Countryside.
ALASDAIR MAC MHAIGHSTIR ALASDAIR
Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair (c. 1698 - 1770) is renowned as the finest Gaelic language poet of the 18th century. He also served as as a officer in the Jacobite army and is said to have tutored Prince Charles Edward Stuart. He is also known as 'The Clanranald Bard.' He is buried in Arisaig Cemetery.
Visitors to West Lochaber who have an interest in the Gaelic culture of the area are in for a treat this year as 2013 has seen the long awaited publication of Alexander MacDonald, bard of the Gaelic Enlightenment by the Islands Book Trust. Edited by Camille Dressler from Eigg's cultural venture 'Ealan nan Eilean/Island Arts' and Domhnall Uilleam Stiubhart of Edinburgh University, the book is placing the famous 18th century Moidart poet in the cultural and political context of his times, as well as providing some thought provoking insights in his poetry by a number of well-known Gaelic scholars and poets.
A book to dip into as you travel around the area, it will open a whole new window on the life and times of this huge Scottish cultural icon, who deserves to be better known and appreciated by the wider public, and whose peripatetic life encompassed many well-known locations from Strontian, Dalilea and Glenfinnan to Arisaig, Canna and Knoydart.
The book is available in all good bookstores including the Isle of Eigg Craftshop or on line at theislandsbooktrust.com at the price of £15.
The bright front cover shown here gives a likely buyer the idea of a quality product. On the back cover, Scottish government money and a European fund for rural development explains the low price of £15.
Based on three gatherings of scholars, poets and musicians at Glenfinnan, Strontian and Canna, this is a bargain - full of good things.
There is another connection. Around the time of the 2010 Arisaig Games Elizabeth MacDonald led a group of us over Rhu (terrible weather!) to the home of Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair. The booklet she produced lacked a photo of that ruin on the shore of Loch nan Uamh, so it is good to see Sandaig as her contribution to the present volume.
Donald William Stewart heads up the scholars, sharing his time between Edinburgh University and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. Co-editor Camille Dressler was the driving force who brought all this together, stage by stage, but she also displays learning of her own. Quoting chapter and verse she concludes that 'John Lorne Campbells work on Alasdair was absolutely crucial in changing the Victorian perceptions about the poet and helping in his rehabilitation as one of Gaeldom's literary heroes in the 20th century.' Paired with this chapter is another by Magda Sagarzazu, who cared for Mrs Campbell in her last years and still cares for the couple's great collection in Canna House. Here she itemises JLC's many writings on the bard. The only person to contribute two chapters (while also presenting many Oban Times letters in a dispute about Mac Mhaistir Alasdair's birth place) is Dr Ronald Black. He wears his learning lightly as a journalist for Scotland's national newspaper as well as Am Pàipear in South Uist. From there the West Highland mainland was the subject of Alasdair's Fàilte na Mòrthir, 'Song to Morar', which leads to a fascinating inquiry into spellings and meanings in connection with the place where many of us live. For the poet, this work is partly an expression of 'personal relief at leaving a bad place behind and going to Morar'.
As is only right, poets respond to what one of them calls 'Alasdair's display of verbal magic'. Another offers a 'contemporary and subversive translation' of what he wrote about reaching Knoydart - before Morar - after being expelled from somewhere outside the West Word area:
No more of your acid rain,
Used needles or cheap and nasty duty free
Or your fleas eating me alive
(Hornets, clegs and midges and all).
Since I've come and settled in Inverie
Things have definitely taken a turn
And everything that gave grief
Back there, I've gotten rid of.
This prompts a bow in the direction of Councillor Michael Foxley who, in a lively and political introduction, makes connections with everything from bilingual road signs to Gaelic medium schools. He presents the 18th century warrior bard as an environmentalist before his time (the nature poetry) and a supporter - from some Gaelic version of the Parnassian heights - of community buy-outs.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
Where do you read yours? We want to know!
Either at home or on holiday, please send us your photo!
No complaints of being left behind this month!
Simon and Claire Whitton were a long way from Morar on a cruise to Norway when they bumped into Roy Walker of Catchphrase fame!
Has that well known clown run away to the circus at last? We hope not! Roger Lanyon from Mallaig was camping with his wife Liz and the Stirling branch of Famille Lanyon at Camping Le Gurp in the Gironde, France.
Tony Sangan, Brogan Sangan and Ian Dempster from Mallaig took their copy on tour in St Malo, France
Ailidh and her father Stuart Veitch took us to Nepal, trekking in the Himalayas for charity Children Unite that works with child domestic workers in Nepal. The Annapurna South mountain is behind them. Ailidh and her family began holidaying in Roshven 40 years ago and have been coming regularly ever since, forging close friendships with local families. Children Unite (www.childreunite.org.uk) is a charity Ailidh has recently established. Trekking volunteers are welcome!
Arisaig's Kevin Kane went is deep into his copy in Ramelton, Donegal -
- while sister Catherine took hers to Dublin where she and husband Steve celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. Congratulations both!
Grace Coull and Audrey Mckay are sunning themselves - on the Riviera? No - in Mallaig! They took the opportunity to read West Word and have a blether (now there's surprise) outside the Community Centre on 19th July, enjoying some summertime tea and cakes organised in aid of the sponsored walk in aid of Cancer Research, Highland Hospice and Archie's Foundation.
Jim Morton was off on his travels from Mallaig again, this time visiting Pamplona in Northern Spain at the feast of St Fermon.
No, that isn't him in front of the Bull Run - he's taking the photo three stories up!!
Arisaig Colleen MacLean is relaxing with her copy in Spain in early June after walking 142 km of El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James). No wonder she has her feet up!
On a recent trip to Stroud, Sonia Cameron took a copy to show Alick Crick, publicist's assistant, Amberley Publishing. Thanks to her, there is another book competition on Sonia's On & Off the Rails column this month. (Photo courtesy of Amberley Publishing.)
Kin Connections by Marlene MacDonald Cheng (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In this issue I will share with you the genealogy of another Gillies/Gillis family from whom I descend, that of Donald (Oban) Gillies and his wife Ann MacDonald. Donald (Oban) Gillies was born in Oban, Scotland, a small hamlet south-west of the head of Loch Morar; note that 'Oban' means 'little bay' in Gaelic, and indeed the hamlet of Oban does look out over a small bay. Donald (Oban) was the son of Hugh (Eoghainn) Gillies and Mor MacEachen. Hugh was an independent land owner in Morar from the mid to late 1700s. Donald (Oban)'s paternal grandfather was Big Donald of Oban (Dòmhnull Mór an Obain) who owned the tack of Oban from the MacDonalds of Morar. Dómhnull Mór fought at the Battle of Culloden in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Donald (Oban) was married to Ann MacDonald of Knoydart, Scotland. Ann was strong of character and equally robust in body. She was the perfect wife for a man who wished to cross the ocean to tackle the 'forest primeval' of Nova Scotia. Donald (Oban) and his wife Ann left Scotland in the Spring of 1801 on a ship called "The Dove of Aberdeen", accompanied by their two young sons, Alexander (age 3) and Hugh (age 2), and Donald's niece Margaret Gillies (daughter of Donald's sister Catherine and her husband Malcolm Gillies, also of Morar). Ann was well along in pregnancy at the time of departure. Unfortunately, the newborn could not survive the stresses of the journey and died. You can imagine the devastated feelings of the parents as they buried their wee one in the watery depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
It is likely that the family spent the first winter with relations on the Gulf Shore of Nova Scotia. In the Spring of 1802 they made their way to a beautiful spot of land beside the South River of Antigonish County which became known as Dunmore (Dùn Mór). They worked hard, with help from some of the relations, and by winter had a rude cabin in which to live. Donald (Oban) and Ann were the very first people to settle on that piece of land, and it was there that their family of eleven children grew to adulthood. The names of their children were Alexander and Hugh (mentioned above), Donald, John, Andrew, Catherine, Christina, Mary, Ann, Margaret, and Sarah. Note that I shall now use the spelling 'Gillis' for the family name, as that was how it was spelled in Nova Scotia.
Alexander (Oban) Gillis, son of Donald (Oban) Gillis and Ann MacDonald, lived his entire life on a piece of land at the rear of his parents' property (now known as "the MacIntosh farm". He was married to Margaret MacLellan, daughter of Archie (pioneer) MacLellan, a Morar man, and his wife Mary MacDonell, a Glengarry woman. Alexander and Margaret had six children - Joseph, Michael, Mary, Ann, Isabella, and Catherine.
Hugh (Oban) Gillis, son of Donald (Oban) Gillis and Ann MacDonald, married Catherine macDonald, daughter of Donald MacDonald (mac Ailein) and Margaret Gillis, daughter of Donald Bàn Gillis. Hugh (Oban) and Margaret MacDonald had seven children - Mary (Oban), John (Oban), Margaret (Peggy Oban), Hugh, Catherine, Andrew, and Angus. This family is renowned for the longevity of it's members. Almost all lived well into their 80s and several of them werre in their 90s when they passed away.
The eldest child of Hugh (Oban) and Margaret MacDonald, Mary, is my great-great-grandmother. She married John MacDonald (Iain mac Uisdein, Gaothdail or Guidale). Mary's husband, John's sloinneadh (male ancestors) was: Iain mac Uisdein 'ic Aonghais 'ic Iain Óg 'ic Iain (Fear Gaothdail) ( that is, John son of Augustine, son of Angus, son of Young John, son of John (Man of Guidale)). This is my MacDonald ancestry; Mary's husband, John, was my great-great-grandfather.
Donald Gillis, son of Donald (Oban) Gillis and Ann MacDonald, moved as a young man to the Margaree Valley of Cape Breton. He married Margaret MacNeil, daughter of Alexander MacNeil (Saor) of Broad Cove Ponds (now St. Rose), Cape Breton. In 1852 he and Margaret moved their family to the Codroy Valley, Newfoundland. Their children (nine sons and several daughters) were very entrepreneurial, owning boats (several were seafarers) and operating other mercantile businesses. All the Gillis children did well for themselves.
John Gillis, son of Donald (Oban) Gillis and Ann MacDonald, married Margaret Gillis, daughter of Angus (Kinlochmorar) Gillis of Fraser's Mill, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. They had eight children - Donald, Alexander, Hugh, John, Hugh Óg, Mary, Ann, and Catherine. The family lived for a time in Lochaber, Antigoniish County, but in the 1850s they moved to Colchester County, Nova Scotia, leaving behind their son John who was brought up by his maternal grandparents who lived at Fraser's Mills, Antigonsih County. Later in life (after his grandparents died), this John moved to Giant's Lake, Guysborugh County, Nova Scotia.
Andrew, the youngest of Donald (Oban)'s sons resided with his parents at Dunmore. He married Isabella Gillis, daughter of Big Angus (Aonghas Mór) Gillis who lived at Middle South River (west side). He sold his farm at Big Brook (An Uillt Mhóir) and in 1843 purchased land at Glen Alpine, North Lochaber. Andrew and Isabella lived to 67 years of married life. Andrew and Isabella had seven children - John, Hugh, Andrew, Donald, Angus, Christy, and Mary.
In my next article I will give the details for the female children of Donald (Oban) and Ann.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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