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

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June 2005 Issue

Contents of the online version:

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

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The sudden padlocking of the gates to the Mallaig all-weather pitch has been a shock to the High School Board and users of the pitch. The snap decision to lock the gates out of school hours was taken after advice from the Highland Council Health & Safety Department. The pitch will be locked up at break and lunchtimes and after school hours unless a teacher is supervising activities. Only organised activities will be allowed.
The problem has arisen because of a fault in the design of the pitch which has left a sharp edge on the kerb all the way round the perimeter. Two accidents have occurred since the pitch re-opened last summer, but nothing had been done to remedy the situation until the locks suddenly went on.
A range of measures have been put forward but no decision has been taken as to what will be done. The two main options are to raise the all-weather mat 20 mm to be flush with the kerb; or to remove the kerb and extend the pitch edge. No costs for these forthcoming as yet.
It is not known when remedial work will start nor how long it will take. The question must be asked: is any urgency felt by the powers that be to complete the job now that decision has been made to lock the pitch? The result of the closure will be an increase in the number of children playing in the street to the annoyance of residents; and surely the risk of injury is greater playing in the street than on the faulty pitch.
Fitness is also at risk. The pupils' fitness levels have been monitored by Mallaig Pool and these records show that levels have begun to rise since the pitch re-opened. Pool staff are now concerned that the levels will now go down again if the children can't use the pitch for practise. Having been given the opportunity to raise their fitness levels and partake in sports, the children are becoming disillusioned because once again the pitch is out of commission for most of the time.
The School Board feels that a campaign is needed to get a quick result. Give them your support by writing a letter to request a speedy solution, and send it to: Dr. Coutts, Director of Property and Architecture, Highland Council, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness IV3 5NX.
The charity match on Sunday, 17th July, between Mallaig FC and Dukla Pumpherston FC will be allowed to take place.

The first steam train of the year arrived in Mallaig on Monday 30th May to its now traditional greeting by school children and musicians. The steam train season will be longer this year, lasting from 30th May to 14th October.

Jacobite steam train
Photo courtesy Moe Mathieson

Alan Lamb has retired as Minister of Arisaig and the Small Isles after 11 years as locum in the Parish. The parish of Arisaig and the Small Isles has now been linked with that of Mallaig.

No shock to find that Charles Kennedy won the election for this constituency, with a comfortable majority. A bit more of a shock perhaps to see our former MP, David Stewart, lose his seat in his new constituency.

News in Brief…

Royal Scotsman

Now visiting Arisaig and Mallaig on a fortnightly Sunday basis, the Royal Scotsman ultimate luxury train
is pictured here at Mallaig on Sunday 15th May being hauled by
Class 37 Diesel Electric No. 37261 Loch Arkaig on hire from the West Coast Railway Company.
Photo courtesy of Steve Roberts.

Joy of joys, the midges appear to have gone to ground during this cold and windy snap. Indeed, last night the power and duration of the gale made me feel I was back on Eda Frandsen in the Grenadines with the Trade Winds blowing. Which reminds me that Alan and Mary have returned to Knoydart for the summer and into their new house built by Toby and Team at Doune.
We have also enjoyed visits from former residents Peter Woolland and Geoff Salt. Peter makes an annual pilgrimage by road from Dorset to his old haunts and has done so since boyhood when he used to accompany his father to these parts. Sonja stays in Dorset, tending her garden on this occasion. We were sorry to learn that the heron took your fish Sonja. Have you read Alan Clark's Diaries and his reaction to a similar event?
Geoff sailed into Inverie Bay in Nyvaig on passage to Plockton where he will hand her over to a new owner. This will be a nostalgic time for Geoff who has spent the summer months over many years sailing around the Western Isles. Many anecdotes of these times are recounted in his book 'A Twentieth-Century Life.'
Last week it was the turn of Inverie Primary School to host the visit of one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of schools, when every aspect of the school was examined with 'a fine-tooth comb'! We have every faith that Inverie passed with flying colours, considering the amount of effort and application applied to the multitude of subjects.
Knoydart is becoming a popular place for weddings and last week-end Luke and Anna tied the knot here in the wilderness. Iain's marquee was erected yet again on the Long Beach, Dave produced the banquet and there was music well into the small hours. During the afternoon while walking in the forest we were alerted by the piercing sound of a police car siren, previously unheard of in Knoydart and reminiscent of city life. I'm told it emanated from a visiting RIB, which I presume was connected to the wedding.
Within the next few weeks Knoydart may resemble a fortified fiefdom or the last resting place for Martello towers, when one ton pre-formed blocks for the outer pier construction will arrive by barge and line the beach in marching order. There has been much discussion and some dissension about this but in order that the job is completed as near to schedule as possible the final consensus was to agree.
Otters and herons appear to be surviving the disturbance from the pier operations and swallows, house martens and larks are back in numbers.
Our erstwhile Antarctic connection, Dave Fletcher, returns on Monday 30th May to give what is always a fascinating talk-this time Antarctica Revisited - 5.30 pm Village Hall.
Tommy is sending you his take on the Rum Music Festival, since he was there and I, sadly, was not. He tells me it was the best event of its kind he has ever attended.
Matt is adding here his report on the Community Energy Conference, hosted by Knoydart recently.
Anne Trussell

On the 12th and 13th of May, Inverie played host for Highland and Islands Community Energy Company's renewable energy conference, "Empowering Your Community". The sun shone and a series of speakers, workshops and visits to Knoydart's hydro electric generator left the 40 visitors with great enthusiasm for ways to produce energy without taking a toll on the environment. The delegates came from as far-a-field as Unst, Westray & Gigha with accounts of hydrogen production, bio-diesel and wind power. All were made to feel very comfortable in Knoydart thanks to a huge effort by the community. For a full account of the conference - click here

May has not been an eventful month on the island but June will be very different with three major happenings in quick succession. First will be the 'Memories' concert - Camas' flagship event on Wednesday 15th. Mandy Ketchen will be covering the details so suffice to say that friends of Muck are already booking their tickets and everyone is looking forward to a great evening. Muck may not be considered among the cradles of Christianity though some consider it could be the 'Hinba' which features in the story of St Columba, And as far as I know we have never had a church building on the island So it is a great honour to receive a visit from the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. That will now be on Friday 17th June.
Agricultural matters will be more to the fore on Sunday 19th June, the Open Day. You may not actually hear a Corncrake (they are with us especially in Mandy and Ian's garden!) but 'Farming for Birds' will be the theme with the first Rural Stewardship Scheme now under way. There will be animals to see as well, lots of catering and the beer tent.
On the farm lambing and calving are over and though cold May has been dry enough to make good progress with the land work. A second Rural Stewardship Scheme is under way and with 55 points should be passed in September. Hard on its heels has been Land Management Contracts Level Two, where one can chose from a menu of seventeen mainly environmentally enhancing projects. The scheme in favour of access and should result in a plethora of footpaths and signs to go with them.
On the 18th May we were pleased to welcome Joyce Wilkinson and Ruraidh Ormiston to see our ponies, Ruraidh's father was the breeder of Seumas our stud stallion. They where favourably impressed by our young stock, some of which will be sharing the Spanish John with the stirks on the 2nd of June.
Lawrence MacEwen

Just a wee reminder that if you'd like to come to the Memories concert (Duncan Chisholm and Ivan Drever) on 15 June, you'll need to book as numbers are limited (01687 462828). The big news this month is that Highland Council have generously supported us again this year with a further grant for music tuition, and also for the first time with funding towards our year's programme of events. This is hugely appreciated, especially when we're such a tiny community and their funds are limited. Thank you Ali McD and Highland Council. Watch this space for news of events over the summer and let CAMAS know if there is anything particular you'd like to see happen. We're still waiting to hear from UK Villages about our application for funding towards buying some community chairs - verdict due any day - we're remaining optimistic, but realistically the chances are probably slim given that they have huge numbers of applications. Fingers tightly crossed, but don't be surprised if you get a last minute request to bring your own chair to the Memories concert!
P Broch

'The Sound of Rum' - Isle of Rum Music Festival
Sunshine from dawn till dusk and top notch performances by a stunning line up made the Sound of Rum an alarming runaway success - could it have been better, I think not.
The vibe was upbeat and happy, everyone appeared well and truly charmed by Rum and by the meticulous organisation of the event.
On Friday, the bay was buzzing with boats running to and fro' Skye, Knoydart, Eigg and the mainland, while a few hundred delighted souls descended on the camping areas and marvelled at the firewood already collected and stacked. While the adults pitched the tents, the kids all scarpered to try out the bouncy castle and slide (very cool) loaded with festival excitement. As the afternoon progressed, the music kicked off with Jacob's Pillow and the Gillespie boys, the craic picked up at the bar and the smell of delicious food (bargain priced and most excellent) wafted over the crowds. We got an inkling that it was going to go with a swing.
The ticketing system using wristbands worked well, managing to help us monitor numbers and help with any potential security problems - of which there were, happily, none. All the staff and volunteers put in a monumental effort to make it all run smoothly and it did.
The bands gave it everything, Saturday was the last night of the Peatbog Faeries tour, performing after Session A9, they had a hard act to follow, and they went out with a storm… the dance floor was writhing with a mass of dazzled sweaty folk. The Willow workshop with Catherine Davies from Eigg created the inspired, 'festival basket', a communal effort from all those who had-a-go at weaving. Chainsaw Dave buzzed away throughout the weekend on his magnificent carved sea eagle, while Eddie Spoons was cajoled into yet another spoons workshop (go on, go on). At the Arts and Crafts in the Hall, Linda and Tiina got the kids to make cards and masks, all with a natural, seashore theme and a huge jigsaw picture of Rum. The music workshops went on in peculiar locations from whistling on the beach to drumming in the courtyard at the castle to spoons outside the shop…
Sunday started with the awesome reggae/ska collective 'Bombskare' and finished off with an impro session at the hall into the early hours, including Mhairi on her harp and Aidan with a few words of wisdom…
There are a few thank yous to be made to: John Slorach, Garry Porch, Kinloch Castle- Lucy and staff, the security team, Milligan transport, Ed Hawan and the Reserve staff, Ronnie Dunn, Neil Christie, Karl, Daniel, all the boat people, the kids, the bands, Dave and Alison Boyle...
And the biggest thank you to everyone who came and made it such a top notch weekend. Cheers
And will we do it again next year ??
There are still some festival t-shirts left for a tenner each. Ring 01687 460225 and check out www.larrydeluxe.com/soundofrum for some quality snaps.
Fliss Hough

Another rollercoaster month weatherwise, but the alternance of warm and wet weather has resulted in a lush greenness all over the island, and a very contented cattle munching their way through the new growth, with a good number of young calves frolicking about in pastures at Kildonan, Galmisdale, Cuagach, Laig and Cleadale. Big news on the birdwatching front: a very noisy corncrake is craking away on Wes Fyffe's croft for all to hear… Is this another false start, or are they now here to stay? Time will tell. Anyhow, with report of swarm of jellyfishes by our island fishermen, and sighting of Common Dolphins (50 plus a mile north of Muck) and the first Basking Sharks around the island, the summer season seems really upon us.
After the wonderful Sound of Rum week-end, we are now looking forward to more of the same on the 11th June on Eigg. The community on Rum can certainly be congratulated for organising what revealed to be - according to the technical personnel involved - one of the best - if not the best - first festival in Scotland. Well done, this simply goes to show what people are capable of, once a relationship of trust exists between landowners and community, and communities are given the chance to take responsibility for themselves. It was great to see such a fun and peaceful gathering of people from communities all around the west coast seaboard, from Applecross to Ardnamuchan! We are all looking forward to the Sound of Rum 2006!
As the community on Eigg prepares to celebrate the 8th anniversary of the community buy-out, the community hall is starting to look more and more splendid: it will be formally opened on Friday 10th of June in the company of all funders and helpers by Revd Ann Shukman, the grand-daughter of Lord Runciman whose generous donation was a welcome contribution to the Hall fund. The building of the hall in 1926 was one of the first things that the Runciman family did for the islanders when they bought the island, and practical as they were, they had a washroom built adjacent to it so that the hall could double up as a drying space for the big house's laundry! Katie MacKinnon - our island elder - remembers the opening of the original hall very well, being about 9 years old at the time: like all the island children, she had been totally mesmerised by the "conjurer "'show which had been organised for the occasion! We will try our best to make it a memorable occasion for our community as well, and with Shooglenifty headlining the bill the next day, this should not be difficult! With Ya ma tha, the ceilidh band which has played on Eigg for each anniversary without fail, the night should start with energetic ceilidh dancing, leading to free style expression with DJ Dolphin Boy in the early hours… And since this is also wildlife week for the SWT, our partner in the trust, there will some fun wildlife activities for the whole family all day on Saturday: willow sculpture, withy lantern making, tree art and wildlife masks making.
Whilst it is great to see steady progress achieved in projects like the hall which has taken so many years to come to fruition, it is very frustrating to see other projects grind to a halt, like the delivery of bogeys to make freight delivery easier in the Small Isles: it has taken two years of efforts to come up with a viable plan for freight delivery which would not cripple our island economies, only to be told by Cal Mac that they want to start thinking about it again, since the person responsible has left the company without any record of negotiations with the communities and the Small Isles community Council: come on Cal Mac, get your act together and deliver or shall we to go to our new MP and have a word in his ear? We have already lost a funding opportunity thanks to this delay! The other big disappointment on Eigg is the setting back of the Mallaig hostel: after campaigning for so long the Eigg parents are feeling disheartened by the fact the youth café issue seem to be the stumbling block: surely by asking that a youth cafe should be built adjacent to the hostel, Cameron Mackintosh was being as forward thinking as he was generous and his idea should be applauded rather than criticised: for our youngsters to be given the chance of having a social life alongside their school comrades on their own doorstep, rather than having to roam the village streets is a great opportunity which should be enthusiastically taken advantage of in this day and age. This is the kind of initiative which would make our young people feel that life is good where they live and not long for the day they can leave for the city lights! And that will help in the long run to retain a young population in our area, which is something that everyone wants!
Camille Dressler.

Will there be an 'Arisaig Week'? YES!
When will it be? This year, it will be the week which includes the Arisaig Games, which are on Wednesday 27th. July. But next year we will be planning it for the end of May, hopefully to extend the season and draw more people into the area. What have we planned for this year? We have time constraints and no money but we think we're putting together a good timetable of events. So far we have:
Monday 25th July: The fourth and last of the series of Art Workshops in the Astley Hall, 'Dressing Up Hats for strange people from Wonderland' (well, that could describe many of us in Arisaig!), open to all ages, materials provided.
Tuesday 26th July: A Craft Fair in the Hall, with a programme of demonstrations of the crafts. Soup and sandwiches available. Wednesday 27th July: The Arisaig Games and 1st Clanranald Gathering, held at Traigh. Plus the famous Games Dance in the Hall in the evening, to the playing of Eriskay Lilt.
The rest of the week is still in the planning stage, but we hope to have a guided walk to historic parts of Arisaig and perhaps a concert or slide show.
During the week there will be an exhibition in the Land, Sea & Islands Centre on the theme of emigration and homecoming. This is still in a rough draft stage, but please add your ideas and especially offers of support. These plans are being drawn up by interested individuals and are not being put on by any one group with the sole aim to enhance Arisaig's local economy. People who have come to the two meetings we have had so far are: Elizabeth & Allan MacDonald, Bill Henderson, Dunriona Stewart, Jenny Bowman, Sue Moon, Angela Hardman, Jenny Sharpe and myself, with interest and support expressed from a number of others.
Come along to our next meeting in the Astley Hall on Tuesday 14th June at 7.30 pm or ring me on 450263 if you want to be involved in any way.
Ann Martin

Road to the Isles Agricultural Show
Arrangements are well underway for this year's Road to the Isles Agricultural Show at Camusdarach on 11th June 2005. There are livestock classes for commercial cattle, sheep and Highland cattle, and the judging for these commences at 10.30am. These classes are always well supported and we are looking forward to a good turnout again this year. Please telephone Audrey MacDonald on 01687 450267 if you wish to enter any of these classes and have not received a schedule.
The judging of the Baking, Handicrafts and Floral Decoration classes begins at 11 am. Entries are taken on the day and should be brought to the Handicrafts tent between 9.30 and 11 am on the morning of the show. We are hoping for plenty of support for these classes, so please bring along any of your handiwork that you can; even one entry in one class is more than welcome. The afternoon's entertainment begins at 1.30pm with a shinty match and continues with a Sheepdog Demonstration, a Highland Pony Pageant depicting how these sturdy ponies have been used over the years and a parade of Highland Cattle with a commentary about the breed.
There will be the usual Dog Show and hopefully a Terrier Race, so get these terriers in training! Food and drinks are available on site and there are the usual sideshows and plant stalls. There should be something for everyone to enjoy it so please come along and support your local Show and we hope that you all enjoy a good day out! AND REMEMBER the Dance in the Astley Hall in the evening when Dodgieground will be providing the music!

Friday 15th July to Sunday 17th July: 3 half-day workshops at £6 per workshop Friday and Saturday, Adult workshops on Friday evening, £6/4 and Saturday ceilidh: £6/4, Sunday afternoon: picnic and football match on one of Eigg's historical locations!
Feis Eige booking forms are available now for another long weekend of Gaelic culture and traditional music and dance on the Isle of Eigg for the whole family. Tuition on offer will be dancing, tinwhistle, fiddle, guitar, percussions with Gaelic drama and art activities also on offer as well as a placename and local history workshop without forgetting the end of feis ceilidh on the Saturday with fiddler Bob Paul, guitarist Ross Martin, piper Donna MacCulloch and the Eigg button-boxers.
For booking forms contact Camille Dressler, Cleadale, Isle of Eigg PH42 4RL, tel. 01687 482410.

Feis na Mara - Morar - August 26th/27th/28th 2005
Plans are going on well now for Feis Na Mara - Morar - which we hope to hold at the edge of Morar Games Field on the last weekend of August. The event has been brought forward one week so it does not coincide with the Blas Festival who were going to be using many of the same musicians as we hoped to have. Get the date into your diary now! Tickets will be on sale in advance only from the beginning of August - and numbers will be more limited this year - so please be sure to get your tickets early. £1 of every ticket will go towards the proposed Morar Games Field facility.
The committee are working hard to put together a programme of events - similar to those of previous years - but with a couple of slight changes. We will have three nights of amazing music - with at least three bands each night - including Peatbog Faeries, Dàimh, Zuba, Iain MacFarlane and friends, Squashy Bag Band - and many others….., there will be the usual art and music workshops - with the music workshops being organised by the new local Feis group - Feis Oighridh, and hopefully a children's concert. We also hope to have some performers from the High School [free weekend tickets for performers!] We will have a bus running between the three communities - Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig - giving more people the chance to come out. The bus will stop at around 11pm - to ensure that we get a crowd into the Marquee - as we want people to come to the actual event - NOT to be in the pub til closing and then make an appearance. Those who are performing deserve to have an audience!!. Of course there WILL be a bar! The bus will be running again at the end of the night.
Music Café:
We hope to have a Music Café in the Marquee during the day on the Saturday and Sunday - with coffee and tunes and art workshops going on at the same time. Daytime events will be free to those who have weekend tickets for the Feis.
Feis Cyclepath Race:
Fancy Dress run - the Swimming Pool are going to help organise this event between Mallaig and the Feis Marquee in Morar - with the race taking place on Saturday afternoon along the cyclepath. Either individuals or teams can take part, with either an entry fee or sponsor sheet - and money raised will go to the Swimming Pool. There will be music and a bar-b-que at the finish line at the Marquee. Look out for posters nearer the time.

With the first issue out and the second one due now, The Braes of Lochaber is the latest Lochaber community paper - now there are four. Braes covers the Roy Bridge/Spean Bridge area and one of its 'leading' lights is Catherine MacKinnon, nee MacDonald, the LEADER project officer who officially opened West Word ten years ago. What goes around, comes around… De tha Dol? will have a new editor from next month: Janice MacKinnon, who was the LCNL worker in Strontian. Another case of what goes around etc - first editor Helen went on to be the first LCNL project officer. Good luck to current editor Lynn Waddell who is leaving to concentrate on her pottery business.

The Royal British Legion Scotland (Fort William) Branch along with the Area Committee of the Highland Council have agreed to hold a march to commemorate sixty years of peace since the end of the war in Europe and the Far East. The march will be in Fort William on Sunday the 10th July 2005 from Monzie Square along the High Street to the War Memorial on the Parade arriving at approximately 2.30pm; 14.30 for old soldiers. On arrival at the War Memorial wreaths will be laid by representatives of the Royal British Legion and the Area Committee of Highland Council. Last Post, Flowers of the Forest and Reveille will be played. A service of commemoration will then be held at the War Memorial and in the Duncansburgh Church if the weather is inclement.
All other organisations or private individuals will be able to lay wreaths at the conclusion of the service. It is hoped that all who were active during the war years and all supporting civil, cadet and youth organisations will take part. The organisers are particularly hoping that World War Two veterans and War Widows of both major conflicts will take part. Any veterans who wish to take part and need assistance of any kind should contact the Highland Council Area Office at Fort William. (01397 707232)

Watch out around Saturday 11th June for the yacht Almacanter on its fund-raising sail round the coastline of Britain. This is the time she is expected to be in the Mallaig area, having left Cowes on 1st May. The yacht is crewed by her owner, John Hill, who is also a Trustee of the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance Charitable Turst (LNAACT). John is a a founder member of the Air Ambulance and was the first Chairman of Trustees. He has mounted the expedition to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and also raise funds for the Ambucopter. The Air Ambulance has been saving lives since 1994. The helicopter, an MD Explorer, covers an area of 3,000 sq miles that includes the coast line from the Humber to the Wash and serves a population of 2 million people. There will be 10 Ports of Call on a journey which will take 3 months to complete. You can follow the Almacantar's progress through the Captain's Log and photographs, as she sails along our coastline: go to www.lnaact.org.uk
For more information or to make a donation, contact Vivienne Chambers - Fundraiser for Lincolnshire on 01522 548469.

West Word - ten years ago by Robert MacMillan
Issue 8 of the first volume of West Word, dated June 1995, carried three stories on its front page. Well, two stories and a photograph really, the photograph being of Catherine MacDonald, of Lochaber Ltd's LEADER project, cutting the ribbon to declare the West Word office officially open.
The main story spoke of a Major New Regeneration Initiative for West Lochaber, highlighting the involvement of the Corrum Trust (alas as time would tell, initial hopes faded and the Corrum Trust moved elsewhere), while the other story spoke of the structured review of the fish farming conglomerate Marine Harvest McConnell following their recent merger. Two sets of newly weds smiled out from page 9: Jane Swanney and David Bird, Pauline Ross and Alastair Duncan; and whilst Tommy Ralston's book 'My Captains' was reviewed, Arisaig's first ever Road to the Isles Agricultural Show was previewed as was the very first Eigg Feis. There was a farewell party for Barry Austin in Eigg.... and Arisaig -popular chap Barry!! What ever happened to ....
Visual impressions of Alex the Policeman and Yuri the Russian Clown were provided by the children of Lady Lovat Primary School, Morar, and Bracara's Paul Galbraith, via a two-page spread (one page in Gaelic, one in English) told of how the Second World War impacted on the Rough Bounds of Lochaber. Other pages of West Word described the various community based VE day celebrations that had been held throughout the area.
As well as commenting on the risque Irish songs sung by Mallaig's Eileen McPhee, the Snippets told of how Angus and Anne Cameron waltzed around of the VE Day bonfire at Arisaig to the accordion playing of Alastair Fleming. Their son Hugh meanwhile was the runner up to Neil Trotter in a special VE Day driving test/manoeuvrability course organised in the West Bay car park by the Mallaig Police.
Page 21 in the June 1995 edition of West Word was devoted to that pest - the midge, while one of its favourite haunts, Traigh Golf Course was advertising its green fees at £9 per day and £40 for the week.
The results of a local tourist survey, co-ordinated by Mallaig High School teacher Ann MacGillivray, were published and made interesting reading while the local fishing news was provided by Robert Stevenson of the recently approved West of Scotland Fish Producers Organisation.
The Personal Angle column told of Oliver Reed's tete-a-tete with Teddy Leonard in Arisaig Bar and also displayed a photograph and rhyme in honour of Arisaig's David 'the Bronc' Macmillan's 30th birthday - happy birthday David, how does it feel to be 40?

A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
MacPherson, MacDonald
In the March edition of West Word I asked for information on Allan MacPherson who married Ann MacDonald, Tigh na Mara, sister of my g. grandfather. No information was forthcoming. Then, a few weeks ago, I had a call from Theresa MacKenzie in Morar who had a New Zealand couple staying for B&B. The man mentioned, casually that, his g. grandfather, Allan MacPherson, came from Morar! Theresa directed them over to see us.
The N. Z. pair were Warren and Denise MacPherson and upon meeting them, Warren's resemblance to the late Ronald MacDonald, father of John and Jessie etc., was remarkable. It transpires that Warren and I are 3rd cousins.
Warren's ancestry is as follows. Martin MacPherson, Warren's g.g. grandfather was born in Sleat, Skye, in 1796 and in 1841 he was Innkeeper at Beoraid. He and his wife, Ann, b. in Kilmonivaig in 1799, had five children: Alexander aged 14, Allan aged 12, Donald aged 10, Mary aged 6 and Christian aged 4.
In the 1861 census, Martin and Ann MacPherson are in the Inn at Tarbert with Alexander aged 33, b. in Sleat, ( all the other children were born in Glenelg, of which Morar was a part.) Allan, recorded as a visitor and married and Donald. Mary and Christian are not at home. A grandson of Martin and Ann, Simon MacEachen, aged 6, b. in Ardnamurchan, is staying with them in Tarbert. Here we leave Tarbert for the moment and visit Tigh na Mara. I knew that my g. grandfather, John MacDonald, b. 1838, had a sister, Mary, b. 1836 and a sister Ann, b. 1839. Their parents were Ronald MacDonald and Kate Campbell. Kate was a daughter of the Back of Keppoch boat builders The names of their children are entered in the Baptismal Records of St. Mary's, Arisaig but, unusually, give no indication of place of birth. Thereafter, there is no trace of the family until 1861 as, they do not appear in either the 1841 or 1851 censuses and widening the search to Moidart, Knoydart, Fort William etc. brought no results. In 1861, Kate Campbell, now widowed, is living in Tigh na Mara with Mary and John, both unmarried. Ann is also there, listed as a daughter, under her married name, Ann MacPherson.
Back in Tarbert in 1861, Donald, the second son, had become the licensee. From this point, we lose sight of Allan and Ann MacPherson, and, indeed, the whole MacPherson family until Warren MacPherson arrived from N.Z this month. There is still a period of 11 years when Allan and Ann are unaccounted for. They arrived in N.Z. in 1872 with eight children - 4 sons and 4 daughters. Warren named five of the children as, Maureen, Alexander, Dr. Donald, Martin, and Allan. Dr Donald MacPherson toured Britain with the All Blacks rugby team in 1905. According to Warren, the family was quite well off when they arrived in N.Z. and bought a farm and an inn on arrival. They continued to prosper and each son received a farm of his own, upon marriage. The original Australian, family farm is now in the possession of Warren's son, 133 years later. When he arrives back in Australia, Warren intends to enquire further, from other relatives who have more knowledge of the family history than he has, and we hope to hear from him soon.
If Colleen MacGillivray who was enquiring about the "Vamy" (Mamaidh), MacGillivrays, in May's West Word, could please e-mail me at: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com I will be able to tell her why this family was so-called.

West Word is now receiving a number of emails and letters from people researching their family tree. We hope our readers will respond if they have any information. This is for genealogical purposes only and is not intended for people looking for friends they have lost touch with.
I'm looking for… information on a Donald MacMullen/MacMillan married to a Catherine MacEain, both of Scotland. Child: Margaret MacMillan, born cira 1833, born Scotland, emmigrated to Canada, then to US, died 1921 in Maine USA. Sue Fraser auntnerm@aol.com

A Little Genealogy - MEM Donaldson
West Word reader Ralph McDougal, who lived at Tougal as a child, sent us this letter commenting on the April issue:

Although I left and Mallaig area at the age of 15 and didn't return until after World War Two, my memory goes back 80 years, and I remember the people of my childhood very clearly, as one does. Therefore I can fill in a few gaps in the genealogy on page 28 of April's West Word which I found it very interesting indeed.
It is true that Mary Ann McDonald, in the photo with her family, had children Donald, Charlie, Kate and Annie but there was Lizzie too, who taught at Scamadale, and then trained as a nurse. As she died young it is probable that that is why she has been missed. The family also fostered Lucy Donnelly who emigrated to Canada. It would be interesting to know if her descendants see West Word, as so many expatriates seem to do!
Allan MacEachan's son Hugh actually had four children, not three. The oldest was Allan, who seems to have been missed out, then came Mary Ann, Archie and John.
To add to your collection I enclose a photo of Sandy MacEachen, here inspecting a creel at Tougal. Sandy was badly wounded by shrapnel in the First World War, and always walked with a limp afterwards, but he used to take people out in his boat for fish on Loch Morar. He had a sister Kate, and a brother Donald. He also married lady named Kate, and had a daughter Elizabeth. I would like to say how much I appreciate seeing these old photographs as they bring so many memories back to me - too many to write down.
Ralph McDougal
Sandy MacEachen

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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
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