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

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June 2000 Issue

Contents of the online version:

'The sea that rocked the cradle' at the Highland Festival
New Ferry for the Small Isles - Archaeology on the A830
Monthly reports from the Small Isles: Eigg - Muck - Canna - Rum
Events in Arisaig
How to Subscribe

on stage

The sea that rocked the cradle

This is the evocative title of a song commissioned by organisers to be part of this year's Highland Festival, and which had its debut at Glenuig Hall on Friday 26th May.
The idea is a new one by Festival organisers. Musicians were invited to send in a proposal - in words, not music! - on a musical piece five to ten minutes long. Viv and Jill de Fresnes were successful with their proposal and were commissioned to write the song. Together they have written the lyrics and music, and the latter also had important input from Gabe MacVarish, Ross Martin and Angus Mackenzie.
The concert which was the setting for the song's debut started with a concert by local band Daimh; line up Colm O'Ruardh, (banjo, whistle, mandolin), Angus Mackenzie (pipes), Gabe MacVarish (fiddle and left foot), Ross Martin (guitar) and James Bremner (bodran).
After a set of tunes designed to wake everyone up, Helen Semple of Highland Council's Cultural & Leisure Dept. explained that 8 pieces had been commissioned and all will be heard next Friday (2nd. June) in Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. Viv introduced the song: it was based on the story of a woman who came to Arisaig some years ago to trace her family roots. She thought she was related to certain people but was very disappointed to find she was in fact descended from 'sea faring traders' - tinks. She didn't appreciate the fine historical tradition they represent and went away to keep quiet about the whole thing. The song says that if you can't handle the truth, you shouldn't look into your family roots.
The evening ended with a dance to Dougie Hunter and the band.

MV Lochnevis

Monday, 8th. May saw the launch of CalMac's new Small Isles 'superferry' at the Ailsa-Troon shipyard. The vessel cost 5.5 million and will be replacing the Lochmor at Mallaig for the Small Isles and Inverie run. Initially it will serve Rum and Muck, where 5.6 million is being spent on new piers to accommodate it. It will carry 200 passengers and 14 cars. The launch was attended by Councillors King and Foxley and other invited local guests, including island representatives. Rev. Alan Lamb from Arisaig blessed the vessel at the launch.


An overview of the potential archaeology of the new stretch of road from Arisaig to Kinsadel is being carried out by Historic Scotland at the request of the Scottish Executive.
Two sites of archaeological interest have been noted. A stone cairn, a possible burial site, has been unearthed between Arisaig and Kinsadel, and a relict village at Achraig, between Kinloid and back of Keppoch. This latter site is a 'Medieval or Later Rural Settlement' (MOLRS) and includes rectangular buildings with enclosures and remains of field banks, clearance cairns, pathways and tracks. On both of these sites excavations and digs will be carried out before work on the road commences there. Elsewhere there a re lazy beds and shielings common to the West Coast but it is the intention during the contract to have an archaeologist on-site with a watching brief for items of interest as the soil is stripped. If the cairn proves to be a burial cairn it will be excavated in proper fashion.

By the Rev. Alan Lamb.

It was a privilege for me to take part in the launching ceremony of Lochnevis, by dedicating her when she was launched at Troon on the 8th May. CalMac asked me to bless the ship, as I shall be travelling on her to Eigg, Muck and Rum as the minister in the Small Isles Parish when she comes into service.
On a glorious day, with crowds present, a pipe band playing and the shipyard workers looking on proudly, the launching party entered the huge shed where Lochnevis had been built and my first impression was of the size of the ship. Then came the blessing and the naming ceremony, with Sarah Boyack (Minister of Transport, Scottish Parliament) smashing the bottle of champagne at the first attempt. There was a slight pause, while hammering went on beneath the hull and ramp, and then she slipped towards the water, gathering speed rapidly until she went in with a great splash. I had never before been present at a launching and I found it an unforgettably exciting occasion.
Following the entry into the water Lochnevis was skilfully nudged into the adjoining dock by three tugs where the work on her will be completed. After her sea trials she will be sailing up to Mallaig and, all being well, she will be in service on the Small Isles route by early autumn. CalMac officials told me that she will be the most sophisticated ship in their fleet, filled with the latest navigational equipment, able to carry cars (or a large lorry), with better catering facilities and much more manoeuvrable in confined waters than the Lochmor.
Many will be awaiting her entry into service eagerly, in the hope that crossings will not only be more reliable in bad weather, but altogether smoother and faster.
"God bless her and all who sail in her."


Month of May, month of changes here on Eigg....First in our mind is Angus MacKinnon, who died peacefully on the 26th, on Eigg as was his wish. Eigg without Angus Mac, it seems unthinkable...I can't shake the picture of Angus, quite frail, but still fiery, urging us to keep Eigg going, to talk less and act more: easy to understand his frustration, Eigg had been his life's work for the past forty years, and we owe it to him to keep the show on the road! Good bye Angus, a' Charaidh, you will be remembered far and wide for what you were: .It's been a privilege to have known you. Changes again with the departure of Jacqueline McDonell, our brave little project officer who soldiered on whatever the conditions, and gave us a good start in our new self-rule, often working beyond the call of duty. Good luck to her in her new job from all of us!
Changes again with Heather and Robert moving away, because IT bosses can' t get to grip with the idea of Robert working from home. Good luck to them too, it will hard for them not to miss Eigg, especially when it's been so glorious.
More changes still with another two couples deciding to tie the knot on Eigg this summer: there will be three weddings this July, watch this space for further details!
But some things do remain the same, like the partying season, ready to roll with the 3rd. anniversary of the buy-out on the 10th June, or the battle to keep on top of the recyclable mountain, to get the veggies sown and transplanted between everything else that has to be done now that the tourist season is upon us, or the reassuring amount of fencing still to be done as the second forestry phase starts on the island, or the lambing which has not been bad this year. and the workshops, toujours more workshops..
Great excitement though with the sighting of a very rare arctic warbler in John Chester's garden, a wonderful afternoon talk by Ian Fisher (from the RCAHMS) on the Early Christian crosses and the chapel at Kildonnan (Eigg History Society will do a commented visit of the site on Saturday 2nd September as part of the CSA's archaeology month for anyone interested) and the excavation of the site of the People 's stone - the Sgurr pillar which was mysteriously re-erected in 1996. This second excavation of a recumbent stone pillar on Eigg was conducted by a team of archaeologists from Norfolk: instead of a socket for the stone, they found a carefully dug trench, lined with small stones, with at one end what appeared to be a headstone for burial. This suggests that the pillar seems to have been deliberately buried, perhaps because it was seen as a pagan feature overlooking the monastery at Kildonnan!
Another exciting thing was my visit to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg to talk about Land Reform in Scotland, the role of Eigg in helping bringing it about, the opportunities for changes and the hurdles still in the way. It was most interesting to hear how everywhere throughout Europe, communities are also getting themselves organised to participate more fully in local and regional development, asking for social issues to be considered alongside environmental priorities, and what strategies they had devised to be heard.. It was also reassuring that Europe, which is all too often portrayed as the stick-wielding baddy, can also issue people friendly directives such as a re-enforcement of local powers, more participatory democracy and capacity building at local level: just the kind of things that we intend to discuss at the forum on Land Reform which is due to take place on Eigg on the 17th and 18th May....See you there!

Camille Dressler


The new ro-ro terminal is now well under way with Port Mor full of shipping, moored or unloading. It is difficult for us islanders to become accustomed to the vast scale of the project compared with anything which preceeded it. Dump trucks work 12 hours or more a day between the quarry and the terminal and so far they have shifted more than 10,000 tons of rock which seems to have virtually disappeared. Above the new road are the rows of pods - square blue boxes - where the builders live when they are not working and just off shore is the barge drilling patterns of holes for the explosions which are lowering the sea bed. Many islanders are now employed by Construction Centre Group who have done everything possible to reduce disturbance and keep the island running. They are a great crowd and we even have had Martin Anderson, founder of the company, staying on the island.
Other news: On 11th. May we were able to welcome back Marcus Walters who has spent the last five months on the 'Coral Key' project in the Philippines, conserving the coral reefs and getting lots of underwater experience.
On the 20th. We had a first call from a Russian cruise ship who disembarked 40 passengers for afternoon tea at the Craft Shop. She is a 'cheap and cheerful' version of the Hebridean Princess which has been calling for many years.
There has been a population explosion on the farm - not calves or lambs unfortunately but swallows. Every barn now has its patrons and often several pairs. Hardly had Sandy and Barnaby finished replacing the first section of the roof of the old barn at Gallanach than the swallows were back building a new nest.

Lawrence MacEwen


Wednesday 10th May was a beautiful sunny day, and would have been Richard MacIvor's birthday. On Rum, a group of islanders were joined by Alan and Helen Lamb to start building a cairn in memory of Richard, at one of his favourite fishing lochs. Once the cairn was part built, alan said a few well-chosen words and led us in prayer. On Saturday 13th May we returned to the loch to finish the cairn, this time joined by some of Richard's family and friends. The cairn complete, we gathered round for a prayer, and a fitting tribute on the pipes. From now on the loch will be known as Loch MacIvor. Another of Richard's favourite places was the shop on Rum. Sandy and a few helpers made a solid wooden memorial seat to go outside the shop. The memorial set was well 'christened' in the afternoon sunshine as we all got back to the village. Later in the day, more of Richard's friends arrived and we gathered in the hall for a meal which led into an evening of music, dancing, reminiscing and a few toasts to absent friends.

Anne Thomson


Another month gone already, where does the time go to. We saw some really nice weather over the past few weeks, which has helped with all the building work. We say a fond farewell to Donnie and Ian from MacKenzies, they have now completed all their work on the island. I'm sure we'll probably see them back in the spring time next year.
Electricity scheme: This job is also coming to a close. The Balfour Boys have worked extremely hard in putting all the cables in. They are joined now by two other men, Tony and Alan, who are joining all the cables together and then fixing them into the new metres which have been placed in the houses. This being the final week it will be extremely busy with electricians wiring up the houses. The new generators should be operational by the end of May, first few days of June. The Island will seem extremely quiet when they all go.
Sanday Church (St. Edwards): With the good weather we had the boys from Mackerlichs picking and pointing the outside of the building. The inside work must be near completion, the bunk beds are being made, all the new stained glass windows are in, also the blacksmiths were over to do all the handrails for the stairwell. Hope to have some pictures for the next issue.
St. Columba's Chapel: The MacKenzies boys picked and pointed this for us and put a new floor into it for us, already there is a great difference. The men who put in the stained glass into St. Edward's are making windows for us as well so it will look more like a chapel to passing visitors. The slaters are expected on the 5th. June to do the roof.
I have had a busy season so far with the small shop this year. As I reported last month we had a visit from the sister ship of the Waverley, the Balmoral. There was a total of 310 people aboard her and they all came ashore for 1 and a half hours, they all seemed to have a fantastic time and all went home with a small souvenir.
We also had a visit from The Black Prince Cruise ship, which had aboard her a total of 416 people, who were mostly elderly, but all came ashore at the pier and spent a nice day with us. The island seems to be non stop at the moment with cruise boats, yachts and a few fishing boats. Hope this is going to be a good sign for all summer. Well, I think I've exhausted myself for this month. Will write again soon.
P.S. Unfortunately with all the work going on in Canna, we were unable to be at the launching of the MV Loch Nevis but are really looking forward to seeing her on her run.

Wendy MacKinnon


Community Council: The AGM and Open Meeting was held on 15th. May. Helen Turnbull, Development Officer for Lochaber Communications Network Ltd., spoke about the Network and community computers, to the members and the three members of the public who attended. She explained that four sites have had computers installed this year - Mallaig is the latest, the others are Kinlochleven, Kilchoan and Acharacle - with the hope of four more next year. Each computer site has a member of support staff to show people how to use it and to help them if they require. The LCNL is working closely with a group called com.com/holyrood who are also providing community computers. Requirements are a safe dedicated space that would provide privacy to users. You can read elsewhere in this issue what LCNL will provide in Mallaig.
To enable a good spread around Lochaber of LCNL computers it is unlikely Arisaig would get one, but she advised us to apply for a com.com/holyrood computer. The only difference is this would not have a scanner and may only have a black and white printer. We would receive support from Mallaig's LCNL Support Worker, Niki Robertson. The application form was passed to the Astley Hall Committee Secretary who would need to apply as they would be the host. The website address for LCNL is www.lcnl.org.uk


On Saturday, 15th July we are planning to hold a street party in 'The Avenue' Arisaig. This should give easy access for some of our more elderly folk. The party is open to all residents in the area and hopefully young and old will all come along and have a good time. Anyone who can help in any way, with food, entertainment, or just a willing pair of hands, please contact Angela Hardman (450661), Helen Lamb (450227), or Ann Cameron (450261). In the event of bad weather the party will be postponed until the following Saturday.

Helen Lamb

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