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

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July 2009 Issue

Contents of the online version:

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

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Contact Details & How to Subscribe to the Paper
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photo photo

HRH The Duke of Kent visited six west coast RNLI Lifeboat stations on Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th June. His Royal Highness, who is President of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, visited Stornoway, Lochinver and Portree Lifeboat stations on the 17th, and the following day the Duke visited Kyle of Lochalsh, Mallaig and Tobermory.
His Mallaig visit was quite literally a flying visit as he arrived via helicopter at 10.45am, and by 11.45am he was on his way to lunch with the crew and officials of the Tobermory Lifeboat.
Lifeboat Operations Manager for Mallaig, Zander Mathieson, said 'Whilst here the Duke was given a tour of the Henry Alston Hewat by Coxswain Michael Ian Currie, Mechanic Jeffrey Lawrie and crew, after which , dodging the raindrops, he met RNLI flag waving children from Mallaig Primary School (Gaelic Medium) who sang him a Gaelic song. In the Lifeboat Station, the Duke took time to look at the display of pictures from past rescues involving Mallaig Lifeboat and events including one dating back to 1968 when his mother, the Duchess of Kent, named the Mallaig Lifeboat.
We wished him well for the rest of his visit, presented him with a bottle of Harbour Water whisky and some smoked salmon, and told him he was always welcome in Mallaig.

The Isle of Eigg are celebrating again, this time because they have been crowned the North region winner of the Scottish Calor Village of the Year Competition 2009 and awarded a plaque and £2000 for community investment.
Organised by Calor Gas Ltd., with support from the Association of Scottish Community Councils (ASCC), and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation's (SCVO) Rural Team, the awards are designed to allow Scotland's rural communities to promote their success and achievements, share best community practice and demonstrate initiatives towards sustainability. Communities were judged on four categories this year: people, business, sustainability and communication. To clinch the award, Eigg resident Lucy Conway and Kathleen Miller had to travel to Stirling to deliver a presentation to judges.
The island will now go head to head against the South and Central Scottish regional winners to vie for the title of Scottish Calor Village of the Year 2009. Judges will visit each of the three villages in mid-August before determining the final winner, who will receive a further £7000 for community investment.
Pictured l to r: Holly Simms, Marketing Communications Manager for Calor Gas, Lucy Conway and Kathleen Miller.

Well, here's a quick update on the K10 celebrations....
The James Hawkins art exhibition was very well received. Limited edition, numbered prints are for sale. The large print of Rum, Eigg and Skye is £80; all others (medium) are £50 each, plus £3 P&P (see www.knoydart-foundation.com - all profits to the Foundation). A community preview was attended by plenty of locals who enjoyed viewing James' paintings and a film which he shot in Knoydart. James also gave us a great insight into the progression of his art through the years.
What a great crew came up for the Rhodie bash - over 55 newcomers and old hands made for a keen team, fueled by pasties and local venison / goat burgers. We very nearly achieved our aim of complete eradication of the large rhododendron ponticum bushes, with most plants left over on private land which we don't have permission to clear. The 10 days were finished off with most of the crew joining in on the Saturday night ceilidh (popularly attended, and starring Neil Ewart and friends), followed the next night by a cracking meal (cooked by Dave Marriott). Many thanks to Grant for organising such a huge project. Now get some sleep man! The Craft Fair proved popular, with lots going on including entertainment from the giant-insect-and-snakes-man alongside the "make your own insect" competition. More conventional crafts including lace-making, pottery, sculpture and card-making kept people amused on a beautiful day.
What's happening in July? 20-24 July sees our Renewable Energy week, with an opportunity to take part in guided walks to the hydro system as well as various other activities which should be published very soon on the website if anyone gives me the stuff to publish! Apart from K10 stuff: pub extremely busy throughout July, lots of sun and clegs but not so many midges, lots of yachts and campers, new shed built up at hydro dam for storage and workers' accommodation taken up by helicopter, hydro improvements ongoing...
Tommy McManmon

A considerable crowd had gathered on the hillside at Port Mor. They had come to bid a last farewell to Ann Nimmo Smith. Alan Lamb conducted a short service. 2nd son Ian spoke to and of his mother with eloquence. A fine block of Morayshire sandstone will mark the last resting place of Ann's ashes and ensure she is not forgotten by future generations. After in the gardens of Port Mor House we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed a superb buffet created by Mary and Toby, until it was time for Sheerwater to depart.
Three weeks later came the premiere of 'Aqua Bubble' our much anticipated Muck film written and produced by the island children guided by Sam Firth from Knoydart. In a well choreographed ceremony in Muck's latest iconic building, and attended by a large contingent from Knoydart, headmaster Bryan Gregg commenced proceedings with an amusing and appropriate introduction. This as followed by 'rushes' from the original track which indicated that acting comes naturally to many children. The film itself followed; a slightly incredible storyline which did not exceed the boundaries of today's film industry. Lastly Sam Firth made awards to the members of the cast. A very pleasant afternoon which does not happen every day on the Island of Muck.
A few days later it was time to say goodbye to Jeff and Ros Garratt and Katie who have lived on the island for little over a year but have made a big impact. A dark cloud on a June which has turned out to be the sunniest for many years. And all this heat has really brought on David Barden's fruit and vegetables. So if it is local produce you are looking for where better to come than Muck. On the farm sheering is well over, silage has started and we have made several hundred small bales of hay.
Lastly I must remind you that we have a Community Hall fundraising ceilidh in the barn on the 25th. June. See you there!
Lawrence MacEwen
P.S. I have just been reminded that this June is special for another reason. Alan Lamb has just completed 50 years of service in the ministry. What a remarkable record by a remarkable man! May the best wishes of the island be with you.

We've had a very pleasant month here on Eigg with the sunniest weather in the country making us all feel very smug indeed. With temperature reaching 27 degrees on Monday 2nd June, my French visitor, for whom it was a first ever visit to Scotland, is all set to advertise Scotland as an alternative to the Caribbean...And as to the French wedding party, they certainly had a ball, even though the groom arrived a trifle late for the ceremony because the best man had lost track of time on Laig beach!
Flat calm seas allowed a good size party from Eigg to invade the Mishnish the following weekend for Fiona Cherry's 40th birthday. The Kirk and Carr families from Eigg joined the Morrisons from South Uist to give Fiona a hell of a surprise! We miss her sharp wit, but it's all Mull's gain.
Farming wise, it was a joy to be marking sheep in this weather but for Eigg Electric, it was not so much fun, on top of being on red alert as water levels had gone down substantially, one of the three original inverters decided to play up, repeatedly turning the whole system off and causing John Booth a few sleepless nights to get the problem sorted. The errant inverter has now been replaced and all is well, but there was a slight moment of anxiety at the thought of power stoppage as our 12th Anniversary ceilidh was in full flow! Everything went smoothly however, and a good night was had by all: Ya-matha got everyone on their feet and there were even enough folks for a good size Petronella! Then Donna and the Laig Boys (aka Ben and Jo Cormack on guitars and Brendan Greene on the drums) did us proud by warming up the audience to a right frenzy (Celtic Connections next, it is rumoured?) so that when the eight musicians from The Chair got going with their rocking Orcadian tunes, there was hardly anyone left sitting down! The Chair truly lived up to their Heb Celt reputation, a great live act! Catch it if you can... I can't remember much of the rest of the night, but all I know is that in the early hours of the morning, DJ Dolphin Boy had such cool tunes going that it was too lovely to go home and sleep... Much nicer to stay on and chill out around the fire outside the ceilidh hall catching up with old friends!
Another year gone by and among the community's achievements this year, apart from our Big Green Challenge successes, which now include a full renovation of Laig farm house (4 cm of insulation in each room, double glazed windows etc), and we can now count the completion of phase 1 of our Museum of Crofting Life in Cleadale, which Rob Gibson MSP came to open with on Saturday 13th June. This was a project which the Isle of Eigg History Society had been working on for a long time, and it was great to see a good turn out for the opening with so many people showing an interest in the every day objects displayed in the house, which feels as if its occupants have only left yesterday.

Camille recounts the history of the croft house at the museum opening, with Rob Gibson, MSP looking on.

The Campbell family who had lived in the house from the 1900's to the 1990's left such a wealth of objects and memorabilia that the house has been turned into a veritable time capsule spanning those 90 years of occupancy. A dram was drank to the memory of a family who counted two members decorated for bravery in WW2, Mary Campbell, and her brother Duncan, without forgetting Dolina, who worked as a nurse in Glasgow, and old Morag who retired in the family croft after a life in service. Visitors were also offered a cup of tea in the old china tea-set belonging the Campbells and the MacDonalds, their old neighbours, and a slice of Peggy's famous clootie dumpling. Future projects will include doing up the cart shed and other outbuildings at the back of the house, creating demonstration lazybeds and continuing the work done on the house. In the meantime, guided visits to Tigh Iain Dhonnachaidh will be featuring strongly in the Eigg Homecoming week this September. Throughout the summer, visits can be arranged by appointment through phoning the Isle of Eigg History Society on 01687 482417 or 01687 460049).
Last but not least, congratulations to Eilidh Kirk who is graduating in her English BA this month. Proud parents Sue and Alistair have gone down to the graduation ceremony in Falmouth with Eilidh's brother Ewen, whilst Ruairidh is holding the fort, back on Eigg...
June Birthdays: Stuart Millar, Brendan Greene, Stuart Fergusson, Tasha Lancaster, Sue Kirk. July birthdays: Duncan Ferguson, Erin Thomson, Amy Carr, David Kirk, George Carr, Mia Lancaster. Arggh Can't remember anymore?
Camille Dressler

The Isle of Rum Community Trust are now progressing well with the detail of the handover from SNH. Tattie House, a potential development site on the south shore of Loch Scresort has been put onto the open market at £40,000 to raise funds for other potential projects, including the new shop/tearoom/office/showers/toilets adjacent to the old pier. Work has almost been completed on the improvements to the camp ground, a new shower block and cooking shelter have been installed. The extension to the kitchen in the village hall is coming along well with Sandy Fraser grafting away single-handed all hours to get the job done. He is of course assisted by our frequent American visitor, Ian MacDonald, but I say single-handedly because of a rather painful incident with a 4x2 baton, a nail gun and Sandy's hand.
Out on the Reserve, two new foals were born this month. Poppy gave birth to Minishal (a girl) and Judy, who is Poppy's Mum, gave birth to Harris (a boy) who is therefore Minishal's uncle, it's all a bit like Eastenders…
The eagles have had a good year with all three breeding pairs producing two chicks each with is certainly a good healthy sign and there have been the usual sightings of otters, dolphins and minke whale around the coast but we are still awaiting the first basking shark of the season.
The castle continues its busy year with parties of all sizes of guests enjoying the queues for shower and baths, as I speak the water pressure is dropping so I'd better go and investigate.
David Birks

A new ranger service has been created by the Isle of Rum Community Trust with a principal aim of ensuring that all visitors get the most from the island's outstanding cultural and natural heritage. The IRCT employs one ranger at the moment to carry out all the interpretative work on the island and this is a three year position funded in part by the European Union, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Highland Council. A comprehensive programme of public events are taking place this summer and includes engaging family-oriented wildlife experiences, guided walks and evening talks. The ranger service also provides educational support for visiting schools, universities & organised parties. If you are interested in taking part in an event this summer, please check out our website www.isleofrum.com
Ranger News: Spring and early summer have seen some changes, with the Visitor Centre now up and running again. We were lucky to have the expertise of Jonathan Willet who led the Dragonfly weekend on the 6th- 7th June, and all who attended learnt heaps and saw some fantastic species including four-spotted chasers and golden ringed dragonflies. Other wildlife encountered lately includes a long dead minke whale at the beach at Samhnan Insir, a fine (adult summer) great northern diver, basking shark, six spotted burnet, ring ouzel, bottle nosed and common dolphin, and a lone spotted flycatcher and wood warbler. Both male and female hen harriers have been reported more frequently this summer, suggesting that they may be breeding on the island again this year. Good news for our resident golden eagles also, with two out of our three pairs having twins this year. The wild flowers are great at the moment with many northern marsh orchids out around the village and lots of alpine lady's mantle and mountain everlasting visible on the cuillin ridge. Barn swallows are doing very well again this season with six sites occupied, and an interesting choice of nest site has been observed from one pair who are using our old flit boat the Rhouma. Lets hope their young fledge before the boat is sold!
Mike Werndly
Isle of Rum Community Ranger Service

I'm feeling somewhat cheated that the longest day has come and gone already…surely that should happen in the middle of the school holidays or something? I'll probably not be the first to say it but…'Aye, the nights are fair drawing in…'
We're baking over here. Forecast is for continued high pressure. The recent spell of dry weather has delighted us all, but has left us with the prospect of water rationing unless we get some significant precipitation in the next few days. A water gun amnesty has been declared this month; visitors are encouraged to leave their Supersoakers, etc., (anonymously) in the bins provided. And remember the Hose Meister will be monitoring the pier to make sure all vessels turn off the tap after they fill up.
Did I mention the Big Birthdays last month? No? Well don't worry ladies…I won't say a word. A meticulously planned attempt to take over the island was foiled last weekend. A yacht known to be based on the Isle of Eigg stole into the bay in broad daylight and immediately began kelp harvesting operations. A very Happy Camper from Rum was uncovered (thankfully covered) near the Rhu Church, and an interloper from Muck masquerading as a shepherd was found at Tarbert. But not before he managed to nick one sheep…(How he managed to get it on the Loch Nevis I'll never know.)
Talking of invaders, there's an infestation in the Steinway at the Big house. Beetles at the piano again.
Shearing all but done and dusted! Our farmers are doing well at the sales; say no more. Very Large Bull arrived safe and sound; off to do what these animals do, hopefully…managed to avoid asking if it came with a guarantee…
Notice to Aviators - Please be wary of small children low-flying in what appears at first glance to be a turbo-propellered shopping trolley. Fun Factor 5; Silly Grin Category: High. One of our regular visitors is back once again with paragliding kit…flights around the island for those brave enough! This correspondent was barely able to leave the ground. Unfavourable wind conditions? Wrong parachute? Let's just say the excess 25kg made a difference…
As we speak preparations are underway for the Annual School Olympics. Highlights will include the Huffin' Puffin' Hill Race, Rodent Throw and for the first (probably last) time the Nettle Eating Championship. Full report will follow next month. Top tip for those feeling the heat in the Cairtie Race…don't blame it on the sunshine, just blame it on the bogie…
Geoff Soe-Pang

We've been basking in sunshine all month. People have been making the most of the loch to cool down in or to go off on boat trips to the sandy beaches that lie along its shore. The very minute the children were coming out of school for summer the heavens opened with a heavy downpour. Fingers crossed the sun comes back for the school holidays.
We started the month with our annual village fun day. It began with a bogie race and there were some cracking entries. It is really great the effort that some of the teams went to. The race was followed with races, the water slide and a barbecue. Thank you to those who donated food to the barbecue. It was much appreciated and enjoyed. The day lived up to its name and was a fun day.
Glenfinnan was a ghost town on Friday 12th June, according to several sources. Where was everyone? Mallaig, of course, at the wedding of David Robertson and Fiona Ironside. It was a lovely wedding on a hot, sunny day, great food, craic, music and dancing. People had a great time meeting old and new friends. Congratulations, David and Fiona.
We also had the pleasure of meeting baby Euan Donald, Catherine and Greig's first born, nephew to David and first grandchild for DJ and Joan. Congratulations!
The Glenfinnan / Mallaig connection continues with the Mallaig Song Project. About a dozen Mallaig schoolchildren came to the Old Laundry studio in Glenfinnan to record an album of new gaelic songs. The youngsters worked with Iain MacFarlane, Ingrid Henderson, Anne Martin, Hugh MacCallum, Ross Martin and Martin Whyte. The album is being finished in the studio and will be available for sale locally in the near future.
Pawel has organised regular music sessions in Glenfinnan House Hotel on Thursdays from 9pm. Members of the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band will be there each week to host the session and musicians are welcome to join in. The first one was a great success with a full to bursting bar which shows the strength of desire for a good tune. They're going to be on every week throughout the season so if you like good music and good company come along. The four four-year olds in the village finished nursery and will be starting school in August! Bella was 3 in June and Shane and Angus Iain will be 2 this month. So now we will have four two-year olds in the village. Happy Birthday children!
Congratulations to Ailsa Powell who is getting married to a very clever man in October!
Well done to Kirsty and Aine who passed their first highland dancing exams and won a blue badge and certificate. They have their sights on dancing at the Glenfinnan Games! The road petition to lower the speed limit through the village is attracting a lot of signatures. If you would like to support this campaign please visit the National Trust visitor centre where you can add your name to the petition. Every signature really does count.
Eileen O'Rua

Launch of calendar and website
This month we would like to give you a bit of news about the Trust's activities. Firstly, we have produced a calendar for 2010 with pictures of stunning Morar! It is very suitable as a Christmas or birthday present, or as a gift to send someone who has moved away from the area.
The calendar will be for sale on Mission Gala day Saturday 4th and at the Morar & Mallaig Highland Games on 2nd August. It will be available in the Heritage Centre, Ginger and at Morar Motors. Possibly it will be sold in other outlets later on. All proceeds will go to the Morar Community Trust.
The Trust's main aim at this moment is to create a pavilion in the Games Field. As this will provide changing rooms for sports events, public toilets and a cafe, this building will not only benefit Morar but the whole area. Sports teams from elsewhere can be invited and more sports events organised. Spectators will be able to enjoy the games from the comfort of the veranda.
Secondly, some time this month our website will be ready for viewing! The address is: www.morar.org.uk. On it we intend to publicise our newsletter, events, some local history and other information. We are setting up a Friends of Morar organisation for people who would like to support the Trust, but are not a resident. On the website will be membership forms for downloading.
We hope for support from many of you!

At the last meeting of the steering group on Thursday 25th June we drew up the timetable for the election for directors for the proposed company.
We are looking for 7 directors, as stated in the Memorandum and Articles (M & A). Only full members can stand for election, propose or second a nomination and vote for the representatives.
Nomination papers will be available from 3rd August 2009, from the Post Office, Spar and from Hilary Trodd, our Secretary, to be returned by 24th August. If more than 7 names have been put forward there will be a postal ballot in September.
Each person seeking election will be asked to provide a maximum of 100 words explaining what they think they will bring to the role of Director, and this will form part of the ballot paper.
At the time of the meeting we had received 125 applications for full membership, an excellent result from the 290 on the electoral roll. Remember, if you want to vote in the election, you need to be a member, forms are still available at the Post Office.
We are still waiting for the M & A to be returned from OSCR, hopefully with charitable status.
Meanwhile, we have been in discussion with Mr. Ewen MacMillan about ground for allotments and have identified an area; watch this space. We are still working towards getting the lease of the playing field, which has some legal corkscrews to go through.
Our next meeting is on Thursday 23rd July, when we will be firming up the election arrangements. Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting.
Ann Martin, Chair of ACT Steering Group.

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The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show was held on 13th June 2009 as usual at Camusdarach, by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Simpson. Attendance numbers were certainly up on last year and although we had some rain for a short while in the afternoon it did not seem to dampen spirits too much.
The afternoon entertainment began with a piping selection by Katie Macnaughton from Morar and then the trophies and prizes were presented by Mrs. Anne Cameron from Moss of Keppoch, Arisaig.
An excellent display of falconry was given by Skyhigh Falconry from Ayrshire who used various birds of prey in their demonstration. They also provided a static display of several different birds including a vulture, hawks, owls and a golden eagle!
This was followed by an excellent demonstration of sheep dog handling by Mike McNally from Invergarry, and then the Lochaber and District Canine Society gave the spectators an exciting display of dogs' agility and flyball.
The ever-popular Dog Show brought the afternoon to a close.
Throughout the day an excellent commentary was given by Mr. Angus Mackay from Bridge of Earn, who managed to mix humour with educational information about the various animals and farming activities.
Other stands and demonstrations around the field included wood turning by Paul Biggin from Corpach, and chain saw carving by Iain Chalmers from Inverness. The Mallaig Coastguards provided a seafood barbecue, and there were several flower and plant stalls. Lochaber Craft Association also had a stand selling knitwear, cards and photographic souvenirs.
Peter Kennedy from Fort William and Donald MacColl from Spean Bridge also gave skilful demonstrations of sheep shearing by hand and machine.
The committee wishes to thank all those who supported the show in any way and hopes that everyone enjoyed their day.


This month we're 2042 metres up in the mountains of Carinthia in the southernmost province of Austria, with Betty and Victor Wands of Greenock; in front of the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark, with Mary MacDougall, Mallaig; and in Turkey with Elliott and Dalla Ironside from Mallaig. Looks like everyone had great weather!
We're delighted to receive photos of you with your West Word - please continue to send them in. Where do you read yours? We want to know! Either at home or on holiday, please send us your photo.

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Spirit of Adventure
The Spirit Dancer, a 42 ft canoe carved from western red cedar, sailed into Mallaig and Inverie last month as part of an ambitious project to circumnavigate the British Isles by Canadian Canoe. Under the command of adventurer Chris Cooper and with film maker Don Jonasson and other volunteers helping out, the canoe and associated tales created quite a stir and captured the imagination of the school children in Mallaig and Inverie.
The Spirit Dancer is a replica of the Canadian Montreal canoe used extensively by the native Indians on the coast and by the French Canadian fur traders on the Great Lakes. The main reason for it being in the UK is to involve youth and adults from Canada and the UK in an amazing canoe journey and to have the opportunity to learn about the culture, history, people, environment and the challenge of paddling - a wilderness experience that will give them hands on life skills!
The paddlers enjoyed a ceilidh in Arisaig's Astley Hall and, as well as visiting local schools, gave an illustrated talk in the Fishermen's Mission where, as a token of thanks they presented engraved paddles to Police Sgt. Colin Biddulph and Harbour Master James (Pimmy) McLean.
You can follow their adventure on www.spiritdancercanoejourneys.ca
Well worth looking at!
Photo courtesy of Moe Mathieson


Aunty Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Ann and Richard spotted these two moths in their garden on a sunny day. They appear to be mating, tail to tail, - on a Flame of the Forest bush. They were about 2 inches long. They had gone at nightfall. Any idea what they are?
This is a pair of moths mating, like many insects they couple by joining together around the ends of their abdomens - so looking in opposite directions ! Having consulted various references l think, although I'm not sure, that they are a pair of Pine Hawk-moths from the size, shapes of the thorax and narrow forewings, and colouration.
Hawk-moths are fast-flying, most British species are nocturnal and feed by sucking up nectar through a proboscis. About 17 species occur in the British Isles with 9 considered to be residents.
Dr Mary Elliott

Yacht Regatta 30th July to 1st August
The regatta this year will take a different form and final details will be finalised depending on the weather forecast. Thursday 30th will see an afternoon race round virtual marks, after meeting in the new tea room at 12 noon. This will be an opportunity for any of the junior members to take to the water in a yacht. There will be an informal get together in the evening. Friday and Saturday will then see a passage race possibly to IsleOrnsay depending on the wind and a race back on Saturday morning, with plenty of opportunities for socialising. And, if the weather is good, we will go out to the Skerries on Sunday morning for a breakfast barbeque. As always, the emphasis will be on enjoyment rather than serious racing. This event is open to anyone in the area at the time and we look forward to welcoming new faces.
Do come down on Saturdays to see what's going on and arrange for a taster session if you would like to have a try, or call any of the people below. For further information call Graham/Emma on 01397 722447 or Sue Barrett 01687 460002.

Mission Gala Day, Saturday 4th July, coincided with the largest amount of mackerel seen within the confines of Mallaig harbour for 30 or so years.
In the harbour, and even off shore, the sea was literally heaving with mackerel, feeding on whitebait which was there in abundance.
Lots of mackerel were being caught off the pier by rod and line. ‘It was just like old times,’ said Harbour Master Pimmy McLean. ‘I haven’t seen that much mackerel in the harbour since the 70s.’

West Word - ten years ago - June 1999

On and Off the Rails
The West Highland Extension Line is a Multi Media Star!
During the past five weeks, the West Highland Railway Line has become the setting for two national TV programmes (using film crews and helicopters), one international photographers' shoot at Arisaig Station (pictures next month), and today (Tuesday July 7th) it is being traversed by First ScotRail's External Relations Manager, John Yellowlees, escorting a party of journalists and photographers for use - initially - in a Sunday Post article. Plus, a new wonderful book is out called The Iron Road to the Isles (review and competition in next month's West Word), and tonight the next Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince premieres in Leicester Square, London, before being shown across the world, again showing off our award-winning railway. Further to this! Glenfinnan Railway Sidings will this week host a train and carriages to be used as a holiday camping coach - as it would have been used in the 1950s.
The first of the TV programmes to be aired will be Country wise on a Thursday night on ITV at 7.30pm later this month. Paul Heiney, the main presenter of the programme, was filmed on the Jacobite steam train and at Mallaig Station, plus a lot of locals were interviewed for possible inclusion. The TV film crew were up for a week, so should have plenty of material. Filming from a helicopter also took place. As far as I know the programme could be aired on the 23rd or 30th July.
See you on the train, or for more information contact me on 01687 462189.
Sonia Cameron

Right, John Sergeant, of Strictly Come Dancing fame, came into Mallaig on the steam train on 29th June, filming for his new ITV1 programme, Tourist Trail, to be screened in the autumn.


Councillors are renewing calls to improve the ferry services in the North West following the recent ferries review meeting in Mallaig. 'The transport committee were left in no doubt of the desire by the communities to restore the Mallaig to Lochboisdale service, upgrade the Mallaig to Armadale service to all year round and extended hours and to get a modern fast passenger service for the Small Isles running at hours to suit workers,' says Councillor Allan Henderson. 'Knoydart would also like to have their service extended to carry cargo.' The Lochboisdale to Mallaig route offers a shorter, faster service than the existing link with Oban, now that the A830 upgrading has been completed.
Further support for the Mallaig - Lochboisdale route has come from Transport Committee member Roy Pederson, following the announcement that 125 jobs will go at the missile testing facilities on Benbecula, South Uist and St Kilda. He said the catamaran vessel used in the Pentland Firth would be a good model to follow: 'it could be based in Lochboisdale doing a double return journey daily to Mallaig. Leaving Lochboisdale at 7am, three hours to Mallaig, would allow someone a five hour business day in Fort William, before catching the evening ferry.' There would be benefits for visitors and business people who want a full day on Uist. Storas Uibhist, owner of the South Uist Estate which includes Benbecula, has campaigned for nearly three years for the link with Mallaig.

Fishing news - John Hermse, Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association

Nephrops are the main species landed on the West Coast. Indeed nephrops have become the mainstay of the Scottish fleet. The global recession has lead to a massive decrease of available cash in the markets that import our nephrops. The demand for Scottish nephrops is still good but the problem is that the price buyers and processors are willing and able to pay for the product has reduced dramatically over the last few months. We are now in the main summer fishery when skippers look to maximise returns with long days, good fishing and good weather. However prices have reduced by some 30% with indications that they may reduce further. Green sac is also starting to appear which will not help. The situation has not been helped with some of the larger buyers making their profits on bulk sales of nephrops placed on the market at prices which the smaller processors cannot match. This leads to smaller "regional" buyers and processors having to drop prices to match those who can make profits on economies of scale. MNWFA are suggesting that a meeting take place between catchers, agents and processors of discuss the situation and attempt to find solutions.

Vessel Crewing
We have won a postponement on the decision by the UK Borders Agency to immediately repatriate Filipino fishermen. The Borders Agency will recall the letters sent out and not take any unnecessary enforcement action until the matter of crewing has been fully reviewed. The reprieve was largely due to the hard work and lobbying on our behalf by Angus Macneil MP and Fergus Ewing MSP who fought strongly on our behalf.
We had been told by Phil Taylor, Scottish Regional Director of the Border Agency that the UK Ministers took a decision that Filipino crewing should stop on Scottish West Coast vessels working within the 12 mile limit. ( Waters outside 12 miles are deemed to be international waters) 95% of our West coast vessels work within the 12 miles because of the marine geography makes it difficult to be outside. East Coast vessels can easily claim to be working outside the limits, so are not being similarly targeted by UKBA. It should be remembered that UK vessels now work a maximum of 200 days which means that all Scottish vessels MUST be at port for at least 165 days a year! How does the UKBA legislate for this anomaly? This decision means that West Coast vessels seem to be discriminated against because they are easy targets. A large proportion of our vessels will have to tie up as the Borders Agency decision takes effect.
It is estimated that we have approx 400-500 Filipino crew on the West alone with about 1200 total Filipino fishing crew in Scotland.
We cannot find suitable crew anymore due to the downturn in the industry and its continual discrediting by those who should know better. Filipino crew are very well treated on the West Coast and have become part of our community in Mallaig as well as other ports on the Western Seaboard. Indeed, we have a joint code of conduct with the "Fishermen's Mission" on the proper treatment of the Filipino crew who're away from home for fairly lengthy periods. If fully implemented, this decision by UKBA, would have had an utterly devastating effect on our fragile communities.

A spokesperson for the UK Border Agency said:
"At a time of economic downturn it is inappropriate to import unskilled labour, especially while restrictions remain on EU nationals who are subject to transitional arrangements. "We have been holding discussions with those involved in the fishing industry and devolved governments about how the health and safety and welfare of foreign nationals working in the fishing fleet can be protected. We will not tolerate the exploitation of vulnerable workers from overseas, and the viability of the UK's fishing fleet cannot be delivered on the back of such exploitation.
"The UK Border Agency will enforce our laws and will remove those who are in the UK illegally. This tough action works alongside the points based immigration system to safeguard the interests of local workers. This ensures migrants coming from outside Europe have the skills we need and is flexible, allowing us to raise or lower the bar according to the needs of the labour market."

The UKBA have issued the above statement which shows an appalling attitude and how out of touch the UK Government is on Scottish Rural issues. To accuse the Scottish Industry of exploitation is scandalous and is extremely wide of the mark. The Filipinos are skilled and highly trained labour, having completed all the necessary health and safety courses as required for all EU fishermen.
Filipino Crew are certainly not exploited on the West Coast, with all the ones I am aware of desperate to return and stay as they are well treated and a vital part of the crew. They are certainly not taking jobs from local people and that will be clearly seen when vessels will have to tie up, if they are forced to leave, with no local crew available. Have a look at the number of Chinese employed in the food sector, non EU, working ashore where many locals would take such jobs in that sector. How can't they gain a short term work permit similar to other non EU people who come into the country when there is a shortage of labour, doctors, nurses. Etc.

New Fisheries
One of our vessels will shortly be trying its luck on fishing for tuna in the South West Approaches. The initiative to develop the new fishery (for our boats at least) will hopefully lead to a viable alternative to nephrops and whitefish fishing which are difficult to may pay at the present time. We wish the skipper and crew all the best with the venture.

CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, SCF Area Representative

Consultation on Draft Crofting Reform Bill
There have been meetings during June throughout the Highlands with representatives from the Bill team presenting the proposed programmed of changes and asking for comments from the floor on ways they can improve the proposals. Meetings will continue and the last one will be in Barra.
It is important to stress that the proposals in the draft bill are still only proposals. The team are very keen to hear from individuals and grazing committees on how the bill could be improved or changed. Responses have to be submitted by 12th August and I have Consultation response forms available.

Fort William meeting June 17th Lochaber House
Questions raised
Crofting Commission
What will happen to the present Assessors network?
Assessors will have to stand down and then present themselves for re election [obviously with the numbers on boards involved we will lose some of the present Assessors]
How can a 16 - 18 yr old be on a Grazing Committee but can not stand for election to the Local board?
This was considered by the team to be a valid point
How often would the Local committees/boards meet?
On average once a month
Will the appointed Assessors be drawn from any particular group?
All members of the Crofting boards/committees will have to have an interest in crofting, ministers will assess the applications to the board and look for gaps in experience from the elected Assessors and fill the gaps with a minister suited to the gap [i.e. housing, environment, livestock etc]
Are crofters to be expected to recover costs,as it appears as if a huge burden of cost could now go to the Crofter from the indication of costs on the table of the Bill
It is important that crofters respond to the consultation with an idea of how much of the costs they expect they should pay. Better to say a small % than nothing or someone else will make the decision and it could be a lot higher!
I have highlighted this as it really is an important point to make for anyone who is responding to the consultation.

Croft Register
Once a croft is on the register will it still go through the Commission if changes are to be made
Yes if it is a tenanted croft
Why can't we use IACS maps ?
Because Iacs follow fence lines not boundary lines such as burns and dykes
Will registering be compulsory ?
If any 'trigger points' occur they would need to apply to be on the register Otherwise registration is voluntary
How long will it take? [until all crofts are on the register]. It just adds another level of bureaucracy
Maps of of/of crofts are already on the register and apportionments and some grazings, but there are huge gaps because people have not been informing the commission when they break up crofts for plots etc. There needs to be a register
To what extent will the CC seek out people who have crofts not on the register?
The Landlord is to notify Commission of the successor to the croft.
The newly resourced Commission will be better able to find out the occupiers of Crofts through the new local boards using local knowledge.

Standard Securities
How do the team suppose that the Banks will lend money on croftland in the present climate, they usually only lend using property as security and although the team are talking about borrowing money on land what they must mean is borrowing money on a house site that has not been decrofted, with a built house on it.
It seems that this proposal is a paper exercise and doesn't tackle the real issues and if its dependent on the banks lending it seems like a waste of time
The land will stay in crofting and the banks have said they will look at the proposals.
Is it likely that the banks will charge a higher rate of interest then for these loans with all their complications?
That will be up to the banks

Occupancy Requirement
Will the Local Authority consult with the local boards before deciding if they are keeping the O/R or not
Yes this is the good thing about the Local boards we will all work together. However at another meeting it seemed as if the LA would have jurisdiction over the Local boards regarding the O/R and this was considered not to be a good thing.
There was doubt at the FW meeting if it was possible for Crofters to work with the Local Authority and concern about involving the Local Authority at all.

Other questions raised
What about Farmland in the crofting counties and beyond, they are not subject to the same restrictions? Arable land being dug up for houses everywhere.
Agreed that this is the case but nothing we can do about it in the Bill
There is nothing in the Bill to cater for retired crofters financially.
It also was stated at the meeting from the floor that Crofters are working for a loss, there is nothing in the Bill to make sure Crofters are paid for the contribution they make to the public good

Bull Hire Scheme Review
A very good team of vets, farmers, environmentalists and other professionals are at present reviewing the Bull Hire Scheme. They will visit townships that use the scheme throughout the summer and autumn. It is certainly hoped that at the end of the review there will be a revamped scheme in place that will replace the old one and that the Bull Scheme will not be lost. A questionnaire is being sent to all cattle keepers in the Crofting counties because at present there is no record as to actual usage of the scheme. One of the questions on the form is 'Why do you keep cattle' . ?? A funny kind of question to ask a Crofter.
On another note, there are lots of Orchids on Croftland this June including this Greater Butterfly Orchid. They have a lovely scent at night and pollinated by night flying moths. All wild orchids are protected by law.


A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
MacEachens of Laggan, The Glen & Làrach Mór, Arasaig

In WW June 2001 I referred to Hugh MacEachen, born in the Glen House, Arisaig, 1822 in Clanranald's then residence. Hugh was an ancestor of John Dungan, Nebraska, USA. A brief summary of this ancestry: (1) Alexander MacEachen of Howbeag (South Uist) and Glenuig. (2) Angus MacEachen b. 1730 in South Uist. (youngest brother of Neil the pilot-boatman who took Bonnie Prince Charlie in and out of the Hebrides after Culloden). Angus (2) came to Ardnish and took over the tack of Lagan , (English Laggan - Little hollow.) where his son, Hugh (3) was b. in 1765. Later, Hugh's son, Angus (4) was also born in Lagan, in 1790.
Angus (4) married Isabel MacDonald, dau. of Hector and Mary MacDonld née MacEachen, of Irine, (Gaidhlig, na h- Aorainn. English translation- Bay of Worship) Roshven. Isabel was born in Arisaig and was her husband's cousin. They emigrated in 1826 when their son Hugh (5) was four years of age. They both died in Mount Young, Mabou, Nova Scotia. Angus died many years before Isabel and she has been recorded in Mabou legend as"the little widow". Angus' brother John MacEachen, who lived on the next-door farm in Mount Young, also died early in his marriage to Mary MacLean of West River, Mabou. Mary was known as "the big widow"
Hugh (5) was born in the Glen, Arisaig in 1822, and died in 1905 in Mabou, N.S. He was married to Nancy MacDonell, 1840 - 1894, b. in Brooke Village Mabou. They had six children, Donald, Angus, Isabel, Farquhar, James and (7) John, b.1874.
John MacEachen (7) m. Mary Ann MacDonell in Boston, Massachusetts although she had been born at Margaree Harbour, N.S.and he was born in Mabou, N.S. Their daughter, (8) Ann Elizabeth, married Albert Beaton of Boston, Mass. They were the grandparents of John Dungan and his five siblings whose parents, John Dungan and Nancy Beaton, living in Boston, Mass. visited the Glen, Arisaig in the 1960s.
Làrach Mór. Natalie MacEachern b.1988, from Nova Scotia visited us this June along with her friend, Rachel Morrison from P.E.I. also b. 1988 and of Harris descent. Natalie's ancestor, Eoghan Dubh MacEachen, was b. in 1768 at Làrach Mór Gardens, (possible English translation "ruins or, battlefield). These gardens supplied Clanranald's residence in the Glen (where John Dungan's Hugh of 1822 was born) the two locations being close by each other. Eoghan Dubh was in the army and Natalie's family tradition has it that, in 1792, Eoghan Dubh MacEachen eloped from Arisaig with Mary MacGillivray, the local Minister's daughter. Where the couple went at that time is unknown but Eoghan was a soldier until his regiment was disbanded in 1801. Subsequently, Eoghan and Mary, with two children, Alexander b. ca. 1793 and John b. ca. 1795, emigrated to Nova Scotia, landing at Cape George where Eoghan's brother Donald, had settled in 1791. They lived with Donald for about a year whilst clearing land and building a house on the five hundred acres which Eoghan had been granted, probably because of his military service. It came to him in two lots - north and south side of Mabou Harbour. The acreage suggests that he was of fairly senior rank in the army.
Eoghan Dubh died in 1855 in Nova Scotia. His sloinneadh was, mac Dhòmhnaill. ' ic Iain, 'ic Iain. NFI.
Besides Alexander b, 1793 and John b. 1795, Eoghan Dubh had another four sons. Donald, Ronald, Andrew b. 1805 and Angus. Angus settled in Mount Young on the next farm to the John Dungan /MacEachens. Andrew MacEachen, b.1805, m. Catriona MacIntyre of P.E.I. and they had seven children. Duncan, Dugald, John, Alexander, Hugh, Mary Ann and Mary. Dugald was married twice and had ten children, one of whom, Andrew, 1880-1973 m. Lexie Walker of West Lake, Ainslie, Nova Scotia. Their son, Hugh Andrew MacEachern married Susan Lord and they are Natalie MacEachern's parents.
It is worth noting here, that there is confusion between the Old Country and the New Countries concerning the names MacEachen and MacEachern. There were very few MacEacherns in this district of Arisaig and hereabouts but, numerous MacEachens. However, many of the inhabitants of the New Countries profess the name 'MacEachern'. The two surnames have entirely different origins. We humbly beg to submit that many Arisaig emigrant descendants are really MacEachens who, for whatever reason, have adopted the name 'MacEachern' in the New Country. And of course, at home, Anne and Neil and their family spell their name 'MacEachin' I would hazard a guess that, it was no coincidence that these two MacEachen families from Arisaig, even though they emigrated thirty four years apart, in 1792 and 1826, found themselves living side by side in Nova Scotia. It is more than probable that they were all of the same family of MacEachens from Arisaig. Therefore, Highland genealogy being what it is, we will have to burach away to establish the connection of one to the other. That's the challenge which keeps us going!
When Natalie arrived, she had a 'photo of cousins of her father, taken in the 1960s or 70s at the front door of Tullochgorm, Arisaig, home of Neil and Anne MacEachin. Now she is the proud possessor of a similar photo of herself and her friend, to take home to her father.

photo photo
Rachel Morrison & Natalie MacEachern at Tullochgorm

Natalie MacEachern at the door of ruin of the old Gardener's Cottage at Làrach Mór, Arisaig.
June 2009

Railway Tragedy, Polnish, 1939
Richard Scullion emailed us his appreciation of last month's article about the location of the graves of his grandfather and granduncle, Daniel and Thomas Scullion. Partricia Mulholland, née Scullion, made a special trip from Ireland to see the gravesite of her relatives and was in Arisaig on the 13th & 14th June.

HMS Curacao & Queen Elizabeth, 1942
We had a letter from James MacMillan in Wiltshire, who is, as you all know, a native of Mallaig. James sent us some corrections to the story of the Ceres-class cruiser HMS Curacao not the frigate Curacao as we had it. He also sent a very informative piece and a chart of the zig-zag of both ships taken from an article sent to him by Charlie MacGillivray, Mallaig, an excerpt from an old copy of Ship Monthly Magazine. James has always been fascinated by this story, as he says, "Since George Lawrie told me about it over a beer in the Marine bar, many rains ago" James tells us that there is a book about the disaster, titled: Queen Mary and the Cruiser, by David E. Thomas, published by Pen & Sword in 1977. Thank you James, for this information as we have always found it difficult to access any detailed account of this tragedy. We'll "squirrel" it away for future reference.

The saga of Charlie Lyons' last resting place continues to throw up interesting facts!
Having reported that the whereabouts of Charlie's grave was unknown, we learnt on good authority that Canon MacNeill, whose life Charlie had saved at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, had wished to be buried beside Charlie. As the Canon's grave site is known, we thought we had cracked the problem!
Then in May's issue, we revealed information from Allan MacDonald; he said that as Canon MacNeill had died in 1952 he was buried in a new part of Morar Cemetery opened in 1951, and Charlie must be in the old part, having died in 1941.
And now we have more information, and this time at least some positive proof of something!
Tommy Timms writes to us:
'Just a note about Canon MacNeill. My mother Bridget Timms (Gillies) has been getting on to me ever since she read the date of Canon MacNeill's death to forward the proper details to you so you can publish the proper date. I hope the photos help, she remembers he was bed ridden when she and my father were married and taken to his bedside to be blessed.'
From the photo sent us by Timmy of the Canon's funeral service we can see that he died in 1958!
So it doesn't show any more light on the whereabouts of Charlie Lyon's grave, but we do have the correct date of death for Canon John MacNeil! Many thanks to Mrs Timms and to Tommy for passing the information on to us.

photo photo

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