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

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July 2005 Issue

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Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Eigg
West Word ten years ago
Local Genealogy & History

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Sir Cameron Mackintosh has launched a campaign to encourage a community buy out of 14,000 acres of his estate in North Morar, with hopes that the community will want to acquire the land with help from the Scottish Land Fund. Sir Cameron's bid to hand over the majority of his 15,000 acre estate to the community follows a separate bid submitted by a large Edinburgh law firm on behalf of one family to buy six of their crofts outright which could, if successful, create a 4,200 acre hole in the centre of the Estate and threaten the future sustainability of the area for the rest of the community. The Estate's factors, Strutt & Parker, are supporting Sir Cameron's campaign. The firm, which has advised a number of communities considering buy outs under the Land Reform Act believes community ownership in this case offers a viable future for the area.
Strutt & Parker Partner Andrew Aitchison, who manages the Estate said: "Land ownership is an emotive issue but it is a fact that this Estate has existed for almost 250 years and, with only two landlords in this time, this has created continuity and stability which has helped preserve the resources of the area for future generations.
"It is well known that even in the relatively short period Sir Cameron has owned the Estate that he has injected a huge amount of time and financial resources into the area including helping build a community swimming pool, new village hall, retirement home and clinic in Mallaig as well as accelerating the development of other projects. He has also gone to significant lengths and expense to preserve the remaining remnants of ancient woodland on the Estate in accordance with advice given to him by the relevant conservation authorities."
Added Andrew Aitchison: "Levels of inward investment on this scale have created substantial benefits for the community as a whole. Compelling the Estate to sell individual crofts on the basis of an outdated statutory valuation formula which has no regard for modern land values will generate substantial financial benefit for the handful of crofters involved and nothing whatsoever for the rest of the community".
"Sir Cameron feels very strongly that the Estate should be kept together and I believe that the necessary infrastructure and resources now exist to support community ownership. Any community buy out raises complex issues which require to be handled carefully, however, we have considerable experience and are confident that a smooth transfer can be achieved that secures the future of the Estate."
In an open letter to the community, Sir Cameron has highlighted his reasons why community ownership would help to bring future prosperity to the area.

Open Letter from Sir Cameron Mackintosh
The Nevis Estate is threatened with a break up by one crofting family controlling multiple crofts taking advantage of outdated crofting legislation and declaring their intention to buy nearly one third of its area, 4,200 acres, from the heart of the Estate without giving any reason.
I have consulted with my family and we have decided that we would much prefer that the majority of the Estate was taken over by the whole community so that it can continue to be managed for the good of everyone in the area. I never sought to own the Estate but readily took on the responsibility of its stewardship ten years ago at the request of the Lovat family after the tragic death of the two Lovat heirs. I have tried to bring stability to an area I have loved for over 50 years and have worked in conjunction with the Highland Council and the Community to bring many much needed facilities to the area, with the support of my Foundation. This historical Estate, charmingly referred to in the hand-written Deeds as the "Twelve Penny Lands of Morar", has been managed as a single unit since 1768 when it was formed by the Sixteenth Earl of Lovat and remained with that family until I took over in 1995.
In an area of outstanding natural beauty with more and more of the local population depending for their livelihood on tourism, I feel strongly that any decisions affecting the area should be taken with the overall interest of the community in mind. If I am no longer able to do that I have every confidence that the common sense and determination of the local community will best safeguard the area's future and decisions will be taken for the general benefit not individual gain.
Obviously such much debated issues as wind farming or the potential for creating a private sporting estate could affect many people as numerous walkers and tourists travel the large area in question and any benefits derived from the Estate should be shared by everyone.
I have long supported the Crofters Commission's aim to re-examine and re-invigorate crofting for the 21st century in order to ensure that it remains a vital contributor to the local community. But at a time when landowners are learning to deal with a new Land Reform Act designed for the good of communities surely it doesn't make sense that certain crofters who are also stewards of the land can opt out of this positive legislation by utilising archaic crofting legislation for private gain when what is involved is undoubtedly of major community concern. It also can't be fair that in areas like Mallaig and Morar initiatives to release urgently needed housing plots or creating new crofts on unused land, often for young local families, are frustrated by a few crofters who simply prefer to veto any development whatever the need of the community. Yet it seems a crofter who wishes can easily de-croft land and sell it to the highest bidder. I fully appreciate the difficult financial circumstances, which affect most crofters and respect and support their hardworking way of life. However, I know many crofters personally who are as concerned as I am with how the system can be abused. The irony is that when taken to extremes it is the crofter who could arguably be responsible for the modern equivalent for the clearances, not the landowner.
I am proud that during 1998/99 I was able to help the neighbouring estate of Knoydart by negotiating an agreement with the Bank of Scotland to rescue that Estate out of receivership and hold on to an option to purchase until that community was able to raise the money for a buy out, to which I also contributed. Knoydart now has a new lease of life.
In 1999 and in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage and other conservation bodies, I commissioned a ten year integrated land management plan to promote the natural resources of the Estate and would hope that the community, of which I will still be a part, would continue with its recommendations in the event they take on the majority of the Estate.
In the past, the people of Mallaig and Morar have been very supportive of me and now I want very much to support them in placing their future in their own hands.
Cameron Mackintosh

The renovated and refurbished Isle of Eigg Community Hall was opened in grand style on Friday, 10th June, in company of islanders and the many friends and supporters who had travelled from the mainland in beautiful weather. The cutting of the ceremonial ribbon was performed by Rev. Ann Shukman, niece of Lord Runciman, the former owner of Eigg who built the original hall in 1921, and her emotive speech recalled her childhood memories of ceilidhs in the old hall with mention of the traditional 'Eigg War Dance', once performed by the men of the island! Funded by the Community Fund, and supported by Lochaber Enterprise, the hall has been restored beautifully in keeping with the original by Simon Helliwell and his team of island workers and has the addition of modern kitchen and toilet facilities, with wall tiles designed and painted by the children, and the addition of a bar which serves draught beer! The stained glass window, made for Eigg for its 5th birthday celebrations by Bob Harris of Renfrewshire, has been inserted high into the gable wall of the hall, from where it casts a multi coloured patch of light onto the stage. All is set now for another 80 years and more of celebrating Eigg's unique culture!

Ann Shukman, having cut the ribbon, invites all inside the Eigg Community Hall. Photo: West Word

Lots and lots of contributions this month, in the end I gave up the struggle and added an extra four pages (how easy that is to do with the new equipment!). So I hope none of the subscribers fall foul of the postie, if you're surcharged please send us the receipt and we'll refund you. So much for my feelings of depression two months back!
I've just taken a call from Romania, offering West Word cheaper call centre rates than anyone else. So there's a thought - when you phone West Word, it could be a Romanian voice you hear!
West Word does get far and wide as you know - and now being read in China courtesy of subscribers James and Annabelle Cleave, so actually that also means it's not being read in Singapore any more - and this month I've been contacted by researchers for the Tricia Show looking for the reclusive Tattooed man we mentioned many moons ago.
Looking at the weather records on page 4, it seems to have rained considerably more in Arisaig than in Mallaig last month! Many thanks to Roger for the printing this month
Ann Martin

It just goes to show that the School Board Chairman can get things wrong! I honestly thought that we would have a huge battle on our hands to get the remedial work on the Mallaig All-Weather pitch started, let alone finished, this year. The pessimism that I expressed was shown to be misplaced when, even as June's West Word was being sent out to its sellers, the news came out that the contractors were moving on site on the very next Monday morning! Yes, I'll believe that when I see it! And I had to believe it, because I did see it. The pitch is now open again, with the dangerous edging removed and the carpet extended to the perimeter fence.
Congratulations and thanks to all those who have brought the pitch back into use in time for summer, and in time for the game in aid of the Lifeboats. The point has been proved that the work could and should have been done within a few months of the first accident
The School Board hopes that this subject is finally dealt with. The other item that has been on the agenda for many years is the proposed School Hostel, officially known as the Mallaig High School Residence. Last year we were given the assurances that it would be open for this August. The project has been delayed by the amount of work that needed doing to get the new PPI for new Highland Schools of the ground, and by other circumstances. We have been told that the projected opening is now likely to be late 2006, which seems an unnecessarily long delay. We will be pushing to have it available for the new school year in August 2006, when several pupils from the Small Isles and Knoydart are due to move up to the High School in S1.
Geoff Thomas
Chair of Mallaig High School Board

Pipe Major John D Burgess (71) died recently at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, after a short illness. Winner of all major piping awards in this country and abroad, Pipe Major Burgess has for the past 20 years taught piping in schools throughout Easter Ross. He was well known on the Highland Games Circuit as a piping judge and he had been adjudicating at the Arisaig and Mallaig & Morar Gatherings for many years.

I think this column is going to be more about our neighbours than the peninsula! Knoydart residents have been travelling far and wide the last few weeks, travelling to Rum (Sound of Rum music festival), Eigg (anniversary, and opening of the village hall) and Skye (Isle of Skye Music Festival). The Sound of Rum music festival was enormously successful, as you'll have gathered from last month's articles, and we had a great time catching up on the craic and enjoying some fantastic music. An exceptionally well organised event, with a bar to rival (our) Sandy's at the Games, and an innovative toilet system. I think we can learn a lot from a festival like this - although we're not guaranteeing flushing toilets at the Knoydart Games…
Eigg was next on the social timetable, and again Mark Woombs provided RIB transport for a couple of quite rough crossings. The new Eigg village hall was something else to make us green with envy - a light, open and welcoming venue, with the capacity to hold Shooglenifty and lots of enthusiastic dancing. Again, good to catch up with people - thanks for making us so welcome. We look forward to seeing you all on Saturday 6th August.
Here on Knoydart, life has been muddling by as usual. Lots of burning in the forest, with the rhododendrons being cleared full-time by Grant, Daniel and new chainsaw operator Hugh, with myself and Danny S. burning part-time. This project is expected to continue until March next year, and should make a tremendous difference to woodland regeneration and wildflower growth in Inverie woods. Keeps us fit, too…
We had a cracking ceilidh to raise money for the Games ceilidh, with many Knoydart residents getting up on stage and displaying truly hidden talents. Particularly memorable was the sight and sound of five accordions at the same time. Great turn-out from the locals, especially considering it was organised very much at the last minute. Looks like we'll be able to afford Tam's band after all, what with them being superstars and all these days….!
There was a surprise party for Sandy with a "cowboys and indians" theme. Plenty of cowboys, a couple of Native Americans, and a whole lotta line-dancing. Sandy would like to pass on his appreciation to everyone who organised the do, including Ian Robertson who hijacked him, took him to Mallaig, and fed him pints while the party was being prepared.
Oh, and it's the season of unwise yachties again. I'm sitting here (Monday 27th June) watching 10, yes 10, people climb off a yacht and into a small dinghy for the flit to the shore. No lifejackets. Actually, they've made straight for the pier steps. Where they've left their dinghy floating in the way of any incoming boats. You've got to wonder sometimes. Some nights you just dread the thought of the lifeboat appearing on the horizon, but it seems scarily inevitable with some of the antics you see out there.
Did I mention the Knoydart Games yet? Saturday 6th August, with the usual ridiculousness, and a ceilidh band (the Squashy Bag Dance Band) that'll make you dance your socks off….Look forward to seeing you all over here.
Finally, all our thoughts are with Angela and family after their sad loss. Good to have you all back up here again.
Tommy McManmon

June has been a sunny month and the sun certainly shone on our three big events. Duncan Chisholm is a fantastic fiddler. Before midnight we had four hours of music with Ivan Drever singing supported by Ian Ketchin (pipes) and Duncan Ferguson (accordion). After midnight a second concert followed with everyone playing together. Quite a night!
Two days later it was the turn of the Moderator David Lacy who arrived across a calm sea on Sheerwater. After lunch in the Craft Shop and a trailer ride across the island, David joined more than 40 islanders and visitors for a short service.
Another two days and it was the Open Day. Again the sun shone and Sheerwater was almost full. Very few farmers this year but lots of locals. This year's Open Day was special in another way. It was a fund raising event to help pay for chairs for the community. Over £300 was raised.
In July 'Summer on Muck' continues with a weekend of 'All Singing All Dancing' workshop sand concerts with Christine Kydd and Mats Melin and of course sponsored by CAMAS. Hardly is that over when the preparations will be under way for the biggest wedding on the island for years.
On the farm we are only just now cutting the first silage, the latest for years. On its way from John Douglas is the first net wrap baler in the Small Isles. This uses net instead of twine to hold the bale together and should be much faster. Son Colin was on the island last week and together with Sandy Mathers shore almost the entire flock in record time.
Lawrence MacEwen

June has been an especially busy month on Eigg this year: apart from the annual Centre for Human Ecology student field trip, the 30 or so members of FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) chose Eigg to be the location for their get-together this year, and an informative, lively and entertaining bunch they were; Martine brought a group of 64 Swiss visitors for a day visit and of course, we combined the opening of the new community hall with our anniversary fling on the 10 and 11th of June, which brought many well-kent faces to the island and many new ones still.
The weather was glorious for the hall opening which gathered so many of the people who helped making that long held dream a reality at last: amongst them, Ann Martin, our trusted community development worker, Jacqueline from Lochaber Enterprise with her bonnie smiling baby, Natalie Vardey who, back in 1986, made the first ever hall raffle tickets, using Maggie's old treadle sewing machine to punch holes in the hand-printed sheets of paper! The hall committee can justifiably be proud of their achievement in securing the £101,000 from Communities Scotland to turn the old 1920's hall into a modern, light, functional building, well done Sue, Bean, Maggie, Colin and Simon of course our local contractor, who did the initial designs and managed to blend so well the old and the new! As to the novelty of having draught beer in the bar area which looks like a proper bar counter, well, it will take a long time to wear off, I am sure: thank you Donnie for getting that together for us!
Our guest of honour, Ann Shukman, made a moving speech which brought to mind the times when lairds and islanders lived totally separate lives but got together at the ceilidhs - these were for her as a young girl the most exciting moment of her holidays - and praised the new era of community ownership and the achievements it has made possible. It was equally moving, especially for us old-timers, but also for our young people, to watch the slide-show of all the events which have taken place in the old hall: weddings, Christmas parties, pantos, puppet shows, Peggy Mackinnon singing her Eigg songs and Dottie Campbell singing the Barren Line , the old Eigg ceilidh band…


It was then up to the new Eigg ceilidh band and Donna's pupils in Eigg primary joined by the nursery children to gives a tune or two before Chrissie decided to inaugurated the dance floor with a couple of lively schottische and two-steps to the tune of Angus's button box: she was not even out of breath, but her partner, some forty years younger, was! This was a mere prelude to the energetic dancing the following day, which saw the Ya ma Tha ceilidh band in full stride, Shooglenifty surpassing themselves if this is possible, joined by Kaela Rowan for a couple of wonderful soulful songs at the end, and DJ Dolphin Boy who gave the revellers fours hours of uninterrupted great music until they dropped from exhaustion at 7 am! That's what I call a good anniversary bash and a truly good inauguration for the hall, not to forget the Celebrate and Create event on the day which saw another amazing willow sculpture taking shape under Catherine Davies' expert guidance, a power of dreamcatchers being made (no more bad dreams on Eigg for a while I should think) and some strange green men and pacha mamas appearing in the Lodge garden…We are now looking forward to a summer of events in the hall, starting with Eilidh Shaw and the Squashy Bag band. In the meantime, the Eigg primary school and nursery kids are delighted with their new gym space, the Eigg bhoys are working a healthy sweat around the tennis table and I am gearing myself up to offer chi-gong and tai-chi walking to whoever might be into it, visitors and islanders alike!
Camille Dressler.
PS: The recent spate of good weather has brought the basking sharks which are now seen in increasing numbers in our - warmer - waters, very close to Eigg, so close in fact that some pretty good pictures were taken of an 18 ft specimen lazily swimming by the new pier head, whilst Ronnie recorded on his camera a huge fellow, probably about 30ft long, by the north end of the island.

We hope you'll support the first attempt at an 'Arisaig Week' - organised in Games Week this year, planned for May in future. We decided at such short notice that we're still not sure what will be on offer, but we are hoping the Craft Fair will be a success. Come along for your lunch or coffee break and watch the demonstrations - for children Tiina will be there with paper and/or clay and things for the wee ones to do; Alison from the Environmental Group will be making paper out of amazing things and there'll be the chance to have a go. Learn how to mount and frame pictures, paint glass, do batik, and spin! See posters and page 8 for an idea of what else is on offer. We're trying to arrange things for the end of the week too but bear with us if we don't manage it, we'll just have to kick off with a Arisaig Half a Week!
Hopefully very soon there will be a noticeboard opposite the Hall, not only to show What's On but to show visitors where the Hall is! Anybody using the Hall can put information in it if they contact me. Look out for the latest Astley Hall flyers too-lots happening in July, with plenty to keep the children amused!
Ann Martin

Regular readers of West Word will recall our story in the May edition about the fundraising in the area which raised money to buy a boat for a Sri Lankan family who had suffered in the tsunami disaster. Mr D V Wimaladasa, who became the proud owner of the 19ft fibre glass boat called 'Arisaig', has written to thank the people who helped raise the money He says:
'I write today to thank you with deep gratitude, for the most generous gift you gave me. I am a deep-sea fisherman. I lost every thing including my boat to the terrible waves. My sister lost her life that day leaving behind her little three-year old son. I have to support him now as his father is a complete alcoholic. I also look after my aged parents, whom I managed to save that terrible day. Thanks to you I will now be able to get back on my feet and also give a helping and to others in my village. My gratitude to you is immeasurable for reaching out to me as you did, at my time of need. I would not have been able to achieve this much on my own in my entire lifetime. The sea took everything she gave us. I have named the boat after your village. I sincerely hope, that some day you could come down to Sri Lanka and visit our village. It would give us great joy to at least to meet one of you. Blessings to you,
Yours sincerely,
D V Wimaladasa.'
At the time of our May edition, a second boat had been ordered and a further £892 was needed for the gear and engine and you can still donate by contacting Derek Hardman, Ard-nan-Eilein, Arisaig, PH39 4NU. The second boat will soon be handed over to new owners. It will be called 'Morar'.

A Future for Morar?
The 'Morar Futures' project is about working towards a more sustainable future for the village of Morar. It is about improving facilities in the village to ensure a good quality of life for residents of all ages and a memorable holiday experience for its visitors. The project started in 2004 with a community consultation day and a questionnaire survey - results showed there were several issues of concern to the residents of Morar. These issues included: the need for a building on the sports field (changing rooms etc.); better and more accessible footpaths in the local area ; not many facilities for visiting tourists; no public toilets; little affordable housing; very little land available for development; a threatened village school; no village shop - to name but a few!! Morar Community Council has succeeded in securing a small amount of funding to carry on this work and Hilary Trodd from Arisaig has agreed to be an independent facilitator for the project. Better known as a face behind the counter at SPAR Mallaig, Hilary has a background in community project management and is looking forward to working with everyone to produce something constructive.
The next stage is to look at possible actions that can be taken to address the issues raised. An Action Planning Day will take place at Lady Lovat School on Tuesday 2nd August between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Anyone who would like to have an input can just pop in to the school and add their opinions and ideas to the work in progress. You will have the opportunity to propose your own solutions to the problems raised and take as long as you like over it - five minutes or five hours! Its up to you how long you stay. The action planning day is open to all residents and workers in Morar so make sure you make use of this opportunity to have an input.
Hilary will be taking the ideas proposed by the community and talking to various organisations to identify which ideas are practically possible and may be eligible for funding. It is hoped that partner organisations such as the Ranger Service, SNH, Highland Council and Voluntary Action Lochaber will be able to help in identifying projects that can be taken forward. By the end of Spring 2006, the intention is to produce a Morar Action Plan which will list projects that the community have proposed. This will then form the basis of fundraising for the individual projects.
Hilary wants to make sure that anyone living or working in Morar has an opportunity to participate in the next stages of the project as it is important that all ideas and suggestions are considered. If you would like to be involved, please contact Hilary on 01687 450740 or just come along to the Action Planning Day.

The Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Rt. Rev. David Lacy and his wife Joan visited Muck, calling in at Eigg, on 17th June, and Arisaig on 19th June.

Right: Lawrence prepares the transport on Muck


Return to Mallaig for Dukla Pumpherston
Celebrity football team Dukla Pumpherston is set for a return match against a local Mallaig XI on Sunday 17th July. Following the huge success of last year's visit to the west coast fishing village the Dukla side - including former Aberdeen, Celtic, Rangers and St Mirren players - are all set to defend the Caledonian MacBrayne Trophy, which captain TV and Radio personality Chick Young held aloft after last year's victory.
At the end of last year's match, Chick announced that Dukla would be back next year to defend the trophy, and in tribute to Dukla team mate David Armour, who sadly passed away on the eve of last year's match, the trophy has been re-named the Caledonian MacBrayne David Armour Memorial trophy.
This very special challenge match, supported by Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd and in aid of the RNLI Mallaig Lifeboat, takes place on Sunday 17th July at 2.30 pm at Mallaig Football Park. Come along and see local footballers take on a star studded Dukla side which is set to include former Premier Division players along with other sporting and media personalities. It's sure to be a memorable day!

Arisaig's established sailing regatta is scheduled this year for the 6th and 7th of August - and is likely to include a world-first in the annals of competitive sailing. The weekend-slot event - hard on the heels of West Highland Week - is expected to prove more popular than ever, with a record attendance of vessels old and new. This year's event is organised by the Moidart Sailing Association - with much support from the flag-officers of Lochaber Yacht Club.
Competitors from previous years, or newcomers to the local sailing scene, are expected to include Simon Helliwell's beautiful ketch Lola from Eigg, Hugh Grigor of Morar's sloop Alana II, Rod Barry's new 38-foot Luinga, Paul Sheard's Capercaille and the big Arisaig-based ocean-going ketch Janjo. John and Carol Jamieson's Sadler 25, Canisp, and Sue and Pete Barrett's 29-foot Contest, Pasha, are also expected to take part. Simon McDonald's Merry Dancer from Glenuig - the only Soling ever to have sailed round Rockall! - is also likely to attend, as well as Viking, the startlingly quick little Sunfast 20 which did so well last year. Other owners from the locally-based fleet of yachts have also expressed interest in competing, now that the regatta is centred on a weekend.
Although organisers have still to finalise their plans, it is expected that - if the weather be encouraging - a number of Arisaig boats will cruise in company to Tobermory on Thursday 4th, crossing-tacks with the West Highland Week fleet. The Arisaig boats will then race back to their home-port on Friday 5th. Saturday will see the round the marks race, returning in time for the Commodore's Reception, courtesy of Arisaig Marine, which - complete with piper and appropriate Highland music - was such a resounding success last year. On the Sunday - again weather permitting, there will be a "breakfast muster" on the skerries before the traditional Eigg and Spoon Race and prize giving.
A full list of sponsors is now nearing completion, according to the Regatta organisers. At least one new trophy, they say, will be in memory of the late Charlie Williamson, past commodore of the Moidart Sailing Association. Another new trophy is being presented by Robert McLeod of the Mishnish Hotel (and very successful boat of the same name) Tobermory. A further trophy is likely to be in memory of the great Gaelic poet Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair - buried in Arisaig churchyard - which will be the first yacht-racing trophy in honour of a poet in the entire world!
More details: Sue Barrett, Secretary, Moidart Sailing Association, tel: 01687 460002


The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show
The Show was held on Saturday 11th June at Camusdarach, Arisaig, by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Simpson and it proved, once again, to be a successful day all round.
There was an excellent turn-out of exhibitors, both in the livestock and industrial sections, and the committee would like to thank everyone for supporting the show so well, especially those who travelled a long distance. The Isle of Mull and Knoydart were represented both in the livestock and industrial classes and the committee certainly appreciate the support from such far-flung places.
The afternoon entertainment began with a Junior Shinty match heralded by Alasdair Roberts, Bracara, playing the bagpipes. This was followed by a demonstration of Sheep Dog Handling by Iain McConnell, Garvan, ably assisted by his young daughter, Dayni, while his father gave an excellent commentary. There was then a parade of Highland Garron showing how these sturdy ponies have been used by man through the generations for tasks ranging from carrying peat to logging and stalking. Another excellent commentary was given during the parade by Barry Butcher from Nairn explaining the uses of these ponies.
Barry also gave a commentary about the different breeds of sheep present at the show. Following this there was a parade of some of the Highland Cattle round the ring to show the characteristics and qualities of this native breed. During the afternoon we also had sheep-shearing and woodcarving demonstrations.

photo photo

The Dog Show again proved very popular with our local G.P. Iain Gartshore taking the honours with his Wiemerana bitch, Maddy. Throughout the afternoon, music was provided by Alasdair Roberts on the bagpipes and the Lochaber Community Wind Band. There were the usual side shows and stalls, including a 'Guess the Weight of the Lamb' competition and an auction of a wooden sculpture. The proceeds of these were donated to the Lochaber Hydrotherapy Pool funds.
A Football Penalty Points competition was held for the first time and the winners were:
Up to P.3. - 1st. David Campbell, 2nd. Thomas Kennedy.
P.4 - P.7 - 1st. Cameron Muir, 2nd. Reece Macleod.
Secondary school - David Currie.
The Children's Quiz was won by Aodan Barrie of Arisaig with a score of 20 out of 20. Well done!
In the end, a very enjoyable day was had by all concerned and we look forward to another great show next year.

The Gurkhas gathered in Mallaig on 13th June for another fund-raising yomp over the hills. The Western Isles took them to Knoydart to start their 200 mile trek to Loch Arkaig, Corrour, Dalwhinnie, Braemar, Lochnagar and finally Stonehaven, halting at the Commando Monument at Spean Bridge to lay a wreath. The march is to raise money to help Gurkha veterans from World War II. Last year they raised £71,000. They reckon to do a regular 140 paces a minute!

Photo Moe Mathieson

A beautifully presented fish recipe book is going on sale in the Fishermen's Mission in Mallaig, and the royalties from sales will go to The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. With the Foreword by Rick Stein, it features recipes from Richard Corrigan, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Sue Lawrence, Claire Macdonald, Nick Nairn, Mark Prescott, Gary Rhodes, Franco and Ann Taruschio, Mitchell Tonks, Brian Turner, Marco Pierre White, Aldo Zilli - and Andy Race!
At £20 it isn't cheap but it would make a magnificent present for any keen cooks or anyone with an interest in great photography. It's as much about the work of fishing as about the fish, and apart from Andy's recipe for Low Fat Cullen Skink there is a double page spread featuring Iain MacKinnon's inshore fishing.
The press release about the book states: Fish remains the single, healthiest natural commodity at our disposal but the process of catching it involves the most dangerous job left in the world.
Best of British Fish is a compelling tribute to our fishermen and our fishing heritage, and the lifestyles involved in bringing fish to our table. This highly visual fish cookery book features delicious recipes from some of Britain's most acclaimed chefs and food writers, including Gary Rhodes, Richard Corrigan and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. The recipes are accompanied by fascinating stories of the men and women who have dedicated their lives and livelihoods to fishing.
Food writer Hattie Ellis has travelled around the British coast to meet some of fishing's most striking figures, from trawlermen to fish-and-chip sellers, discovering the pains and the pleasures experienced by the people who work at the sharp end of British fishing, including inshore fishermen, cocklers, fishmongers and more. The stunning reportage photography captures portraits of these figures and their unique way of life.
Easy and more elaborate dishes from fish restaurateurs, fishmongers and fishermen complete the diverse collection of recipes, which represents the wealth of fish caught in British waters including how to use many undervalued and sustainably-caught species. The result is a unique combination of dishes: bringing the pleasures of British fish to your table, alongside an account of the harsh realities of life at sea.
A selection of Britain's best-loved chefs and food writers have joined forces with fishermen and fishmongers to create a collection of recipes that follow British fish from sea to plate. The recipes are collated and edited and the stories of the sea are told by Hattie Ellis and Camilla Sacchi. With reportage photography by Simon Impey (and Camilla Sacchi). Hattie Ellis is the author of several books, including Sweetness and Light: the mysterious history of the honey bee and Eating England.
Camilla Sacchi hopes to be at the Mission Weekend to help promote the book .
This year we are celebrating Sea Britain 2005 festival; a special, memorable year celebrating Britain as a seafaring nation and highlighting its enviable maritime heritage.

Morar Field Club Outing
On a perfect afternoon at the beginning of June a flotilla of two boats and three kayaks, eleven people in all, went across Loch Morar to Rhetland and Lettermorar. It was sunny, warm and just enough of a breeze to keep the midges at bay. Rhetland is an almost forgotten little clachan on the other side of the loch opposite Bracara. It has been uninhabited since July 1790 when its entire population (MacDonalds) sailed on the ships 'Lucy' and 'Jane' bound for Prince Edward Island. A number of the old homesteads could just be made out despite the encroaching bracken as could the lazy beds they worked. We stood among the old walls while Alasdair Roberts told us the history of the place.
Returning to the boats we continued round to Lettermorar in the next bay. This had never been other than a sheep-gathering area with one shepherd and his family. Thanks to information from Alastair MacLeod of Morar it is now clear where all the Rhetland stones went. A great wall at the back of Lettermorar marks the boundary of a huge tup park, and the rest of the Rhetland cattle herders' houses went for the fank. Cattle to sheep, and not a soul in sight nowadays.

Wartime Review On Friday 17th June, the Astley Hall's blue and white décor, festooned with Union Jack bunting and commemorative flags, created the atmosphere of 60 years ago. The Brownies immediately got everyone 'In the Mood' when they came on stage dressed to reflect the people of the 1940s. With a lively 'hand-jive', the show of songs and sketches got underway.
After 'Goodnight Sweetheart' and 'White Cliffs of Dover', Margaret and Erin (soldiers), Morven and Frea (sailors), showed the armed forces' thoughts and feelings of back home. After 'I'll be Seeing You in All the Old Familiar Places' Amy portrayed the heartbreak when a telegram announcing loss of a loved one arrived.
With a rousing chorus of 'Land of Hope and Glory', and Anna Marie's announcement of VE Day, the tone lightened somewhat. The song 'Run Rabbit, Run' introduced three landgirls (Abby, Jessica and Kirsty) as they contemplated their return to life and responsibilities away from the farm. 'Sally, Sally' showed Jenna and Erin as housewives considering the changes their husbands would find on their return. As 'We'll Meet Again' finished, two evacuee children (Amy and Caragh) argued about who was looking forward the more to Dad's return, and showing how little they really knew of these mystical figures.
The audience was then invited to share a 'rationed' tea - a cup of tea with a choice of spam, dripping, egg, or jam sandwiches. Delicious! Tins of spam featured in the raffle prizes too, but the 1st prize basket of fruit had exotic bananas - and a pineapple! The Review's finale had everyone participating in the 'hand-jive' to 'In the Mood', singing along to 'We'll Meet Again', then saying goodnight with The National Anthem.
The Show was both uplifting and thought provoking. The Brownies showed both enthusiasm in their characterizations, and sensitivity to the situations they portrayed. Thank you to all who worked to make the evening a success, and to Vera MacDonald and Mrs Rollison, who shared personal memories with the girls. Thank you to the audience who supported this event and helped raise £190 for Brownie Funds.

West Word - ten years ago by Robert MacMillan
The West Word of July 1995 had a cover price of 50p, 32 pages and coverage of three items on its front page. A photo showing heavily armed kilted Highlanders on the steam locomotive (No 75014) was captioned 'Steam Returns to Mallaig' and the story told of the first run of the Jacobite steam train on the West Highland Line which had taken place on Tuesday 27th June. Operator David Smith announced there would be 60 trips that summer - five per week.
The foundering of the local fishing boat Fidelis and the subsequent rescue of its four man crew by the Rescue Helicopter was, quite rightly, given front page prominence, as was Maruma's weekend visit to the Feis Eige weekend. This gave the islanders a chance to meet their new landlord.
Rubbish and its disposal was the subject matter covered by Council Corner and Councillor King also told of a meeting of the Trustees of the new Morar Playing Field (has it really taken 10 years to come to fruition!).
Nothing much has changed in that same period for the fishing industry, as back in July '95 Hugh Allen was bemoaning the pressure being applied to the fishing industry by environmental lobbyists (see this month's article by John Hermse). A half page feature on Roshven artist Jemima Blackburn ended with the news that some of her paintings would be on display, for one month only, at the Mallaig Heritage Centre. (Ten years on, there is a display of her work currently at Arisaig's Land, Sea & Islands Centre.)


Other items included in Issue 9 Volume 1 was the usual Round and About feature of news from around the district, Molly Grigor recalled her Peruvian Adventure and Paul Galbraith provided A Glimpse from the Past - the importance of herring fishing to Mallaig and the surrounding area.
Local lass Heather Smith, aided and abetted by her dad Hamish, described her incredible Microlight Island Hop in aid of Raleigh International. Skye/Eigg/Muck/Coll/Tiree/Mull - phew, what a day out that was!!!
A great success was the verdict and congratulations to all involved in the very first Road to the Isles Agricultural Show at Camusdarach - the Mission Weekend also went well with HMS Alderney being the special guest.
Anne Cameron (11), Morroch, was the winner of the competition to design a logo for Arisaig Community Council while Leanne MacVarish (13) and Euan Baillie (12) were adjudged joint winners in the West Word Children's Cartoon Competition (is this something we should re-visit, Mrs Editor?)
There was a nice letter from Mallaig born Mary Snow (nee Johnson) recalling her village childhood and her husband Eric also provided a piece.
This was one of the Snippets...only another two members needed for the magic 100 at Traigh Golf Club...I wonder if they ever made it and I wonder how many members the 2005 Club can boast? Maybe we will find out by the next edition of West Word.

A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
More MacLellans….
Sometime ago, I wrote about 'Illeasbuig, Brinacory, my g.g. grandfather and g. grandfather of Ronnie MacLellan, Seaview. Gilleasbuig was the son of Donald MacLellan and Sarah MacDougall and his wife was Margaret MacDonald, dau. of John MacDonald and Catherine MacLellan. Gilleasbuig and Margaret were married in Bracara in 1833 and had 11 children. Around 1885, one of the children, Archie, moved to Kintail as a shepherd/gamekeeper and married Flora MacRae. Over the generations, contact between Morar/Mallaig and Kintail, was difficult and little was known of what became of the family.
We now know that, Archie and Flora moved to Ardnarff, Strome Ferry when Archie went to work for the railway. The family lived there for many years. Archie and Flora MacLellan are buried in Clachan Duich cemetery in Kintail. Their family was as follows: 1. Margaret, 2. Jessie, 3. Archie, 4. Kenny, 5. Donald, and, 6. Ann.
Margaret, had two children, 1A, Margaret and 2A, William MacLellan.. She married a MacDermott, late in life and there was no issue.
1A. Margaret, m. Alexander Watson and they had a son, Alasdair who never married and a daughter, Mary, b. 1935, who m. John MacGregor from Broadford. Their two children, Alexander and Margaret, were both married with issue.
2A. William MacLellan m. Christina, who may have been a member of the renowned Murray piping family, of Easter Ross. They had 4 children. John, 2B. William, 2B. Roddy, 2B. who was unmarried and Jessie, 2B. who died young.
2 B. John MacLellan was Pipe Major of the 1st Battalion Cameron Highlanders then became Director of Pipe Music, British Army, and was based at Edinburgh Castle. He Married "Bunty" ? and had two children, Colin Roy and a daughter. In his turn, Colin Roy became a Pipe Major and must have inherited his father's gift for composing. At the 100th anniversary of the death of Sir John A. MacDonald, (b. Glasgow Scotland in 1815 of Highland parentage, and one of the founding fathers and first Prime Minister of Canada), the Clan Donald Society of Canada, proposed that a new piobaireachd be composed for the occasion, under the auspices of the "Piper and Drummer Magazine". Entries came in from all over the world and the chosen composer was Colin Roy MacLellan, who played his composition, "Salute to Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada's First Prime Minister" at the Centennial celebrations in Kingston, Ontario, in June 1991.The musical score and other information, can be found in the Clan Donald Magazine, No. 13. At that time Colin Roy MacLellan, his wife, Shelley and their two children, were living in Maxville, Ontario but, they have since moved back to Glasgow.
2B. William m. Pearl ?, has 2 children and lives in Sunderland.
2. Jessie, 3. Archie, and 4. Kenny, were all unmarried.
5. Donald m. Flora ? Information on this branch of the family is scant. Donald and Flora had 7 children and after Donald was killed by a train, some of the family moved to Inverness and contact was spasmodic. Of the 7 children, Robbie, John and Jessie were unmarried. Archie m.Cathie? And had 6 children, one of whom, Janet MacLeod, is still in Kyle with her family. She visited Morar ca. 2000 for the celebration mass on Eilean Bàn. The other members of Donald and Flora's family, Alex. Jocky and Dan, were also married with issue. N.F.I. other than, that Dan was drowned in the Caledonian Canal.
6. Ann m. Bill Kane from Glasgow and their family was, John, Catherine Ann, Duncan, Bill, Iain, Margaret, Mary, Nancy and Philomena. Duncan was ordained priest. Nancy and Mary, 73 and 74 respectively, are still living in 2005.
I hope, soon, to be in contact with Jack MacLellan in Australia, a descendant of Donald and Flora MacLellan, late of Ardnarff, Strome Ferry.

From West Word's Internet Guest Book
The first time I saw an issue of West Word was when they looked up "Vamy" for me at the Nova Scotia Archives in Halifax in 2003. I was on my way to the Games and Clan MacGillivray Gathering in Antigonish, N.S. (Vamy MacGillivray "Heaven")! Clan Pres. Jerry MacGillivray & Clan Genealogist Michael Anderson were so welcoming!!
In '02 I was able to attend the International Clan MacGillivray Gathering in Inverness, Scotland. This was a week-long event that was so wonderfully run by Ishbel MacGillvray-MacGregor & her husband, John...though I still wasn't sure exactly where in Inverness our McGillivrays came from...only that my great-aunt Catherine McGillivray (who just died in Mar.'04...2 wks. before her 104rth b'day) had told me to never forget that we came from the Vamy McGillivrays. However, even though there's a paragraph about both the Vamy & the Ban MacGillivrays in the History of Antigonish book, no one seemed to know where that was in Scotland, other than maybe it was the name of a river over there.
Since then, I've been doing a lot more work going back on our family history & genealogy. So far, records indicate that we go back from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin to Glengarry, Ontario to Lac-St-Jean-Est, though one of the census shows one of them in New Brunswick. I am stuck on the one who was born in 1771, in Lac-St.-Jean-Est.
I found something that I thought I got off the Road-to-the-Isles that showed Glen Mama and Loch Mama, but I couldn't find it again. I had somehow found out that it's possible that Vamy means Mama (as pronounced in Gaelic).
Even though I know in genealogy, one is to keep working backwards, I'm hoping it would help us to confirm that it refers to a place location and if so, where. Then maybe we can get some clues as to what ships to look for. There is very little available about the very early group; much more is available about the later ones settling in Glengarry (many of whom were Mac & McDonalds in addition to McGillivrays. Several of our McGillivrays married McDonalds.
I am going to the Clan MacGillivray USA Gathering this Aug. I am planning on going to Glengarry, etc. Canada next spring or summer. I would like to connect all this together, so I know where to book accommodations in the area when I return to Inverness in the summer of '07 for the next Clan MacGillivray Gathering. My plan is to attend the Clan Gathering functions during the week, and then hopefully we can rent a car and come to stay for a while in the beautiful area that it seems the Vamy branch came from!
The website is beautiful! Even my friend who was raised in Dundee, Scotland wants to spend time there. I am hoping that Allan MacDonald, with his wonderful column on genealogy can shed some light on this. Keep up the terrific effort. I enjoy reading it!
Sharon, a Vamy McGillivray, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Return to Tarbet
The three sweetest phrases in the Gaelic are said to be -
'my own wife' 'my own boat' and 'let us go home'.
Donald MacDonald has at least been granted the third blessing. On Saturday June 11th, he finally left the Mackintosh Centre in Mallaig to return to his own croft at Tarbet.
His successful return was an answer surely to many prayers and, on the worldly side, due to the generosity and resourcefulness of Tom and Jill McClean of Ardintigh Adventure School and the Farnham District Scouts, providentially up on holiday, being prepared to lend many hands.
So the Gypsy Rover was put at Donald MacDonald's disposal with the Scouts as crew, but how to transfer the VIP passenger shore to ship, with no loss of dignity on steep harbour steps?
Recourse was had to the Mallaig Lifeboat, and Mr George Lawrie, Operations Manager, with his son Geoffrey, accorded Donald the privilege of embarking directly from the Lifeboat pontoon; thus assisted, he was soon safely ensconced in Tom's comfortable director's chair previously installed in the cabin. Now due East for Tarbet and home… But the gremlins were not so easily eluded. The passenger was safely aboard; his luggage had returned to Morar. Jill McClean phoned, drove back to the harbour, the Gypsy Rover turned back, picked up the essentials, and set off again. Meanwhile, the housekeeper at Tarbet waited anxiously for an hour and a half, imagining every mishap from krakens to collisions with the Cal Mac ferry. The tide was going out too, so how would he disembark? Her nerve broke, and she went out to phone Tom from in front of the old church of Our Lady Star of the Sea.
Then she noticed a wooden object on the rocks. It was a set of two steps, in inch-thick plywood. They had not been there in the morning. Ten minutes later the Gypsy Rover arrived.
When Donald MacDonald stepped down on to the wooden pier edge, these steps were exactly flush with the top. Ship to shore transfer successful...thanks be to God.
Arm in arm, Tom McClean and Donald MacDonald went up the pier, and soon, Donald was sitting comfortably by his own fireside with his own dog at his feet.
The housekeeper wonders, if heaven above was not lit up with all the stars of a summer's night, as Our Lady turned to St Joseph and smiled as She said:'have they forgotten all the years I was a carpenter's wife?'
Janet Cameron

Safely home: (l to r) Sarah, Tom, Martin, Mark, Ian and Donald MacDonald.

I'm looking for… ...any information about my MacKinnon family.
I recently came across your publication while searching the web, for someone who has only visited briefly visited twice but whose family built and worked on the railway I enjoyed the read. I am wondering if any of your readers can assist me my grandfather was John MacKinnon, his father Murdoch MacKinnon was one of the construction workers on the railway and then lived in one of the railway cottages before retiring to Victoria Buildings Mallaig. They had several children; Donald, William, Kate, Angus, Annie, Flora & Angus who owned the Morar store in the 1930's-1950's.
I am keen for any information from anyone that may remember them at all, Donald died in WW1 and is I believe commemorated on the Memorial in Morar. If anyone is prepared to take a photograph I would be happy to pay for the costs and postage. They appear to have been a very private family as we do not even know what regiment my grandfather John served in WW1 and photo's of anyone are equally rare.
Any help anyone can give would be much appreciated; I look forward to the next time I am able to visit the area again.
Yours most sincerely
Stuart Young, 121 Kereone Rd, RD 1, Morrinsville, New Zealand

I'm looking for…
...anyone who remembers the Clark brothers from the 1950s.

My two brothers and I were fostered to the people at Kinloid Farm, Arisaig. Our names were Tommy, George & James Clark, we went to the catholic school at the end of Arisaig Village called St Marys.
I, James Clark, had my confirmation at the little church just down from the school . This was early to mid fifty's. I was about 5 years old when we arrived in Arisaig. Tommy was the oldest and George the youngest. The question I'm asking: has anyone still got photos from that time, any that we the Clarks are in, school photos or other photos that we may be in. If (a big if) any one has could you please copy them, and send them to West Word, Morar Station Building, Morar PH40 4PB. They will have my contact address.
I hope you can help, please have a go, I would be very grateful.
Yours faithfully
James Clark

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The paper version of West Word contains 36 pages (A4 size) including:

  • Reports from the local communities
  • Reports from the coastal ranger, lifeboat log and weather
  • Columns on local sport and politics
  • Poets corner, letters, snippets
  • Feature articles, local events, festivals and games
  • .....and lots more photos!

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