Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
February 2007 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
SALMON WORKERS GUTTED
The local economy took another blow in the middle of January with the sudden laying off of a further 12 contract workers from Marine Harvest's Harvesting Station in Mallaig.
There is much resentment in the village at the way the redundancies seemed to have been decided, by the use of a points system; workers scoring points on attendance, efficiency, ability, etc. but a local resident has hit out at what she alleges is an unfair system, with workers who were off with genuine illness (and there's been a lot of it about this winter) and with injuries occurred at work being at a disadvantage, scoring low points.
Little notice was given of the redundancies, she claimed, most workers being informed just two or three days before the axe fell. It is believed that a combination of less salmon throughput at the Mallaig Harvesting Factory and installation of new equipment which has streamlined production led to the decision by Marine Harvest to cut back on staffing levels. In October last year, 14 workers were laid off, with the threat of further redundancies as reduced fish stocks took their toll on the industry.
Marine Harvest hope to employ more people in the summer when more fish is available for processing. However local residents say they are losing confidence in Marine Harvest as employers.
MALLAIG BOATYARD TALKS
As West Word was going to press on Wednesday 7th February, news reached us that the Mallaig Boatyard was in the process of being sold, with Lochaber businessman Mr Finlay Finlayson deep in talks with present owner Mr John Henderson.
The Mallaig Boatbuilding & Engineering Co., to give it its full title, has been in the Henderson family for three generations, and over the years has been a key component in the growth of Mallaig as a fishing port. It is also a major player in the provision of local jobs and currently employs a around a dozen skilled workers.
Mr Finlayson's business interests include the Underwater Training Centre in Fort William and Tasmania and the Crannog Fish Restaurant in Fort William.
West Word hopes to carry a more extensive article on this subject in the March edition.
MARINE PARK GOES TO PETITIONS COMMITTEE
Iain MacKinnon from Morar, Hugh MacPherson from Ardtoe and Helen Wilson from Mull attended the Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament on the 17th of January. The basis of Iain's petition called on the Scottish Parliament to amend the National Park (Scotland) Act 2000 to require the approval by a majority in a local referendum before any National Park can be established. The Committee agreed to refer this petition to the Environment and Rural Affairs Committee for consideration as part of its inquiry into the marine environment and to forward the petition to Scottish Natural Heritage and the Minister for Environment and Rural Development for information only.
There has been gathering opposition and reservations expressed regarding the CMNP including submissions from the Scottish Crofting Forum, Scottish National Farmers Union, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and George Lyons MSP. Indeed, George Lyons asked Minister Ross Finnie, a fellow Liberal Democrat to shelve the proposal in view of the misgiving expressed on the proposal by his constituents.
There continues to be a lot of concern regarding the efficacy of the consultation carried out by the Scottish Executive on the CMNP. It is slated far and wide as being ineffective, uninformed and biased rather than giving a balance from which people could make informed decisions.
The first box of fish to be sold in Mallaig's new Fish Auction Hall was bought for £130 by Thistle Fish Exports, Aberdeen, and the proceeds presented to the Mallaig Fishermen's Mission.
The picture shows Salesman/Buyer Iain Stewart (left), a grateful Mission Superintendent Keith Dickson (right) and some weel-kent faces from Mallaig Pier looking on.
Poor weather had prevailed for the opening three weeks of the year, but a settled spell allowed the boats to leave harbour and do some fishing. Thankfully landings of prawns have been pretty good and there was also some white fish landed - 190 boxes from the Ocean Hunter, Serene and Progress.
Superintendent Keith Dickson said 'I am grateful to the skipper, the buyer and the salesmen for this great gesture. Hopefully there'll be lots more fish for the new Auction Hall.'
Just a wee column this month...great Burns Supper, with 77 locals turning up for the usual excellent food, speeches, music and dancing. Festivities in honour of the Bard went on until the wee small hours (with the last hour consisting almost entirely of Beatles singalong covers!).
Sandy and myself journeyed to Inverness to meet up with the Eigg crew for some fire training, although it should be pointed out that the Knoydart brigade still won't officially be called out for any fire incident other than wildfire. Not even a chimney fire...Had some fun rolling out hoses, etc, and getting shouted at on the training ground.
A few made it down to see Tam play with Mystery Juice and the Squashy Bags. Great fun had by all - we're still amazed at Tam's ability to play in all conditions!
Lots of people sick with heavy colds and chest infections - Alastair's been kept busy in his last few days at Mallaig pharmacy. Many thanks to him for all the help to Knoydart residents over the years.
ISLE OF MUCK
Apologies to Lawrence and West Word readers for the omission of Muck's column last month.
M V Loch Nevis has missed calling at Muck 11 times in the last two months from 10th November out of a possible 24. This has created havoc with travel plans and severely discouraged anyone from visiting the island. On many of these missed calls she did not leave Mallaig but there is a problem entering the harbour at Port Mor. Because there is no keel aft Loch Nevis is hard to control in a heavy beam swell. If she had a keel she could not dock at the slipways when the tide is in. Perhaps the solution for Muck is for Sheerwater to takeover the service in the winter.
The only respite from the inclement weather was the fortnight round Christmas. Sadly it broke one day too early on the Friday before New Year so no-one managed to reach Muck for the festivities. So everyone on the island easily fitted into our sitting room for a very pleasant evening at Hogmanay while outside the storms raged yet again. Next morning the wind had dropped but hockey on the beach was curtailed by the rising tide and heavy showers.
On the farm it has been farrowing time for our two sows, the bigger of which Betty has produced on the aptly named Hogmanay two years in succession. 14 was the litter size for both though one piglet was born dead and another was in danger of going the same way. Jenny took it into care for three days and it is now thriving on a rubber teat and evaporated milk.
19th January was the night of the heavily delayed school fund raising evening where Bingo was followed by a raffle and later an excellent supper cooked by the parents. But before all this came the school play based on A Christmas Carol and starring Isobel Murray-John as Scrooge. We have had some fine Christmas plays in the past, notably 'The Angry Innkeeper' with Angus Graves. But none of them could compare with this year's performance which lasted more than half an hour. Isobel, ably supported by Jamie MacEwen and Jake Henderson, and the little ones had to learn hundreds of lines and make many costume changes. There was a prompter but we were well through before I discovered who she was! Well done children! Well done the producer - Eileen Henderson!
Broadband is back but only just! The engineer arrived on the 25th to connect us to the new satellite not knowing that on the 19th the last storm of the series had blown the wind turbine on the repeater station to pieces. This is the second time in two years that this has happened and a reminder that wind turbines should not be sited on the edge of a cliff - too much turbulence. So everyone except the school has to rely on a photo voltaic panel to keep charged the batteries needed to receive a signal.
ISLE OF CANNA
A quiet month on Canna…and I must admit it was nice to see things settle down after the festivities. But not for long…The Highland Year of Culture kicked off here on Canna with Healthy Highland Week. The wee schoolroom was transformed into the Canna Café for an afternoon and our soup, sandwiches and fruit smoothies went down a treat. We had a great turnout and managed to raise a few quid for UNICEF to boot. Since that event, various items have been reported as missing from fruit bowls and fridges, with small children emerging as the main suspects. Which can only be a good thing, I suppose, although bananas remain in particularly short supply…
The Council diving team visited once again to progress the installation of a perch in the bay. Hopefully this might remind and alert visiting yachtspersons to the dangers of the hard lumpy stuff lurking just off the end of the slipway…
As the waves "crashed on the rocks outside the door", inside the Bothy there was a talk and slideshow illustrating part of the huge variety of sealife which can be found just beneath the sea in an altogether more calm environment. We were taken on a weird and wonderful underwater journey, which flitted through the islands of Argyll, drifted past our own shores closer to home and ended, via Scapa Flow, in freezing Norwegian waters. Captivating, often alien and sometimes bizarre. But that's enough of George's beard… Rab and the team from HICEC blew in for a meeting to promote renewable energy, and to outline the possibilities and potential for the community on Canna. All very positive and encouraging news, but we all know that with the formation of a Community Group to drive events forward, we are still only at the beginning of a long journey which at times may be frustrating no doubt, but will ultimately help to ensure the viability and sustainability of the island. A hydro scheme was deemed a non-starter as most of the water was being blown uphill that day.
Ah, the Monitoring Project. Bob arrived to assist our resident rat boy, and both ticked off more than a couple of hundred bait stations in a busy two days. Much of the work involves rock hopping and several hundred feet of climbing in some more remote parts of the island. A walk in the park for "Rat-Man" perhaps, but the Boy Wonder was spotted hobbling off painfully for a Radox bath and a long spell in the foot-spa. So far so good, though. Bob also managed to fit in a wee talk about local bird life at the school, and advised us of what to look out for in the coming weeks.
Couples and families interested in relocating to Canna continue to visit, and although we've had some pretty driech weather and some dark stormy days, most seem to retain their enthusiasm. Never mind, just think…almost half an hour more daylight a week!
Press interest inevitably follows, like it or not…but despite their best efforts some people still can't manage to get their picture in the paper…
ISLE OF RUM
We had a relatively busy Hogmanay and a terrific ceilidh by newcomers to Rum - 'Ceilidh Cailinan Craicte' led by clairsach player Freya Thompson. The band proved popular and under a different name will be playing at this years' festival… This year will be the last 'Sound of Rum' music festival; all that organising takes it toll! We will endeavour to make it the best and hope to see many of you there.
Tickets are on sale at www.thebooth.co.uk already. There are only 500 on sale, so please book soon to avoid disappointment. Numbers are restricted to 500 for licensing reasons, so please don't turn up without a ticket!! The date for the diary is 11th - 13th May 2007.
This years delights will include Session A9; The Peat bog Faeries; last year's hit, Mathew Watson; Daimh; Bombskare and more. We hope to put on an array of workshops including music, dance, and crafts and to include a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Rum National Nature Reserve. There will be a couple of stalls selling crafty/woolly/jewellery kindastuff and you might be able to get an Indian head massage too. For more information click on www.soundofrum.org.uk or ring Sharon on 01687 460087.
Anyone watching BBC's Landward on Sunday 14th January would have seen a piece about Rum and its deer - it seems they're never off the telly. The programme was centred on SNH's Habitat Restoration proposals, which have provoked controversy in some quarters. There are many aspects to the proposals and the Landward programme focused on the issues surrounding the 30 year old Kilmory deer study, the future of which is under threat if the current proposals go ahead. In conjunction with the BBC Autumnwatch, there is now a greater national awareness of Rum and significant interest in the deer and on the back of this we are expecting an increase in visitors this year - Autumnwatch was viewed by upwards of 4 million people!!
Other local news- we have the Eigg fencing team over at the moment and there is a whole squad of joiners working on the castle and the new sheds on the pier. Amanda and Stroma have repainted the shop and Sandy is spearheading an attempt to revamp the playground and install play equipment which has been here for years but not set up.
Amanda Jenkins and Lorena Rodriquez are setting up a holistic therapy centre on Rum. Based in Kinloch Castle, visitors will be able to try out Indian Head massage, Reiki healing and therapeutic massage. They hope to be set up by the start of the season.
And finally, at long last, we have an island website, go to www.isleofrum.com
Many thanks to George Logan for his hard work.
ISLE OF EIGG
Already we are at the end of January, Burns Night is past, and we are about to enter February, the shortest month which feels like the longest. We got the year off to a good start with a hogmany ceilidh in the Community Hall, excellent music provided by the Fantabulous Ceilidh Band, with help from Damien Helliwell, Donna MacCulloch and Eddy Spoons. Lots of wild dancing, some of our keenest revellers looking like they might be in need of a defib. Angus Kirk and Duncan Ferguson got their boxes out on more than one informal occasion over the festive period - always a treat! As ever, it was great to have so many friends, family and other visitors on the island over Christmas and New Year - thanks to everyone who made the (often verging on the heroic) effort to get here
The wind was back to its old tricks, and saw us without a boat on the 3rd, but thankfully Cal Mac reverted to their previous routine of coming out the following day. This meant folk could come and go, and saved them the expense of another night on the mainland. There have been quite a few other days when the boat has not been able to call lately, and we have got a bit soft since the new pier has been operational as this hasn't happened much since then. Thoughts go out to those on Muck, who have been a lot unluckier than us in this respect. In general the weather has been kinder this month than in December, and we have had a few nice calm, cold, even icy days although the cows have been looking far from happy in the often driving rain.
Work has gone on at full pelt on the new nursery, Learning Centre and teacher's accommodation at the primary School and it's really looking good. Everything is on course for a timely opening at Easter. Also busy are the Eigg Construction team, finishing off the shed to house the generator and batteries for the all island electricity scheme, as well as laying the housing for the photo voltaics, which are being installed as I write. This is the year when the grid will be up and running, and we can't wait - fingers crossed the jennies hold out till then.
The Eigg fencing team are off to Rum again and the question is, can Rum cope? Stuart Thomson celebrated his birthday there (thirty two eh Stuart? Not such a whipper snapper now are you?)
Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust have commissioned independent consultant Amanda Bryan to have a look at the achievements of the island and the Trust over the last ten years since the buyout, as well as the way forward, and she visited us last week to hold discussions with the Trust and host a thought provoking workshop. A report will be produced for June 12th, along with a leaflet. Old Pier Tearoom hosted a delicious Burns Night supper on the 26th, which was also Donald MacFadyns fiftieth, and he was well toasted with many drams. Other birthdays this month included Heather Thomson and Struan Robertson, who each held birthday parties in the Hall, and Camille Dressler. Camille was also fifty on the 26th, but sadly had to put her birthday plans for a cuban style party on hold and head off to France to support a bereaved friend. We look forward to having her back next week.
Many thanks to Sue who has offered to be our Eigg 'stringer' for a few months. Welcome to the team Sue!
A belated bliadhna mhath ur to all readers. I am afraid I missed last months West Word as, like so many, I was hit with the flu. Glenfinnan took in the new year by candle light as we were struck by yet another power cut. We have had terrible trouble with power cuts and phone lines down and several people have had computers or modems destroyed in the storms.
The Old New Year was celebrated in traditional style with the 4th annual village shinty match under the viaduct. A more accurate description would be aqua shinty given the conditions. Wetsuits and snorkels might be a useful addition to the standard kit. Post-match warming broth was provided by Duncan at the hotel, then there was time for hot showers before heading to the bothy ceilidh. Now, I wasn't there (flu!) so it is all second hand information but brave souls sheltered in that bothy until 7 in the morning as the storm raged around them. It was tough but they endured it with the help of a roaring hearth, haunches of venison cooked over the fire, drams, craic, tunes, dancing, recitations and songs. The ceildh indoors was as wild as the weather outdoors.
And now that it is 2007 it is now Scotland's year of highland culture and the start of Glenfinnan 07. We have funding from Highland 2007, the Scottish Arts Council through Awards for All and the community council. We have been working to programme a year of events in the village. The beginners gaelic classes start Monday 5th February, 7pm in Glenfinnan House Hotel. They will be on every Monday as per the school calendar. The monthly cearcall comhraidh (gaelic conversation circle) starts Friday 8th February 8pm in the bar at Glenfinnan House Hotel. It will be a relaxed, informal group led by Catriona Macintyre. For the children, we have a storytelling & art session with Tiina MacVarish on Sat 24th February, 2 - 4 pm in Princes House Hotel. And for all the family, there is a ceilidh with buffet on 24th February, 7pm in Princes House Hotel. Rachel Walker is singing and we have Glenfinnan musicians to play for us. Come along and if you fancy taking the floor with a song, tune or recitation we'd love to hear you. Iain MacFarlane had an exciting start to the year when he got the chance to take a bite of the big apple. He was in New York with Blazin' Fiddles.
Double Congratulations to Shelly Gillies on her promotion at work to a new job in Inverness and her engagement to Duncan Boyd. More next month…
TV CREW SEARCH FOR BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE'S GOLD
Towards the end of January, Camus an t'Allen in Arisaig was the setting for a TV film crew making a series of programmes about history seen through artefacts. The artefact that brought them to the Rhue road is a letter which came to the West Highland Museum two years ago. The letter came to the attention of the local GP for this area in 1911 who went to an old lady at Kylesmorar (near Tarbert) and got a story from her as well as the letter.
There are many tales of Bonnie Prince Charlie's gold being buried here and there across the Highlands, with a cache at Loch Arkaig being well documented. After Charlie had landed at Glenfinnan to start his claim to the throne, Spain pledged a large amount of Louis D'Or for the Jacobite cause but how to get the money to the rebels? The first instalment was sent in 1745 via a French sloop which landed the money on the west coast, only for it to be captured by the Clan MacKay, who were loyal to King George.
The following year two ships brought a second instalment from Spain plus a large amount of gold from France. When news got out about the outcome of Culloden, only the Spanish gold was unloaded, at Loch nan Uamh. The cause was lost and so the money was used to assist Jacobite clansmen who were now being persecuted, and to aid the escape of leading Jacobites to the continent.
Six caskets were taken to Loch Arkaig and hidden. The secret passed from one Jacobite to another, each trying to distribute it to clan chiefs. No-one is quite sure what happened to it. But some of the gold fell into the hands of Neill vic Iain vic Ruairi who became 'sore troubled in mind' for having taken it after he met a phantom Prince at Glenfinnan. He had hidden it at Camus an 't-Salainn down the Rhu road in Arisaig.
This we know from the letter which came into the possession of the West Highland Museum two years ago. The letter was written by Neil to a kinsman, specifying where the gold was hidden: under a black stone at the end of the bay. Neill was by now bedridden and wanted the kinsman to go to collect it.
The letter came into the hands of an unnamed (so far) local GP in 1911, and he went looking for the gold with the help of two sons and a crowbar. They found an old empty leather wallet.
This more recent part of the story was drawn to the TV team's attention by Iain Thornber, who provided a pre-war copy of an article in Scottish Country Life. Other people who joined the search on the shore last month were Tearlach MacFarlane of Glenfinnan, Fiona Marwick of the West Highland Museum and Morar historian Alasdair Roberts. They found nothing, Alasdair, convinced they had been looking in the wrong place, returned the next day but got nothing for his efforts but wet shoes.
Thanks to Alasdair Roberts for most of the information in this article.
THE COYNES' COIN
By a strange coincidence, while the TV team hunted on the shore at Camus an t'Allen for Spanish gold, on the other side of Loch nan Ceall Su Coyne dug up an old Spanish silver coin in the garden at Dolphin House.
There can be no connection as Su's coin is of a later date. This is how she described it to the National Museums of Scotland: 'It is in reasonably good condition, with the design clearly visible. I think it is silver; approx 4cm diameter, engraved or embossed edge a bit like squares and circles; the 'head' face shows an uncrowned bust, and is stamped CAROLUS III DEI GRATIA 1772; the 'tails' side shows a crown above a shield. The shield has four quarters; two castles and two lions rampant diagonally opposite each other. The shield is flanked by two pillars wreathed with ribbons. The writing is HISPAN ET INDE REX then what looks like an inverted M with a circle between its peaks, then 8R, inverted M, inverted F.'
Nick Holmes, Senior Curator, Numismatics Dept. of Scotland and Europe (Scottish History) of the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh replied:
'The coin you have found sounds like a Spanish-American silver 8 reales from the Mexico City mint. These things do occasionally get dug up in Scotland, so your find is certainly not unique, but it is interesting nonetheless. It's difficult to be sure whether it has any value as a 'local antiquity', since very often garden soil is imported from elsewhere when houses have been built. You will probably know whether this was the case with your property.
'The date is too late for the coin to be included in the Scottish Coin Finds Record, and my colleague, Stuart Campbell, in the Treasure Trove office, has confirmed that he does not need to know about it, so you do not need to take any further action.' Su says she is fairly certain that it was 'virgin soil' as the Coynes built Dolphin House in 1997, on the edge of a grazing field where it slopes down to the shore of Loch nan Ceall. It is steep and rocky, and has probably never been cultivated. She says, ' I am just beginning work on the part of the garden where I found, When I flicked it up it left a shiny imprinted disc in the peat below.'
Above is pictured a similar coin, of a slightly later date. The details are not quite the same as on Su's find. The 8 real coins were also called 'pieces of eight', a term familiar to readers of Treasure Island. Although minted in the New World, these coins became practically a world currency by the late 18th century.
SHARK INFESTED WATERS OFF ARISAIG
...But fortunately no-one got bitten, for although the basking shark does have teeth (tiny-about 2mm long) they are only after much smaller prey, animal plankton called copepods. These minute creatures form a vital part of the ocean food chain for marine life of all sizes, from small fish to some of the largest whales, such as the Northern right whale. And at times during the summer of 2006 there were abundant patches of copepods in the waters of the Small Isles, and so, therefore, basking sharks too. So our first full season in Scotland went well from start to finish.
The basking shark cannot be classed as a highly intelligent creature - it only has a brain the size of a golf ball, but like most sharks, it does have remarkable sensory abilities, that enable it to track down its minute prey, even over long distances. Smell, for example - when animal plankton graze upon plant plankton gases are given off that the shark can smell. All animal life produces minute electrical discharges, even plankton, and the basking shark can identify the densest patches by sensing the greater amount of electrical discharges using electroreceptors on its nose. These and other senses allow the shark to migrate over long distances either at the surface or down to 900 metres depth to search out for its next good meal, vital abilities when your prey is so small and unevenly distributed.
Surface behaviour is actually quite unusual, being something like the tip of the iceberg, and is associated with areas where water is being mixed by either temperature or tidal action. These are areas where "fronts", long slicks at the surface, often with weed and other debris along them can be seen when conditions are calm for a reasonable period, and are also areas where plankton levels are high. There are a number of areas where these fronts can be seen in the Islands, such as the Cairns of Coll, Canna and the Hyskeir, and these are the sites where we consistently see the greatest number of sharks at the surface.
Basking shark - photo copyright of Colin Speedie
So, great days, with big numbers this year particularly out around the Hyskeir, with over 90 one day in late July. Lots of courtship behaviour, too with groups of sharks swimming nose to tail in long lines, and coupled to this many sharks breaching, leaping clear of the water - spectacular, but alarming if you happen to be close by when one erupts from the water. We believe that breaching is likely to have a social function, helping to bring the sharks together, perhaps to find a mate - this is not so far fetched, as the related white shark is known to do something similar.
And such a good season in so many other ways. Lots of groups of common dolphins, everywhere from Rhu Arisaig to Barra, three excellent encounters with bottlenose dolphins - rare on the West coast, Risso's dolphins on a rainy day in the Sound of Sleat, and to cap it all, a small humpback whale off Barra, the third season in a row we have recorded one in these waters. Distant sightings of big whale blows, too, that looked to be those of the fin whale, the second biggest creature in the world. Both the humpback and fin whale seem to making a comeback around the UK, so maybe numbers are slowly rising after the devastation of the whaling years, or maybe they are simply moving in to exploit new food resources.
Another bad year for us with Minke whales though, with only one sighting in August, and another single sighting during September, a far cry from the 20 a day we saw on occasion during the same months in 2003 and 2004. Fewer birds, too, with far less guillemot and razorbill chicks than we would have liked to have seen. Changing seasons and timings of abundance of food resources seem to be the order of the day, and there will undoubtedly be winners and losers as a result. One widely recognised indicator of warming waters is the ocean sunfish - in the early nineties, I can remember seeing my first sunfish up off Eriskay, and being amazed at seeing one so far North, as at that time they were considered rare vagrants even in the English Channel. This year we saw 11, a record for us, so they seem to be becoming regular visitors.
The weather was hardly ideal for most of the summer of 2006, and although we didn't have the worst of the storms, it was seldom calm enough for us to survey effectively. Still, we recorded our highest ever tally of sharks for a season, 302 in total, so our decision to spend the season in Scotland was vindicated. Lots of sharks, too, in Ireland, the Isle of Man and Cornwall though, suggest that the pendulum may swing once again, so we shall return to our regular pattern of Cornwall in early summer, then back up North later on in 2007, as we want to spend as much time photographing individual sharks as possible. Let's hope that pays off, too.
Thanks as always to all of our friends in the area, particularly in Arisaig, our base for the summer, who offered us so much kindness and support, so far from home - we always appreciate it, and we look forward to seeing you all again in the summer of 2007.
I, along with Robert Stevenson attended the North Western Waters Regional Advisory Council (NWWRAC) meeting in Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain in the last week of January.
The first Agenda item was reaction to the December Council which, predictably, was in each nation's case was almost proportional to the effect of the Cod Recovery Plan. France, Belgium, Ireland and Spain were therefore with some individual exceptions, broadly satisfied.
Discussion covered the process itself, with agreement from the floor that the adoption by the Commission, in the frontloading process of starting positions which demonstrated in some areas an extreme application of the precautionary principle, to allow negotiating room, was an unsatisfactory approach. Further, the introduction of significant measures during the Council - treating Cod formally as a by-catch for instance, was seen as unreasonable. It was proposed that the Executive Committee consider a letter to the Commission expressing these points.
There followed an update on the work towards Long Term Management Proposals (LTMP), which noted that funding was at the point of commitment, for a scoping study to take place which will define the different fisheries and enable an informed choice of fisheries or stocks as candidates for LTMPs.
There was a most surprising reaction from the Spanish fishing administration delegate, who clearly had not read any of the background papers and who complained that Spain had not had a chance to participate. This is simply nonsense, and eventually the Spanish delegation accepted the proposal to which they had already agreed at the last Working Group (WG) round in November 06. Regrettably, this wasted 45 minutes of time. The rest of the discussion concentrated more sensibly on closer ties with ICES in this work. This Agenda item highlighted the sharp differences between the Northern and Southern nations in their approach to decision making. The NWWRAC is a more difficult forum that either the North Sea or Pelagic RACs and to best serve our own requirements, we need to recognise and factor this in.
Brown Crab Management. The WG discussed calling a workshop to discuss the whole, concluding that two area workshops might be best. This will be proposed to the Executive Committee. For our own purposes, the proposed venue will be in Scotland. There was a presentation on Control Issues from a staff member of the Community Fisheries Control Agency. This was the forerunner of the European Fisheries Control Agency which will in effect check up the fisheries inspectorate in Each EU Member State. Hurray for more bureaucracy!
John Hermse, Secretary of the M&NWFA
At the last Education Committee meeting I raised the lack of progress and information on the School Hostel project. I was informed the drawings, after modifications, will be ready this month, and an application for detailed planning would be submitted shortly. It was also agreed that Mr Sullivan, Headmaster at Mallaig High School, would arrange a meeting this month with parents to discuss finished layout of the Hostel.
The saga of the A830 continues. The contract was re-tendered with a return date for mid-January, the tenders are now being evaluated and discussions are ongoing with the three tenderers. Like everybody I hope these ongoing discussions result in a successful tenderer being appointed. I met with the Transport Minister Tavish Scott MSP recently and reminded him of the commitment the Executive had given to complete the A830. I also told the Minister there was a very high public expectation that this contract would be awarded and he reassured me he was of the same mind.
I have had a lot of complaints about the work carried out at the entrance to Cameron Avenue. This work is part of the planning conditions for the new houses at Coteachan Hill and was meant to ease troubles at this corner and make it easier for two vehicles to pass. Like everyone else, I think the corner is now a hazard and totally unsafe and I asked our Roads Engineers to examine it. They have done so and agree the corner is not right and now they are having discussions with the Housing Association Consultants who drew up the plans, to have the works amended.
At my own Committee (TEC Services) on Thursday 8th February I would hope we agree to use the extra Rural Transport Fund Grant to promote an earlier commuter bus to Fort William and a later return bus, to enable people to get a day's work in Fort William. This service has been asked for by the three Community Councils and the public over a long period and if agreed would commence after 1st April at times to be agreed. One of the conditions of the Rural Grant is that we have to monitor the use over an extended period, i.e. two years, and if it does not add up in passenger figures the grant is withdrawn - so we use it or lose it.
'Crofting at Back of Keppoch in the 1950's showing the patchwork effect of different crops'
Crofting concerns - by Joyce Ormiston, SCF Council Member
ANIMAL GATHERINGS ORDER
A meeting with the Scottish Executive involving the organisers of Agricultural shows and The National Farmers union was held at Ingliston earlier in January to discuss the impractical and inoperable measures that will effect the future of our Agricultural events . The secretary of our own show at Camasdarach, Audrey Macdonald, gave up her time to attend and her presence was noted as being representative of one of the North West's most popular shows. The smaller shows will suffer most if this new ruling is implemented, crofters will have to wash their wellies in disinfectant and be hosed down if they have stood in any other cow ciech than that belonging to their own beasts! Joking apart, the facilities the show would need to provide for 'preventing the spread of disease' would be too costly for a small show like The Road to the Isles to continue so it is hoped that the executive will see some sense on this one.
CROFT RECORD BOOK
The new version of the Croft Record Book is now available from The Scottish Crofters Union . It contains the forms that you need to maintain your records for SEERAD as well as some useful information for active crofters and smallholders. All this is held in a smart folder so that everything can be kept in the one place to make life easier and to be ready for inspections. The book includes forms for all flock and cattle records, animal movements, medicine use, and much more. There is also a list of current legislation, some useful websites and conversion tables for those of us who still think in hundredweights per acre and miles per gallon.
In addition, there is a CD which has the forms in .doc or .pdf formats so that you can print off replacements for yourself or keep your records on computer.
The price is not too bad at £15 (including postage) to members and £33 to non members. Call the SCF headquarters at Auchtertyre , Kyle of Lochalsh to speak to Marion 01599 566 365
CROFTING REFORM BILL
The Crofting Reform Bill came into force on the 25th Jan introducing powers to create new crofts, bring neglected croft land back into productive land and extend crofting tenure beyond the crofting counties. Small holders on Arran are looking forward to having their land classed as croft status although unfortunately the CAGS funds do not increase to take in all the new crofters joining the ranks .
CROFT TO SUPERMARKET
The announcement by Marks and Spencers to promote local rather than global in an overhaul of their eco policies brings a new encouragement for crofters to have their own brand identity for all their produce . It is hoped other supermarkets will follow their example and in an effort to reduce food miles more produce on the supermarket shelves could come from local suppliers. A croft brand identity would present a very eco friendly image with small scale producers in a type of ' quality croft assured ' scheme , but just how it could get off the ground is questionable. If you have any views or ideas on how a Croft Brand identity could be created then you can phone me on 01687450375
West Word- ten years ago
The lead story (of four) on the cover of the February 1997 West Word was headlined 'Disappointment for Mallaig as Yachting Harbour Funding is Turned Down' - the Millennium Commission knocking back the Royal Yachting Association's Millennium submission, much to the disappointment of Douglas MacDiarmid (Lochaber Ltd) and Charlie King (Highland Council).
Another of the front page stories told of the introduction of Jeed Clulow's Thai Takeaway in Morar (a full page feature of this new local service was presented on page 8), while the recent Glenuig Ceilidh, which raised £1300 in aid of the Isle of Eigg Trust, deserved its front page billing.
Charlie King's Council Corner bemoaned the fact that since the formation of the Highland Council 'all we seem to do is cut levels of service to the public and then ask the public to pay more in Council Tax and Rates', while on page 2 the ghostly story of MV Stardust was presented by Jackie Milligan. Another fishing boat story was making the news, the INS registered Margaret Anne was pictured on page 5 being refloated after a mystery sinking in Mallaig Harbour.
Steam train enthusiast Sonia Cameron (Hope you're recovering well from your recent op, Sonia) through her column 'On the Rails', told of the availability of a new video, 'Welcome Aboard the Jacobite Steam Train', filmed by Banchory's Bill Emslie. Scotland's National Bard Robbie Burns was celebrated via suppers in Muck, Knoydart and Mallaig and in conjunction with this time of year there was a two page West Word Special Scottish Pre-Election/Post Burns Night Quiz containing 21 questions on Scottish Culture.
The February 1997 West Word contained a healthy Letters Page (why don't we get lots of letters these days?) with several condemning the Scottish Executive and their apparent postponement of the Arisaig - Kinsadel section of the A830.
A photo of the Arisaig Dramatic Club - of uncertain vintage but containing Mr & Mrs Arthur Bean, John Robertson, Marie MacPherson, Eddie Lee, Gray Thomson etc. - adorned page 19 while other photos included a graduation photo of Fraser Benzie,youthful Alistair Duncan, Jane Henderson and Tony Moynihan celebrating their 30th, 40th and 60th birthdays respectively, and of Dennis Eddie winning the Road Safety Awareness Quiz.
Eigg/Arisaig's Barry Austin provided a letter from Ethiopia while Knoydart's Giles Trussell continued his Sense of Adventure via the North Atlantic Circuit on the yacht Cascade.
Regular contributors (where would we be without them?) were there as usual in the Round and About pages and there was also the Gaelic Page, the Mallaig High School page, Aunt Prudence's Astrological Lines, Ann Martin's Brain Teaser Quiz and Neil Robertson's 'Down To Earth'.
The Snippet's page (including quite a few birthdays) was starting to grow in prominence and I'll use a couple to finish off this 10-year look back…just why have her workmates in Johnston's christened Maisie - 'Alfred'?...and sisters Sandra and Christine were falling over themselves at the Seumas McGee Country Music Night in the West Highland Hotel. That's all folks!!!
A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: email@example.com)
Clann Eachuinn Bhuidhe and the MacEachans of Glennan, Back of Keppoch
This family and possibly all the other MacEachan families in Arisaig are now thought to descend from Donald MacLean (ca.1545) of Kingairloch. The name MacLean probably changed to MacEachan around the time that Donald's g.grandson, Ewen son of Hector MacLean was in Druim an Daraich ca. 1650, when the patronymic Mac Eachainn (son of Hector) came into use. In the 1600s Donald 11th of Clanranald decided to govern his lands more strictly owing to royal pressure. To this end he brought in "daoine - uasail" or gentlemen of allied clans and gave them tacks of land to help him keep order. Such a one was Ewen MacLean of Kingairloch who held the tack of Druim an Daraich and Brunery, Arisaig. Neil MacEachan descendant of Glenuig and Howbeag, who escorted Prince Charlie in his flight across the Hebrides and who went into exile with Tearlach, later changed his name to MacDonald as did others, believing themselves to be descended from Hector, 2nd son of Roderick 3rd of Clanranald as quoted in Clan Donald Vol. 111.
Hence, we have Neil's son, Jacques Etienne Joseph Alexandre MacDonald, (1765 - 1840) Marshal of France and Duke of Taranto, who distinguished himself in Napolean's army. However, modern researchers of Highland lineage believe that this genealogy is incorrect and the MacEachans of this area descend from Eachainn Mac Gill' Eathainn, or Hector MacLean. Back to Ewan of Druim an Daraich. His son, Ranald MacEachan, was given the tack of Howbeag in South Uist by Clanranald. Ranald was known as Raonull Mór na Corpaich having been fostered in Lochaber and was later to become 1st of Howbeag. According to the Revs. A&A MacDonald, Clan Donald Vol. 111, "the family afterwards held an important position in the cadets of Clanranald, both on the mainland and in Uist." Ranald's son, Alexander, 2nd of Howbeag, had a son, John 3rd of Howbeag John's son, Alexander 4th of Howbeag, was given a tack of Glenuig in 1724. Alexander's sons were, (1) John b. ca. 1717, (2) Neil MacEachan later MacDonald, b. 1719 in Howbeag and, after going into exile, following the '45 Neil died in 1788, at Sancerre, in France., (3) Ronald who had a son Rev. Ronald, (4) Alexander and (5) Angus. John who was the ancestor of the Glennan MacEachans, was relieved of the tack of Glenuig in 1772 by Clanranald and moved to Gaoithe Dail (Guidal) Arisaig which belonged to the Morar MacDonalds. Iain was afterwards known as Iain Bàn Gaoithe Dail. He married Ann MacEachan and had at least one son, Donald who was a weaver. Donald married Mary MacEachan and they lived in Gaothe Dail where he died before 1825. The children of Donald and Mary were (1) Ronald, (2) Angus Bàn (3) Ewen (4) Donald, gardner and (5) Jane. For the purposes of this article, we will concentrate on Ewen (3) who was a tailor and came to Glennan ca. 1816 when his son was 2 years old. We don't know who Ewen married but there were 3 children of the marriage. (1) Neil, 1814 - 1882, (2) Mary Bàn, Barra, possibly the g.g. grandmother of Fr. (Rocket) Morrison and (3) Ann who married ? MacDonald, Eilean Shona. Neil, (1) married Ann MacEachan from Polindan (Pol Throundainn or Pliandan) past Keppoch House , near Sgeir 'illip, Loch na Ceall. Ann's family home was known as, "Taigh Dhomhnaill Alasdair". Ann and Neil had 10 children. (1) Catherine b. 1848, (2) Christina b. 1850, (3) Ewen b. 1851, (4) Mary b. 1853, (5) Donald b. 1855, (6) Catherine b. 1856, (7) Margaret b. 1858, (8) John b. 1860, (9) Ann 1862 and (10) Alexander b. 1864.
Christina (2) married Archie Gillies from Ard na Murach, North Morar and they emigrated to Winnipeg, Canada. Ewen (3) was a joiner to trade. He was drowned in Loch Shiel and was buried in Eilean Fhiannain. (The Green Isle) John (8) was known as Johnny Neil and worked for many years as a clerk in the Auction Mart at Nevis Bridge. Latterly he operated a barrow conveying goods from Arisaig Station down to the village. Alexander (10) became tenant of Glennan and heightened and slated the building. He married Mary Weir, dau. of Francis Weir and Mary MacDonald. Francis Weir was from a sheepfarming family which was in Ceann Loch nan Uamh (Glenmamie) from about 1860 - 1888 after which Angus Macnaughton took over the farm. Alexander and Mary had 4 children. (1) Ann b. 1907, (2) Mary Ann b. 1908 m. Bertie Lamont. (3) Nellie b. 1909 and m. Malcolm Gillies from Skye.. (4) Donald Ewen b. 1912. Ann MacEachan (1) m. Ronald Kennedy from Bohuntin, Roybridge, and their 3 children are, A.Mary Theresa who worked in Morar Hotel for several years from about 1953 - into the 60s. Mary m. Duncan MacLennan from Gairloch and they live in Brechin and have 3 children. B.Sarah Margaret who m. John Rose and they have 3 children. C.Donald Joseph unmd. and lives in the family croft in Bohuntin. To conclude ; it is believed that the MacLeans of Kingairloch were descended from the MacLeans of Lochbuie in Mull. It is thought that the MacLeans came from Ireland, to Scotland, before Somhairle, progenitor of Clan Donald.
Thanks to Tearlach MacFarlane for his "MacLean" genealogy and to Mary MacLennan, née Kennedy, Brechin for her research on her Glennan, MacEachan ancestry.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
Letters, e-mails and comments are welcome.
Feel free to Sign our Guestbook
List of Issues online
Copyright © 2002-2007 West Word
Site designed by
Page last updated: February 2007
The Internet Guide to Scotland
Copyright © 2002-2007 West Word
Site designed by