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

List of Issues online

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year
Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ůr!

December 2009 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Canna, Muck, Eigg, Arisaig, Mallaig
West Word ten years ago - Worldwide West Word - Birdwatch
Crofting Roundup & Fishing Focus
Local Genealogy & History

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

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

On Wednesday 11th November 2009, in beautiful weather, more than 200 people gathered on the waterfront in Arisaig to take part in the very moving and poignant ceremony at the new Memorial. Czech and Saltire flags fluttering in the breeze, the national two minute silence was followed by an opening speech by the Hon. Jan Fulík, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic.
The project was initiated by Czech honorary consul in Edinburgh Dr. Paul Millar, who also organised the collection for the construction of the memorial. Present with him were Czech dignitaries and veterans, including Colonel (retired) Jaroslav Klemeš, one of the last two living Czech parachutists, who was dropped into East Bohemia in February 1945. Also in attendance were veterans Czech Army General Tomas Sedlácek, and Slovak Lt Colonel Jan Bacik, who had also trained in Arisaig, and Major Gerhard Singer and Sgt Josef Švarc.
Jaroslav Klemeš, former trainee in Arisaig, after the unveiling of the Czech memorial on 11th November.

photo The Rt Hon. George Reid, former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and Lord High Commissioner 2008-2009, unveiled the monument by pulling away the silk parachute which had been draped over it. On behalf of Scotland, Reid thanked all Czech and Slovak volunteers who were trained near Arisaig, and, turning to the three Czech and Slovak veterans, said 'Welcome home' - a very emotional moment for them.
The monument was dedicated by the Rev Richard Begg and Father Andrew Barrett, and Col. Klemeš gave a speech, partly in English, partly in Czech translated by Dr Paul Millar, on his memories of those far off days when he was a trainee here. He told us that he and his comrades, once embarked on active duties, had a life expectancy of only a few months and carried poison pills to take if they were captured. The mood was lightened by his singing of a song composed by the trainees which consisted of the words 'Camusdarach Garramore' sung along to a popular tune. The crowd joined in with the singing, and he was accorded three cheers by the crowd.
A piper's lament and a further minute's silence then prayers preceded Dr Millar's recital of the famous poem 'The Life That I Have', composed by Leo Marks, SOE Head of Coding, for Violette Szabo, as a code for her to use if she was captured-which she was, and executed in France in 1945. (Violette was British, and trained in Inverie).

Colonel Angus Taverner, deputy commander of the 51st Scottish brigade, and Councillor Allan Henderson, paid tribute to the memory of the Czech paratroopers, and Col Taverner reminded us Czech and British troops are fighting together at the present time in Afghanistan.

Right: The veterans watch the proceedings.

Wreaths were laid by Arisaig & District Community Council, The 51st Scottish Brigade, The Royal British Legion (Fort William branch), the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the Association of Czechoslovak Legionaries Abroad.


The Rebel Pipers of the Czech Republic
The Fort William branch of the Royal British Legion
stood throughout with banners and flags

The wooden cross is in memory of Jan Kubiš and Josef Gabcík,
who assassinated SS Leader Heydrich.

The message from the people of Arisaig


On stage in the Astley Hall, Lt Col (ret'd) Jan Bacík received the Military Cross 1st Grade, the highest decoration, presented to him by the Hon. Jan Fulík, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic.
Dr Millar explains: 'It was felt that although he was not parachuted (he was injured during one of the last training drops before action), his subsequent bravery deserved the award. He was, in fact, to have been dropped with one of the teams which took part in the assassination of Heydrich. I think it was a great idea to award him with the MC in Arisaig. He was desperately moved and could not even speak.'
Mr Fulík then present Dr Millar with the commemorative medal of the Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic, for his efforts in planning and erecting the monument. Of this Paul said: 'This is one for the display cabinet. I deem it deserved by the team.'

Dr Paul Millar with wife Paula with his medal.

This magnificent cake, with its buttercream decoration was made by young Czechs living in England and driven up by them for the occasion. The strings of the parachute were made of dry spaghetti!

Arisaig Primary School pupils sang four spirited Gaelic songs, to the delight of the visitors.

Roslin of Arisaig Primary School has written down her thoughts about the day. We hope to print more about the event from pupils of the school next month.


Yesterday was Remembrance Day 11.11.09
R.d is a time when we remember all the soldiers that died in world war one and two. We also remember all the soldiers who died in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands. The thing that I remember the most was the two minutes silence. I remember it because my grandad died because of the war. He came back from the war and about twenty years later got a chest infection from his injurys in his lungs he got at the war. I remembered him in the two minutes silence.
I remember the soldiers had a cake presented to them in the Astley Hall after the ceremony.
I remembered the cake because the soldiers from the Second World War gave some of it to us because we sang for them. I thought the cake was delicious and it tasted like ice cream with chocolate and cream "yummy!"
I remembered the monument because all the soldiers and the Ambassadors of Czechoslovakia put poppys, medals and ribbons down to remember the soldiers who died in the war. There was a big ring of poppys.
I remembered the song because it was fun and I love singing.
We sang Smooch, Sharavkooiowan, Fakan do sourentavie and ive ata. They were all Gaelic songs and we learnt ive ata from Megan on the new Internet service GLOW.

On Remembrance Day, 11th November 2009, along with lots of others, I attended the unveiling of the memorial to the Czech and Slovak soldiers who trained as SOE agents in Arisaig 1942-43.
The location in the centre of the village is a fitting one and with the Scottish Saltire and the Czech flag fluttering in tandem, it was a proud day for Arisaig , but especially for the Hon Consul-General Paul Millar, Chairman of the Trustees of Czech Memorial, the true driving force behind the successful fund-raising, culminating in the provision of the splendid Memorial designed/sculpted by Josef Vajce.
It was a wonderful day and I'm sure the Czechs and Slovaks in attendance, whether dignitaries, current soldiers or soldiers of a bye-gone era were impressed by both the warmth of the reception accorded them and by the splendid turnout of locals and visitors to witness the occasion.
The flags carried by members of the Royal British Legion, Fort William, were lowered as the National Two Minutes Silence was impeccably observed, then the pipes and drums of the Rebel Pipers of the Czech Republic stirred the heart and mind as the dignitaries extended their countries' and their own words of praise for the SOE agents who trained in the area during the Second World War.
Religious messages and prayers were conducted by Fr Andrew Barrett and the Rev Richard Begg, but it was the Remembrance by Col Jaroslav Klemes recalling his time training in the Arisaig area, even singing a song they had composed - 'Camus-dar-ach, Camus-dar-ach, Garra-more, Garra-more, Hi Hi Hi' - that brought home the courage, bravery and dedication of those commandos who had a life expectancy of only three months and carried a poison pill in case they were captured by the Gestapo.
The reception and lunch in the Astley Hall which followed the unveiling of the Memorial starred the Arisaig Primary School Children's Choir singing Gaelic songs, but it was a proud and emotional occasion for veteran Lt Col Jan Bacik and Dr Paul Millar, who were both presented with medals from the Hon Jan Fulik, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Czech republic.
All in all, a great day for all concerned and it would be nice to think that on future Remembrance Days some form of commemorative service could be established in the village - after all, we have the perfect memorial to gather round.
The following extract is from a report on the Memorial Unveiling Ceremony from the Prague Post (the Czech English-language newspaper) and I'll let you guess who Czech artist Josef Vajce, designer of the granite sculpture , is referring to in this quote: 'When I was contacted to handle this task, it was a pleasure. I did it out of respect for our brave parachutists. The question was how to express myself. When I went to see Arisaig, I began to have doubts about what I could do, but the Mayor of Arisaig kissed me on the cheek and told me to trust my own skills.'
Mayor of Arisaig???
Robert MacMillan

Mallaig Harbour Authority is set to benefit to the tune of Ł465,000 via a grant from the European Fisheries Fund.
The money will be used to protect the steel piling in the harbour, badly affected by bacterial corrosion (often referred to as Accelerated Low Water Corrosion), by a properly designed and constructed Cathodic Protection System.
'It goes without saying that we are delighted with the award,' said Authority Port Manager Robert MacMillan, 'and the aim is to get the work done early in 2010.' He went on: 'The total cost of the project is Ł625,000, and corrosion prevention will be achieved through the fitting of cathodic protection anodes to the various structures that are currently suffering severe loss of thickness and structural integrity.'
Engineers on the project will be Wallace Stone, Glasgow.

After Hallow'een, the other great date in our children's calendar is bonfire night, And it was a nice night too, clear and dry to enjoy fireworks and the bonfire which was built at the pier near our Anniversary standing stone, with Stuart providing warming fare for all. Our youngsters also enjoyed fun and games at the hall for Logan Wallace's 6th birthday. Then came Remembrance Day with an opportunity for the Eiggaich to gather round Wes's monument at the Cleadale crossroad for the now customary reading of a moving choice of poems. The next event was Katie's 92nd birthday the following week-end and she certainly enjoyed her many visitors and the tunes played by Marie and Angus on the button box, so that it was well after midnight when she finally retired to bed!
A date has now been set for the winner's announcement for the Big Green Challenge, 13h January 2010, so not long now till we find out how well we fared in our effort to bring our carbon footprint down. Whatever the results, we will have learnt a lot in the process and gained awareness, experience and practical outcomes, the latest of which promises to be the establishment of a car club for our area, judging by the encouraging feedback from the first meetings. Tasha and Kathleen, our project officers, went down to London this month to meet up with the other Nesta contestants. They enjoyed meeting them, relating particularly strongly to the Welsh team, whose project had much in common with ours. One highlight was going to the House of Parliament and meet the green parliamentary team and see how it all works from the observers' gallery, very impressive to see democracy in action at such close range, they felt. Our island girls navigated the tube very well, but it was another story to cope with the throngs in Oxford Street at rush hour! It certainly beats the pier at boat times…Then it was home for Kathleen and for Tasha, another event, in Glasgow this time, Racism and Climate Change, where Lucy Scott made another of her inspiring presentations on how communities can work together to raise awareness of what can be done at local level.
The story of Eigg Going Green was also central to the debate on Carbon Neutral Islands I had to chair at the AGM of the Scottish Islands Federation in Oban this month. Islands in North Ayrshire are feeling a little left behind by what is happening in Highland and Argyll and Bute, and it was really heartening to hear how well the Community Powerdown scheme was doing in Mull. We also heard how GRAB, the recycling body in Argyll and Bute has find a way to recycle plastic, something that we have been investigating here without success. Energy efficiency in the home was another topic discussed and Sandy Brunton from Mull explained how the Argyll outlet of the Swedish company Lowergy is providing a really innovative low cost solution. Lastly, there seems to be a real opportunity for community forestry on islands to develop and consolidate their operations by working together to provide a range of affordable wood fuel.
Meanwhile Berni and Dean, Neil and Alasdair went to investigate wood processing machinery and wood fuel potential on the mainland as part of our Eigg wood fuel feasibility study. They came back full of enthusiasm and facts, and a considerably improved skill for 10 pin bowling, having been stuck on the mainland during this last spell of bad weather!
Neil and Alasdair took that opportunity to tour the fire fighting facilities in Fort-William, Neil having joined the Eigg fire brigade with Grace, Nora and Stuart (Millar), bringing the Eigg team to 10 at present from being down to 4 a while ago, which will allow adequate fire fighting cover for the island!
In spite of the gales which did create havoc with a few roofs, building work stills ploughs on, with the Cormack bothy now boasting water and heating in time for Andra, their first guest's arriving from the states in mid December) and Damian's straw bales walls shortly ready for erection, whilst at the Lodge, Nora and Bob's passive solar heating scheme cum greenhouse on the south wall promises to be very successful: a couple of fig trees are growing already in that sheltered area without any need for added protection so far! Meanwhile at the pier, Andrea Sadler's Clanranald bothy offers a new dimension in comfort for future holiday makers with her beautifully renovated bothy.
Finally, heartfelt congratulations to Fliss and Sandy on Rum on the arrival of their baby girl, Jocelyn! The first baby of the new Rum...
Camille Dressler

Amid the turmoil and tragedy of October, out of the blue arrived 'Dry Stane Duggie' the wall builder. Staying in one of the holiday cottages, Duggie was soon at work building up more than 50 metres of a dyke which stood when I was a boy but has not for many years. Muck is a basalt island and the rock weathers into stones which are rarely flat but more often hexagonal (see Fingal's Cave). So they are a challenge to any dyker but Duggie is up to it. He is building a better wall better than any of the many miles which surround the fields and have done so since the 1850's
November has certainly been a wet month though not particularly stormy. Several shooting parties have come to the island and managed to return on time two days later often on Sheerwater. There still seem to be lots of pheasants around though obviously numbers ate getting less as the season progresses. Nature would not support such a large number of birds so they have to be fed on wheat and barley. There are also plenty of geese around but even so the island is greener than usual at this time of year and the ewes are looking well, as are the cows but they are now on silage.
Christmas is approaching - the children are all preparing the school play - Bryan Gregg is back in the classroom sharing with Liz Boden. Great news! That is about all this month but I would like to wish West Word readers the very best for Christmas and 2010.
Lawrence MacEwen

November ended as it finished with some spells of fine sunshine and settled weather. Unfortunately the 25 days between saw around 300 mm of rain soak the island (that's 12 inches in the old language) smashing (or is that splashing?) previous recorded monthly totals. However Bonfire Night was a fine clear evening. The bonfire itself was a sight to behold. It burned so brightly that the fully orchestrated firework display was barely seen against the fires glare. It is amazing how damp pallets can burn. The 'Guy' was widely ridiculed - it had clearly taken many, many minutes to construct. Accompanying us during the celebrations were two gentlemen from Radio 4 who were recording 'Lives in the Landscape', so we all had to behave and keep the skeletons well hidden!
Our quest for new tenants for the cafe/restaurant reaches a climax this month. Shorlisted candidates have visited the island and after meeting with us still want to come and live here! Business plans have been presented which included sample menus that only lacked a scratch and sniff facility. It seems that whoever takes over the business will be attacking the rabbit population with gusto; all growers on the island will welcome that. If everything goes to plan the new tenants will be opening up for the spring.
Following advice from the British Geological Society in Edinburgh the Canna House gardener has been blowing his expenses on an odyssey to the Ross of Mull searching (without success) for pink round gravel to match the paths around the garden. Could it have been a 'jolly', a last fling of freedom before the National Trust for Scotland appoint a new manager to run the island? That post should be filled very soon. So there should be a second new household for the island to gossip about very soon. Talking of gossip, two island stalwarts are escaping Canna for a part of the winter. We all wished Sheila and John well during an early Christmas party that doubled as a farewell celebration, perhaps we celebrated a little too enthusiastically. I hope they remember to take their West Word with them to photograph in those exotic places - Heathrow airport is so photogenic. I have decided that if ever they ring from a sun soaked Australian beach to gloat I shall pretend that the weather on Canna has been fantastic since they left!
Whatever the weather the happy island of Canna sends a 'Nollaig Chrideil' a Merry Christmas to you all and a heartfelt thanks to everyone that has helped and encouraged us in 2009.
Neil Baker

I can only echo all the comments we've heard about the day of the unveiling of the Czech Memorial - wonderful, moving, entertaining, a day that made us all proud to be Arisaig. The ceremony was perfect, the reception excellent with good craic all round with everyone mingling and talking. Dr Paul Miller called it 'a magic day' and says he would love to live here! On top of it all there was the huge honour to the village that the Czech Republic chose Arisaig as the place to present Lt Col Jan Bacik with the Military Cross. He was so moved he could barely speak. It came as a complete surprise to everyone.
In this issue there are pages of photos, a first hand account in Personal Angle, and two letters on the Letters Page. I think there are still copies of the programme available in the churches if anyone wants one or extra copies. I'm hoping, at some time, to put together an extended service, with all the speeches in it - a bit difficult as some of them were 'off the cuff', but Dr Millar is 'on the case'. This, with photos and newspaper cuttings, will go into the Land, Sea & Islands Centre.
We hope there will be an annual service on Remembrance Day at the memorial, and that further links with the Czech Republic will be formed.
It could be an interesting year in the Land Sea & Islands Centre next year as we have a few new ideas for it. One of course is to include the Memorial ceremony information; another has come out of a wee meeting some of us had with Camille Dressler from Eigg, who organised the recent very successful conference and ceilidh in Strontian in September on the life and times of the famous 18th century bard, Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, who is buried in the cemetery in Arisaig. Camille got funding from LEADER for a trail leaflet and a book, and has been contacting the communities along the proposed trail for their input to the leaflet. She has also been trying to raise money to replace the old and faded sign at St Mary's concerning Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair. The renewed interest and more available information on the poet will be good for Arisaig as visitors love trails and it should bring more here to look at the memorial to him at the old chapel. I hope a spin off idea will tie the Land Sea & Islands Centre into this trail - more on that next year.
A well attended Christmas Craft and Produce Fair in the Hall brought the month to a close. The Produce Fairs last year were a great success and we look forward to starting them again in May; the annual Craft Fair in July has now established Arisaig on the Craft Fair circuit; and this combination leads us to hope that the Christmas Fair will become an annual event too. We experimented with the unusual open hours, hoping to catch all comers - the last hour was very quiet but otherwise it worked well.
The Community Council will be planning some fundraising events in the coming year. CCs are notoriously short of money, with just a small per capita grant from the Highland Council, and there are always demands on their purses. The Fireworks Display on November 5th always runs at a loss, for example; and after the Czech reception there is a shortfall of Ł2000+ to find to pay for it! So if you enjoyed the firework display, if you attended the Memorial unveiling ceremony and the reception, be prepared to support the fundraising!
Lovely to see people moving into the new houses at last after a long delay. It was depressing to see the buildings sitting there dark and empty but the residents are in in time to get ready for Christmas. More than a few people have said how dark it will be at Beasdale this year without Alastair and Mary's great display of Christmas lights - will any light up Canon Gillies Place I wonder?!
Another sad occasion this month as we said goodbye to Mary MacLean. Mary was part of the whelking team I was with over twenty years ago; many a time, after a day's picking, we sat amongst the rocks at the entrance to the north channel, looking across at Eigg and discussing all manner of things. Usually in the rain, sometimes in the snow, but cheese and pickle sandwiches and flask coffee never tasted better. We've lost quite a number members of our community over the last year or two and we are all the poorer for the loss of each one.
Ann Lamont

It's been a busy month for the Community Centre, starting with supporting the Community Council to run the Halloween dance on 31st October (after last month's deadline for West Word!). As usual, both the afternoon and evening parades went very well, and we're grateful to the Community Council for giving us the opportunity to run the bar in the evening. The Community Council also generously decided that we could keep all the profit from the day, which resulted in a welcome boost of Ł1,300 for our funds.
Later in the month, we hosted the launch of the Oral History Project's Wedding Dress Exhibition on 21st November. Brigitte put a lot of hard work into this, and the result was well worth it. There were around 25 dresses on the day, with more pictures, and a video montage put together by Keith Eddie, which we played on the Hall's big screen. We ran a Soup and Sandwiches, and raised Ł380. The exhibition was then moving to the Heritage Centre (well most of it - some of us had dresses that were too awkward to display without a dummy, so we got them back early!). I understand its been so successful that it had to be extended for another week.
We then had a St Andrew's night Celebration on 28th November, with music by Fuaim and Ross and Eilidh. We wanted to try a family night, and ran this from 7pm - midnight. We had traditional Scottish Fayre and great music - but still it wasn't enough to bring people out. Those who did attend all enjoyed their night, but financially it wasn't a great success for the Hall.
We drew the raffle, and the first prize of a painting was won by Andrew Fairbairn. This set the tone for the prizes, with the barbeque being won by an Australian (we're not going to bother posting it - we'll send an alternative!), and the Whisky being won by Maggie at the Chlachain! Thanks again to all those who donated prizes or who bought and sold tickets. We raised Ł1,144 from the raffle.
As I am writing this, I am preparing for another meeting with the Community Council to explain again our decision to apply for planning permission for two wind turbines, and I understand that a petition is circulating the village in protest against our plans. If you feel strongly against the turbines, please do sign this - as I mentioned last month, the feedback we have had has been mostly positive, which has encouraged us to go ahead. We are in a difficult position in the hall - there is only so much money in the village, and we can't keep asking people to put their hands in their pockets to subsidise the facility. When we opened, there was at least one dance a month in the hall, which were always well attended, and were good lets in terms of making money for the hall. These don't happen any more, and we cannot raise enough money from the clubs and groups who regularly use the facility to keep them and us sustainable. Renewable energy is the obvious answer, especially when it will cut costs and provide an income to the hall.
Jacqueline McDonell, Chair

If you are getting tired and bored by a report every month which says we are no further forward with the playing field lease - imagine how we feel! Brick wall, head and beating are words that spring to mind.
On a more cheerful note, some of us had a short informal meeting with Geoff Hagan of CADISPA (Conservation and Development in Sparsely Populated Areas) and the ways in which they can help the Trust are many and varied. If we decide to ask them to get involved with us, we would have regular meetings every other month or so to develop our idea of sustainable development for Arisaig, the production of a business plan, and how best to take our plans forward. This is hopefully something that the members of ACT will want to become involves in so that we can be sure we are doing things which people want to see done and not what they don't!
We have also applied for Associate membership of the Development Trust Association Scotland. Both these bodies supply lots of information and support and networking opportunities. 2010 looks like being an interesting year for ACT.
We have some very good news too - we have now been granted charitable status, so we are now up and running a charitable Company Limited by Guarantee. This ensures that Directors and members are only liable to pay Ł1 if the company should fold for any reason (other than illegal or irresponsible behaviour from the directors!)
We have five more members and hope that the numbers will continue to grow. You can join at any time, forms available at Arisaig Post Office.
We look forward to an active and productive 2010 and we hope you'll all find something to interest you in our monthly meetings.
Ann Martin, Chair

I'm sure a few West Word readers will remember Johnny Mackie, or Johnny the Roadsweeper as he became known as he traversed up and down the road, keeping it free of debris during the construction/upgrading of the Arisaig to Loch nan Uamh section of the A830. Well, Johnny is now working outside Edinburgh on a new road contract and on one of those 'it's a small world' experiences he got chatting to someone who knows Mallaig well, Archie Aitchison - who left Mallaig 35 years ago.
Archie left Mallaig in 1976 to forge a career in farming, and after spending two years on the Island of Canna, he went to Tweedsmouth to work in a Borders' sheep farm. A year in New Zealand followed before Archie settled in the Edinburgh area working at the Bush Campus Veterinary College, eventually becoming Head Shepherd. Incidentally, Archie's great interest is the rearing of Highland Cattle!
Not sure if Johnny swept Archie off his feet but it's nice that Johnny still keeps in touch with his friends in the area via West Word. Archie also reads the West Word via his sister Alexa and in all these years has been pictured twice - the first time was in issue in the old school photo two months ago which had folk arguing over his identity! He has five sheepdogs and is pictured here, on the right, with Coll.

West Word ten years ago - December 1999

Another global whirl!

photo photo
Above, left: Arisaig's Alexander MacMillan read his West Word outside Berlin Zoo!
Above, right: Julie Gordon from Arisaig took her copy to the American side of the Niagara Falls - what a well travelled lady, last month she was reading her copy at John O'Groats! Camera shy Ray is behind the camera.

photo Left: Ann McCartney of Wigan writes:
Dear friends in Arisaig, Mallaig and Morar - here I am with the West Word in November 2009 outside of the Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata (Calcutta), India which was built between 1906 and 1921 as a memorial to Queen Victoria who is also known as Empress of India. It now serves as a museum. My husband and I visited India to open a new Education and Vocational Training Centre which we commissioned from money we raised that will provide services for rescued street children whose lives began with difficulties and traumas that most of us would struggle to cope with but, with the support of the Women's Interlink Foundation in Kolkata, and the addition of the new centre, the much needed space is there to help develop the children's education and skills and provide each of them with the means and capacity to become independent adults in their challenging country.
Right: Spot Morar's Morag and Ewen MacDonald who took time off from printing West Word last month to go on holiday to Tunisia. They took West Word with them though and read it under the eagle eye of the President! photo

Arisaig residents move into new homes in time for Christmas
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" for residents allocated new properties within Lochaber Housing Association's Ł3.5 million Canon Gillies Place development at Arisaig, who are looking forward to moving into their new homes in time for the festive season.
Lochaber Housing Association's 20-home development at Arisaig - named in honour of the late Canon Iain Gillies, who was parish priest at St Mary's, Kilmory, for almost 20 years - has provided much-needed housing for a wide cross-section of the local population. Following a brief delay in completion, new residents are now starting to move into the well-appointed properties at Canon Gillies Place, which include 16 homes available for affordable rental, and four homes (two two-bedroom and two three-bedroom) available under the L.I.F.T shared equity low cost home ownership initiative. A further two plots within the development have been made available under the Rural Home Ownership Grant (RHOG) scheme. The affordable housing development consists of four two-bedroom single storey homes (suitable for elderly residents), six two-bedroom houses, and six three-bedroom houses. Funding for the project was provided by the Scottish Government, in partnership with Lochaber Housing Association.
Located to the west of the village - on a hillside overlooking Loch nan Ceall, with views of the Rhu peninsula and the isles of Eigg and Muck - the new housing development is situated close to village amenities including the shop and local primary school. Lochaber Housing Association Director Blair Allan said he was delighted that the association had been able to meet the challenge of providing suitable accommodation to address local housing needs in Arisaig.
He added: "The Association shared the concerns of many local people who were aware that the properties appeared to be completed for some time before they were finally occupied. "However, while this appeared to be the case, there were a number of outstanding defects that we were anxious to have rectified before we accepted the properties from the contractor. Some issues remain outstanding but we are working with the contractor and our consultants to ensure these are addressed with the minimum of disruption to tenants".
Canon Iain Gillies, known locally as Father Iain, was parish priest at Kilmory from 1964 - 1983. He remains a fondly-remembered figure throughout the area, and is credited - among other things - with helping to bring TV to Arisaig, as well as designing and creating beautiful church furniture which can still be found throughout the diocese.

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald - November Report
The large number of migrant thrushes that appeared at the end of October were still around for about the first week of November, but then numbers dwindled rapidly as the bulk of them moved further south. However there were still small groups of Fieldfares and Redwings to be found at the month end, feeding mainly on the remaining hawthorn and holly berries. The first Iceland Gull of the Winter was reported from Mallaig mid-month, and was still present on the 30th. During the third week, a Little Auk seen flying over the sea near Sleat Point was also the first report of the season.
Occasional flocks of Whooper Swans were still seen passing over during the month, and numbers on Loch nan Eala increased also with at least 16, including 4 juveniles, there on the 27th. There were 16 - 20 Teal present and between 20 - 30 Grey Heron roosting there at times. Goldeneye numbers increased, with sightings on Loch nan Ceall, Loch Morar and the Morar Estuary. Good numbers of Red-Breasted Mergansers were on the Morar Estuary and Loch nan Ceall. An interesting sighting was of 3 Common Scoter in Glasnacardoch Bay on the 18th. Large numbers of these ducks winter on the East Coast firths, and smaller numbers at a few locations in the West, but there are few reports from this area.
A single Bar-Tailed Godwit was at Traigh on the 4th, six Purple Sandpipers were by the Outer Breakwater, Mallaig, on the 11th and 2 Greenshanks were still on the Morar Estuary. Flocks of Lesser Redpoll were seen at Morar and Arisaig on several occasions during the month. Four Bullfinches were at Millburn on the 21st. Gold and Greenfinch numbers increased at garden feeders as the month progressed and small numbers of Yellowhammers were reported from gardens in Arisaig.

Crofting roundup by Joyce Wilkinson, SCF Area Representative
This month I am sending in some excerpts from one of my dads diaries/logs when he was working as First Mate on the MacBraynes boat Loch Nevis [built 1934] in 1944. It certainly sounded like the hours were long and the conditions poor. What is very clear from reading through is that there were considerable more store sheep and cattle leaving crofts every Autumn to feed the country than there are nowadays. The bureaucracy and redtape from the EU coupled with high fuel and feeding costs has strangled crofting. Traditional crofting cannot survive in a climate of political correctness, red tape, low profit margins and wholesale speculation of croftings only asset, the land.

The Loch Nevis at Port Ellen, Islay

Excerpts from Diary No 8 H George Wilkinson
Thurs 7th September 1944 Oban, Port Ellen
Rather a nice fitted ship this. Arrived Port Ellen about 1.30. Alongside about 4.00. Loaded 29 head cattle, 500 sheep for Greenock. Left about 5.00. Fine weather
Friday 8th September - Port Ellen and Greenock
Left Port Ellen Midnight, 75 head of cattle, 500 sheep. Very cold night. Made a very good passage. Greenock 8.30. Left again 11.10 for Port Arkaig. Arrive 8.00. Load 10 cattle and 750 sheep for Greenock. Sailed midnight. Been exactly 24 hours on my feet
Saturday 9th September - Greenock and Port Ellen
Arrived Greenock 8.30. Lovely day. Sailed again 11.30. Good passage. Port Ellen7.30. Alongside Lochiel. Went to a dance this evening; quite pleasant
Sunday 10th September - Port Ellen
Been a lovely day. This forenoon we went out with Tomlinson to Machray Hotel. Had the odd refreshment. A good walk this afternoon. Sun quite warm. To Machray again this evening. A good refreshment and a pleasant walk back.
Monday 11th September
A quiet day alongside. Glorious weather
Tuesday 12th September - Oban- Tobermory
Left this morning, 75 head cattle. Good passage up. Fine weather. Tobermory 6.30. A good evening in the Western Isles hotel
Wednesday 13th Loch Boisdale and Mallaig
At L. Boisdale 8.30. Alongside 4.00pm. 49 head for Mallaig. Arrive 9.30 .Weather overcast. Slight wind
Thursday 14th Mallaig, L'Maddy
Left Mallaig 8.30. Hazy and overcast. Made a very good landfall. L'Maddy reached alongside 1.30. All hands off. No livestock until morning. Still overcast. Nimbus cloud. Place alive with midges
Friday 15th L'Maddy, L'Boisdale, Kyle
A very dull miserable day. Overcast and very wet. Don't think there can be anything more depressing than cattle boat on a wet day. 130 head for Kyle. Arrive about 7.30. Drink with King's Harbour Master. Drunken sort of blighter, ex Royal Mail, New York Pilotage, Grand Master
Saturday 16th Kyle, L'Maddy
A very busy day indeed. Dreadful morning. Left Kyle; gale, wind driving rain; don't quite know yet how we managed to get through Kylerea . Turned back at Rona light. Blindly through the sound of Raasay. Up to Troddy very cold and miserable. Heavy sea. Made L'Maddy 11.00. 130 head for Mallaig and Oban. Day improved considerably. Mallaig 5.10. On to Oban 9.30. Weather dull but quite mild.
Sunday 17th September - Oban
Rather a good day. Several large whiskys with drover [owner of cattle transported] Alexandria Hotel with J Quinn forenoon. Party late evening Officers Mess . Weather wild wind
Monday 18th September - Oban Tobermory
And so we move on. We left the morning 8.20. At Craignure loaded 73 bags of wool for Tobermory [ For Transhipment Ulster Star, Glasgow] At Toby this evening. Quite pleasant. Western Isles. Convivial evening with Lieut Surgeon RNVR. Sea going career discussed and bitterly confirmed as not being a fit and natural following for any normal being. Very warm. Light Sly wind. Exceptionally fine Autumn weather.
Tuesday 19th September- Tobermory, L'Maddy
Left about 6.30. Weather hazy and overcast. Heavy swell. Made quite a good landfall considering [ unclear] hazard departure. We lay alongside all day. We should have lain all night but Captain lacks just what it takes to be a Captain; incentive. Consequently we left with 30 head of cattle into a dark night with poor visibility and navigated dangerous waters. I may say that the Captain didn't navigate. Got her into Portree harbour about 0130

Thursday 21st September Portree Kyle Portree Two runs today, sheep and cattle. Truly beautiful Autumnal weather. Trough Raasay Sound this evening; magnificent. Im afraid words could never describe such silent grandeur
Friday 22nd September - Portree and Tobermory
Fresh sly wind,red sky, heavy cumulus. Equinoctial weather conditions. Very heavy rain this afternoon. Miserable passage round. Fierce squalls stinging rain. The odd refreshment. Western Isles
Saturday 23rd September - Tobermory and Oban
Doing quite a bit of trekking. Lay alongside until about four. [unclear] to Mingary sheep and cattle in driving rain; on to Oban. Washed down and secured ship 12.30
Saturday 24th September Oban, Sandal, L'Sunart
Now today broke fine and clear. Away from Oban 12.30. To Sandal through beautiful L'Sunart. I don't think I could do this grand Loch justice if I attempted to describe it; cold, majestic aloofness, the hills dark and deep the waters. Ashore we explored Glen Sandal. Strange, but I believe without a companion this heavy silence would be almost frightening. The spirits of past generations live here. What frightened the shepherds away. There is is a little cottage; we burst the door in; something strange and sinister seemed to scream at us; it was left in a hurry 20 years ago; dishes on the table, pictures on the wall; decayed books and furniture; trunks full of intimate and personal belongings; a calendar on the wall, 1924. God. It's unholy; what made three normal ships officers slam the door and run; seems as though the hounds of hell were at our very heels. We talked ghost stories all evening; I slept with the light on
Monday 25th September - Oban - Portree
Lord what a miserable day. 1600 wet sheep. Rain, cold, high winds. Bah, misery. Left Oban 3pm. Quite a good passage to Portree, although dark and cold. Tied up about 11.30
Tuesday 26th September Portree,Kyle
Been a perfect devil of a day - lost my temper several times. Obstinate sheep, carried about 2000 of them today; rain, wind. Actually gale from the NW. Anyway finished about 7.15. So to Portree Hotel. Memorable evening. All wrongs forgotten
Wednesday 27th September
One run to Kyle today. Cattle
Thursday 28th September Portree, Kyle
B*** *** of a day. Rain, wind, sheep , cattle. Hundreds of them. 6 am until 10.45
Monday 2nd October Oban, Craig house ,Jura
Left about 5am. At Craighouse 8am. Loaded 100 head for Oban. Beastly weather. Alongside 12.30. Cleared away 1.30.Howling NW gale. Port Askaig 8.30
Tuesday 3rd October - Jura, Oban
Blowing a whole gale from NW. Left about 7.30. Loaded 87 head. Craighouse. Vessel struck bottom leaving quay. Can't trace any damage. Wind increasing force 9 bearing N. Worked our way over to Mull shore, then tacked her into Oban. Moored ahead at Lochcarn. Still blowing very hard. Ashore this evening
Wednesday 4th October Mingary, Loch Kingairloch
A very busy day. Hundreds of stubborn heads. Too tired to bother about anything
Tuesday 5th October - Canna, Eigg, Oban
Left Oban 2am. Canna 8am.11 head.On to Eigg,20 head. On to Tobermory and Salen, 75 head. 8.30 at Oban. Alive, that's about all. Severe cold
Friday 6th October - Saline, Loch Aline, Oban, Portree
Away 6.30.79 head Salen. 40 head Loch Aline. Discharged at Oban. Fortunately good weather. At Portree 7.30. Nothing to drink but flat beer
Saturday 7th October Portree, Kyle
Up at the crack of dawn. 1300 sheep for Kyle. Away like madmen with our hundreds of wet sheep. Back about 2.30. Rest of the day our own
Saturday 18th October
And so we move on through various stages until we come to the 18th day of October. Been so many chanes and moves I havent bothered to record them. Left Portree with a few hundred sheep for Mallaig, then on to Tobermory. On Tuesday to Salen for 75 head of cattle, same afternoon on to Luing for 30 head. Beastly wet day. Packed my bag with glee on Wednesday, joined the old Clydesdale again
Sunday 17th October at anchor Callaich point
8.30 am very low barometer,28. Gathering for a gale.Right in the centre of a storm by the looks of things.4.30 pm wind force registering 107 mph.Holding very well. Took off towards daybreak. Glass rising rapidly. Storm passed. Without doubt the worst in years.

Janey Clarke at Dingwall Mart has transcribed the full version of my dad's diaries for the Highland Livestock Archive Centre Drovers exhibition above the mart. As quoted from the HLAC website:
"The breeding, rearing, droving and trading in cattle and sheep was the economic mainstay of the Highlands & Islands over hundreds of years. The people who undertook the difficult, dangerous and commercially complex business of droving and selling the livestock were the economic heroes of their time".

Fishing news by John Hermse, Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association
Prices and the market are still depressed despite availability of prawns on the West Coast Grounds continuing to be poor. There are now real financial problems for the fleet with fuel prices beginning to creep up again.

GenComm Meeting
Davey Hill, Chairman of NFFO and Ian Gatt, President of SFF attended our recent meeting in Fort William. Charles Kennedy our local MP also popped in for an update on local issues. We were delighted that Davy, Ian and Charles took time to attend our GENCOMM, having overcome considerable travel arrangements to be in attendance.

November Council
I attended the Council as part of the SFF delegation led by Bertie Armstrong. There was a very unhappy outcome to the November Council. As most will have heard, the Council of Fisheries Ministers rejected, early in the day, the new Technical Control Measure. Over the course of the process which began in the summer, too much detail had to be addressed in too short a timescale. This created problems for enough Member States to block the measure - causing it to be passed to co-decision with the European Parliament, under the post-Lisbon arrangement.
The failure of the new regulation means reversion to 850/98, which takes away, at least temporarily, the problems we had with the new regulation such as lifting bags, SMP positioning, Nephrops catch composition and MLS. Co-decision does not allow, after 1st December this year, the creation by Council of a Transitory Technical & Control Annex to the TAC & Quota regulations. The Commission approach to filling the holes left by the demise of Annex III was to make a Regulation at this Council simply duplicating this year's Annex. This was proposed initially for another year.
For the West Coast, delegation of responsibility to the Member State for appropriate measures was sought, in the end via the Presidency, and for a period such a result looked to be at least possible. We had hoped that, should that not happen, we would at least get a favourable modification of the present unworkable catch composition. It failed; no modification of the present rules was achieved. Both Ministers reported that they had pulled together and described what amounts to the abandonment of good sense, in the face of what was a reasoned attempt to do better, in the conduct of the two final rounds of the Council process. There was certainly some apparent inconsistency in the Commissioner Borg's position on what his "caretaker" Commission could or could not change. To add insult, a Belgian attempt to have the measure extended for 2 years (avoiding therefore a revisit in their presidency) got met half way, so the problem will remain for 18 months.
Both governments are well aware of our anger and disappointment over the failure of the West Coast measures. What might be available by way of remedy is not clear. Richard Lochhead said that he would take advice on a possible challenge to the process itself and we should look to discuss the matter this week.

Filipino Fishermen
There is still no clear answer to the transit visa problem affecting Filipino crew, which are now a common site on fishing vessels. The UK Borders Agency (UKBA) stated that there has been no change in their policy and they continue to research the legislation surrounding transit visas. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) meantime has written stating that they will be taking further evidence on the application by SFF to place Filipino fishermen on the skilled workers list.
However, there is no doubt, that transit visa are more difficult to obtain for Filipino fishermen whether they apply to join vessels both east or west and working either inside and outside the 12 mile limit. We are currently awaiting a reply to a letter from Angus Macneil MP to Phil Woolas on the matter SFF are also making urgent representations to UKBA to relax their stance on fishermen re-entering to rejoin vessels in Scotland.

A Little Genealogy by Allan (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
James MacEachen, a Knoydart Blacksmith

Donna Dawn, nče MacLellan, eldest daughter of James (Traigh) MacLellan, sent us a family tree for clarification, accompanied by a inquiry as to how she was related to the late Bella MacEachen, (Bella "Frank") Arisaig. The
The parents of Donna's father, James MacLellan and his siblings, Duncan and Ishbel, were Donald Duncan MacLellan of Morar and Flora MacEachen, daughter of the then blacksmith from Knoydart.
Donald Duncan's parent's were Duncan MacLellan and Sarah MacLellan, Riverside, Morar. This Duncan's parents were, Donald MacLellan, born 1796 and Anna Gillies, born 1791, tenant farmers of Cross, South Morar.
The MacLellan family lost the tack of Cross ca. 1813, and the family moved to Riverside, Morar. There is an account of this removal in the book "Glencoe and Beyond. The Sheep Farming Years of 1780-1830" by Iain S. MacDonald Hugh MacDonald, a tenant farmer in Croulin, Knoydart, was removed by Glengarry for rent arrears and got the tack of Cross Farm. At his entrance to Cross, MacDonald owed Ł200.00 for stock belonging to Donald MacLellan, the outgoing tenant. In those days at the end of the tenant's lease, it was offered to the highest bidder and the incoming tenant purchased the stock already on the ground - usually after the autumn sales had been held. As far as can be ascertained, Donald MacLellan never got his money and an account of this can be found on Page 159, note 156 of Iain S. MacDonald's book and also in the National Archives: NAS. 128/65/9. Borrodale to Writer in Inverness. The story is still remembered by the present day family.
Without sufficient information, Donna couldn't work out the relationship and nobody in the family knew the MacEachen connection, other than that they were related. The connection was as follows:
Angus MacEachen, shoemaker, b. ca. 1801, was married to Christian Smith b. ca. 1816, both from Arisaig. They had a son John, b. 1836, a year before St. Mary's baptismal records began. The other children were, Angus, b. 1839, Marion, b. 1832, Donald, b. 1846, Allan, b. 1850 and James, b. 1853 who became the blacksmith at Knoydart. In 1881, Donald, UM, carter, Allan, UM, coachman, James, UM, blacksmith, together with their widowed mother, Christian, were living at 29 Strath, Arisaig. John Stewart from Knoydart, was the resident blacksmith along with James MacEachen and Duncan MacDonald as assistants.
James moved to Inverie shortly afterwards and married Isobel Stewart, daughter of Donald Stewart and Lillian MacLennan of Doune or, Airor. The coincidence here is that, John Stewart, blacksmith in Arisaig, was a brother of Donald Stewart, whose daughter married James. John and Donald Stewart were the sons of Norman and Catherine Stewart, Knoydart. There are no records for Knoydart baptisms as all were lost in a fire in St. Agatha's Church in the 1960s. John MacEachen, b. 1836, eldest brother of James, the blacksmith, was married to Margaret Campbell of Glenelg and they had, six children, the youngest of whom was Francis, (Frank) b. 1872. In 1902, in St. Mary's, Arisaig, Frank married Isabella MacDougall of Slochd, Ardnish and their children were, Sarah Theresa, b. 1903, Isabella, (Bella "Frank") b. 1905, John, b. 1908 and Angusina, b. 1910. To answer Donna's enquiry, Bella (Frank) MacEachen was the blacksmith's grand niece and a second cousin of Donna's father James "Traigh".

Notes: In the 1841 census, John MacEachen, Sheriff's Officer, Back of Keppoch, Arisaig, who emigrated to Australia in 1852, had a son called Francis. Could this unusual Christian name denote a connection between his family of MacEachens and the Knoydart blacksmith?
In 1901 a Norman Stewart was gardener in Arisaig House. Was he John Stewart the blacksmith's son or, the son of Donald Stewart, Inverie, both of whom had sons called Norman, after their grandfather b. 1801?
At the Forge in Moidart in 1851, the blacksmith was Samuel MacDonald of Sandaig, Knoydart, then aged twenty five years. He also appears in the 1841 census, in Ridaroch, aged ten years. Donald MacInnes, b. 1829, was the Knoydart blacksmith in 1871. He is recorded with his wife, Catherine and six children. The whole family were born in Sleat except for the two youngest who were born in Knoydart.
James MacEachen took over the Forge in Inverie around the time of his marriage to Isabella Stewart in 1890.

I must apologise to the Martin sisters, Jane and Helen for an unfortunate slip of the pen when I confused which of the sisters was married to whom. Sorry girls, age does not come alone! Thank you Jane for your gracious acceptance of my apology.

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