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

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May 2011 Issue

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Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum
Harbour News & Railway News
Local Genealogy

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Mobile phone users in the village of Arisaig are up in arms after being without a signal for three weeks. And they are showing their displeasure by cancelling their contracts and moving to other suppliers.
Customers contacting Vodafone are being given a variety of explanations: remove your battery and SIM card, and then replace; there is no problem; there is a problem and it will fixed in a couple of days; the problem will be fixed in four weeks - or was that six months? Arisaig resident David Buick decided further action was required when he discovered that the Scottish Ambulance Service uses Vodafone - and the local ambulance station is in Arisaig at the Surgery. Nurses also use it. Armed with this information, he contacted Ofcom who have pledged to take up the complaint.
David discovered that you can cancel your contract free of charge if you have had no signal for a short period of time - and Arisaig residents are doing just that, opting for other providers who these days seem to give as good coverage as Vodafone in this area. Strangely, some users have found they are receiving a signal in places where previously it was impossible!

Lochaber has elected a new MSP - but not a new party. There was a new constituency in the 2011 elections on May 5th; Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch replaced Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, creating a vacancy for Scottish Parliament. Dave Thompson, SNP was elected with a total of 14737 votes, which is 46.18% of the total votes cast in a turnout of nearly 56%. Dave will be familiar to West Word readers as one of the forces behind the campaign to install crash barriers alongside Loch Eilt at the scene of the fatal accident last year. He has been a Regional List Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Highlands and Islands since 2007.
Our former MSP, Fergus Ewing, was re-elected in the new constituency of Inverness and Nairn with 32731 votes, 51.54% of the turnout of 53% of the electors.
There are 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament and the SNP took an historic 69 of them in the biggest success in their history.
The win has resulted in the leaders of the three main parties in Scotland declaring they are stepping down. The Liberal Democrats and Labour lost most of their seats, with the Lib Dems dropping from 16 to 5, resulting in the resignation of leader Tavish Scott on May 9th. Labour lost 7 seats, dropping to 44; their leader Iain Gray announced the day after the election that he will be standing down in the Autumn. Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, also announced her decision to step down in the Autumn after the party's 'worst ever' election result, in which they lost 5 of their 20 seats in Scotland.

A large number of people from across North West Lochaber enjoyed a cruise on the Waverley on Tuesday 26th April, when the paddle steamer did a mini-cruise from Armadale to Mallaig, Inverie, Armadale and back to Mallaig before it left for its overnight berth in Kyle of Lochalsh. The weather was perfect and The Old Forge and the tea shop in Inverie did a roaring trade in drinks and ice cream.
More hopeful passengers turned up on Wednesday 27th April but were disappointed when the paddle boat failed to appear.
The Waverley is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. The original boat sank off Dunkirk in 1940 and was replaced in 1947. The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society bought the vessel for the princely sum of £1 in 1974 when the then operators had to withdraw it because of the high running costs. Photo courtesy of Steve Roberts - The Waverley leaving Mallaig on Tuesday 26th April.

The hot, dry weather at the end of April and beginning of May led to a number of hill fires all over the country. Huge swathes of woodland, moor and heath have been ablaze, with householders in some areas having to be evacuated for their safety as flames drew near to their homes. Carelessness with matches, cigarettes, camp fires and rubbish burning are blamed but there has also been many cases of deliberate fire setting.
North West Lochaber hasn't escaped, with notable blazes at Morar, which came dangerously close to houses in and around Rhubana View, the Ardnish Peninsula, which burnt for three or more days, and Lochailort, which also came close to buildings. A woman had to be rescued from the beach at Ardnish by the Coastguard when she became trapped by a wall of flame, and a hill walker in the same area was lifted to safety by a helicopter. A serious fire near Glenfinnan needed four fire crew to put out the blaze which destroyed about 1000 acres of moor and young trees.
Over the period, the fire service fought 73 wildfires in the Highlands.

I'm apologising in advance at the size of this month's column - I'll try to condense it as the internet connection is dodgy, the power is going off shortly and the deadline has flown by yet again. Sorry. The main topic of conversation of the past while has been the FESTIVAL - hip hip hooray for all the volunteers that did their bit and made it happen. I am not going to enter the dangerous territory of naming everything that everyone did because I'll forget something or someone but without the army of volunteers it wouldn't and couldn't have happened. And more importantly like a fairy on top of the Christmas tree it wouldn't have happened without the year or so of planning and hard work put in by Jacqui Harris and Davie Newton - so, on behalf of every festival-goer, we applaud you.
It's hard to believe that the festival managed to happen at all with other logistical problems such as phones not working, no mobile reception, the internet connection not working all the time and the hydro's out of action awaiting a new alternator. As it was a festival for all ages to enjoy I asked Kira and Freya to write a wee bit about their festival experience, and here it is: "Ever since the last festival in 2009 everyone on Knoydart has been preparing and looking forward to the next one. It was great and the music was really good. During the day there were lots of things for the children to do. There was the youth space which had a variety of fantastic activities and things to do. There was t-shirt designing, crown making, rounders, parachute games, face painting and lots more. You could also try out archery and climbing on a portable climbing wall. It was an amazing weekend and we all really enjoyed it - the only sad thing was that the time passed too quickly." If you'd like to hear more about the festival you should become a fan of the Knoydart music festival to check out peoples messages, photos, video clips and links to the bands too.
About a month ago Elaine had an idea about putting a ukulele band together, the rest they say is history. The Knoydart Ukulele Allstars was I'm told (no lie) a festival highlight for some! (Geek fact) Did you know about 10% of the population of Knoydart is in the group? We all really enjoyed playing and you'll need to look out for when we go on tour - Tarbert here we come! Also this month, Phil came back for the season at the pub as did Steven Nelson at Doune. Sandy Sutherland and better half Debs made an all too brief return to Knoydart while on holiday. Rhona has retired - Hard to imagine the pub without her buzzing about in the background. Hope you enjoy every minute of your (early) retirement. Love is in the air and this couldn't be more true, with JM and Marilyn and 2 weddings in April and one in May, (Not counting the royal one) congratulations to Dougie and Alison, Mark and Cara and also to Pete and Brenna.
Thank you to everyone who supported the amnesty booksale which raised £105. It often gets said about how generous everyone here is with raising money, which I hope will be the case for Davie (and Bren's) sponsored walk, for cancer research in memory of Davie's nephew Mark. Davie and his dog will be walking from Dundee to Knoydart at the beginning of June. There will be a dance in the hall on Friday 10th June so come along and help Davie raise as much money as possible. You can sponsor him on his just giving page on facebook or on sponsor forms in the tearoom, pub and foundation office.
Isla Miller
Anne Trussell

In wonderful sunshine KDL joiners are hard at work fitting the timber frame which fills the spaces between the steel and to which the cladding will be attached and once again no expense has been spared to ensure that our hall is able to withstand the worst gales it is ever likely to encounter. And it is great that Charlie MacKinnon who spent his early years on the island has joined the KDL joinery team who are preparing for 'super Monday', June 6th when a whole range of sub contractors are arriving on the island together. This just happens to be the day after the open day which is Sunday the 5th.
On the farm lambing is almost over and though lamb numbers are not a record the weather certainly has been with almost certainly the earliest spring in my lifetime. Never have we lambed with so much grass in the fields. Dry springs are two a penny but they have almost always been dominated by north wind. This year the wind has not been in the north for weeks and we were able to finish feeding the sheep and cattle earlier than ever before. Whether we can attribute all this to global warming I doubt. Last December also broke records- it was certainly the coldest December ever.
Lawrence MacEwen

Firstly this month we have to say a big Failte to the latest addition to our community - hello to Julie! She is Stewart's partner and has brought a breath of fresh air and new energy to the island, warmly welcomed by all the community, and immediately getting 'stuck in' and finding her feet here. She is a keen crafter and has already managed to weave one of Gerry's fleeces into gorgeous gloves and rug. Spinning and weaving are specialities but her craft room is an Aladdin's cave of beads, bits and bobs so the creative folk of Canna are looking forward to a productive season - any excuse for the chardonnay and chat! She has also been busy up at Canna House with Magda, archivist extraordinaire, making ready for the big opening - they have done a grand job with the essential cleaning and preparation. The house has never looked so good.
Magda has put in so much time and work here that she deserves much thanks and lots of support and thanks for her unending passion for this project. In Canna House this month, there will be an additional exhibition of Roland Svensson's letters, photographs and paintings. This Swedish author met with John Campbell in 1951 and continued to correspond with him for many years. A fascinating glimpse into his connection with Canna. In addition, the front rooms are open to view and the tour offers a real feel of John and Margaret's life here. Come see for yourself on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Magda's partner Joaquin has been learning the ropes on 'Genny Maintenance'- not sure we are inspired by his threat to import cargo of candles though...!
Stewart has also been so busy over the winter months and it now is definitely paying off - the water supply has been upgraded; new filters fitted where necessary and the wells cleaned. This is great news for the guests and visitors - the pier and toilet/shower facilities at the Square are definitely fit for purpose. He has organised long overdue maintenance work on one of the roadside fields. Gordon Mackenzie and his team did a fine job relaying a new pipe and stopping the seepage of water over the field and road. It was also quite interesting to have a wee look at the old drain system - hand made, stane by stane and still pretty much intact (well, apart from the one or two very obvious blockages!) after several hundred years. The modern plastic piping will no doubt cause just as much fascination in years to come. Electricity cables have been laid to Kate's Bothy, ready to be hooked up, greener fuel brought in for the stoves in all the NTS cottages, walking tours available and a sense of definite onwards and upwards for this wee isle. Winnie has been ably assisting the cruise ship visitors, giving them the full guided tour, trying to contain Molly the collie's enthusiasm and guiding them to us in the Gille Brighde for a cuppa and a cake.
Fat lambs and some bonny wee calves are the result of a year of hard graft for Gerry and Murdo on the farm, and we have been busy 'cooing' over the wee belties, complete with miniature belt. Lambing is as always a busy time but who can fail to raise a smile at the wee woolly jumpers bouncing around in the fields. It really feels as if Spring has sprung!! We say goodbye to the Baker family at the beginning of May and wish them well on Islay. Another family move into MacIsaacs this summer and we'll let you know how the housewarming goes! We are pretty sure we will be welcoming more people to live on Canna soon - some exciting opportunities ahead with a community shop & hall and hostel all looking likely and there's plenty of optimism for the future.
Finally for now, we are looking forward to a couple of special events on Canna - we have a wedding in mid-May, and most of the community are helping us with decorating marquee, tractor chauffeuring, serving Rabbit Pie wedding breakfast and buffet in the evening, and much cleaning up afterwards. The wedding party are coming from Spain and London and staying for the week on Canna - apparently it was love at first sight - and Rev. Richard Begg of Mallaig will be doing the honour of marrying the couple in the Rhu Church.
The second big event in May is the Bard & Birlinn event - a cultural conference and celebration of the Gaelic poet Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, full details are available on the history group website www.cannalocalhistorygroup.com but just as an added incentive the Gille Brighde is providing a 'Taste of Canna' Buffet.
That's all folks, for now!
Amanda, Canna

The opening of Canna House drew the first visitors of the season; Pictured with our archivist Magda Sagarzazu are Cal Mac crew members Vivien MacDonald (Mallaig), Colin Currie (Ayr), and Kirsty MacDonald (Morar). Also in the picture are a couple from Lytham, Lancashire who had travelled all the way to Canna to see the house open.


Scotland's Garden Scheme Open Day
One of the National Trust for Scotland's most remote gardens is set to open to the public for the first time next week in support of Scotland's Gardens Scheme.
The Walled Garden at Canna House on the tiny Hebridean island of Canna will be open from 10.30am to 4pm on the last Wednesday and first Saturday of each month from now until August. Scotland's Gardens Scheme is charity which raises funds for good causes by charging visitors a small fee to view some of the nation's most unusual gardens. Dates when the garden will be open are:

The two-acre walled garden is two years into a five year programme of restoration and boasts an array of fruit trees, vegetables, ornamental lawns and flower beds

We can finally announce after a great deal of time and effort that one of Rum's newly created crofts has been allocated. Our first crofters are... Lesley Watt and her partner Neil Boyd- Neil's quick off the mark and already started work on draining the fields. Historically, there have never been any crofts on Rum, so this is a first ! there are two more crofts available which will be advertised in the autumn.
Interviews for the community trust's development officer took place at the beginning of the month and we can confirm that the post has been offered to Vikki Trelfer, previously of Inverness. Vikki will start work at the beginning of June. With so much work to do, she will certainly be kept busy, good luck!
Following the ceilidh on the 8th which was a success, the hall was blitzed and decorated for Dave and Sylvia's wedding. The festivities themselves were a great success, Sylvia looked stunning, Dave looked smart... food and drink were plentiful and after a hiccup with the PA equipment, the ceilidh got underway. Squashy Bag provided the tunes and were followed by Dolphin Boy with the late night dancing.
Easter weekend turned the village into Piccadilly circus with four cruise boats -the Hebridean Princess, the Quest, the Loch Tarson and the Waverley paddle Steamer all making an appearance, on top of all the campers and tourists stating at the castle. Busy, busy the cafe at the hall was kept on the toes. The coastguard were called out on the 20th as regular visitors Grace and Neil Stewart ran into difficulties on their way over to Guirdil, Grace fell and broke her ankle and was whisked off by the coastguard helicopter to hospital. Thankfully nothing to serious and we'll see both of them back again soon with further plans for their bunkhouse.
We had a return visit from Ed Smith, a photography student who's spent the last 8 months or so taking pictures on the small isles and their residents. Ed showed us his latest collection of pictures which he plans to use for his final year project. Having got the craic on all the islands, I have no doubt he'll be back again soon.
Birthdays this month were Sorcha, 14 and Marcel 34.
Fliss Fraser

Arisaig Community Trust (ACT) has appointed Alison Stewart as their Local Development Officer. Alison will take up her post on 1st June.
There were seventeen applications for the job, which were whittled down to a shortlist of six for interview. The interview panel consisted of Directors Ann Martin and John MacDonald, Henry Mains from Sleat Community Trust and Mike Leary, Highland Council.
ACT Chair Ann Martin said 'The shortlist were all excellent applications but Alison 'ticked all the boxes' and is what we are looking for in our Development Officer. She has good experience in grant applications and project management, which is essential, and has a sound knowledge of ACT. She was a member of the original Steering Group which spent 6 months painstakingly going through the Memorandum and Articles to form the company, and has been our Membership Secretary from the start.'
Alison has lived in Arisaig for fifteen years. The post she will be leaving is that of Assistant Residence Manager at the Mallaig High School Hostel; prior to that she worked for nearly ten years as the Administrator/Co-ordinator of the Lochaber Music School. In her time in that role she played a significant part in realising a number of notable projects, including a three year trans-national project funded by the Northern Periphery Programme which brought together three international partners - Lochaber Music School and partners from Sweden and Norway. Alison also works and has worked in a voluntary capacity in a number of various local organisations.
Alison said 'I see this as an exciting and challenging time for ACT, and to play a part in a stage of this development will be stimulating and rewarding. I'm looking forward to getting started.'
The post of Local development Officer is funded by HIE and LEADER until November 2010, with the possibility of a further two years' funding.
Alison's first main role will be to implement a community consultation. The first stage of that will be a questionnaire, which will give every resident a chance to have their say. Out of his will come Arisaig's Development Plan. There will be other ways in which people can participate too. Meanwhile Alison hopes to have an information table at the Agricultural Show on Saturday 11th June. We are also going to develop a basic webpage for the Trust.
Later on in the year ACT will be running a competition, open to all, to design a logo for the Community Company. Details have yet to be decided, but get your thinking hats on! The Trust's next meeting will be Monday April 13th. At 7.30pm in the Astley Hall.

Arrangements are well under way for this year's Road to the Isles Agricultural Show on Saturday 11th. June at Camusdarach, Arisaig, by kind permission of Andrew and Angela Simpson. There are livestock classes for Commercial Cattle and Highland Cattle, and Blackface and Non-Blackface Sheep. There are also two classes for 'undressed' cattle and there is a beautiful trophy for the winner of this section, so please do put in your entries! The judging of the livestock classes commences at 10.30a.m. The livestock section is always well supported and we are looking forward to a good turnout again this year. Please telephone Audrey MacDonald on 01687 450267 if you wish to enter any of these classes and have not received a schedule.
The judging of the Baking, Handicrafts and Floral Decoration classes begins at 11a.m. Entries are taken on the day and should be brought to the Handicrafts tent between 9.30 and 11a.m. on the morning of the Show. We are hoping for plenty of support for these classes, so please bring along as many entries as you can. Schedules are available in local Post Offices and shops, or telephone 01687 450655 for information.
The afternoon's entertainment begins at 1.00p.m. with a piping recital by one of our local young pipers. This is followed by an entertaining display by 'Chariots of Fire', which involves ponies and carriages negotiating an obstacle course round the ring. This is really worth seeing so please do come along. There will also be a sheep dog demonstration by Mr. Mike MacNally from Invergarry, followed by a parade of Highland cattle with a commentary about the breed.
A display of poultry to admire and to buy will be there too, and during the afternoon there will be sheep shearing demonstrations with both hand and machine shears, a display of wood-turning, and a demonstration of chain saw carving.
There will also be the ever popular Dog Show, so smarten up your pooch and you could win a prize!
Food and drinks are available on site and there are the usual sideshows and plant stalls. There should be something for everyone to enjoy so please come along and support your local Show and we hope that you all enjoy a good day out!
We look forward to seeing you there!

Chariots of Fire Display Team
Chariots of Fire: the famous stunt carriage driving display team. Up to seven ponies soar over jumps and through fire at breakneck speeds. Appearing at the Agricultural Show! Amanda Saville is an accomplished horsewomen and carriage driver, with a number of competitive championships under her belt. With 16 years experience on the show circuit Amanda has refined her riveting Chariots of Fire displays to include driving sheep along with the regular team of stunt ponies. A new member of the team for 2011 is Hettie the Belted Galloway cow who adds a new level of fun and hilarity!
The skill and speed of the various formations enthral the crowd every time, with driving of hair's breadth accuracy, skill and verve. The show is brought alive by Amanda's exhilarating commentary as she flies around the ring. Many of the ponies are rescued from appalling situations and have their own stories to tell - Amanda will bring you up to date as she gallops around the arena. Spotty ponies are also a speciality - Mad Mac is the spotty fire specialist - completely fearless and just loves his job! The fire stunts are as unforgettable as ever, demonstrating complete trust between Amanda and her ponies. An original, unique and breathtaking performance full of excitement and exhilaration

Birdwatch - April - Stephen MacDonald
As April progressed, our summer visitors started to flood into the area. The first Willow Warbler reported was on the 9th at Rhubana View and over the next couple of days they were reported throughout the area. On the 20th, four Swallows were seen in Mallaig and on the 13th, two Tree-pipits in Arisaig were the first reported. Common Sandpipers were heard calling by the lochside in Morar on the 18th and two were seen on the shore at Druimindarroch the next day. Alsoon the 19th, a Cuckoo was heard at Camus an't Allen, Arisaig, and on the 22nd one was heard at Glasnacardoch, Mallaig.
A Grasshopper Warbler was heard 'reeling' on the evening of the 19th at Rhubana, Morar, and over the next few days birds were heard calling at various locations in Mallaig, Glasnacardoch and Arisaig. On the 21st, the first Sedge Warbler was heard at Silver Sands, Arisaig, and the next day also at Loch nan Eala and the 'Lily Pond' between Morar and Mallaig. Chiffchaffs were heard calling at Woodside and the Church, Morar, frm about mid-month, and Blackcaps were seen in Arisaig village and at Camus an't Allen at the end of the month.
From the 23rd till the month end, a group of six to eight 'Northern' Golden Plovers were seen in the fields at Back of Keppoch. These were probably migrnt birds from Scandinavia, as on the 28th there were already several local birds well established on territory on the high ground between Glen Beasdale and Lettermorar. Summer plumaged Dunlin were noted at Traigh on several occasions from mid-month with at least twenty there on the 26th. the first Whimbrel noted were three on the 30th on the shoreline in front of Arisaig Post Office. There were still a few winter visitors hanging lingering in the area during April. On the 13th there were still nine Purple Sandpipers at west Bay, Mallaig and two Brambling were seen in a Mallaig garden on the 13th - 14th.
At Loch nan Eala, Arisaig, there were nine Whooper Swans on the 13th, three of which had been resting there for almost a week. The last report of Whoopers were two adults seen resting on the sea close inshore at Traigh on the 26th. skeins of Pink- footed Geese were seen flying north during the month and there was a lone Pink-footed Goose lingering about the fields at Traigh until the month end.
Small flocks of Redwings were seen mid-month in Arisaig and Morar as they headed back North. Great Northern Divers, many in summer plumage, were seen in Loch nan Ceall, Traigh and Glasnacardoch Bay at the end of the month. Red-throated Diverswere seen on or flying to the hill lochs on which they breed and an immature Black-throated Diver was at the west end of Loch Morar on the 23rd.
Goldfinches, Siskins and Redpolls were again reported from many gardens during the month and Bullfinches were reported from several gardens where there fruit trees. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported from gardens in Morar and Arisaig.
Golden Eagles were seen on several occasions and a Kestrel was seen mobbing a Raven at South Tarbet, Loch Morar on the 25th.

Mallaig and Arisaig have been chosen as one of the locations for a trial of a car club that will also serve Knoydart and the Small Isles. Two cars will be available in the area for car club members to use over an initial six month trial, which if successful will become a permanent service.
The idea originated in the Small Isles and Knoydart where many residents are faced with the cost of maintaining a car on the mainland that they only occasionally use. Thanks to their lobbying with the results of the feasibility study prepared over a year ago, we have now been chosen by Carplus as one of six rural communities across Scotland to receive support from the Transport Scotland "Developing Car Clubs in Scotland" programme, which they are running. The scheme is supported by an existing car club called Moorcar based at Ashburton in Devon, about as far away as you could get but they have a decade's experience of rural car clubs. Bookings will be made through their website www.moorcar.co.uk as soon as we have it up and running.
The first cars available will be a Ford Focus C-Max Diesel and a Ford Fusion 1.4 Diesel and will start to be available to members from the week of 23rd May. The charges will be set to encourage use for short trips (hourly rate) as well longer journeys up to 3 or 4 days (daily rate). The car club will also charge a mileage rate inclusive of fuel charges.
Rates for our local scheme are in the process of being worked out. If we manage to make the scheme permanent it could mean that some people could give up owning their own car and do away with all the responsibility for the fixed costs and the concern about maintenance and repairs.
Membership details are being finalised but if you are interested please contact us. Membership will be open to people over 20 with a clean or fairly clean full UK licence.
Susan Carstairs is the part time development worker for the project on 01687 450327. Other contacts are:
Gwen Barrell (Knoydart) 01687 462242
Lucy Conway (Eigg) 01687 482414
Judy MacEwen (Muck) 01687 460089
We hope the car club project will provide residents with a reliable, legal, fuel efficient alternative to car ownership at a realistic price. For details of the car club programme see www.carplus.org.uk/scotland

What does your car cost per year?
We tend to jump in the car and drive off cursing the cost of fuel but to get a real cost there's a lot more to be taken into account. There are fixed costs before you even set out like insurance, road tax, breakdown cover and MOT and then there are the running costs and the cost of repairs. In my case because I have been driving a lot for work it has come to well over £3,000 a year. Added to that you need to think about replacement costs, which we all try to dodge until it hits us but this could easily add a further £1,000 to the cost. If you want to work out your own costs there's an excellent spreadsheet on the Moorcar website www.moorcar.co.uk/rates and check the car cost calculator.
Susan Carstairs

News in Brief

This Easter 12 volunteers from as far a field as Slovenia, Italy and South Korea joined islanders in realising their dream of a sustainability education centre on the Isle of Eigg. Organised by International Voluntary Service (IVS), an Edinburgh based charity celebrating it's 80th birthday this year, the volunteers were helping Eigg couple Norah and Bob Barnes to renovate The Lodge which will secure the island's reputation as the destination for 'greener' living in Scotland.
Featured on the classic STV television programme 'Weir's Way', this impressive property fell into a state of disrepair before being rescued by the couple when they moved to the island with their young children in 2004. The family has hosted volunteer work camps in recent years in a push to make this 'Earth Connections' centre open to the public, and to make their dream a reality.
The project has won the support of MSP candidate for The Green Party, Eleanor Scott: 'The islanders of Eigg have shown the way in moving towards the more sustainable way of life that we all need to embrace, and Earth Connections will be an important focal point for those who want to explore and promote a way of living that is in tune with the earth and not destructive to it.'
This two week 'work-camp' on Eigg is one of numerous projects organised by IVS on sites around the UK, and is typical in it's aims to promote ethical and environmental awareness in those involved and in the local community.
After eating breakfast with the family, the volunteers get stuck into sanding, painting, weeding and many other jobs needed to turn this previously underused property into a valuable resource for the community. Their hard-work is rewarded by having a chance to explore the outstanding natural beauty around them and get involved in vibrant island culture. By sleeping, eating and working under one roof the group are learning as much about themselves as one another. But what makes this experience unique is the warm welcome made by local people.
(Norah and Bob Barnes would like to thank Green City Wholefoods for their kind donation to the project.)


Fish Landings
The downturn in the Scottish fishing industry has been well documented and the port of Mallaig has certainly not been immune from the savage cuts that have decimated the industry. Indeed over the past ten years the number of local trawlers has decreased by about 50%. Subsequently landings of both whitefish and shellfish have plummeted year on year but ever so often a welcome blip occurs just to prove all the doubters wrong. One such occasion was last month (April 2011) when landings by some of the deep water trawlers - exploiting the fishing grounds west of the Hebrides and Ireland - boosted landings of white fish at the port quite considerably.
Among the visiting boats who landed were:- Aalskere K373, Norlan BF362, Aquarius BF89, Russa Taign K1102, Adventurer II INS8 and Harvest Hope PD120.. The landings realised a total value of over £800,000 - the port's busiest April since the year 1999.
It's worth recalling of course that the Outer Harbour, built at a cost in excess of £8m in 1998, was in fact constructed to attract landings from the big deep sea trawlers.

Repairs to two bollards were effected by Gareloch Support Services/Donarm Construction last month. The bollards will be utilised for the berthing of MV Fame, the Faeroe Islands registered cargo vessel set to transport 600/1200 tonnes of fish feed from Mallaig Harbour on a weekly basis come July this year. A new cone fender was installed at the Roundhead on the Steamer Pier as well. The delay in carrying out the work, originally planned for February of this year, was due to the difficulty in sourcing the fender which was "made in Hong Kong"!

Who would have thought that the Royal Wedding would have an effect on the Mallaig Marina project! Contractors for the shoreworks, McLaughlin & Harvey, who are based in Northern Ireland intended to have their workforce in-situ by Tuesday/Wednesday the 26th/27th April but with the rock quarry at Fort William opting for a day off for the Royal Wedding on Friday 29th April followed by the Monday May holiday this would have meant the McLaughlin & Harvey workforce being idle for the first 5/6 days of the Mallaig contract. Consequently the Irish workforce arrived on Tuesday 3rd May to commence construction of the shoreworks element of the contract. McLaughlin & Harvey are still aiming for an end of June completion date.

On the final weekend of April local contractor Mallaig Marine Limited put in place 12 moorings (3 trots of 4) in the inner harbour and by so doing, the moorings became the first tangible evidence of the Mallaig Marina Project to be viewed by the local populace. There's been lots of talk and discussion over the past few years but at last some evidence that the Project is nearing fruition is now visible.

Pontoon charges
I'm sure there will be eyebrows raised at the charges payable at the new Yachting Facility for use of the Moorings and Pontoons but there are several issues worthy of mention which the Harbour Authority had to take into account when setting the charges.
The Yachting Project is costing the Authority £900,000 to create and although obtaining grants from the EU (Sailwest), HIE and the Highland Council, the Authority has provided a six figure funding sum for the project.
The Crown Estate has to be paid for the lease of the seabed. They are seeking an annual sum based on the total grossing of the Marina.
The Harbour Authority will also have to insure the new structure and moorings and indications are that £8000 per annum is the likely premium.
Add in annual inspection costs, employment of Marina attendant, CCTV security system and its costs, etc, etc, and the reason for the level of charging becomes clearer.
I list below some of the mooring changes which are currently in vogue at other Marinas (this information is available on the internet):

12 months £202.10 per metre
6 months £132.00 per metre

12 months £103.40 per metre
6 months £ 64.63 per metre

6 months £ 770 per vessel under 11.5m
6 months £1030 per vessel over 11.5m

12 months £ 128.13 per metre
6 months £ 102.50 per metre

12 months £ 132.00 per metre
6 months £ 78.00 per metre

Jary's Wharf
The origin of "Jary's Wharf" the area of the pier where the Spanish John currently operates from was revealed by ex train driver and prawn buyer Elliot Ironside.
Elliot says that there were three fish buyers from London based at the port in the 30's/40's, Jary, Wren & Hines and they all operated from that area of the (then) wooden jetty. I don't really know why the name Jary came out on top he says, perhaps he was the biggest buyer!!!
Robert MacMillan
Port Manager
01687 462154

Mallaig Marina Gets Motoring
A motor rally team with connections to the port of Mallaig is helping to spread the word and tell the world about the next phase in the port's development - the Yachting Marina.
Iain and Calum MacLeod of MacLeod Rally Sport whose Lewis born father Alick was in charge of the local freezing factory in Mallaig in the 60's and 70's when herring and mackerel landings were in plentiful supply, still keep an eye and ear out for Mallaig - the village where they spent their formative years - and they are keen to publicise the new marina on the company rally cars.

photo photo

'We are delighted with Iain and Calum's offer' says Authority Manager Robert MacMillan 'it's great that they are willing to give something back to the village by publicising our new Marina. It's a great gesture.'
The Ford Escort Mk2 adorned by the three flag logo and the words Mallaig Marina made its first appearance last weekend when Calum's son Ruary competed in the Pirelli International Rally. The photo was taken on the first special stage and Ruary recorded the third fastest time.
'Having grown up in Mallaig,' says Calum, 'it is still very close to our hearts with great memories in the MacLeod family, so we were proud to have Mallaig Marina adorning my son Ruary's rally car competing in the British Rally Championship. It was also nice to educate people in England where Mallaig was and put on their map! We all wish the new Marina success.'
Work is now well underway on the shoreworks element of the yachting project at Mallaig with Irish Contractor McLaughlin & Harvey on site and hopeful of completing the works by the end of June. It is expected that the marina will be fully operational by the first week of July 2011.
Dredging works have been completed, the pontoons are currently under manufacture and will be located to Mallaig once the shoreworks are completed at the end of June. Twelve swing moorings have also been placed in the inner harbour as part of the £900,000 development which is financed by the EU Interreg VIa via their Sail West Initiative, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, The Highland Council and of course Mallaig Harbour Authority. Engineers on the project are Wallace Stone, Glasgow.
Motoring buffs please note: Cars: Calum has a Subaru Impreza, an MG S2000 and a newly built Ford Escort Mk 2 - 285 BHP, six speed paddle shift gearbox and adjustable suspension. Ruary uses the Ford Fiesta ST in the British Rally Championship, his older brother Gary uses the Honda Civic he used on last years Scottish Rally Championship.

On and Off the Rails

Train times Sunday May 22nd - Saturday December 10th 2011
A new timetable produced by ScotRail for the above dates and including all trains that are ScotRail services operated by First, plus Jacobite Steam Train services, and Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry services to and from the Western Isles and Small Isles until October 22nd 2011 is now available in the form of a small fold-out booklet at manned railway stations. The train times for our area covers Glasgow/Oban, Glasgow/Fort William and Mallaig, plus the sleeper train service from Fort William to London Euston. The main difference for rail passengers to Mallaig from Glasgow is that from May 22nd until September 23rd the train leaves Glasgow at 09.07 with a later arrival into Mallaig at 14.09, except Saturdays when it leaves Glasgow at 08.21 arriving into Mallaig at 13.34, and Sundays leaving Fort William at 12.12, arriving in Mallaig at 13.35. For all enquiries regarding these times, and for any information regarding train times, please call into any manned railway station and assistance will be given. Alternatively you can print off your own timetable by going to www.scotrail.co.uk

April West Word Picture Postcard Competition
Last month I ran a competition to win sets of the 2011 Friends of the West Highland Lines picture postcards which are being given away individually by catering staff on some ScotRail services. These picturesque cards, depicting scenes taken by photographer and mountaineer Norman McNab, are proving to be much sought after! Unfortunately there can be only four lucky winners, and they are: Pat MacFarlane, Acharacle; Mairi Illsley, Crieff; John Batts, Banbury; and Margaret MacEachen, Arisaig. Congratulations - your cards are in the post. Complete sets are available by post (including postage) by sending a cheque or postal order for £2 made out to Glenfinnan Station, Station Road, Glenfinnan PH37 4LT.

Friends of the West Highland Line AGM
Please note that the AGM of the FWHL will be held this year on Saturday, May 21st at the Moorings Hotel, Banavie. Starting at 12.30, the AGM will be followed at 13.30 by a two-course lunch. The lunch is charged at £10 per person but is not obligatory.
After the lunch, Guest Speaker John Duncan, Public Affairs Manager, Network Rail, will outline the massive workload undertaken by Network Rail. A question time will follow his speech, when members and guests of FWHL can air their views and comments. For all enquiries prior to the AGM, please contact the Society Secretary, Fraser MacDonald, tel. 0141 885 0069, or write to him at 6 Afton Drive, Renfrew, PA 40UN. Return trains for Mallaig will depart Banavie at 16.25, and southbound trains to Fort William and stations south to Glasgow will depart Banavie at 17.19.

Annual visit of Network Rail Weedkiller Train
The yellow liveried Network Rail Weedkiller train made its annual visit to Mallaig on Wednesday 20th April. This should ensure a weed free railway line between Fort William and Mallaig!
Unfortunately, the trees and lineside hedges continue to grow up and spoil the beautiful views on the West Highland Line Extension. The Friends of the West Highland Lines have worked in conjunction with Network Rail and cleared lineside trees and bushes on the Oban - Crianlarich Line, but to date there are no plans to extend any clearances to the line between Fort William and Mallaig.

The Royal Scotsman returns to Mallaig
We are fortunate to be able to welcome back the luxury Land Cruise Train to the West Highland Extension this year. It recently featured on the 'travel channel' on Sky showing its journey after its overnight stop at Spean Bridge into Mallaig, with a trip to Knoydart featuring an interview with Tommy in his guise as postman on Knoydart, and a feature on the Old Forge. The Royal Scotsman tour which visits Mallaig is part of the Orient Express group and opulence, good hospitality and considerate staff blended with the luxurious food and fine beverages ensure that some guests return year after year to tour on it. The first visit this year is Sunday May 8th, probably between 11.00 and 12 noon, followed by Saturdays 14th and 21st May. I will publish June visits next month. The Land Cruise on May 8th is chartered privately by Air Bus France.

ScotRail Preservation Society Rail tour
On Saturday May 7th, an SRPS one day rail tour comes to Mallaig. Departing from North Berwick, and picking up en route at Longniddry, Musselburgh, Edinburgh, Linlithgow, Falkirk High and Westerton, the full train will be hauled by either Class 37 or 47 vintage West Coast Railways Diesels. SRPS take great pride in their own coaches and staff, ensuring that a good time is had by all. We welcome them back to Mallaig. They always spend well in our pubs, bars, shops and restaurants, so please make them very welcome. They will be in Mallaig between 14.00 and 15.00 hours.

Compass Special Train Tour
Special Train operator 'Compass Tours' have arranged a West Highlander excursion , and visited Fort William on Wednesday May 4th. Unfortunately, due to the length of journey (i.e. starting at Carlisle at 05.00 hrs!) they were not be able to include a visit to the West Highland Extension line. Maybe in the future?

Jacobite Steam Train returns to Mallaig
On May 16th (Monday), the first of the 2011 Jacobite regular (and very welcome) Steam Train service from Fort William to Mallaig will depart Fort William Station at 10.20. Arriving into Mallaig at 12.25 and departing at 14.10, it will return to Fort William for 16.00 hours. This year the Jacobite runs from May 16th to Friday 28th October. Running Monday to Friday throughout the season, and also on Saturdays and Sundays from June 25th until August 28th.

Prices this year:
Adult day return £31.00 Standard Class / £54.00 First Class
Child day return £17.50 / £30.00
Adult single £26.00 / £49.00
Child single £16.00 / £25.00

As my column goes to press, the locomotives booked to start the season are the K4 61994 The Great Marquess for the first week, and Black 5 45231, The Sherwood Forester the second week.
The K1 owned by NELPG is not likely to be fit for this year's Jacobite. Their engineer John Graham has said that unforeseen work to one of its cylinders and replacement of boiler tubes will not be completed in time for the K1 to make an appearance this year.
On inspection of known faulty tubes, others thought to be OK were found to be thin and needing replacement. Also, having suffered a cracked cylinder previously, the repair was not as sub standard as they had thought, and in order to guarantee its reliability on mail line runs, it was decided to re-weld the cylinder using a different method which has proved to be successful on other locomotives.
The Drivers for the Jacobite season will be Alex Iain MacDonald (ex Morar, now Fort William) and Bobby Duncan (ex Fort William now Inverness). Bobby is familiarising himself with the line ate this time and is remembered by many work colleagues from his Fort William days. As reported in my column in earlier West Words, our previous Jacobite driver Paul Kane sadly died last December, and with more than a tinge of sadness we will miss his respect for West Coast Railways Company's other crew members, his duty and devotion to his job, hiss sense of humour (and his impromptu singing). We than West Coast for returning to us and wish them a trouble-free and successful season. The extra trade they bring to Mallaig is much appreciated by all.

Work starts on Glenfinnan Station Upgrade
After several years of securing grants and funding, the refurbishment and repairs to buildings at Glenfinnan Station Museum have commenced, including re-roofing the Station Museum and its listed original signal box. The buildings are swathed in scaffolding and green protective mesh, contractors appointed and the slates are being carefully removed, to be cleaned up and replaced after dealing with all the detritus underneath, and repairs carried out along with insulation. The roof project is just the start of a well thought out project. Although the signal box is no longer used in conjunction with regular train movements, its levers and frames are intact. The upper level is to be evolved as an audio-visual centre. Hege Hermes (Museum Director) has diligently and sensitively pulled together - with much advice and help from many directions - what promises to be a project to secure the Museum and site for future generations.
Although work will be ongoing for most of the Spring and Summer, voluntary workers and interested visitors are still welcome on site. The Museum will become a walk through, free entry, railway heritage poster site and the Glenfinnan Station Tea Room and Sleeping Car will still be very much open for business.
Hege has said that every effort will be made by the contractors to minimise inconvenience to travelling rail passengers and visitors alike, for details on volunteering or the visiting opening hours of the dining car/sleeping car etc, please contact John Barnes or Hege Hermes on 01397 722295.

Steam Tour into Mallaig - Monday May 9th 2011
Ahead of the Jacobite season, a railway operating company, 'Steam Dreams', are coming to Mallaig on Monday 9th May. Into Mallaig at 12.29 and departing at 14.10, it will be a welcome taste of an influx of visitors. It is part of a week long series of tours under the name of 'The Cathedral Explorers' (yes, I know, as do they, that we do not have one in Mallaig!). Departing from Kensington Olympia on May 6th and finishing on May 13th, the trip to Mallaig commences from Fort William, where the on-board visitors will have rested the night before. We welcome them. The steam locomotive will be John Cameron's K4, No, 61994, The Great Marquess.

ScotRail announce Club 55 promotion
Commencing Sunday June 22nd, to coincide with the Summer timetable, and running through to June 30th, ScotRail are offering the now popular Club 55 return ticket offer, to persons 55 years of age and over. For full details, contact any manned railway station for brochures or information.

See you on the train,
Sonia Cameron


Who is this reading their West Word in Devonport, New Zealand, looking across the harbour to Auckland, with the Sky Tower in the background?
From left to right it's Bethany, Lisa, Joe (too busy reading the West Word to look at the camera) and Bob Roberts. Lisa is the sister of Morar's Stuart Griffin.

Blair Martin, Musselburgh ex Arisaig, is reading his copy on Lanzarote, amidst the lava columns in the volcanic national park, Timanfaya, which is a part of the island that was created over a six year timescale. Blair says 'They've managed to figure out how to cultivate vinyards from the volcanic ash, and the place looks like the moon on a sunny day. The sea was actually underneath me here, as the waves have gouged out big caves from the soft lava, and I expected the funny looks I kept getting to result in someone saying 'Ah! World Wide West Word!'


Euan Mackinnon from Perth was too busy reading the West Word to see the view of the Empire State Building from the top of The Rockafeller Center on a recent visit to New York to see his brother, Murray. Both are frequent visitors to Arisaig.

John Murray, retired Mallaig Harbour Master, took his copy to New Zealand.
He's seen here with the Bay of Plenty and the town of Maunganui on the north island.

Richard Lamont, Arisaig, read his copy to steady his nerves before his bungee jump off the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough. In the distance you can see a jumper dangling and the fast boat in the river ready to retrieve him. Richard enjoyed his jump so much he did it again - backwards!

The Minimoon destination is no longer a secret! Joyce Wilkinson welcomed her unexpected guests to Invercaimbe, Arisaig, with a complimentary copy of West Word. Maybe they'll subscribe!

Spar gives them back to its local communities!
On Wednesday 27th April, Alida Achermann, Manager of the Mallaig Swimming Pool, was presented with a cheque for £735.00 by Spar Area Manager Stephen Fraser. The funds were raised through the sale of 2p carrier bags .in a combined effort of the Spar stores in Mallaig and Arisaig. The initiative, which has seen a staggering £180,000 being raised for local charities since its launch in 2008, donates the 2p charge from every 'single use' carrier bag sold. Every 2p is collected and donated to a local charity, nominated by the staff, benefiting not only the local area in which Spar serves, but also positively impacting on the environment. Such is the case that Spar has reduced its carrier bag usage by over 40% since the launch of the scheme.
Both store managers, Karen Haines (Mallaig) and Jane Verrall (Arisaig) are delighted to be able to contribute to a very valued local service.
Alida said 'We're extremely grateful to Spar staff for nominating the Pool to receive this donation. We are always in need of funds and this is a welcome addition to our bank balance.' Money raised by Spar in other areas has gone to Help the Heroes (Kinloss), Munlochy Animal Aid (Inverness), Spean Bridge Primary School, and the Belford Hospital. Last year the donation was a single one of £4500 to Lochaber Mountain Rescue. Store Managers and customers have continued to support the initiative, which has grown year on year, with the goal for 2011/12 to beat the existing total.
So don't begrudge paying 2p for a carrier bag - it's all in a good cause!

A Little Genealogy by Allan a MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
The Annals of Skye by Donald Gillies

Donald Gillies , whose father was a native of Raasay, was born on 15th February 1881, at 3 Pienmore, Skeabost, Isle of Skye. He described his birth year as, "the year of the great snow" He married Catherine Robertson of 4, Waterloo, Breakish, Skye and they had five daughters and one son.
Over a period of forty years, from 1925- 1965, Donald compiled a series of diaries which he called the "Annals of Skye". I believe a complete set of these books is accessible to interested readers in the Inverness Library.
At the National Mods Donald won the Bardic Crown along with several other literary awards and became an FSA [Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries] (Scotland).
Donald became a Deputy Harbourmaster in Glasgow, with the Clyde Port Authority and was also, at some time, president of the Glasgow Skye Association and president of the Glasgow Gaelic Society. After his retiral in 1946, he returned to Skye, to his native croft. It was there that he died, in the bed in which he was born, some ninety two years earlier. After Donald's death, his son, Iain, published the Annals which are accounts of life on Skye and its people worldwide.
I was fortunate enough to be given three issues; those of 1945-44, 1945-46 and 1947-48. Some of the events in these editions make reference to people or places in the Arisaig/Mallaig area.
The following are locally interesting excerpts from the "Annals".
Page 22. February 26th 1943. A Soay Marriage - the second in fifty years. "A marriage of local interest in the Island of Soay. The contracting parties being Mr John MacAskill, Soay and Miss Minea Campbell, daughter of the late Mr Donald Campbell and Mrs Campbell, Soay. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev. A.A. MacDonald, Free Church minister, Bracadale." A list of guests follows including "Mr Angus MacIntyre, (retired engineer) Mallaig, a native of Acharacle." (grandfather of our own Countryside Ranger, also Angus MacIntyre)
Page 30. April 1943. In aid of funds for Red Cross week, a concert was organised by the Church of Scotland Choir in Portree. In the course of the evening, an onion was put up for auction by Mr Neil Beaton. Bidding was brisk and the onion realised £6 . 12/-. (£171. 27p in today's values). Was this the dearest onion ever sold in Skye and who was the buyer??
Page 94. November 1943. Killed in action, Italian Campaign; Arthur James MacCrimmon, 48th Highlanders of Canada, aged 23 years, elder son of John Orville MacCrimmon of Toronto and sixth in descent from Malcolm MacCrimmon, Principal of the College of Piping, Borreraig, Dunvegan and hereditary piper to MacLeod of Macleod. (1690). John Orville, father of the above, was born on 31st July 1892. In commercial life in Toronto, he specialised in poultry farming. He married Myrtle, daughter of Henry Reid of Sligo County, Ireland and had; Jean, Arthur James, Norman and another daughter.
Page 112. February 1944. Died at Inverness Infirmary, Hugh Campbell, Market Gardener, Hamara, Coolin Drive, Portree; eldest son of the late Duncan Campbell, Mains Farm, Arisaig. (A native of Coll)
Page 98. May 1946. Passenger ferry service Mallaig to Armadale, commencing on 20th May and continuing till further notice. The Motor Vessel "Blaven" will operate between Mallaig and Armadale as follows:
Departing Mallaig at 9.45 a.m. and 12 .29 pm.
Departing Armadale at 10. 45 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Connecting with Beaton's bus service which leaves Portree at 8.15 a.m. Arrives Armadale at 10.30 a.m. Departs Armadale at 1 p.m. Arrives Portree at 3.15 p.m. Alexander MacLennan Ltd. Mallaig
Page 17. 27th February 1947 Died at Drumduan, Forres, Francis Alexander MacKinnon, 35th Chief of Clan Fhionghuinn or MacKinnon aged 98 years. His father obtained his 90th year and his grandfather his 88 years. Latterly, MacKinnon resided at Kilmorie House, Strathaird, Skye and at Drumduan, Forres where he died. His sister married the 11th Earl of Dundonald and another daughter became the Duchess of Somerset. His aunt, Emma MacKinnon, was married to Duc de Gremmont, of an ancient French family.
Page 43. July 1947. MacKinnon of MacKinnon (late of Strath, Skye) left estate….he also left to his son the "Chrystal in the Deerskin Bag" a clan heirloom which should always be in the possession of the chief of MacKinnon. I wonder if it is still in the possession of the present chief?
Page 98 1947. Highland Step Dancing - a class for pupils aged five years and upwards, is being held in the Skye Gathering Hall. The Council has been fortunate in securing the services of Miss MacDonald, Arisaig to look after the training of the class. (This was possibly Marjorie "Post".)
Page 118 1947. Died at the Royal Northern infirmary, Inverness; Alexander MacLeod, Mallaig, eldest son of the late Mr & Mrs Murdo MacLeod, Roskhill, Dunvegan.
Page 147. November 7th 1947 Died at Arisaig Hotel, Catherine Macdonald, wife of the late Duncan Macdonald of Arisaig Hotel and eldest daughter of the late John Gillies, Benmore, Skeabost Bridge, Snizort, Skye and his wife Flora Finlayson, daughter of Donald Finlayson, drover, Carbost. Mrs Macdonald was born at Benmore on Nov. 9th 1879, married in 1900 and shortly after, her husband became a partner in the Portree Hotel. Leaving Portree, he took the lease of Taychreggan Hotel, Lochawe from which he removed to become the proprieter of Arisaig Hotel. She left a family of three sons and four daughters. One of her sons is a medical practitioner in Ayr. Her remains were conveyed to Morvern by motor and interred beside that of her husband who died at Arisaig Hotel in 1936. Funeral service at the hotel was conducted by Rev. M. Logan, Arisaig and at the graveside by Rev. Hector MacSween of Morvern. The funeral took place on Tuesday 9th - November11th Remembrance Day and two minutes silence was observed. Note: Mrs MacDonald and her husband were the the grandparents of Dunriona, Gilleasbuig, the late Jasmine and Tearlach MacMillan.
These account are beautifully written in longhand, simply documenting local events of interest; written in the manner of a man who merely wished to record for posterity, in an accurate and unpretentious manner, the social history of his time

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