Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
June 2007 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
ISLE OF EIGG MARKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY
June 12th 1997 was the date the Eigg achieved power to the people and bought their island. The 10th anniversary of community ownership will be marked by an informal gathering of invited guests on Tuesday 12th, when there will be speeches and a buffet in the Community Hall. This will be followed three days later by the now annual ceilidh weekend which promises this year to be bigger and better than ever. A great line up of eight bands, including Daimh on Friday 15th and Shooglenifty on the 16th, will ensure the occasion is well and truly celebrated. There is also a fun afternoon for children on Saturday afternoon.
The Community Councils of Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig joined in welcoming Charlie and Christine King to a gathering in the West Highland Hotel in May to mark Charlie's retiral from the Highland Council. After speeches of thanks and appreciation, Arisaig CC Chairman Bill Henderson presented Charlie with a painting of Knoydart and Christine received a bouquet of flowers from Mairi MacLean, Chair of Morar CC, on behalf of the three Community Councils. Charlie, stepping down as our Councillor after 23 years, said it had been a privilege to serve North West Lochaber and praised the strength and commitment of the Community Councils. In his time as our Councillor he has been instrumental in the achievement of many things; the Mackintosh Centre, the Health Centre, new housing, the Swimming Pool, the Small Isles and Knoydart Ferry Terminals and the community buyouts of Eigg and Knoydart. He has spent the whole 23 years pushing forward the improvements to the A830 and the announcement that the last stage will go ahead helped his decision to stand down.
Happy retirement, Charlie.
(l to r) John MacMillan, Mallaig Chair, Mairi LacLean, Morar CC, Bill Henderson, Arisaig CC, Charlie and Christine King.
GLENFINNAN BREWERY IN BUSINESS
Scotland's newest brewery was officially opened on 18th May by Charles Kennedy MP. Ronnie MacKellaig led the party, carrying the Standard, a reflection of Glenfinnan's history and also the name of the beer! Pictured left to right above: Charles Kennedy MP, Ronnie MacKellaig, and brewers John Fish, David Leckie and Donald John Robertson.
Hello and thank you to West Word's new 'stringer' for Knoydart - Amanda Turnbull. We asked her to introduce herself….
I've been living in Inverie for almost two months now, am working at The Old Forge and, previous to this, lived in Edinburgh for 5 years. I'm originally from Bangor in Northern Ireland but have been living in Scotland and England for 11 years.
It's the start of the summer season in Inverie, which entails many a hectic day and night ahead for most of us. Yachties, stalkers, walkers and fun-loving hedonists (a.k.a. stag parties) are starting to descend onto the peninsula in droves and already there have been a fair few shenanigan fuelled nights.
The Easter weekend was chaotically busy, with the restaurant at The Old Forge packed to the gills on Good Friday. The bar staff had their work cut out for them when 80 people from the Lord of the Glen cruiser, which docked at the pier in the afternoon, arrived in search of ale, wine and general high spirits. Staff and locals alike were happy to oblige in all regards and then some. Tam the Banjo was banjoing his little heart out with his fellow musicians in the corner and the 1am "Strip the Willow" session outside the pub had hair being let down with wild abandon all over the shop. There was a repeat performance a couple of weeks later when a 12 strong birthday party arrived from London and decided to hang around after their meal for an introduction to Scottish music, courtesy of Jackie, Bernie, Rhona and Mark. Revellers were happily ricocheting down the street into the wee small hours without a care for hairdo or heel. Sandy, acting as dance caller, did his best to show everyone the moves (though sensibly not his legendary jive/disco fusion) and things more or less resembled a mini-ceilidh, though I suspect the repetitive spinning reintroduced a few prawn platters to the open air later that night. But no matter; the sorer the morning after, the better the night before in my book.
Rhona and Isla Miller have begun their clearout of the pier stores in readiness for their new craft-orientated enterprise, Knoydart Pottery and Tearoom. I'm told that the pottery section will most likely open in a few weeks, with the tearoom opening later on in the season. The clay throwing duo's collection will comprise primarily of gorgeous yet affordable handcrafted domestic-ware with one-off sculptural pieces for the more adventurous buyer. The sisters will also be selling their jewellery and knitted collections, which include scarves, mittens and fabulously kitsch knitted, decorative flowers and button necklaces and earrings. Their website is currently under construction so I'll keep you updated on when it will be going live. Isla's "Jumper Monkeys" are not to be missed.
The children of Knoydart premiered their film, "Munchatreeaforest" - concerning the partial felling and restocking of Inverie woods - on Saturday 28th April. It was met with rapturous applause and rave reviews and the youngsters looked fantastic in their forest-themed outfits. I predict a few future Scorceses and Spielbergs amongst their number given the quality of the filmmaking. Surrogate parents for the shoot, Sam Firth and Jim Manthorpe, looked very proud of their cinematic charges and most of the village turned out to support the children at the showing. As is the tradition with a film premier there was even a red(ish) carpet (specially purloined from Rowan Cottage) on which various Inverians displayed their sartorial style like Hollywood pros. This excellent excuse for donning frocks, heels and fake tan (and that was just Kenny) had Paparazzi for the day, Tommy McManmon (in a fetching gorilla ensemble), snapping away frenziedly so we shall await with bated breath the fruits of his labour. Sam hopes to have the film printed onto DVD in a month or two, so watch this space for details of where and when to purchase a copy or five.
Summer raffle tickets are still on sale in the Foundation office. For those of you that have so far resisted the lure of the fantastic prizes on offer, (a week in Rowan Cottage and a luxury hamper amongst other goodies) the Foundation are providing an incentive to the hard sell by offering a prize to the person who flogs the most tickets locally. Anyone interested should contact the office as soon as possible, bearing in mind that all proceeds go towards funding the various conservation projects in our area so it's a more than a worthy cause. The exact nature of the prize is yet to be revealed but here's hoping that it has something to do with champagne and being fed grapes by a fan-bearing flunky on some tropical paradise. Unlikely, but we can but dream…
The location for the village's waste skips has now been decided, with the road formerly used by the Forestry contractors allocated as a collection point. The paperwork from the Highland Council is still pending, as is the actual method of collection, but rest assured that and the issue of recycling is under discussion and will be resolved shortly.
Finally, we bid a farewell to the lumberjacks who have recently been burning the midnight oil in their efforts to cut down the local timber for export to Ireland. Calum, Louis, Steven et al have been in Inverie since March and have now departed our shores to head off to various other tree-centric jobs in the UK. We hope that they will remember to visit us, though a little bird tells me that several of their number have been conscripted to a rather Sabbath observing location just round the corner so I doubt they'll be strangers for too long. You can take the boys out of Inverie but you can't take Inverie (or ale more to the point) out of the boys.
So until next month…
Tommy has reinstated the webcam - www.knoydartshop.com
ISLE OF MUCK
Congratulations to Alan Henderson on his election to Highland Council. It is good to have an independent and it's good to have someone so well known in West Lochaber. Perhaps his election had something to do with his visit to Muck (together with Bill Clarke) to canvas support.
May has certainly lacked a lot of the fine weather that made lambing such a pleasure but we have completed most of the land work and the boat is ashore for her annual refit; lots of scraping and varnishing to come. If there are any experts on old boat maintenance out there looking for work please get in touch.
The end of the month saw the first artic lorry on the island as I have finally bowed to convenience and used a lorry and Caledonian MacBrayne combination to ferry the island's cattle for the June sale in Fort William. Loading was reasonably straight forward with lots of help from almost the entire island. Prices were very good which is more than I can hope for when the lambs are sold in the autumn given the dismal state of the sheep trade.
The island has just taken delivery of a new wind turbine to replace the one that was damaged by storms so we can all look forward to a bit more power. The other technological marvel, broadband, is still not with us yet. I am too old to be really fussed by internet connection speeds, but to some on the island it makes all the difference. However, I understand that things are now in train to fix the problems and I won't have to write to Fergus Ewing for help just yet.
Two important dates for your diary include the Isle of Muck Open day on 17th June. Please make reservations on the Shearwater by contacting Arisaig Marine (tel: 01687 450224). The other is the Feel Good weekend on 22-25 June. A weekend of drumming, singing, massage and yoga. Please contact Catherine, tel: 01687 462814.
On the 20th April the whole island gathered in the Craft Shop for a lunch with Ronnie Dyer, and Martine, to celebrate (rather belatedly) Ronnie's 50th birthday. We also gave them a little thank you for all Ronnie's unstinting help to the island over the years.
ISLE OF CANNA
A mixed bag of rain, glorious sunshine and surprise gales…just to remind us that we're really into spring. Springwatch on the telly, that is. Flowers are, as expected, growing wild. Unfortunately the grass at the school is too, and even the early plantings just managed to survive an attack from a couple of beasts that managed to loup the dyke. On their way out the gate came off worst…new stile required soon.
We were intrigued the other day as certain ship was due to anchor off, and we received an invitation to dine aboard. There was brief consternation regarding our expected mode of attire for the evening, until it was pointed out that the cruise ship "Professor Molchanov" was, in fact a naturalist cruise. However, it was very much a case of all dressed up and nowhere to go as we waited onshore, passports and papers in order, only to be informed that a shore to ship transfer would be too risky on account of the weather. At least most of us managed to get fed and watered back on Sanday, with a few tunes on the mandolin thrown in for good measure, so all was not lost. Thanks John!
Not to be the only ones caught out by the weather, an intrepid pair of seafaring adventurers holed up for a couple of days on their way to Barra, snug in their Force Ten - which had apparently never let them down. The aforementioned tent was last seen taking off in a Skyeward direction on a gale of wind. So that must make it a Force Eight, then. Southwesterly. A few sea-kayakers took the more sensible option and returned to Mallaig on the Loch Nevis. Now that's worth a fiver.
Back on the farm, lambing is over and there remains only a late cow to calve. A couple of souls have taken off on a well deserved holiday, from one windy isle to another, but there doesn't seem to be much prospect of feet up in front of Corrie with a few hundred sheep to shear on their return...!
A very great big thank you from Canna Primary School to everyone who made the Highland 2007 week a success; kayaking, swimming, music and a host of other activities were on offer, and a fine time was had by all.
Unforeseen equipment malfunction has temporarily impacted on slip cleaning operations. Mariners and other slipway users can rest assured that safe, skite-free access is of paramount importance and this service will be maintained via light abrasive application and high-frequency long-handle agitation methods. Basil "the brush" can now be observed sweeping furiously at most low tides.
ISLE OF RUM
Yet again we were blessed with unforecast good weather for this year's music festival, the sun shone and everyone appeared to be having a good time.
This years highlights were Daimh - who continue to dazzle with a top notch display of energy and talent; Frog in Throat, with a slightly different line up to last year and Bombskare - who dragged everyone out of their tents on Sunday lunchtime to remind them that the festival wasn't over yet.
Aidan McEoin and the collection of musicians that are 'Word of Mouth' kicked everything off on the Friday with a rousing performance of Aidan's old and new poetry, followed by Bramax, the motley crew of Farquhar, Seumus and Peter - did you catch any of their lyrics??
Harp players Fraya and Gillian - The Duplets performed to a bemused crowd on Saturday with their unusual style of chat, stories and delicate harp music before the storming performances by Daimh, the Frog and Peatbog Faeries. It was late when it all finished, the dawn chorus accompanied most back to their tents and some to, what we playfully called, Sandy's workshop (renamed, the Zoo) for a few more tunes…
There was plenty to do with lots of art workshops incorporating a recycling and renewable energy theme, Henry Fosbrooke's woodland orchestra and crafts tent, the solar powered cinema, which was a popular choice for both kids and adults. This year we had craft and clothing stalls - and if you didn't find anything you wanted there you'd have been hard pushed not to part with your money to the gang of entrepreneurial kids selling a range of products from ice cream to glow sticks to scoobies
Thankfully everyone got home ok, despite the ferry fiasco on Monday, even that gave the Eigg crew an opportunity to christen the boat sheds and a chance for Damien (old man river) Helliwell to catch up on his beauty sleep for a few hours.
As mentioned before, this was the last festival for the foreseeable future, a lot of hard work went into planning and organising these events and the help received from a number of dedicated volunteers and workers was invaluable.
Thank you to everyone who has helped over the last three years to make the Sound of Rum festival work so well and special thanks to Ronnie Dunn, who provided a lifeline supply of excellent food to everyone.
And if that wasn't enough, we had another pitch invasion last weekend from the Wilderness ARC. As part of their world championship event we had the surreal site of watching 200 people swim across the bay, run the ridge and then kayak off to Eigg… very impressive.
ISLE OF EIGG
A very busy month of May in Eigg, particularly for Eigg Primary School, where our head teacher, Hilda Ibrahim, organised an Open Day for the community to discover the splendidly refurbished premises, - huge nursery room, tidy office space, play area complete with climbing wall! - not to mention the spacious community learning room which is anticipated to be operational later on in the year, and the teacher's flat with its lovely French windows and balcony… The primary school kids performed a brilliant puppet show about recycling, featuring great hand held puppets and a astonishing number of lines delivered by young 5 year old Murray Wallace - which will contribute to the school gaining its eco-school status. And as if this was not enough, Hilda organised a Small Isles week for the younger children whilst their older friends went to their annual outing on the mainland. The Muck and Knoydart children came over to make colourful bugs to hide in the playground, and beautifully decorated dens of fabric, willow and flowers in the Lodge garden. Great fun was had by all!
Eigg grown-ups were also out to play this month, as a sizeable Eigg contingent made its way to the Sound of Rum festival, which was dubbed by them as well as the Peat Bog Fairies to be the absolute best of its kind! There are talks of (hopefully temporarily) relocating the festival to Eigg or Knoydart, but we all think that Rum cannot be beaten as a location as for one week-end of the year it becomes the "people's isle" where outdoor and traditional music lovers converge to climb, walk and dance. SNH should truly pay heed to the popularity of Rum as a venue as there is talk of the castle being converted into millionnaires' apartments by the Phoenix's Trust (closely linked to the Prince of Wales). This might not fit very well with this new parliament's conception of SNH's mission statement, judging by recent articles in the press... Why, even the mighty Cal Mac bowed to the power of the people when community friendly skipper Tony talked them into an extra run to allow the overbooked ferry to convey the Eigg folks home. Grateful thanks to both skipper and crew!
Power to the people will soon be celebrated on Eigg as the 10th anniversary of the community buy-out approaches, with formal celebrations planned on the 12th and informal ones on the 15th and 16th with tons of great music including a children's fun afternoon on the Saturday. It will be a truly electrifying event as "on behalf of Eigg Electrics", we are able to announce steady progress on the Laig Hydro scheme (the track to it would make a great mountain bike ride..) following the successful erection of the solar panels discretely sited above the telephone exchange. Meanwhile, solar water heating boxes are also being fitted on the flat roof of the Earth Connections centre, build by a team of IVS( International Voluntary Service) folks from Finland, Poland, Slovenia, Serbia, Switzerland, Germany and the USA. A demonstration box will also be available to show how the system works.
Eigg has also started its own Credit Union this month, and as one building project ends with the completion of Eddie and Lucy's house, another starts with Sue and Alistair's extension at Lageorna. But that did not prevent the Eigg hens and stags from gathering on their respective nights in the run up to Kathleen Smith and Stuart Millar's wedding on 2nd June (see snippets for more information!). Pipes and kilts galore, three generations of very bonny Mackinnnon girls presided over by Katie, great food, great music provided by Skippinish, the return of Revd Lamb and his wife, a sizeable Muck contingent, a beautiful cake which featured Heather, the Hulin Highland cow which has recently given birth to a beautiful Aberdeen Angus cross (of which Stuart is very proud), many Glasgow friends, all contributed to making this wedding a memorable event. The couple's wee girls were adorable and Kathleen and Stuart looked wonderfully happy. All the very best to the two of them!
Residents in the Highland/Roshven View area had a most peculiar interruption to their power supply on Friday 1st June. From midday the house lights were very low and the sockets had no power. The Hydro Board told any enquirers to turn their power off at the main until the problem was sorted, but the damage had been done. Appliances which had been on at the time were found to be useless when the power returned late that night - amongst the items lost have been a computer, modem, radio, printer, heating controls, a dishwasher, a washing machine, microwave, a boiler, neon lighting units, Sky reception-and that's just the ones I know about in four of the houses! However the Hydroboard have been prompt and helpful and are dealing with the damaged items so hopefully all will be remedied soon. Apparently it was the opposite of a surge caused by something looking for something it couldn't find!!
As hoped and promised Pod the contractor has been back (well, actually it was Frank of Riverside) doing jobs left over from the Astley Hall renovation project. So far the wooden benches at the sides of the Hall have been at last been insulated - good news for those who have complained how draughty they've been to sit on. Frank has also eased the fire doors which weren't closing properly and has fixed the broken panel at the back of the hall. He's also unblocked the vents which had been sealed pending further work. The next job is, I think, to paint the main hall which is looking really quite shabby now, and the outer south facing door.
It had been hoped that Major General Petràk, our hero SOE trainer, might have been making a trip here from Slovakia to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the unveiling of the plaque at Traigh House, but unfortunately his wife Rudi is ill in hospital. We wish her a speedy recovery and hope the General will be able to come over later on in the year.
Things on the move...The Planning Permission is in for the 16 new houses and in fact a number of PPs this month for local people which is great. The Road starts on 11th June, remember they've promised not to work on the existing bits in the summer (hope they remember!) and men and machinery have been moving into the area. A big piece has been carved out of the field opposite Borrodale Farm to house a portacabin and machines and they will be using Quality Cottages as offices. A big orange sign has gone up stating work will start on the 11th June and will last for 82 weeks. On a happy note, amongst the devastation where the plantations have been cut down (and new trees planted) there have been masses of bluebells this year where none have been before. So although our usual bluebell patches are likely to be ploughed under, they won't disappear.
Many locals have been disappointed and upset by the fact that visitors found nowhere open for a cup of tea or coffee over the Bank Holiday weekend, and on the Tuesdays there was nowhere to buy lunch either, and I have been asked by a number of folk to comment on it in West Word. We rely on our tourists but don't seem to want to encourage them. The Spar staff have now installed a coffee machine in the shop so they can answer the scores of enquiries with an affirmative 'You can get a cup here'.
Charles Kennedy MP officially opened Glenfinnan Brewery on 18th May. Ronnie MacKellaig, carrying The Standard, met Charles and the brewers on the Slatach Road and led them to the brewery. A nice touch as their ale is called 'The Standard' in honour of the historical events that took place in Glenfinnan in 1745. Also in attendance was our new Councillor, Allan Henderson, who ably demonstrated his skill in pulling a pint. The opening was well attended by the old and young of the village despite the rain. The following day we rejoined for an informal ceilidh. There was live music, food, including tons of Mallaig prawns, craic and plenty of beer. It is safe to report that Donald John can indeed organise a piss-up in a brewery (With a bit of help from Joanie!). Glenfinnan Brewery is housed in what was Donald John Robertson's garage and is now a state of the art microbrewery. His business partners are David Leckie and John Fish. They are all retired teachers and worked together in Lochaber High School.
Gaelic for gamekeepers, poachers and hillwalkers was a sell-out. Hillwalkers and gamekeepers (no-one identified themselves as poachers) were given an introduction to Gaelic from Colm O'Rua and the Gaelic relevant to stalking and butchering deer by Iain MacFarlane in the hotel. Then it was all aboard MV Sileas with Skipper Jim Michie for a guided tour of Loch Shiel by Charlie MacFarlane. As the weather came in the party took shelter below deck and were entertained with live music by the aforementioned trio. Donald John was barman for the night so sales of Glenfinnan Brewery ale were high and all requests for tea were denied.
The Loch Shiel Spring Festival also took place in May. I only made it to one event but judging by the cars parked at the church the concerts were well attended. I made it to the Sunday performance on the lawn at Glenfinnan House Hotel. It was a warm sunny day, then, just as the orchestra sat down to play, the rain poured down. They waited for it to clear but with no sign of a let up they bravely decided the show must go on. And it did. Then they finished and it stopped raining. Well, despite the rain, their audience stayed with them and we enjoyed it.
There were quite a few birthdays in May. Many happy returns to Ingrid Henderson who turned 30 on 19th May. You are now officially a grown-up. Her father, Allan Henderson, also celebrated his birthday this month. I am another year older too as of 25th May. And Happy Birthday to Lewis who was 7 and Katie who was 5.
As West Word goes to press we should have held Glenfinnan's Big Paint. The result will be on display at Glenfinnan Games on 18th August.
Booking has started for the Glenfinnan 07 Day of Song and Dance / Làtha Ciùil agus Dannsa on 22nd July. We are delighted to have professional dancer Frank MacConnell of Dannsa and renowned Gaelic singer Anne Martin from Skye leading workshops for children and adults. There is also a storytelling session for children and a family ceilidh dance in the evening. Please contact Glenfinnan House Hotel on 01397 722235 for a programme and booking form.
Do you recognise this unusual headboard and distinctive lights?
West Word - ten years ago
The results of the West Word Writing Competition adorned the front page of the June 1997 issue of West Word. Twenty-eight entries had been received in the Gaelic Section and over 100 entries in the English Section, making the task of the respective judges, Iain MacDonald (Glenuig) and Melvyn Bragg (London), a difficult one.
The newly elected MP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, Mr David Stewart (Labour), also made the front page stating his number one transport priority was the upgrading of the A830, while Arisaig's Elizabeth MacDonald was pictured with a giant common oyster which was so big she thought it should be in the Guinness Book of Records!
West Word's political page (page 3) was filled by Charlie King's Council Corner and Mr David Stewart's first column for the paper. Charlie's column contained references to St Elmo and The Croft (slow progress), The School Hostel (consultation to be carried out), Arisaig Steering Group (parking survey) and Eigg (Highland History in the making as the Heritage Trust officially took charge). 'It is a great privilege to be elected to represent this constituency', was how new MP David Stewart started off his column, thanking everyone who voted for him and offering to do his bit for the area, including getting the A830 back on the agenda.
The mystery of a totally black seagull first spotted on Mallaig Pier by Donnie Simpson was illustrated by Charlie MacDonald's photo of the bird, whilst David Bird, Sonia Cameron and John Barnes joined forces to produce 'On the Rails' - news of the Summer Steam Train services - and 'Off the Rails' - news of the West Coast itinerary of the paddle steamer Waverley.
Page 8 displayed the weekly schedule for the local Radio Station, Nevis Radio, now broadcasting into the Mallaig area on 102.3fm. An adjacent article told how this was made possible - a £68,500 project to carry programmes as far afield as Mallaig and the Small Isles and Glencoe boosting its existing audiences by a third.
Mallaig Pharmacy celebrated its 10th birthday with a half page advert; another advert asked 'A Music Festival for Mallaig?' and there was a page pullout detailing the programme of events for the Mallaig Mission Gala Weekend.
Mallaig High School listed HM Inspectors of Schools' Report and the Isle of Muck Primary School pupils proved teamwork is the only way to construct a frame of a boat using willow, in a Fantasy Shipwreck Project.
West Highland Hotel staff and management were pictured limbering up for their part in the Longest Strip the Willow in the West, along the Fort William High Street, whilst Hughie MacKelvie and Lena Stevenson were also in the photo frame on the news page of the Encounter Group.
A Sense of Adventure continued Barry Austin's travels by bike through Africa. Malawi, Harare and Zimbabwe were mentioned in dispatches as was his 1000 kilometre trek to post a Malawian chair back to Arisaig (not quite IKEA but it was self assembly)! Morar's Cathie Stewart brought the WRI story up to date, covering the period 1947 - 1997, and Mallaig High School was the venue for a production entitled 'The Herring Girls' and, staying with the sea, the Eda Frandsen Ceilidh Cruise between Inverness and Inverie (via the Caledonian Canal) looked to be an event worth experiencing!
Canadian clarsach player Christine Fraser Ramsay, who had resided in Mallaig for several years working at D & W McLean's shop, had her new cassette reviewed and the Letters page included a poem about local businessman Gordon MacLennan!
The Rev Alan Lamb and Mission Superintendent Murray Campbell provided the Christian Messages on page 28 and Andrew Simpson a crossword, while Mallaig Marine World was to play host for three days to a double decker bus (The Minch Sea Bus) in celebration of World Oceans Day!
In the sports pages, canoe club members completed what they considered to be the 'First Circumnavigation of Mallaig', while the Road to the Isles Relay Marathon benefited the Mallaig Swimming Pool Fund.
My Personal Angle column asked the question 'Just what was Bob Burt doing in a drain with a sheep that had a bag over its head? Answers please c/o The Sunday Sport'. Well, what can you say?
FISHING FOCUS by John Hermse, Secretary of the M&NWFA
The Fisheries Cabinet Secretary has intimated that the proposed Marine Park has been put on hold until the "dogs dinner" of marine legislation is sorted out. Fishermen, fishfarmers and other commercial marine users welcome this decision which shows at long last that the issue of maritime legislation is going to be tackled for the good of all concerned. In any case, it is my contention that a referendum should be held in the main areas, to help the decision making process as to which community actually wants such a park.
In the meantime, I offer an analysis of the Scottish Executive consultation responses doc. Enjoy !
Paper 4.1 Coastal and Marine National Park - Response Analysis
The Scottish Executive consultation on the proposal to establish Scotland's first coastal and marine national park closed in January 2007. A summary of the consultation results was published in March 2007 which claimed that 72% of respondents supported the creation of the marine park.
During the consultation process, concerns were expressed at the potential for skewed results due to the methods used to ascertain public opinion. The most controversial technique was the use of a PR bus with questionnaires. The staff on the bus were ill equipped to answer any questions in depth and the questionnaires were written in a style which would inevitably illicit a positive response.
At the Inshore Committee meeting of 15 March 2007, it was agreed that an analysis of the consultation responses should be presented to the next meeting of the Committee.
The full consultation document was sent to 800 consultees in October 2006 with an invitation to respond by the 10 of January 2007. The timescale of the consultation was criticised as it did not allow additional time for the Christmas and new year holidays or the run up to December Council. The consultation received 940 responses from 769 individuals and 171 organisations. 623 of these responses were from questionnaires distributed from the bus.
The summary of consultation responses states that 72% of respondents signalled in principle support for the establishment of a marine national park and that 10% were opposed. 42% of the organisations and 23% of the individuals were not based within 10km of any of the proposed sites. 17% of the respondent organisations, the most significant organisational grouping, were classified as conservation agencies.
The consultation showed that 55% of respondents thought that the park would provide better planning and better environmental management. This was compared with 11% claiming that there would be no benefit to the designation. This result included all levels of preference, meaning that if more than one benefit was claimed all would be recorded. When the result was weighted according to preference and relative degree of agreement, however, 11% of individuals and 16% of groups felt that there would be no benefit to designation. These opinions ranked third and first most popular respectively.
The summary document states that 2% (19) of respondents felt that a park would increase the integration of regulations and regulatory authorities and that only 1% (10) felt that a designation would increase the level of bureaucracy.
The consultation found overwhelming support of the residents located in or near the Firth of Clyde candidate region for designation of the Argyll Islands and coast or a combination region. This was also stated as the consensus view of other respondents. Tourism, conservation, cultural heritage and recreational groups generally supported the proposal while fishing, agriculture, local authorities, community councils and other businesses generally did not.
A Scottish Executive received very few answers to some of the more specific questions and branded then as 'too technical'. These questions included one on boundaries and those in relation to functions, power and governance were not answered by 90% of the respondents.
The questionnaires distributed during the consultation process did not give consultees any negative options and were assumed to offer support unless it categorically stated otherwise. For this reason the questionnaire responses have not been included in this analysis, regardless of view, although there were a number voicing opposition.
Of the 327 remaining responses 198 were published by the Scottish Executive. This represents approximately 61% of the full consultation responses and could, therefore, be considered a significant sample size. 119 (70% of full sample) of these were from organisations and 79 (38% of full sample) from individuals.
800 organisations were invited to respond to the consultation, with 21% return on this figure although a number of respondents had not originally been invited to contribute.
Each response was read and assigned a category. If the response voiced support in it was considered as being for the proposal, if it voiced opposition it was considered as being against and if it was undecided or it was unclear what the respondents position was on the issue it was classified as undecided. A few (at least 6) of the consultation responses were included in the Scottish Executives list more than once and in the analysis they were only counted once. A number of the respondents appeared to be 'confused'. These responses were classed as for to give the consultation and respondent the benefit of the doubt. Overall results showed 42% of respondents in support of the CMNP, with 35% in opposition and 23% undecided.
The results from the organisations showed 24% against the proposal, 44% in support of it and 32% undecided. Of the 44% in support of the proposal over a third had significant concerns associated with it.
The results for the individual response showed 41% against the proposal, 30 in support of it and 8 undecided. Of the 30 in support of the proposal 5 had serious concerns in relation to it.
Of the organisations in favour of the proposal or undecided on it, the following concerns were noted:
Figure 1: Concerns expressed by respondents in support of a CMNP and undecided.
Across the sample 12% (23) of respondents had concerns regarding the increased level of bureaucracy that any designation would create and 9% (18) had concerns in relation to the way in which the consultation had been carried out, including the perception of bias in the questionnaire and consultation document. 19% were concerned at the lack of information that had been supplied by the Scottish Executive.
The lack of negative statements in the questionnaire left an under representation of negative responses in the entire consultation sample. This would be expected in such a situation. Despite the method assessed, however, the majority of the respondents were, in principle, in favour of the establishment of the national park. When analysing full consultation responses, the number of respondents in support of the park is reduced from 72% to 42% and the number opposed to it increased from 10% to 35%.
The questionnaire design will also have influenced the number of comments outside the scope of the questions. In the wider sample only 1% of respondents thought that the level of bureaucracy would increase in a park but in the smaller, written consultation only, sample this increased to 12%. In the same way concerns relating to lack of information and to the consultation process are significant within the written response sample. It is also worth noting that bureaucracy and lack of information are significant concerns to those in support and undecided.
The results illustrated for suggested benefits of a park are also biased towards 'a benefit' as opposed to 'no benefit'. In the collation of results all of the benefits supported by a respondent were included, increasing the support for benefits generally. 'No benefit' was represented by one category only. When the results were expressed in relative terms, respondents supporting the case that there were no benefits to the park increased in importance and constituted 16% of organisations and 11% of individuals.
It is possible that a number of individuals will have both filled in a questionnaire and submitted a written response. Although the Scottish Executive has, in some cases, attempted to reconcile these it is unlikely that this will always have been successful. As mentioned earlier a number of responses appear to have been submitted twice.
The final chapter of the summary of responses deals with 'specific issues raised' but only acknowledges those raised by the 10% that were opposed to the proposal who's views 'contrast' with other respondents. The document does not address the concerns of the undecided or the supporters of the proposal, nor does it acknowledge the presence of such concerns. This analysis clearly shows that respondents within these categories have concerns that are very similar to those expressed by respondents in opposition to the proposal. The document is also very dismissive of these concerns.
The document ends by stating that 3% of respondents supported further and more inclusive consultation. Results from this sample of written responses indicate that the figure with concerns relating to the is significantly higher than 3%. This may, again, be due to dilution by the questionnaires.
Crofting ROUNDUP by Joyce Ormiston, SCF Council Member
Safer Calf Tagging for Crofters
Seerad have acknowledged the risk involved in tagging calves with over protective mothers . Previously beef calves had to be fitted with identification tags within 20 days, and young calves are usually tagged within a few days of birth while they are small enough to catch. However at this time the mother is at her most protective and there have been a catalogue of injuries, many unrecorded, and several tragic deaths.
Now farmers and crofters can call BCMS and make arrangements to agree an extension if they have a cow that is a 'bit of a cow'. Either that or stick the BCMS representative in the pen along side her with the taggers in his hand...
Calves no longer have their 'earrings' in within 20 days of birth if there is a risk to the farmer/crofter from the mother.
Common Grazings Management event
Friday 1st June at 7.30 in the County Hotel Stornoway and Sat 2nd June 10.am Valtos outdoor centre Uig. The evening event event will be focusing on Grazings Committee Regulations and will include:
- Grazings committee - are you legal?
- Operation of a grazings committee
- Establishing a committee
- Grazing regulations - are they effective?
- Procedure for developments on common grazings
The event on 2nd of June will concentrate on Practical Common Grazings management and includes addresses on Renewable energy and Animal Health Schemes for Common grazings.
There are still a few spaces available but as it's a long way to go I will hope to report on the outcome next month as the SCF have Donald Murdie attending. Lets hope Grazings committees are not encouraged to go down the biofuel and wind farm route, it seems to me that all these schemes do is create eyesores, with fencing and the dreaded giant white windmills. Nobody has thought these new schemes through and who is going to tidy up the mess in years to come when the companies buying the power have gone to the wall and the windmills cannot be maintained and lie disused and rusting.
Road to the Isles show
On the 9th of June at Camasdarach. Let's hope there will be lots of entries in the livestock sections to support our famous show. Entries close this week.
Don't forget to check out Joyce's blog on www.ormistonhighlands.com
Napier Commission report available online
The team at Lochaber College Mallaig have done wonders to bring the 19th Century Napier Commission report of life and times of Highland crofters and cottars into the 21st century by making the whole historical document available from their online e-library.
The PDF documents can be found at www.highland-elibrary.com then follow the links.
A big thank you to Jane Henderson and the team at the College who have achieved this through help from Highland 2007 [Highland year of Culture] and the Crofters Commission. Already there have been 50,000 hits to the website .Newcomers to crofting should take a dip into the report to witness the struggles that went on before, the tales of hunger and poverty will soon dispel any romantic ideas of crofting they may have.
A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Last month I asked about Hector MacAskill from Eigg who went to North Carolina in the early 1800s and whose present-day descendant, Marshall MacLeod, is searching for information. According to Alistair Murray's account of MacAskill genealogy on the tacksmen of Rudh an Dunain, Minginish , Skye, John MacAskill held the tack in 1650. He was followed, in 1664, by his son, Kenneth, who, in his turn, was followed by his son John Dubh. John married Catherine MacLeod of Drynoch. John Dubh and Catherine had two sons, Iain Mór, who married Janet Bethune or, Beaton and they were the progenitors of the Eigg MacAskills. Alexander MacAskill married Janet MacLeod of Bay and they were the progenitors of the Bay MacAskills.
Iain Mór and Janet had a large family of whom, only two survived a smallpox epidemic, i.e. Iain Òg, b.1729 and Malcolm b. 1723.
Malcolm became an ordained minister in the parish of Kilmallie and thereafter, transferred to the parish of The Small Isles in 1757. He was married twice, firstly, to Ann MacLeod, daughter of Murdoch MacLeod from Glenelg. Rev. Malcolm and Ann had three children, they were Kenneth, John and Jean. Of these three, only Jean survived to adulthood, living in Rudha an Dunain. My acknowledgements to Catriona White for her decided correction to last month's genealogy of the children of Mhaighster Calum's first marriage where, I wrote that Rev. MacAskill's daughter married John MacLean, tacksman of Muck. Apparently, it is a family myth! According to Laurence Reid of Soay, Mhaighster Calum's second marriage on 21st July 1761, was to Mary MacLean of Coll. In her book, Camille Dressler says that he married Màiri, nighean Eòghainn, daughter of Hugh MacLean, XIV of Coll. Rev. Calum (Malcolm) and Mary MacLean had ten children. 1. Hugh, b. 1762 d. aged nine months, 2. (Doctor) Donald, 1763- 1817. At Ardgour House on May 1st 1797, Donald m. Jane Campbell , b. 1780. She died at Rudh and Dunain in 1862. 3. Allan b. 1675, remained unmarried, was a ship's captain who became very wealthy and built Calgary Castle in Mull. 4. Hugh, 1767 - 1798. 5. Janet, 1769 - 1771. 6. Christina m. Ronald MacDonald of Laig, son of Alasdair Mac Mhaighster Alasdair. Ronald had been a schoolteacher in Eigg for two years before taking the tack of the Taigh Seinnse or, Change House which we now know as Arisaig Hotel. He later moved back to Laig. Ronald and Christina had two children, Allan and Mary. See page 47 of "Eigg, the Story of an Island" by Camille Dressler, for a good account of them. 7. Mary,b. 1775 d. 1866 in Portree. 8. Marion b. 1776 in Eigg d. 1812, in Edinburgh. 9. John Donald, b. 1778 in Eigg 10. Hector b. 1781 in Eigg and ancestor of Marshall MacLeod. According to Marshall, Hector emigrated in 1819 which would make him about 38 years of age at the time. He met and married, on board ship to North Carolina, Christian Chisholm, born in Scotland. They most probably sailed up the Cape Fear River to Cross Creek, now known as Fayetteville, which we visited last year, and then moved on to Drowning Creek in Montgomery County, N.C. where they took over a farm.They had eight children. 1. Kenneth. 2. Nancy. 3. Sarah. 4. Mary. 5. Janet. 6. Effie. 7. Murdoch. 8. Catherine. Christian Chisholm d. in 1868 and her husband, Hector MacAskill d. in 1876.
What now, of Margaret MacAskill who m. Neil MacQuarrie? (My ggg grandparents) Who was she? Apparently, when Rev. Malcolm came to Eigg and his glebe was extended, he invited Margaret's great grandfather, John MacAskill, b. 1727 in Minginish, Skye, to come to Eigg to help him. John MacAskill, b. 1727 and known as Iain Mòr, is listed in the 1764 Census of the small Isles as Church Elder, and with him is his wife Marion Cumming, b. 1728, children, Kenneth age 9 b. 1754, Catherine aged 7 b. 1756, Ann aged 4, b, 1758 and John (Iain Òg,) b. 1763. With the family was Marion Cameron, widow, aged 76.
Kenneth (b. 1754) married Mary ? MacAskill. Their daughter, Margaret MacAskill married Neil MacQuarrie. I don't have details of Margaret's siblings. There is a line of thought that her father Kenneth, and other family members emigrated to Canada. I know that the ages on the early census returns are not always reliable but, could this John (Iain Mòr, (church elder) be the brother of Rev. Malcolm who survived the smallpox epidemic?
My thanks to Marjory MacInnes, Dunvegan, for information which she provided.
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