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

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March 2008 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Eigg, Glenfinnan, Arisaig
Country Rangers report
West Word ten years ago
Council Corner
Local Genealogy

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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

They won! The ten children from the most remote community in mainland Britain took on the rest of the country and scooped the award for the best film by under 12's in the National First Light Movies Awards.
They and filmmaker Sam Firth went to London and trod the red carpet to receive an award in a ceremony attended by luminaries such as Kevin Spacey, Ian McKellen and Davina McCall.
The journey took the children several days. Aged between 5 and 11, the children with their parents travelled to the Odeon in Leicester Square, London. Their film concerns the regeneration of the forest in Knoydart and was called Munchatreeaforest. The award was presented by William Moseley and Anna Popplewell from the Chronicles of Narnia.

The Knoydart children were the youngest filmmakers in the whole award ceremony. Some of them were only aged 5 when they made the film. First Light Movies funded the awards and organised the award ceremony. The children went on stage in front of over a 1000 people and presented First Light with a tree to say thank you. Impressed by the gift Davina Mcall said the tree would be planted in a special place and Kevin Spacey suggested that if all award winners at the Baftas and Oscars brought trees there would be a lot more forests in the world. Local filmmaker Sam Firth helped the children make the film teaching them to use the camera, record sound and be director for The Knoydart Forest Trust. Their film was one of three nominated and won by public vote on the website www.filmstreet.co.uk despite the other two films coming from the South of England. Lights Out! by Sanday Community School, Orkney also won an award for Best Animation

Following a meeting of Arisaig Community Council on 25th February, Morrison Construction and the Highland Council have revised their plan of continuing the three and a half hour road closures through the Easter period to the end of March. Representatives from businesses in Mallaig and Arisaig attended the meeting to highlight the serious effect the road closures would have on the local economy if continued at the proposed level. Present also were Ian Mackay, Project Manager, and Sam MacNaughton, Highland Council, who explained that the work was two weeks behind schedule because the firm Ennistone, due to arrive to commence tarmacing, had had a fire in their depot and their start had been delayed. Following the meeting, the decision was quickly taken to use a convoy system instead of closing the road in that vital holiday week. Tarmacing finally commenced on Tuesday 4th March. There will be no road closures in July and August.

The line between Mallaig and Fort William will be closed to passenger trains from Saturday 29th March to Monday 14th April. A bus service will be operating, calling at all stations.

Hello. February ends with the return of Sandy from an extended trip to Poland with news of his engagement to long term other half Agnieszka Sobiegraj (Aga). Congratulations to them both. The peninsula always see comings and goings among the more resident population at this time of year and this February is no exception: Jim and Iain are away for three months work in Argentina, Kristy is off to New Zealand and family for a month, Anita's in Canada, both Fay and Maccam Jim are away for good, Tommy went to Poland, Fred is in France and a wheen of the ladies were in Glasgow sorting out dresses and the like for the forthcoming nuptials in May. And not forgetting the kids, parents and producers of Munchatreeaforest who head off to London for the awards ceremony at the turn of the month . Lets hope it's as successful as the last mob-handed childrens outing which involved sledging down to Doune for Ewan's birthday party.
The kids too were involved in the recent pancake extravaganza in the hall, raising money for the swimming pool in Mallaig; Mark Harris was chuffed on the day to have managed six pancake preparations, although there is a rumour that Daisy managed ten. There is also some gossip doing the rounds that the lilac nightie wearing toughtie of last month's column (not pink or purple) is prone to the odd inadvertent swim in the sea. Tommy may sort this out next month. Oh and it has to be mentioned that one known as the Hoff has had a haircut, he is also to be the country's only forestry apprentice outwith the public sector thanks to the Forest Trust.
KFT is the council contractor for the roads and February has seen a fair amount of clearance and drainage works being done round and about. The council's new arrangements for waste disposal are working well, Tim's put up a robust stand for the box scheme at the main collection point and folk seem to want the recycling to work, which can only be good. The renovation of the pier store by the Foundation and its subsequent conversion to tea room and pottery by Isla and Rhona is moving on and although it will not be fully operational for the Easter weekend it won't be far off.
On the events and arts front Knoydart Arts Promotions have set up a Craft Day involving the on-site production of artefacts on the 12th of April (more details next month) while the Forest Trust are running an astronomical weekend (Dark Skies) on the 7th and 8th of March for which there are ticket, travel and accommodation packages available. A short film based around some teenagers from Uist and Knoydart and their appreciation of land is in production. And of course there will be an Easter ceilidh utilising local musicians.
In Inverie we've had a fire (thanks to Mallaig for coming over), a small roof blown off and a film night in the hall, while in Airor Dave's cows were delivered of two healthy calves.
Things in the pipeline include the outline application for the redevelopment at the east end of the bay, the funding process for Land Management Plan, and the possibility of an ambitious music/arts event in the first half of 2009.
The surprise of the month was to find out that Manitoba Cottages cannot officially be considered damp!
Hope you are all well,
Davie Newton.

Last month marked by a card and a small present the island said farewell to Tony MacDaid. Tony has been for a number of years one of the captains of the Loch Nevis and has always made a special effort to call at Muck when other would not have attempted to come into Port Mor.
One noteworthy occasion was the Friday of the children's trip to the pantomime last December. Tony came through a heavy swell to make the call. He has now been moved to the Islay run. We wish him well.
The Community Hall team have been ranging far and wide visiting other halls and speaking to those who run them. Catherine Murray John even slipped over to Aviemore to attend a "Village Hall Summit".
On the farm the period of fine weather this month allowed Barnaby Jackson and Colin MacEwen to operate the turnip harvester. It made a surprisingly good job, though more earth was coming into the barn than if they had been harvested by hand. Finished cattle and sheep prices are rising at last and not before time especially lamb. Even so only our smallest lambs will still be on farms and able to benefit from the rapidly rising prices.
Lawrence MacEwen

A new Rum 'stringer' ! Stroma, from Aviemore, has been on Rum for 2 years and lives in Kinloch Castle with husband David who is the castle manager and their son Jamie 20 months (she is expecting their second child in June). Apart from being a mum, she works in the castle Bistro and runs the local Post Office.

A change to the Rum column this month! Fliss is now deeply involved with the Rum Task Group (more of this later) and has asked if I can help out. So here it is…I hope it's OK!
Always mindful of the need to boost the island's population and following their marriage last September, Mr & Mrs Morris (Sean and Ali) were delighted this month to announce the impending arrival of their first baby, due in August - their very own little Morris Minor! Together with Stroma (me) and David expecting our second baby in June, Rum is experiencing a mini baby boom!
We were all sad to say goodbye to Mark, Amanda and little Aaran who left the Island in January, but are delighted to welcome our new merry mechanic, Jim and his wife Sandra and their 12 year old son Mark.
Back in November, the Minister for the Environment, Mike Russell, visited the island and set in motion a series of events which could potentially change the whole direction of the island's future. Currently, proposals include transferring the village and glen to community ownership, establishing crofts in the glen, selling plots on the open market and building new social housing as well as converting Tattie House to meet social housing needs. All of this is of course much easier to say than it is to achieve. Prominent broadcaster and political commentator Lesley Riddoch has been appointed to chair the government's task group to make all this happen and despite the best efforts of the weather to hamper meetings etc, things are moving forward. Perhaps crucially, a project worker will soon be employed to actively progress the task groups proposals. Certainly none of this will be easily achieved, but we are making a start in significantly changing the future of the island.
The future of Kinloch Castle appears to be less certain, with the announcement just before Christmas that the funding package for the restoration scheme proposed by the Prince's Regeneration Trust was unlikely to be approved by the Scottish Government. At the time of writing, the Princes Trust are in the process of reviewing the options available and presenting these options to both SNH and the Scottish Government. Presumably they will also let us know what they are proposing at some stage...
Meanwhile, on a more practical level, three groups of contractors have been a welcome winter addition to the island's community. Peter, Aga, Raffa and Kris from Poland have been working on the construction of the long awaited Loch Scresort all abilities trail and Otter hide. Gluttons for punishment, Billy and Brendan Cowan have also been back braving the elements, re-roofing three of the cottages in Kinloch.
In addition, SNH are in the process of upgrading the water main throughout the village. This is a fairly major undertaking, for Gordon MacKenzie. So now with his squad supplemented with a couple of lads over from Eigg, GG's are merrily hacking through the existing water main, severing power cables and generally causing a great deal of chaos! Despite these minor setbacks, as always the lads are working very hard and doing a great job.
In the next week or two the summer season starts on Rum, with the Castle fully booked from Easter weekend (early this year) onwards, it seems fair to say that we're in for an interesting and exciting year!
Stroma Frew

As everyone may have heard, our wondrous new electricity scheme was switched on at the very end of January and we have spent February getting accustomed to how great it is to have 24 hour power, give or take a few blips that are a normal part of anything so new settling in. The quietness is also amazing, and this will probably be even more noticeable in the summer Despite some nail-biting over boats being cancelled etc the cameras arrived, the children did a very professional job of performing the official opening and we spent the early part of February in a mini media glare. As these things go, it was pretty much positive, with all the hallmarks of a genuine feel-good story, dredging up some interesting tales of Scruff starting the genny in his keks (which earned him a mention on the Chris Moyles show where he was cited as "heroic") and Maggie's fondness for her hoover. We've said a fond farewell to Joe and George (but something tells me they'll be back), leaving just Ian from Scottish Hydro to nurse the scheme through its infancy - I'm sure he'll rise to the challenge!
The success of the scheme owes much to the skills of John Booth, who has put an incredible amount of effort into bringing everything to fruition, alongside Ian Leaver. I'm sure everyone here would want to join in thanking them both profusely, along with everyone else who has worked so hard to make it happen.
February has been mixed with a dry week and some beautiful weather early on, followed by a miserable wet and windy bit at the end- March came in like a very angry lion in the early hours of Saturday morning, which may bode well for Easter. Somebody up there certainly seems to have it in for Fridays, with us missing all but one Friday boat during the month. Despite the cold feel, the daffodils are all just bursting in to bloom, a pair of herons has been spotted courting in Cleadale, and a burst of sun brings a rash of coltsfoot out. Sadly no more wildlife news as John Chester has been off on safari in India. He has just returned, as enigmatic as ever, but he did let slip that he was lucky enough to see not one but five tigers during his trip.
We had an interesting lunch-time brainstorming session to bring forward ideas for an entry to NESTA's "Big Green Challenge", there was a high level of interest and an application has been prepared for the initial stages. It was an interesting way to bring forward ideas to lessen our carbon footprint and to develop the green energy scheme, and we hope we can go further with this one.
We are all missing Lizzie Boden, who is of to Canna to cover for maternity leave at the school for quite a long stretch. Whatever you did, it can't have been that bad Liz. Only joking - our loss is Canna's gain, and we look forward to seeing you at Easter - I just hope the boat comes on Friday soon so that your man can get out to see you…
Congratulations to Abby Lines on her eighteenth birthday, which she celebrated in student style at Galashiels. Also happy birthday to our very own Dorian Gray, Brian Greene.
Sue Kirk

Happy Birthday Mary MacRae! Life begins at 40, so they say. Well, Mary didn't approach 40 quietly. She threw a big party and it was magic. The fun started weeks in advance with planning our outfits. It was a 70s/80s theme and the party goers took it pretty seriously. Then on the night the Glenfinnan contingent gathered in the Railway Station in costume and enjoyed a champagne-fuelled journey into town. Then off to the Nevisport Bar to enjoy being in fancy dress amongst the ordinary-dressed people of the town and then on to the party in The Railway Club. It was hilarious being out in town in fancy dress, complete with wigs, with the people you normally meet in the hotel bar. We all danced like nobody was watching and had a great time. So, thank you Mary for a great night out.
Congratulations to Sharon Coffey on becoming a Granny. Grandaughter Jamie was born in February. Congratulations also to Sean on becoming a Daddy.
Eileen O'Rua

Well, apart from the fact that I became a grannie for the second time only six hours ago as I write this, the major event for us was the final felling of the copper beech tree at the Hall, and we have lost a striking part of the skyline. The stump reveals that it was riddled with bootlace, or honey toadstool, fungus, the bracts of which were very visible on the trunk.
The deed was did on Valentine's Day and advantage was taken of the fact that the main road was closed for three and a half hours anyway. The manoeuvre was carried out very quickly and smoothly with a very skilful bit of chainsawing by John Morrison, while the tree was supported by a rope attached to Donald John's digger. Tommy and John Dempster helped them remove the felled tree from the road in a very short space of time, Jo swept up sawdust and lo! Suddenly all that was left apart from the stump was an awkward bit of wood full of knots and lumps.
I am informed on very good authority that the tree was planted for Queen Victoria's Coronation, which was 1838. However I wonder...could it have been for her Jubilee, in 1887? In 1838 there would have been nothing near the site of the tree, whereas in 1887 Highland was in existence. However the Hall was not completed until around 1893 - does it make sense to build a hall so close to a tree? Especially a 60 year old tree? I would have thought a tree planted next to a hall would be more usual. We did a rough count of rings from about four feet up from the roots and there were around 80, a rough calculation of comparison in girth gave a figure of 100 to 107years old-which brings us back nearer to the Jubilee in 1887, but even closer to the date of the building of the Hall. Just as we planted a rowan at the back of the Hall to celebrate its renovation, did someone plant a copper beech in 1893 to mark its first construction?
Does anyone have any more information or suggestions? Was there in fact a building there before the Hall, or any buildings along the road before Highland was built, which was around the 1860's?
Questions I have been asked…(Welsh voice):'Is that the Land Sea & Islands Centre? Do you have dolphins? I'm arranging a swim with dolphins birthday surprise for my daughter...you don't have that sort of thing there? It's cold? I don't know where you are, I just rang this number…oh - (disparaging voice) Scotland!'.
The project for the SOE Memorial is coming along. Dr Paul Millar, the Czech diplomat behind the idea, has managed finally to get charitable status for it. He hopes to write something for West Word soon.
Tasha's Day of Massage didn't happen - but she'll try again later on in the year.
We've been very sorry to lose two familiar faces in the last month. Bobby Marshall, whose wife Jan is Miss Forrest's niece, had been ill for some time. Our sympathies go to Jan. Meg Myers passed on very suddenly, a shock for many; she had attended the whist club earlier that night.
Ann Martin

News in Brief
A seven year old stallion called Charlie of Muck has won a first in the Highland Pony class in the Perth Show. Charlie was a foal from Mary of Muck, and was indeed from the Isle of Muck. Since being sold on he has done well, but this is his first in-hand win.

The tenders for the proposed new Arisaig houses are back and the contractor will hopefully be chosen by April and on site by June. The 18 month contract will see the the 20 house scheme completed by December 2009. There will be 16 rented units and 4 under the Low Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers - LIFT (formerly called Homestake). The site will also include two plots for development under the Rural Home Ownership Grant system.

Well, it's not quite the end of the month as I sit down to write this, but the way the weather is outside at the moment I reckon that I'm as well doodling here as anything else! Mind you, it is not that I haven't been outside this month, in fact, I have spent more time in the fresh air the last two or three weeks than in the last few months!! So, what have I been up to? I could just say that I've been walking here and there and incorporated the odd round of golf, but that wouldn't do justice to the fantastic walks and the ever fitter customers that have joined me. Although I have called them "customers", don't get me wrong as there is still no charge for my walks. However, the brave souls that place themselves in my care reward me with their wit, laughter and smiles (throw in the odd grunt and you've got the picture!). Mind you there is still the odd one that doesn't believe me when I say that it's an easy bit! but they should all by now be aware of my fitness failings, if it's easy for me then it's easier for them!!!
But back to reality - walks. Yes we have had some beauties, with that spell of glorious weather making all the views seem even more spectacular. Not so long ago as I appealed to my Editor for some suggestions as to what I might grace my column with seeing as I get no feedback from you lot, she came up with the very sensible suggestion that I actually write a description of my walks, perhaps one a month. Like a drowning man grabbing at a passing seagull (don't worry, it's just the way my mind works!) I realised that that was certainly worth a crack and would take up a few column inches/centimetres, so here goes!
As it's one of my favourites and as it was the first in this years calendar to fit with the Lochaber Mountain Festival I commenced the "Brinacory & Lochan Stole" walk with ten willing participants, eight locals and two strangers.
This walk I start from Bracorina (the end of the B8008 for those not in the know), and after a very short spiel about the church/school, we trot along the Lochside path - note the choice of "trot" as against "stroll" as the funny thing about folk is that, show them a path and they are off like hares! I call a halt at "Inver Beg" (Inbhir Beag) to allow time to read the information board at the newly rebuilt remains of the old (1782) "Long Church" (An Eglais Fada). This brief stop gives me time to build up my stamina for the assault on the "Black Point" hill which I take at a fairly rapid pace, so that by the time the party have achieved the summit they are all quite happy to slow the pace to a sensible level! Sticking to the path and with the periodic halt for some "gem?" of information (another excuse for a breather) we eventually arrive at the old school at "Brinacory". Having passed on what little knowledge I have about the school, I begin to relate the "Morag" experiences of a certain Major Metcalf who at one point owned the schoolhouse. This inevitably elicits sniggers and knowing looks, but I gaze searchingly at each and challenge them to deny possibilities! Suitably chastened and brought to order, I then pass on to the assembly some of my own experiences before preparing them for the hard part of the walk!
This "hard part" consists of the climb (in four parts!) of the hill to the "Loch of the Hen" (Lochan nan Cearc) and then a gentle finish to the lunch halt close to the "Weedy Lochan" (Robach). The sneaky bit here is not to tell the folk that we still have a wee bit of climbing still to do, and as I munch on a single "Ryvita" gleefully watch them fill their bellies!! Ah the ways of the world!!

Despite the stiffness from the compulsory stop and the extra mid body weight all manage the wee snap and have a few moments to admire the half way panorama before being instructed to "keep eyes left"! Now I'm not going to tell you why this command is issued, you'll just have to come along to find out! Anyway, a wee dawdle up the last grassy slope brings us to the most magnificent viewpoint of (Innis Riabhach) the "Green Resting Place". Maybe I'm just a totty wee bit biased, but I reckon that on the right day you'd go a long way to find an equal. Once the cameras have finished their frantic zooming and clicking, (even these new fangled digital jobs don't do as good a job as the old eye and the memory bank) it's back to the job in hand and the descent begins. Funny how I get so many smiles when I say "It's downhill from here!". photo

Anyway, the homeward route takes us over the stepping stones at "Lochan Stole/Stoul" (Peaceful/Calm) and follows the path down the hill back to Bracorina where we started. All in, it's a walk that I, and so far all of my clients, have thoroughly enjoyed, so hopefully more of you might join me some time during the season.
Hope I haven't bored you with this new approach and if I have, please let me know (kindly!) and I will refrain from doing the rest of the walks on paper!
Keep fit and well, remember the resolutions!

Mallaig Lifeboat Station celebrated its 60th birthday in January as it was 60 years ago (January 1948) that the RNLI established a lifeboat station at Mallaig after the station at Tobermory was closed in November 1947 owing to manning difficulties. The Watson Class Lifeboat Sir Arthur Rose (ON-801) was placed on service and kept on moorings in the harbour - the very first Lifeboat to be based in Mallaig.

Mallaig Shop
The Lifeboat Shop, which has been closed since the turn of the year, will re-open later this month in time for Easter.

Sponsor sought
Ewen Nicholson, or Ewen The Grimsay Isle as he's better known, is in training for the North Harris Marathon. The Marathon takes place in Harris in May and Ewen would be grateful for any sponsorship that comes his way as he will be running/speedwalking in aid of the RNLI.

Progress Update on the A830 Arisaig to Loch nan Uamh.
We are now 38 weeks into the project, with most of the works carried out to date being remote from the line of the existing road. Over the recent weeks we have been replacing culverts within the existing road and have started to excavate alongside the existing road to accommodate strengthening and widening activities.
Due to safety issues involved in the operations on the line of the existing road we have required the use of the recently used closures from 11am to 2.30pm, which will continue until 20th March. After that we will go back to 1hr closures from 1.30pm to 2.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. We use these for our blasting operations and they will be utilised until the end of June.
During the busy months for traffic of July and August we will not use any road closures. But we will have to make use of 1hr closures again from September to October and occasional longer closures from November through to the end of the Contract in January 2009.
We had intended to utilise the 11am till 2.30pm closures until March 28th but following representations from local businesses and the Community Councils we agreed with Highland Council acting as agents for Transport Scotland to change our method of working in order to cut back these closures to the 20th of March, avoiding closures during Easter.
On the section of works between Borrodale and Loch nan Uamh we have to resurface large areas of the existing road after strengthening works are completed. This will involve us using a convoy system to safely escort traffic past operations. The planned duration of this activity will be extended due to us not making use of the road closures over Easter. We ask that particular care is taken when driving through this section of the works as operatives have to work at close proximity to passing vehicles.
Over the next few months we will also be carrying out operations on the line of the existing road between Arisaig and Borrodale.
This will involve switching traffic onto new and temporary sections of road at Larachmore Bridge and a temporary diversion at Carnac Bog.
We appreciate the care taken by road users while driving through the works past our operatives and your continued cooperation and patience will be appreciated during the next period of our work on site.
Ian Mackay, Project Manager

Council corner
A short but interesting month with quite a few good news stories. The main one being the freezing of Council Tax for 2008/09. On the subject of houses it is proposed to call the new estate in Mallaig, Kingsway. A fit and proper name considering the time and effort Charlie spent securing this development.
Staying with building we have lost our senior building control officer but we are assured that business will continue by using expertise from the private sector, in the short term.
The road closures of 3.5 hours have been a major necessary disruption, but after discussion with Sam MacNaughton of Highland Council, Morrisons have agreed that Friday 21st March and the following Easter week will be covered by a convoy system, keeping delays to a minimum while still protecting the workforce.
It is regrettable that 17 East Bay Mallaig is to be used as temporary homeless accommodation. I do not consider it suitable for such a purpose but this is completely outwith my control. Anyone who has issues with this should contact Housing and Social work direct.
For Inverie and Eigg a new berthing charge is proposed. This is for visiting tour vessels, under 25m, not already paying berthage at another Highland Council harbour requiring short term berthing and will only be 15% of the annual fee. This is an excellent compromise and will certainly not deter parties dropping in while cruising the west coast.
Yours in service
Allan Henderson (councillor ward 12 Caol & Mallaig)

Lochaber bands and musicians have made a CD, reviving a local hit from a couple of years back, all in aid of charity. The man behind the idea is producer Steve Brown from Arisaig and he is also tackling one of Scotland's great long-distance walks for the cause.

The CD features 21 tracks from 12 bands, including button-box legend Fergie MacDonald, Paula MacAskill, Gary Innes, Robert MacMillan and Steve's own band Wonderland playing a variety of songs and styles. Scottish, country, rock, pop, gospel, disco and dance - cover versions and original songs are all featured.
Full track listing and MP3s at www.bebo.com/songsforsofiaCD
Scottish Takeaway (Where's Ma Stovies?) by Brown & Branston, a folkrock tale of a hungry Scotsman in Beijing, also known as The Stovie Song, is also featured on the album. This tasty treat tickled musical taste-buds not so long back. The full lyric was printed in the Press & Journal. (May 2002)
All profits from this CD are going to the registered charity Meningitis Research Foundation.
The inspiration for the walk and the CD is a two-year-old toddler, the daughter of a friend, who was struck down by the disease. Steve explains: 'In February, 2007, two-year-old Sofia Crockatt was suddenly struck down with Meningococcal Septicaemia. After several months in hospital she managed to pull through. However, her recovery came at a huge cost - tragically she had to have her left leg amputated below the knee, and her right leg was also severely damaged.
'This little girl's strength and determination has been the inspiration for our fund-raising, her father Nick being a close friend of mine.
'A crowd of us are also walking the West Highland Way in April, again raising funds and awareness for Meningitis Research.'
David Sharpe, owner of the Cnoc na Faire hotel in Arisaig is one of the walkers and his dulcet tones are also on the CD. His version of the Roger Miller classic "King of the Road" has been turning heads all along the new A830!
Other West Highland Way-friendly songs on the CD include Wonderland covers of The Proclaimers' hits I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) and I'm On My Way. The album also features the beautiful song My Land, My Home written and performed by Arisaig's Robert MacMillan.
The CD features stunning photographs of Glencoe taken by local GP Dr Iain Gartshore. All bands, photographer and graphic artist donated their music and services free. As part of awareness-raising, each CD will include a symptoms card showing what to look out for in both meningitis and septicaemia.
The launch party for the CD was at the Aul Fife Bistro, Banff, on February 22. Refreshments were - what else - stovies, to celebrate Scotland's culinary and musical masterpiece.
There are also two fund-raising nights following the West Highland Way walk later in the Spring. The first is in Fort William on Saturday, April 19, the day the walk finishes, and the other is back in Banff on Saturday, May 3, in the Deveronside Social Club.

For secure online donations and for updates on Steve's fundraising visit www.justgiving.com/sofiacrockatt
CD listed for sale on www.ebay.co.uk for a limited period. £10 plus P&P.
For online and postal sales and enquiries please email steve.wonder@virgin.net
Shops in Arisaig, Mallaig and Fort William are stocking the CD.
For more information direct from Meningitis Research Foundation visit www.meningitis.org

Did you know that the Mallaig/Arisaig area receives its local radio station, Nevis Radio, via a transmitter based near Armadale, Skye? The radio signal is beamed to Skye and is then sent back across the Sound of Sleat to be picked up by our radio receivers.
The upkeep, maintenance and rent of these transmitters is the biggest expense item that Nevis Radio has to contend with, so to raise funds to effect maintenance and improve transmission, an 18 track compact disc has been issued by Nevis CRAG (Community Radio Action Group). Lots of noted performers have donated a song or tune for the album, which retails at £10.00 and is available from The Harbour Shop in Mallaig or from Robert MacMillan at the Harbour Office (01687 462154).
Julie Fowlis, Karen Matheson, Eric Bogle, Jim Hunter, Balzin' Fiddles, Fergie MacDonald, Blair Douglas, Eddi Reader, Wolfstone and The Vatersay Boys are 10 of the 18 performers that make this compilation, 'Land of the Bens, Glens and Heroes/Tir nan Beann Nan Gleann Nan Gairgeach', unique.
Lachie Mor, Chairman of CRAG (the voluntary force behind Nevis Radio), ends his liner notes by saying 'With a good heart and a good ear, listen with pleasure to a fine bunch of artists from Lochaber and beyond…and support Nevis Radio to enable it to continue broadcasting to Lochaber and beyond!

Dear Editor
My husband and I have been experiencing great difficulty getting our washing done. I'm telling you about it because your readership is probably the best qualified to help us sort the problem. We live at Point of Sleat in Skye and have no mains electric. We have just burnt out the motor on our 6th washing machine by running it off the generator. We had thought the problem was voltage drop due to an over long, underrated cable but we have replaced the cable and monitored the voltage - no problem there with a steady 230v. We have no problems with any other equipment from the TV, video, playstation, PC to the dishwasher or power tools. We have tried old machines, new machines, 2 brand new (bottom of the range) Bosch machines. We have even tried 2 different generators. PLEASE, Is there some vital piece of information that we are missing?
If you think you can help please get in touch with Laela or Roger on 01471844298

Dear Editor
I will be making two videos this summer, one on the Small Isles and the other on the Knoydart Munros. The theme of these will be hill walking, but I would like to include some segments giving a feel for the communities and way of life on each of the islands and on the Knoydart peninsula. The programmes will be sold as a DVD.
I will be filming on the Small Isles between 26th May and 6th June and will be returning to Inverie for the Knoydart programme on 14 July. I am very keen to hear from anyone with observations on life either now or in years past, or who might be interested in appearing in this project.
I can be contacted on 01478 698088 or by email: nick@cinescene.co.uk .
Many thanks for your help!
Nick Wilson

Dear Editor
West Word continues to be a much enjoyed monthly glimpse of lives and activities in that beautiful part of the world, and appreciation goes out to everyone connected to the operation of the magazine.
I would particularly like to thank Malcolm Poole for his most interesting article(s), West Lochaber in World War 2. my identity card number, issued in those days, remains in my head.
At age 14, I don't remember being overly curious re activities in the area. Rather, being allowed to finally attend dances, they provided a sense of excitement.
These young soldiers were trucked in from their various training camps, and even by boat from Inverie, to Mallaig Hall, there to dance to the music of Glenn Miller, etc, courtesy of Jimmy Kelly. I doubt that it occurred to us that some of these young men were destined for harsher experiences, or questionable futures.
As Malcolm Poole says, the sinking of the Hood was a remembered shock. My own recollection of this, is of seeing Mrs mary (Sandy) MacLellan, of Lovat Terrace, hurrying to mrs MacDonald's home, following the news. How could we know the loss of a son, and with two others in the services?
I have a reminder of this same Mrs MacDonald in the shape of a beautiful cookery book, which she gave me in 1947. contributors to this book being 'Cordon Bleu (Paris)' and 'University of London House Hold Arts Dept', it is a beautifully bound, colour illustrated volume, and no, not a gourmet challenge. Rather a down to earth 'How to' hints for everything, including dealing with reconstituted eggs. Some people might remember that I worked in 'Archie's' alongside Barbara. Customers kindly gave us Xmas gifts. Through the years, Mrs MacDonald's has been a treasure.
Congratulations re funding for the Mallaig Oral History Book. Good luck in those endeavours.
Jean Sargent (Ironside), British Columbia, Canada

West Word - ten years ago
The photo on the front cover of the March 1998 edition of West Word was entitled 'Glenfinnan Lighthouse!' and helped illustrate, quite graphically, the severe weather conditions experienced by local residents. As well as flooding at Glenfinnan, the road up Loch Morar-side was impassable for a time, trains on the West Highland Line had to be cancelled and Arisaig and Morar residents were left without water (?) owing to a burst water main.
'Knoydart Estate: No Longer For Sale' was the headline on the front page, with the story below informing us all that Mr John Turvill had announced at a Public Meeting in Inverie that Knoydart Estate had a new Board of Directors, owing to a restructuring of KPL and that they were committed to re-organisation and rejuvenation of Knoydart Estate.
The campaign for a new Mallaig Hall was launched on Thursday 26th February 1998 and this received extensive coverage on page 7 as well as the front page. Another cover story, West Coast Fishing Industry Under Threat, was also continued inside and this centred on the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association expressing deep concern over the lack of action by the Scottish Fishermen's Federation to halt the decline in the West Coast Fishing Industry. More fishing news was contained on page 5 via Hugh Allen's local fishing news column.
The Sense of Adventure two page spread also had a fishing background and described the journey of the local auto-liner Ocean Quest to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, Argentina. The boat, belonging to the McLean family, had been sold to an Argentinian company and renamed The Olivia. It was crewed on the journey south by Douglas McLean, Martin Reid and Charlie Bremner who had kept a diary and shared it with West Word readers.
A two page illustrated article on the construction and evolution of the Mallaig Lighthouse was provided by my good self. In the early 1900's, long burning paraffin was used to operate the lighthouse. This changed to propane gas in the '50's, dry cell batteries in the '70's, whilst the '80's led to the installation of solar panels/windmill generator/rechargeable batteries. The building of the Outer Breakwater in the late '90's allowed the Harbour Authority to provide an electrical mains supply to the lighthouse, still standing proudly today - over 100 years old.
MP David Stewart's column revealed that he was planning a visit to Mallaig along with Scottish Transport Minister Henry McLeish to meet locals and discuss the A830, A82 and A96.
Transport issues of a different nature were highlighted via the On the Rails column on page 6, and the Mallaig Chamber of Commerce was actively corresponding with the local MP on fuel costs.
Anne Trussell (Knoydart), Wendy MacKinnon (Canna), Camille Dressler (Eigg) and Lawrence MacEwen (Muck) provided the outlying news from their respective communities via the Round and About pages, while Mallaig Police highlighted some vandalism and dog fouling issues.
Magician Douglas Cameron entertained the Mallaig Primary School children and it was Mallaig High School's turn to provide the School news on page 18.
Burgers and steaks were on the recipe menu at The Old Library in Arisaig, and Eigg's Neil Robertson's final Down to Earth column was published (with thanks from West Word Editor Jill de Fresnes for the three years of contributions).
Superintendent Jim Ralph and the Rev Alan Lamb provided the spiritual message on page 28 whilst my Personal Angle column revealed why Fergie MacDonald wears red socks (answer at the foot of the column).
The Sports pages contained a local football quiz compiled by RMM and pictured two stalwarts of the Railway FC of the '50's Freddy Watson and Jimmy MacMillan. One of the questions was 'Name five Scottish Internationalists who have played at Mallaig Park' - have a think, the names are on page 17. There was also the latest Swimming Pool and Traigh Golf Club News and the competition dates for the members of the Loch Morar Angling Club.
The death of 'Carmichael the Vet' brought forth a tribute from Traigh's Bill Henderson; and Morar's Roy Stewart gave West Word access to a humorous poem written by Mr Carmichael on the subject of Artificial Insemination.
A youthful picture of Editor Jill de Fresnes was accompanied by a Happy 30th Birthday for the 27th March message, so I guess it's the Big 4 0 for Jill later this month!

Fergie wears red socks to keep his feet warm!! (sorry!!)

A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
MacDonald. MacPherson, Tarbert Inn to N.Z.

In the Feb. 08 issue of West Word, there was a letter from Marie Watson, in New Zealand, regarding her ancestor, Martin MacPherson from Tarbert, North Morar who was an inkeeper in 1841, in the district of Beoraid before he moved to Tarbert Inn where, he can be found in 1851, 1861 and 1871. Marie was enquiring if she and I are related.
Up to that point and for the last two or three years, I had thought that I was connected to these MacPhersons. Marie's cousin, Warren MacPherson, was here in September 04. Warren told me that he was descended from Allan MacPherson, late of Tarbert Inn, North Morar. However, this was incorrect as, Warren and Marie are descended from Donald, brother of Allan MacPherson. I had been looking for Allan MacPherson and his wife, Ann MacDonald. Ann was my great aunt. For a long and time after their marriage in 1860, Allan and Ann seemed to disappear completely until Warren told me that they emigrated to N.Z. in 1875. However, after further research, I have discovered that this was incorrect. It was only Allan MacPherson who emigrated with his brother Donald and Allan's wife, Ann MacDonald, remained at home. I think that Warren has confused the two Allans and the three Anns in the family. An easy thing to do in Highland genealogy where family names were repeated in every generation.
Marie Watson requested some clarification on the MacPherson family.
Martin MacPherson was born in Sleat, Skye in 1796 and his wife Ann, née MacDonald was born in the parish of Kilmallie in 1799. Ann and Martin were married c.1827 and had five children. Alexander, b.1828, Allan, b.1830, Donald, b 1832, Mary, b.1836 and Christian b.1837. Donald (1832) m. Janet Cameron from Fort William. Of their nine children, the fourth born, Allan MacPherson, b.1874, son of Donald MacPherson and grandson of Martin MacPherson, Tarbert, who subsequently married Ann Campbell in N.Z., is the line of descent for Marie and Warren therefore, it transpires that I have no connection with them, other than through a marriage, in 1861,without issue.
This is the story of Allan MacPherson b.1830 and Ann MacDonald b.1839. Ann was a dau.of Ronald MacDonald, and Kate Campbell, Back of Keppoch, Arisaig. Ann and Allan married in St. Mary's R.C. Church, Arisaig on January 19th 1861. The register was signed by Allan aged twenty nine, described as a boatman and bachelor, son of Martin MacPherson, Merchant, of Tarbert, Loch Morar and, Ann MacDonald, aged twenty two, dau of Ronald MacDonald, farmer dec. and Kate Campbell, Back of Keppoch, Arisaig. Ann could not write and therefore, put her mark beside her name. The witnesses were Donald MacVarish and Allan's brother, Alexander MacPherson. The officiating priest was Fr.Wm. MacIntosh. Three months later, according to the 1861 census, Ann, described as Ann MacPherson, married, is at home in Back of Keppoch with her mother, and Allan, her husband, is at home in Tarbert and described as a visitor.
In 1871, Ann is, once again, in Back of Keppoch, staying with her sister, Mary, under her maiden name of Ann MacDonald, though still married. (recorded as sailor's wife). Why did Ann revert to her maiden name in the census? Also, in this census we found a record of Allan MacPherson as Master on a vessel in Inverness-shire.
According to Marie (Watson), her ancestor, Donald went to N.Z. in 1876 and his brother, Allan, the sailor/boatman travelled with them. Family legend describes Allan as a bachelor, never married and he died out there in 1891. What of Ann, his wife? She died on June 11th 1878, in Back of Keppoch aged 39 years and was buried in Arisaig, under her married name of Ann MacPherson. The cause of death was paralysis for the duration of one year and two months and, it was her mother, Kate Campbell, who registered the death on June 17th. Kate, incidentally, could not write either, and attached her mark next to her name. Why did Allan emigrate without Ann? Was she too ill to accompany him in 1876 or, was she to have followed at a later date, as occasionally happened?
P.S. In West Word September 2007, I wrote about John and Jana Cameron who visited in July of that year from Australia and who are related to the MacPhersons through the Cameron connection. We have put John Cameron and Marie Watson in touch.

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The paper version of West Word contains approximately 40 pages (A4 size) including:

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