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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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June 2013 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
First Minister opens Lochailort Hatchery
Alex Salmond MSP officially opened the new £16m smalt hatchery in Lochailort on Friday 7th June in glorious sunshine. The facility, which is part of am £80m expansion of salmon farming to meet the growing demand for Scottish farmed salmon worldwide, will grow eleven million fish each year to supply Marine Harvest's salmon farms across the West Highlands and Islands.
Lochailort was Marine Harvest's first hatchery when it was set up on 1965. As well as securing the jobs of the existing five staff, a further five jobs are being created.
More on this story next month.
Photo Moe Mathieson
One of the nesting gulls at Mallaig Railway Station with hatched chicks.
Thanks to Steve Roberts for the photo.
24 HOUR POWER FOR THE ISLE OF MUCK
Wednesday 29th May was a momentous day for the Isle of Muck. The newly constructed renewable energy scheme was formally handed over to the community by SSE Contracting. The scheme is providing the 35 residents with reliable 24 hour power for the first time in the island's history.
Guests who arrived on MV Sheerwater included Allan Henderson, Councillor for Caol, Mallaig and the Small Isles, Jamie Adam from Community Energy Scotland and Ian Leaver, (who did a sterling job as project officer for the initiative). Also present were friends from neighbouring Eigg.
There was a tour of the scheme, followed by a short ceremony during which the keys to the scheme were symbolically handed over to Ewen MacEwen, a director of Isle of Muck Community Enterprise, who will operate the new scheme. Then it was over to the community hall for lunch. As usual, the residents of Muck had all chipped in and produced a magnificent spread. The scheme uses a combination of wind and solar energy from six 5kW wind turbines and three 11kW banks of photovoltaic cells. The energy harvested is then stored and made available using sets of battery cells, providing a constant, stable electricity supply. There is also a back-up diesel generator that starts automatically if the battery level becomes too low. Since the scheme has been up and running during the last couple of months the generator has only needed to run for 3 and a half hours. We hope this continues as it's great news for the environment.
In order to keep consumer costs down, and to ensure there is money available for essential replacement parts in the future, the scheme will be maintained on a voluntary basis by six members of the community. The volunteers have had comprehensive training from the suppliers and installers and are raring to go it alone, having been involved with the installation and operation so far.
The Isle of Muck community would once again like to thank the Big Lottery Fund, SSE Contracting, Wind and Sun, Coldcurve, Community Energy Scotland, Allan Henderson, Ian Leaver and all others who have contributed to seeing this to completion. It has felt like a hard road at times, but it's already making a massive improvement to the quality of life on Muck and the future prospects for the community.
Guests take a tour of the wind turbine installation at Muck
Iain Jessop, SSE Contracting, (right) hands keys to Ewen MacEwen, Director, Isle of Muck Community Enterprise.
The Isle of Muck residents gather for the handover ceremony.
Photos courtesy of Mark Johnson.
Robert retires as West Word Chairman
After twenty years at the helm of West Word's Board, Robert MacMillan stepped down at the AGM on Tuesday 21st May. Editor Ann Martin presented him with vouchers and the first Quaich won by West Word as Community Newspaper of the Year in 2005. Also pictured is ex-Director Roger Lanyon and Treasurer Andrew Fleming.
Photo Richard Lamont
Summer has finally come!! What fantastic weather we've all been enjoying. It's brought more day trippers over, kids are jumping off the pier and in swimming, people are working on their tans outside the pub, and ice cream sales have been through the roof!
Everyone at Inverguserain celebrating Anna Wilson's 21st was lucky weather wise too. Photos on facebook look fab, hope it was a birthday to remember.
Another party worth a mention was Jacqui's house warming. A great night with amazing food, craic, music, moustaches and hulla hooping. Well done to Mark who did an amazing job: it's a gorgeous house.
An interesting night in the village hall was Zombie Science: how to prepare and defend yourself against a Zombie outbreak. Of course. Incredibly corny but also rather funny, it wasn't a bad way to spend a couple of ours on a Friday night. I certainly learned a lot, but perhaps more about biology, science, human nature, and diseases than actual Zombie defence. Perhaps that was secretly the plan all along? Whatever the reason, it was a good laugh and we got to see Tommy fumble about with a crossbow.
Some of us were lucky enough to dine in style that month. The cruise ship Quest for Adventure stopped off at Knoydart for a day and a few hundred passengers came ashore. There were multiple guided walks put on throughout the day for them, as well as having a drink in the remotest pub and/or the best cuppa coffee and cake around in the Tearoom. All of those who were working throughout the day were then invited on to the ship that night for dinner and a ceilidh. Well! What a surreal night. All dolled up and ready to go, 12 of us flitted over to the big ship and were taken aboard. We were then escorted to the dining area where we were wined and dined. The food was absolutely delicious, I didn't want the meal to end (although after the fifth course I was struggling a bit). Some of us then went exploring, snooping around the library, the spa, the gym, the table tennis court, the deck and probably places we weren't meant to be. We then ended the night with a dance. As the average age of the passengers on board was probably about 70, you'd think it'd have been a more subdued ceilidh, but all credit to them, they were geein' it laldy!! (with large breaks in between dances right enough). And then like Cinderella, the clock struck midnight (ok, 11) and we sadly said our goodbyes and returned to reality. It was an absolutely fantastic night and we were treated so well and so warmly welcomed. I only had one woman ask me in the toilets if I was the entertainment for the night.
In other news… Tree planting at Airor has finished. Scruff is off to a new home with Jack up north. The Miller's were on holiday resulting in Kristy and Britta making guest appearances in the tearoom once more. Alex from Doune was home for a visit. Doune's been sharing some more spectacular photos on facebook - I always look forward to seeing them. The Mary Doune made an appearance on 'Hebrides: Island's on the Edge' - a must see tv show on Monday nights, BBC One, 9pm. Alice had a great couple of weeks in the Tearoom and will be back soon for the summer. A belated welcome to all new pub staff: Fabrice, Veronica, Marco and David. There's been computer workshops in the village hall to give help and support to those not yet online. And well done to Johann Leibenburg who is our new maintenance man!
And that's it for now. Enjoy the nice weather folks (if it lasts)!
ISLE OF MUCK
Two major events dominated the May story on Muck - the opening of the new power scheme and the opening of Gallanach Lodge.
At 1.45 on the 29th May, Ian Jessop of Scottish and Southern Energy handed the keys of the battery house to Ewen MacEwen representing the community on Muck. In a low key ceremony Ian spoke briefly of SSE's work over the last six months and Ewen then spoke at greater length of all those who had made it happen; The Lottery, Community Energy Scotland, Ian Leaver, Wind and Sun, Avance and many others. Ewen reminded us that it was 21 years since we all gathered in the newly opened Port Mor House to hear Murray Somerville of Wind Harvester to expound the merits of wind energy already a reality on Foula and Fair Isle. Since that August day a fairly sizeable book could have been written about the twists and turns on the road to 24 hour power. At the ceremony and at the tea in the hall after we were honoured by the presence of John Booth from Eigg who like Ewen on Muck worked ceaselessly to bring natural energy to light and power the homes on our larger neighbour.
The day before the power scheme opening the first guests arrived at Gallanach Lodge. With remarkable timing KDL completed the interior the day before the first guests. And very impressive it is. Solid wood every where and the sitting room looks straight out into the sunset and the peaks of Rum. Very appropriate as one feature of the house are the beds and the dining table which were built on that island by Sandy Fraser and I can safely say that they are the world' strongest beds. The rumour is that they required 500 sanding belts to give them their beautiful finish. I would like also pay tribute to all those who worked on Gallanach Lodge. Many trades were involved but as the house is wood I must particularly mention the joiners. Neil MacInnes, Donald Nicholson, Alasdair Morrison and Seorus Gunn from Skye, foreman Angus MacKenzie from Inverness and lastly our own Charlie Mackinnon though he now lives in Fort William. They were here from start to finish and I must not leave out Robbie Gordon, partner in KDL who was here at times and kept an eye on every thing.
They made a great job of it and here I must end as I am already late for the deadline.
ISLE OF CANNA
This month we've welcomed Csaba and Lilly from Hungary who are going to run the restaurant for the summer. It has been revamped and will now be known as the Canna Bay Bistro and will be opening on the 8th June. Looking forward to a night out!
Other new arrivals this month have been 4 yearling Highland heifers the Arbhan fold on North Uist. They all have Canna bloodlines in their pedigrees and will boost the Highland cattle fold which has dwindled to only 10 breeding cows. The heifers were kindly purchased for the island by Helen Sales who fund raises for the National Trust in America.
Canna crofters have also purchased a Belted Galloway bull called Culmony Craig and he has already attracted lots of photographers (see below). This is a very hardy breed and will winter well without too much feeding.
Lambing is over at last and all the lambs have been marked and counted. Slightly less numbers but considering the lack of grass the lambs are looking very well. Cattle were sold in Fort William Mart on the 24th May and prices were very satisfactory. Four bulling heifers averaged £1000 per head.
There seems to be even more visitors than ever this spring with cruise ships, Ribs, yachts and lots of B&B and self catering too. Campers have been staying in the new campsite and there has been lots of positive feedback, we hope to make more improvement soon. The moorings have been extremely popular with 24 out of the first 30 yachts tying up to a mooring for the night. Many say they are glad not to have to do battle with the thick kelp in the bay.
On Wed 12th June there will be an open air (weather permitting ) mass in celebration of St Columba at the Celtic Cross and we are expecting lots of visitors including a boat travelling from Iona for the day. You can come on the Cal-Mac ferry Loch Nevis which leaves Mallaig at 10.15 and returns at 3pm.
Finally congratulations to Caroline MacKinnon who won 1st and 2nd prize in a recent photography competition, well done Caroline.
ISLE OF RUM
The smell of citronella and incense sticks is in the air and all around Rum locals and visitors alike are united in doing The Midge Dance. Yep, they're back.
Kinloch Hostel is due to open for business by the time this goes to press. Currently it's still a work in progress with castle staff dashing between the pods and the castle moving things about, workmen getting things sorted inside and out and daily castle tours still going on for the visitors to the island staying elsewhere. New Visitor Services Manager Mel has settled in really well and we're looking forward to her wife Emily moving over next month after her first visit here in May. Dave's Rum Shuttle service electric golf buggy is up and running giving lifts to tourists, delivering bags and shopping and running delighted island kids around. It's fully merchanised-up with midge jackets and rain ponchos on board for every eventuality. We welcomed Brocholme Crofter Laura back to the island after a spell away. Spring bought babies on Crofts 1 and 3 with piglets and lambs being born adding to the animal population on Rum.
We celebrated on May 10th with a fab anniversary ceilidh with dancing well into the next day thanks to the Marathon Ceilidh band. The Saturday night pop up bar in the hall continue to do a storm every weekend with visitors often bringing instruments for an impromptu session. If you're headed over this way be sure to bring your fiddle or whistle!
Local produce in Rum Shop is doing so well it's getting its own wee corner with a sign and everything. Rum venison, chicken, duck and goose eggs, salad, jam and more. Now the community polytunnel is finally up and running we're another step closer to self sufficient island living!
The coastguard team saw a lot of action in late May with an all night rescue seeing them trek all around the island, call back to the village for reinforcements and hit the press with coverage of the story when low cloud prevented the helicopter from landing until daylight broke. Further helicopter excitement later the same week when another walker called the air ambulance and was taken away. Well done to all the team and islanders who helped out.
The red deer calving season is well underway with the research team at Kilmory busily catching calves day and night to tag and ID them. Early indications show a possible record breaking year. Great news for the deer and the venison processing company - less good for the veggie growers on island!
We kicked off June with a BIG LUNCH celebration in the village hall, joining in with communities all over the UK coming together to share lunch. We had an array of delicious food, kids activities and bunting!
KINLOCH CASTLE, ISLE OF RUM
Accommodation in Kinloch Castle has now closed, with the temporary hostel planned to open at the beginning of June. The bistro in the Castle closed at the end of March and accommodation is now on a self-catering basis.
ISLE OF EIGG
'Climate weirding' is what one person described to me what we all felt was happening with the weather this month! A colder start to May seems certainly to have been a trend latterly! However, despite serious initial concerns about the ability of birds to have a successful breeding season this year, the return of the seasonal heat has transformed both people and wildlife: smiling, happy islanders and birds singing their wee hearts out from every tree top from Galmisdale to Cleadale, a truly amazing natural symphony that should have attracted Wild Lochaber festival goers on their drove to Eigg! Due to strong winds, our evening bird song walk, although well attended was not as successful as our Master birder would have wished, as many species simply did not sing! Come back next year!. The Beach Qi Gung experience on offer attracted folks from the mainland who vowed to come back in greater number next year!
In the meantime, we have a new sporting experience provided by young Megan Morrisson at the Eigg community hall, "Eigg Sunny side up" for local and visiting children on Saturdays throughout the summer months. Capoeira (below) was also seen performed in front of the Pier Centre by Will Thorburn and his Glasgow Capoeira crew, who promised to come back later on in the year to initiate any Eigg volunteers to this fascinating Brazilian martial art! As to our favourite cardio exercise, ie Ceilidh dancing, John Somerville and friends aka the Coastal Convections Celidh band, gave us plenty of opportunity to indulge in what is widely considered on Eigg as contact sport on the last night of the month: a great time was had by all!
One unforeseen advantage of the colder and drier weather is that it has put back bracken growth enough to allow the bluebells to flower unhindered, and this May has seen the island literally covered with bright purple patches: a particularly visible one is a large patch right of the Galmisdale track in the Sandavore farm field: do the sheep enjoy such bold colours in their meadow and do they enjoy the scent as much as we do?
May has been a very busy month for visitors, who in the latter part of the month have been able to enjoy some good sightings of otters feeding in the bays and Eiders on their second courtship. This has been of great benefit for the regular craft market at the hall and the craftshop which is now enjoying much larger premises and a great big shop window, whilst Galmisdale cafe is benefiting from a brand new porch and smokers' shelter outside. Great improvements all round! There is also a great new venue for visitors to enjoy: Craigard Garden teas and Gallery, conveniently situated on the way to the caves. The gallery is the brainchild of Sheila Gunn who has a passion for Fine Arts and is a must-visit for all Scottish art lovers, as she has gathered in a small space an amazing amount of beautiful artwork!
The month has also been extremely busy for islanders, particularly those involved in finishing the Iscape project and those starting on the Eigg Box project. The Iscape research project funded by LEADER and conducted under the umbrella of the Small Isles CC has looked into the various ways of enhancing the economy of the island through digital means, and this means that a variety of products are now getting ready to be launched, a brand new "visit the Small Isles" website, e-books, tour apps and more visibly so for folks on the mainland a colourful new map presenting what there is to see and do in the Small Isles that is now to be found at the ferry ports of Mallaig and Arisaig. How to be Social Media savvy has also been delivered through the Iscape project by Lucy Conway who is running the Eigg Box project. This is taking 8 talented Eigg individuals on a journey to turn their creative enterprises into viable businesses with funding from Creative Scotland to support them for a year!
Another thing that has kept the islanders busy is to get their head round the way the new extended West Lochaber practice will work for Eigg and the Small Isles. A delegation of NHS staff accompanied Dr Gartshore to meet with the community on Eigg and discuss the worries and concerns that still beset the community about losing a resident GP. Retaining a Small Isles pharmacy was hailed as a very good thing and the First Responders training has now started in earnest, but there are remaining concerns regarding the recruitment of enough GPs to serve the extended practice.
Finally, best birthday wishes to Joe Cormack who turned 30 this month! Joe is heading to Glastonbury soon, where he will be playing the lead guitar with the Pictish Trail on the Sunday at the Park stage! We are sure his fine performing style will be a hit with festival goers! In the meantime, tune in to Marc Riley's music show on BBC6 Wednesday 5 June, 7-9 pm in you want to hear the Pictish Trail on the air waves!
News in Brief
- Marine Harvest's new Recirculation Hatchery at Lochailort is being opened on Friday 7th June by the First Minister, the Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP.
- A male body recovered from the Kinlochhourn area on Friday 31st May has been formally identified as missing walker Clive Dennison. Mr Dennison went missing in March and a large scale land, sea and air search was launched for him.
- Over the last month or so, there have been a spate of thefts in the Strontian/Acharacle area. These may be opportunist and items taken are mainly power tools. Make sure you lock your shed, garage and car and report any suspicious activity to the police.
- The A82 will be closed at Loch Lomondside for 2 weeks from next Monday 10th June (excl 21st and 22 June) between 10pm and 6am. There will be no 'opening windows' to allow traffic through during this periods of closure, traffic will have to divert at Tarbet and Tyndrum. Check www.trafficscotland.org for further information.
- There was a two vehicle collision on the A830 at about 8.40pm on Sunday June 2nd. The driver and three passengers from one car were all taken to the Belford Hospiatal, where the driver and front sear passenger were treated for serious but non life threatening injuries. The other two passengers had minor injuries and were discharged. The driver of the other car involved was also taken to the Belford for minor injuries and later discharged.
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
Only two call outs for Mallaig Lifeboat, the Severn Class Henry Alston Hewat, during the not so very merry month of May - weatherwise at any rate!!
Monday 6th May: A request from Police, via the Coastguard and Local Operations Manager, for the Lifeboat to undertake a search of the Scavaig area of Skye for a missing hillwalker, was actioned at 13.05 hrs with the launch of the lifeboat. The hillwalker was now a month overdue and, as part of stepping down the search, the Mallaig Lifeboat was tasked to search - one final time - from Soay Sound round Loch Scavaig to the jetty at Elgol. The Y-boat with two crew on board searched caves, gullies, beaches and islands in the area. With nothing found, the Y-boat was brought back on board and the Lifeboat returned to base, refuelled and ready for service at 17.30hrs.
Thursday 9th May: The Mallaig Lifeboat was launched at 08.30 hrs to escort the fishing vessel Norlan to port. The skipper of t he 25 metre Banff registered trawler was concerned that the vessel, with six of a crew, was going to run out of fuel just at the Harbour entrance, so the Lifeboat took up station just off Norlan's beam as she approached the harbour and shadowed her into the Outer Harbour, docking safely there at 08.45 hrs. Lifeboat berthed and ready for service at 0900 hrs.
COASTGUARD RESCUE ON THE ISLE OF RUM
Rum Coastguard played a significant part in the rescue of a woman on the evening of Saturday, May 25th. The woman had collapsed on the island and was struggling to remain conscious.
The Coastguard Rescue Helicopter from Stornoway was tasked to go to her aid but by the time the helicopter reached Rum, weather conditions had worsened and the cloud cover was too low for the helicopter to fly in to locate the casualty. It returned to Skye to refuel and to collect the Portree Coastguard Rescue Team to help with the casualty's evacuation, while the Rum Coastguard walked in to her position.
Rum and Portree Coastguards found the woman conscious but very cold and unable to walk. They made her comfortable and carried her on a stretcher through Harris Glen towards the coast, to a location suitable for the rescue helicopter to fly to meet them as the weather lifted. The casualty was then transported to Hospital in Broadford.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - MAY
The Harbour workforce has been kept extremely busy of late dealing with the seemingly insatiable demand for feed by the west coast fish farms.
Storage and subsequent transhipment reached a peak mid-May when over 1,000 tonnes of feed - the biggest ever single transhipment of feed from the port - was loaded on board the carrier Vestborg (below).
Chairman of the Authority
A couple of months back I touched on the fact that since its inception in 1968 The Authority has employed only four Harbour Masters throughout the 45 years of its existence.
I thought I would continue to look back into the Authority's history and find out the various individuals who had held the post of Chairman over the past 45 years and it seems there has only ever been three!
The very first appointment occurred, not surprisingly, at the very first meeting of the Authority on 14th August 1968. Those in attendance on that date were as follows:-
James Clarkson, British Railway
Andrew Lawrence Lamont, British Railways
Cpt Leo Grafton Morrish, David MacBrayne, Ltd
Thomas George Moore, C.A., David MacBrayne, Ltd
Iain R. Hilleary. C.B.E., J.P., County Council of Inverness
Rt. Hon. Lord Lovat, County Council of Inverness
William John Manson, Mallaig & Northwest Fishermen's Association
George Gordon Jackson, Mallaig & Northwest Fishermen's Association
Ewan Robertson, J.P., Representative of other vessel owners.
Donald Simpson, Representative of other pier users.
R.W. Alexander, Department of Agriculture & Fisheries
The "extract of minute" reads:
Mr Clarkson opened the meeting saying that it was convened by British Railways in accordance with the procedure set out in the Mallaig Harbour Revision Order, dated 24th July, 1968. Mr Alexander gave a message of goodwill from the Secretary of State, who asked to meet such members of the Authority as could be present at 6.15pm on Saturday 7th September, 1968, in Mallaig.
Mr Clarkson then called for nominations for Chairman: Mr Iain Hilleary was proposed by Mr Moore and seconded by Mr Jackson; there were no other nominations and Mr Clarkson declared Mr Hilleary elected Chairman of the Authority. Mr Hilleary then took the chair. Mr Ewan Robertson was elected Vice-Chairman, being proposed by Lord Lovat and seconded by Captain Morrish.
Mr Jackson was requested to act as Secretary to which he agreed, stating that he would prefer to act without fee until such time as the Harbour Authority was on its feet.
So Skye based Iain Hilleary became the first ever Chairman of the Mallaig Harbour Authority. He was succeeded on Thursday 23rd May 1974 by Mr Thomas Moore of Caledonian MacBrayne who chaired his final meeting on the 25th of May 1984.
Acting Vice-Chairman Mr Michael Currie took on Chairmanship duties for the meetings in September 1984 and February 1985 before being formally appointed Chairman on Friday 17th May 1985. He has now held that position for a total of 28 years!
Robert MacMillan, Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154 firstname.lastname@example.org
KIRSTY'S ENDURING LEGACY
The Kirsty Bryden Memorial Trust - or Kirsty's Kids - was launched in July 2011, eight months after Kirsty was killed in a road accident along with her friend Roddy MacInnes. Her parents, John and Jan Bryden, vowed to carry on her work raising money for children and their families suffering from serious life threatening illnesses and set up the charity to do so.
Just 19, Kirsty had already spent a number of years fundraising for charitable causes concerning children and had helped out at an orphanage in Mozambique. At the time of her death, she had been excitedly planning a fundraising trip round the coast of Britain on her tiny 10hp Honda motorcycle and John decided to carry out her dream.
The sponsored display trailer goes to fundraising events across the country.
What it's all about - opportunities for enjoyment for children suffering from serious conditions
He undertook the trip himself in August 2011 with the aim of raising £10,000; one month later he arrived home having travelled 8,053 miles round the coast, including Northern Ireland, with only five dry days! Motor cycle clubs, groups and individuals helped him on his way with donations, company and hospitality, and over £30,000 was raised, every penny of which has gone to help children in need. Since then the Trust has raised thousands more by attending shows and events all over the country, selling Kirsty's Kids merchandise, collecting boxes in local outlets and from donations sent in by supporters from raffles, coffee mornings and other fundraising events - even a sky dive! The latest challenge undertaken was to push the bike to the top of Ben Nevis at the beginning of this month. Cleaning firms and their suppliers and bike clubs have taken the cause to their heart. You can find out how it is all spent by going to kirstyskids.org and facebook.com/kirstyskids. Accompanying John on his Round the Coast trip was Eeyore, Kirsty's favourite toy. Since then Eeyore has become an avid fundraiser in his own right, attending all the sponsored fundraising events and last year undertaking a solo tour of the United States! He was hosted by various sponsors and even though going missing for a while he returned with over £4000!
Eeyore's 2013 Endurance Challenge
John and Eeyore are soon to set off again on the tiny bike, this time with the aim of raising £15,000 for the Trust. All the money raised will go to the charity as once again they will rely on good will and sponsorship, meeting any other overhead costs themselves. They will be looking for some bike-related assistance; perhaps mechanical help, tyres, panniers or clothing. John is also hoping for fellow bikers to turn up to see them off from Lochailort or even join him on the route.
Eeyore packed and ready for America
To donate online go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Eeyore
At 11am on Thursday 4th July, two years to the day of the launch of the Trust, a short remembrance service will be held at the Bryden's home, Craiglea in Lochailort, to which everyone is welcome. John and Eeyore will then depart on their trip which will take them from Lochailort to Hull and thence into Europe, up into the Norwegian mountains, then into Sweden, Finland, Lapland and the northern region of Russia. They will return home via Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, France and then back up Britain to home - a journey of more than 8,000 miles.
To give an idea of the feat - the bike has less horse power than John's lawnmower! If it breaks down, he pledges to push it until some fellow biker come to his aid!
You can call John on 01687 470404 or email email@example.com
On and Off the Rails
No! No! No! It cannot possibly be the June issue of West Word yet, surely not. I mean, the incredible Scottish bluebells are only just carpeting the 'Iron Road to the Isles' (who says that muir burning serves no purpose?), the incubating baby seagulls are still hatching in the nests alongside the rails at Mallaig Railway Station and the wild garlic is not yet out at Arisaig Railway Station - and yet, the hanging baskets are blooming, we are already into the Monday to Friday (twice a day!) Jacobite Steam Train service from Fort William to Mallaig, the catering service has returned to the ScotRail Sprinter service from Fort William at 8.30am to Mallaig, and is very welcome as it returns to Fort William at 10.10 (they even do porridge pots now!). Again, the 12.48 Monday to Friday service conveys a catering service and what's nicer than a cup of tea or coffee (or a glass of wine) at your seat as you depart Mallaig on the 4.05. Yes, it truly is June!
Jacobite season gets off to a flying start Monday May 13th saw the first Jacobite Steam Train service pull into Mallaig at the start of what promises to be a very busy Summer season.
The first week saw Ian Riley's engine No. 44871 Black Five haul the train, followed by NELPG's engine 62005 K1 rostered for the second week. Until Bert Hitching's Black 5 arrives into Fort William, the Jacobite duties will be shared by these two engines, with 44871 becoming the dedicated engine for the afternoon Jacobite which commenced on June 3rd. Ian Riley's second engine, 45407 Black 5, will feature on the line at some stage, as will Bert Hitching's Black 5. Well, that's the plan as I write!! Mallaig certainly comes to life again as each service arrives, whether it be The Jacobite service operated by West Coast Railways, or the ScotRail services (4 a day in each direction) or visiting touring trains. We welcome each and every visitor - and are perceived to be so friendly - which we are. Our Mallaig welcome extends to each and every visitor and the Railway Train Operating Companies that bring them here.
'A wonderful opportunity to experience the majesty of steam'
So say West Coast Railways in their second edition of this year's Summer timetable. On certain trains - when space is available - you can now travel single fare from Mallaig to Fort William on either of The Jacobite steam train services for a bargain fare of £11.50 Adult (instead of £28) or £7 for a child single (instead of £17), returning on the ScotRail service from Fort William to Mallaig. these tickets can be obtained up to five days in advance of booking date, with a limit of up to six people. These bargain tickets are primarily to fill seats where coach parties have booked one way from Fort William to Mallaig, and cost the same as a ScotRail single fare for your return journey. So you can now choose to travel by diesel or steam at the same price! But only from Mallaig to Fort William. Telephone bookings for these tickets can be made by telephoning 0844 850 4680 or 0844 850 4681, or go to www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/specials
For any other information, telephone 0844 850 4682. Advance bookings are subject to a minimum £3.25 booking fee. Lines are open Monday to Friday.
The Saturday and Sunday Jacobite steam train morning service commences on Saturday June 22nd and runs through until Saturday September 21st from Fort William to Mallaig and return. With all Jacobite services, some seats may be available on the day. However, these operate on a first come, first served basis and cannot be guaranteed. Available seats can be purchased from the guard at your chosen station.
ScotRail's 'Club 55'
Just a reminder that ScotRail's 'Club 55' is still operating. You can start your journey to travel anywhere in Scotland up until June 30th 2013 for just £19 return. You have up to one month to return. A 'Club 55' Premier ticket costs £35 and allows First Class travel on the ScotRail network, but bear in mind that most branch lines and extensions do not offer First Class accommodation. A further £2 discount is given on all 'Club 55' tickets if you have a Senior Citizen or Disabled Persons Railcard.
For an in-depth view of ScotRail's Network, go to the ScotRail website. This will help you plan your journey route. There are (incredibly) over 345 stations you can visit on this offer, from Thurso in the North to Stranraer or Carlisle in the South. There are some limitations as to travel times etc. and 'Club 55' cannot be used on Caledonian Sleeper trans or on East Coast trains.
Insight - a better way to go
ScotRail's onboard customer magazine is still available on all trains, and at most stations, and it is free! It is cram packed with useful information about concerts, sports events, days out, alterations to train running times due to work being carried out on the line, etc. etc. it is well worth picking up a copy. There is also a chance to win 2 nights at the 5 star Knight residence in Edinburgh, 2 nights at the idyllic Ballathie House Hotel, or you could win a 'G and Tea Time' for 12 at either Aberdeen, Glasgow or Edinburgh.
More from the 'wonderful' Peter's Railway
Author and Publisher Christopher Vine has added some more exciting ideas and books to his collection.
New for 2013 is the Great Railway Treasure Hunt plus a new Activity Book. Firstly, the Great Railway Treasure Hunt 2013 is free to enter to all children under 14 years of age. The first prize is £500, second prize £250, and £250 to the entrant who visits the most stations. Interested? To obtain a quiz sheet go to www.petersrailway.com
The closing date for the Treasure Hunt is September 30th 2013. Good luck!
Peter's Railway Activity Book Competition
As well as the aforementioned Treasure Hunt, Christopher Vine has now published a new book that is full of fun and entertainment, for children to read, fill in and colour in. The book is aimed at children between 6 and 12 years of age, and adults too!! Priced at only £3.99, it is well worth the money, Christopher has kindly offered to give two copies away as competition prizes in West Word. So, for a chance to win a free copy of the Activity Book, signed by the author, just answer the following question and send your answer to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD. Closing date: Saturday June 29th 2013.
Question: What is the full name of the author of the Peter's Railway books?
If you cannot wait to see if you are a winner to the above mentioned competition, you can obtain copies of the book by going online to www.petersrailway.com or by telephoning Christopher Vine on 01505 614513 and mentioning West Word.
Network Rail - Track Evaluation Train
Wednesday May 8th saw a Network Rail Track Evaluation Unit travel between Fort William and Mallaig and return. It was sent up prior to the first Jacobite train (May 13th) in order to test the line, the steam engine and coaches that form the Jacobite steam train are much heavier than the ScotRail service 156 Super Sprinters, requiring prior inspection of the line for safety reasons.
And so, with Summer (hopefully) rushing towards us as Spring is only in its heady scented days, I will be found planting the Railway Stations at Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig. Life is tough at the top, ha!ha!
See you on the train,
Arisaig Games Announces New Sponsor
Following the end of our last successful sponsor partnership, Arisaig Games can now announce a new partner for the years 2013 - 2015 in Adelphi Distillery.
Fraser MacDougall, Treasurer for Arisaig Games, and the man behind the deal with Adelphi was delighted with the development, saying, "Our previous deal brought us a lot of benefit, but more importantly, it showed us how sponsor partnerships work. With all of that learnt, we were hugely delighted to have gained the confidence of a partner such as Adelphi. They have such a great brand, with many quality aspects to their history, as well as now being a local employer in Ardnamurchan.
'What is even more exciting, is that they have committed to us for three years and after that with a significant investment.. They obviously know a good whisky when they see one - and a good games, too!'
Adelphi is known for its range of superior single malt whiskies chosen from the finest caskings in Scotland. Of the range offered to the company, Adelphi chooses only 4% for single cask bottlings, meaning high quality, and rarity.
This year's pre-Games barbecue cèilidh will once again be held to the music of the Lochaber Cèilidh Trailers. But an innovation is that Adelphi will be holding tastings both in their tent on Games day, and at the Cèilidh BBQ on Tuesday night. So it promises to be another step forward for the Tuesday event.
Allan Mac Donald, Secretary of the Arisaig Games, also welcomed the new Adelphi partnership, saying that 'it will give Arisaig Games a real boost of confidence with the stability that a confirmed three year partnership brings. We look forward to providing a great event for both Adelphi and Games visitors.'
Equipment donation gratefully received
Howling Events has asked West Word to pass on our thanks to a donor who wishes to remain anonymous for their gift of a high quality scanner which will help with the process of compiling the An Diasporran database.
The scanner is now with Lorna Byrne who is making a copy of Tearlach MacFarlane's astonishing archive of local family history. Tearlach has generously donated his archive to the project. But the work of the scanner won't end there. At some point in the not too distant future, an open day is planned for local people to bring photographs of people and places to be scanned for the database. Chas Mac Donald, Project Co-ordinator said, "there are huge numbers of interesting photographs and documents tucked away in drawers. We'd really like to make these available to people who are doing local and family history researches of the area.
'We understand that people do not want to hand over what can sometimes be very precious family objects. That is why we are asking them to bring them to us, and we will scan them immediately and let them take them away with them.'
The date for that event has not been decided yet, but will likely be before the end of the summer.
However, the gain of the scanner throws up another issue, which is data storage. Chas has also been photographing local cemeteries as a research resource. Images such as these, and the data being scanned from Glenfinnan, takes up huge amounts of electronic space. So, Howling Events are also asking for a donation of an external hard drive. Something from the size of a terabyte upwards is what is needed in the short term. If anybody has such a thing, and it is not being used, or is being replaced by something bigger, HOWL would be delighted to make use of it.
HOWL can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Howling Events is also pleased to announce an addition to their programme in 2014. In conjunction with Traigh Golf Course, a one-off tournament will be run on Tuesday 29th July 2014. This event will see groups of four playing a round on the course. Each group will be made up of three of our diaspora cousins and one local player.
Chas Mac Donald greeted the new event enthusiastically, 'I hadn't thought of mixing the cousins with the locals in this way. It will allow those visiting the area to really understand the people who live locally, and it will ensure that the course is not taken out of play for local people for an entire day at the same time.
'With the Ryder Cup being played in Scotland in September, Golf is very much on the list of things to do in Scotland in 2014. Indeed, Gleneagles is also hosting a clan based golf tournament. But it's never going to have the character, charm, and stunning setting that the Traigh course enjoys. This is going to be a very laid back, relaxing day for players, just getting the chance to soak up the atmosphere of Traigh, and tee off in the direction of the Cuillins. Who knows, Donald Trump might decide to come along - unless somebody puts a windfarm on Rum, of course!!'
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
Mike Kingswood from Arisaig read his West Word while on holiday with wife Sheila in Krakow, Poland, around Christmastime. Looks a great place to buy presents!
Lillian and Chris Doherty are pictured with their copy of the West Word at Villefrance on the south coast of France. They were on a two week cruise of the Med and their ship, Celebrity Eclipse, can be seen in the background. Lillian is the daughter of James Donald Maclellan who was born at Morar and is known locally as 'Jimmy Traigh'.
The picture shows Beatrice Way, Rhubana, Morar, crossing the finishing line of a 5km sponsored walk in aid of Race for Life for cancer research. The event took place in Harlow, Essex on the 19th of May. Beatrice tells us: 'I completed the course in 2 hours 59 mins, raising £1464 so far, despite suffering from left sided paralysis caused by a stroke, having had heart failure and being told I would never walk again. I would like to thank all the Morar Parishioners for their support during my recovery. Massive thanks also to my dear friend and physio Cassie Karpinnen (right) who walked alongside me every step.' A great achievement Beatrice, and we're honoured you took is with you!
Gayle McGeever, Arisaig, made sure she packed her copy when she went to Stavanger, Norway, on a business trip.
- My 'new' word this month comes courtesy of Spice Girl Emma Bunton who, when asked about her favourite word, said 'It's pogonophobia, it means fear of beards. I don't suffer from it. I just love the word.'
- Here's another two photographs sent me by Steve Simpson of Harlington. I told you last month of how Steve came to be the owner of a fine album of photographs of the area, photos taken sometime in the 30's?? The photos are entitled 'Net Mending on Mallaig Pier' and 'The Royal Scot at Loch Scavaig'. Thanks again Steve!
- The news that Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) have decided to name the new Ullapool-Stornoway ferry, due to come into service next year. The Loch Seaforth took me back to the mid 60's, a time when the original Loch Seaforth was on the Mallaig - Stornoway route and a time when I had just left school and was about to enter full time employment for the first time.
Mr Murdo Livingstone employed me as a junior clerk at the ferry office of David MacBrayne Ltd. At that time, the ferry office was in the Railway Station and my co-workers, all under the watchful eye of Manager Livingstone,, were Donnie MacDougall, Willie Morrison, Charlie MacGillivray and Maureen MacLellan.
Being the office junior, I was soon put on the early shift. This meant I was up before dawn to meet the Loch Seaforth's arrival after its overnight journey from Stornoway to Mallaig via Kyle of Lochalsh. The Seaforth would usually dock about 6.30am with passengers catching the early train to Glasgow.
I'd get the manifest from the Purser (Peter Flett) and check all the goods (mostly tweeds and salmon) off the boat into the railway goods wagons situated besides the raised platform that ran down the middle of the steamer pier. The rails on either side enabled the steam crane and the trains to shunt the wagons down the pier close to the ship's side. The wagons contained cargo for the ship and once all items had been checked off and onto the boat, I'd head for Nell the Bakers for the morning rolls and head home for breakfast about 9am! It was a busy time on the pier, especially with the arrival of the new drive on - drive off Skye ferry, The Clansman.
This photo (below) took me back to those times. I recall the Waiting Room, cars being lifted onto the steamers with wire nets and hay filled bags acting as cushions to stop the wires marking the cars, steam cranes, railway buggies; the subway; but most of all I recall the fun, banter and repartee between the Railwaymen and the MacBrayne Pier workers, Michael Leonard, Johnny Mackenzie, Dan MacGillivray, Hughie McKelvie and Neilly Boyle. It was a joy! The original Loch Seaforth operated on the Stornoway-Kyle-Mallaig run from 1947 to 1972 and was an extremely able ship. Under the inimitable Capt John Smith it rarely, if ever, missed a crossing. He was followed by the mild-mannered Capt Alistair Matheson who maintained the ship's fine tradition. Here's hoping the new Loch Seaforth will serve the islanders as well - it has a lot to live up to!!!
- Well, that's it over. After twenty years as Chairman of West Word, I officially retired last month. As always on these occasions, there's mixed emotions, but I feel it's time to hand over to someone who will take West Word onwards and upwards. Unfortunately that person has not yet come forward so the Chairmanship of West Word is currently in limbo. Are you the one to take up the challenge? If so, get in touch with Ann at West Word who will apprise you of the situation.
I would like to thank all who have helped me over the years, from Jill de Fresnes and Fr Tom Wynne right up to the present day. We shared a vision, and with commitment from everyone involved, continued to strive every month to get West Word printed and out into the shops. I'm afraid to mention names in case I miss out and offend someone, but to everyone involved with West Word over the past twenty years, I thank you all most sincerely for your efforts. However, I do have to make special mention to Jill de Fresnes and Ann Martin. As West Word Editors, they were tasked with the job of knocking West Word into shape each month and getting it out into the shops. They've done a magnificent job over the years and I pay tribute to them both here!
Thanks again everyone, I've enjoyed the ride!
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
A lot of movement of birds this month as they passed through on their way to more Northern and Arctic breeding grounds.
There was a steady passage of Whimbrels, with varying numbers seen most days until about the 3rd week. On the 4th there were at least 26 in one flock, feeding on the golf course at Traigh. On the 7th, 15 were in a field at Gorten and on the 15th, 18 were seen at Invercaimbe. Over the first few days of the month, at least 70 Golden Plover were in the fields around Achnaskia, Back of Keppoch. Other waders such as Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Sanderling, the majority in fine breeding plumage, could be seen most days on the shore between Camusdarach to Gorten.
Seen from the MV Sheerwater, 2 Pomarine Skuas heading north of Rhue Point on the 11th were the first reports of the Spring. Also on the 11th, a single Arctic Skua was seen east of Eigg. A single Pomarine Skua was reported between Eigg and Arisaig on the 14th. When a north-westerly airflow set in from about the 20th, it brought with it a few more shore sightings. On the 21st, 6 Long-tailed Skuas were seen in Rum Sound, again from the MV Sheerwater. On the 22nd and 23rd, with much stronger NW winds, brief seawatches from West Bay, Mallaig, produced several flocks of Long-tailed Skuas heading up the Sound of Sleat. Normally, moat of these birds would travel west off the Outer Hebrides, with just smaller numbers seen in the Minch. The strong Northwest winds forced many of these birds closer inshore than normal. On the 23rd, there was an exceptional number (over 800) recorded flying through the Corran Narrows, south of Fort William, the presumably following the Great Glen all the way to Inverness and then out to the Moray Firth! A Great Skua photographed on the 2nd between Rum and Soay was bearing a colour ring that indicated it had been ringed as a chick on Handa Island in 2006.
More summer visitors arrived this month with the Common Terns seen off Eigg and in Loch nan Ceall on the 6th the first reported. On the 8th there were several Common Terns seen offshore from the Traigh Golf Course and on the 15th there were at least 20 Arctic Terns there.
A Grasshopper Warbler was heard 'reeling' at Beoraid, Morar, on the 1st. There was also a report of one heard in Arisaig on the last day of April. Sedge Warblers were first heard at Back of Keppoch on the 7th and at Silversands on the 11th.
Common Whitethroats were seen and heard from the 24th at Portnadoran and at Millburn, Rhue. A male Whinchat on the 8th at the latter site was also the first report of the Spring.
Sightings of an Osprey on the south shore of Loch nan Ceall early in the month, followed by another on the 24th near Druimindarroch, were notable for this area. On the 18th, a Ptarmigan found sitting on a clutch of eggs just below the top of Sgurr Eireagoraidh was a pleasant surprise, nice to know that they still breed there.
Even when you now it's there, this ptarmigan is very hard to spot!
Photo Stephen MacDonald
Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Several folk have been asking when the Chequered Skipper butterflies are likely to be seen flying this year.
The quick answer is - now-ish ! The Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) is usually on the wing between mid-May until late June. This year, various insects have emerged from pupation later than usual as a result of the cold temperatures which have affected their food plants as well. In the woodland where we monitor this species the wild hyacinths and other nectar sources which the adults feed on, are just coming into flower.
The Chequered Skipper typically breeds in open, sheltered and sunny, damp grassy areas dominated by tussocky purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea) with scattered bog myrtle (Myrica gale) at the edges of, or in glades in, oak or birch woodland.
Chequered Skipper butterfly
This description of their life-cycle mostly comes from the references listed below. The eggs are laid singly on a grass leaf and the caterpillar (larva) makes a tube with a characteristic notch below and feeds on the blade above, moving to a new leaf when that one is eaten. The larvae take a long time to develop, feeding into November where possible. Hence the relatively mild climate and long growing season in Lochaber may partly explain the localised occurrence of this species here.
The Chequered Skipper overwinters as a fully-grown caterpillar within a shelter made by spinning several purple moor grass leaves together. They tend to emerge in April and may spend up to 2 weeks basking (hard to imagine this year !) before pupating hidden in a grassy tussock.
The adult male Chequered Skipper, may live for around 10 days during which time he defends a small, sheltered, usually south-facing, open territory which is likely to have several vantage points on vegetation around 0.5 metres tall. His domain is likely to include, or be close to good nectar sources where both sexes spend time stocking up for the energy necessary for their rapid flights. The females feed and bask in between egg-laying once mated, and may roam for several kilometres in suitable habitats depositing their offspring.
Lochaber is the British stronghold for the Chequered Skipper, it has not been recorded elsewhere in Scotland; and was declared extinct from England by the early 1980s. An experiment to re-introduce Chequered Skipper into suitable habitat started in 1994 in Lincolnshire, with specimens collected from northern France as these are considered more genetically-similar to the extinct English colonies.
The Chequered Skipper is a priority species on the UK and Scottish Biodiversity Action Plan lists and has been specially protected under British legislation since 1981. These dainty butterflies are pretty as well as rare, and the folk at Butterfly Conservation would be most interested if you spot them and are able to record where and when.
Dr Mary Elliott
Refs: Butterfly Conservation & Scottish Natural Heritage The Chequered Skipper leaflets. Jim Asher et al (2001) The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland.
Reader Hazel Hyslop took this photo of a Green Hairstreak Butterfly on 18th May when she was up on holiday. She saw them at Rhu and Gorten, Arisaig, and tells us they about the size of a 1p piece - so watch where you're walking!
Kin Connections by Màiri Éilidh Dḥmhnullach (Marlene MacDonald Cheng)
John Bàn Gillies was born about 1753 in Beoraid, Morar, Scotland. In 1786 he left his home country on board a lumber ship, bound for the Mirimichi Valley of what is now called New Brunswick. He stayed at Mirimichi for some time, felling trees and dragging them to a place where they were cut into lumber for the European market. Although it was back-breaking work, the money was good.
John Bàn was a married man, but he had left his wife, Flora MacEachern (or MacEachen), and his young son John (Iain Ruadh), behind in Scotland, while he worked to support his family. In 1787, John Bàn's brother Angus (subject of last month's piece), went looking for his brother in Mirimichi. Angus talked John Bàn into going with him to Merigomish on the Gulf Shore of Nova Scotia where he had built a temporary log house for himself and his family. Angus had received a grant of land near a place he called Arisaig on the Gulf Shore. Angus decided he would give it to his brother, since he preferred to settle at the Merigomish location. Apparently, when Angus explored the Arisaig area some time before, he encountered some First Nations people - Mi'kmaqs - who didn't seem at all friendly, in Angus's estimation, causing him to head further west to Merigomish.
John Bàn wasn't deterred by Angus's caution. He liked the Arisaig area very well and decided that it was there he would settle with his family. After some time spent exploring and fishing, John Bàn filled a barrel full of salmon, sealed it, covered it with a large stone flag and put it in the woods close to the beach. Shortly thereafter he set sail for Scotland.
John Bàn stayed in Morar, Scotland, until Spring of 1790. In early Summer of that year, he and his family set sail for Nova Scotia on the ship British Queen. His wife Flora, son John, and a new baby accompanied him on his way to their new world across the sea. On arrival, the family were welcomed heartily by brother Angus. They stayed with Angus's family in Merigomish, since they didn't yet have a dwelling at the Arisaig site.
Before long John Bàn was anxious to show Flora their piece of land in Arisaig, Nova Scotia. He didn't have a boat, so he tied some sturdy tree branches together to make a dug out canoe of sorts. They climbed in and headed along the shore toward Arisaig, leaving the children with Angus and his wife. They stayed there a few days and John Bàn did some fishing. He also checked on his barrel of salmon; it was still sealed but removed quite a distance from the spot where he had left it, likely by a hungry bear. They then headed back to Merigomish. As they approached the shore, there was a strong surf and his little canoe floundered, splitting in half and dumping himself, Flora, and his gun into the ocean. Flora couldn't swim and he had quite a time trying to save her. Finally he grabbed her by the hair and they made it to shore. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to recover his gun, a most useful implement for feeding his family and warding off wild beats that proliferated in the forest.
John Bàn and his family soon went back to Arisaig where they built a small home for themselves on a beautiful spot looking out over the Northumberland Strait. They were the first white settlers at Arisaig on the Gulf Shore. John farmed the land and did some fishing, while Flora looked after the family as they grew. John Bàn and Flora Gillis had 8 children - John Ruadh (Red), Donald, Angus, Lauchlin, Alexander, Allan, Mary and Catherine. Their descendants are spread far and wide. The Gillises were, and still are, very talented musically, playing fiddles and pipes, step-dancing, and singing Gaelic songs.
John died on 8 August 1832 at the age of 79. I have not been successful in finding a record of Flora's death.
One of the stories passed down through the generations has always intrigued me. When John Bàn first came to "America", he befriended, on board ship, another Highland Scot by the name of John (Dubh) MacNeil, a Barra man. They remained friends while working in Mirimichi. When John Bàn was leaving to go back to Scotland for his family, John Dubh also left the Mirimichi and went to Pictou (Nova Scotia) to see his friend off. Before they parted, MacNeil asked John Bàn to find him a comely lass who wouldn't mind marrying a man she had never seen before. This brave young lady of Morar, a niece of John Bàn, came to Nova Scotia with John Bàn, Flora and their children. When John Dubh MacNeil saw her, he wasn't very impressed at first; but he managed to be very welcoming; after all, he had made a bargain and he had to stick to it. They were married within a week. Shortly thereafter they built a log cabin quite close to John Bàn's cabin and they were friends for life. The marriage turned out to be a very happy one. John Dubh's wife was very amiable and an extremely good manager. They had seven children and John Dubh was very proud of his wife in the end.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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