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

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May 2014 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Harbour, Railway & Crofting news
Local Genealogy

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Not to be reproduced without permission.

Thanks to David Barnden on Muck who sent us this photo of two snow geese which were seen on the island briefly in March and returned on April 13th.
David says 'There is no way of knowing for certain, but I assume they are the same pair that were on Canna earlier in the year.'

The by-election for a councillor to serve the Caol and Mallaig ward on The Highland Council, held on Thursday May 1st, has been won by Ben Thompson, Independent.
Mr Thomson was one of five candidates who contested the vacancy, created by the retiral of Eddie Hunter in February. He joins Councillors Bill Clark (SNP) and Allan Henderson (Independent) in representing Ward 12. He owns Nevis Cycles in Inverlochy and has had a career in law and investment management.
Voting was by the single transferable vote and Mr Thompson emerged as the winner at the fourth stage of the count, gaining 932 of the 2,391valid first preference votes cast. The quota was 1,196. 23 votes were rejected. The turn out was 34.4%.


The other candidates were: William Keelie MacDonald, Scottish National Party (SNP); Liam Kevin Simmonds, UK Independence Party (UKIP); Susan Wallace, Scottish Christian Party 'Proclaiming Christ's Lordship'; and Sandy Watson.
Mr Thompson said: 'I am very excited and motivated to work for the Caol and Mallaig Ward on The Highland Council. I appreciate all the efforts of the other candidates in highlighting local issues during the by-election campaign. I look forward to my new role and doing the best for everyone in my Ward.'
The representation of the 80-member Council now is: - Independent 34, SNP 21, Liberal Democrats 14, Labour 8, Independent Nationalist 1, Non-aligned 2.

Another month gone by. We're nearly really into summer now! it's certainly felt like it since Easter anyway, with the sun coming out and the heat creeping in. Amazing what a difference it makes all round. The tourists were on the increase all the way through April, with the schools being off the two weeks before it was actually Easter and it has to said, it was good to get the ice cream machine back on in the tearoom!
It wasn't only the tourists who returned but the dolphins as well, which were spotted once or twice this month. Haven't seen them myself yet but it's only a matter of time I hope! There were certainly some cracking photos circulating the old facebook. Sunset pictures too have been pretty spectacular, ones from here, Eigg and the other small isles. Caribbean eat your heart out!
The foundation and forest trust have been quite busy this month, with the shop getting revamped (Johann has made an amazing job of the furniture - just one of his many talents!) and new stock arriving. I particularly like the sheep poo products hehe. The Forest Trust has started up a new venture, Wood Knoydart, which is making lovely little wooden products such as wee boats and diffusers (like eco-friendly air fresheners) as well as stools and other quality products. These are now available in the shop, so it's well worth a browse if you venture over this way. Lots of unusual gift ideas if its someone's birthday or something. Sticking with the Forest Trust talk for a moment, there was a spate of rhoddie bashing going on with the volunteers from JMT coming in, who worked hard keeping our rhoddie population under control for another year! The forest trust shed also had its official completion party, which I gather was a great afternoon, involving lots of mud sliding and things, although unfortunately I missed it.
The Easter bazaar went well, and of course the Easter Ceilidh was fantastic. Fras played and there was even a bar at it, with Thistly Cross Cider and Williams beer, as it was part of the K15 events which are going on this year. Check facebook for updates on what's on next! The tearoom is now going on to its summer hours, 9-5 Monday til Friday and Saturdays from 11 - 3 so get yourselves across the water for some home baking and a nice cup of tea - there's no excuse now with all the boats that run! Western Isles is also back in the water, so you could even chill out and have a wee dram on the way over - or on the way home, if you've been in the pub and got a taste for it!
And on a final note, a Big Happy Birthday to Wee Victor, who is 2 on Friday 2nd May.
Heather Gilmour

Down at the slipway vast piles of timber and other building materials are everywhere. All the main materials needed to put together three Marine Harvest houses. And the joiners to do it are here too. The firm is J A Macrimmon, a Skye name if ever there was one. Prominent among these materials are the A-frames which arrived on an the longest artic ever to reach Muck. So long that the driver was unable to line up the empty trailer to reverse down the slip. Robbie Gordon came to the rescue and with a telehandler lifted the whole trailer sideways to save the driver from spending two days on the island.
Out at sea on the east side of the island rows of black floats are appearing. Each marks a huge anchor which in future will be attached to the fish cages. Perfect weather for laying anchors as one calm day follows another.
On the farm it has also been perfect weather for lambing and grass is everywhere. Record expenditure on ewe pellets has resulted in a plethora of triplets and for Sandra Mathers a quarter of her ewes gave birth to three lambs. The cattle dept also produced a record. For the first time ever every calf was born live and one Luing cow produced twins.
And in the school we have been able to welcome a new teacher Julie Baker from East Lothian. Two events to look forward to. Visit the island of change on the 29th, Open Day on June 8th and remember to book with Arisaig Marine.
And a book launch now in August. The book is 'A Drop in the Ocean' the story of 60 years on Muck, told by islanders but written by Polly Pullar.
That's it for another month.
Lawrence MacEwen

On Saturday 19th April The Camus Arts Centre hosted the premiere of the play 'Never say die say Damn', directed by Colin Irvine and Performed by Amie Mcmillan and Cristie Connor. The two talented professional actors were former acting students of Colin's from London and gave their time generously and freely in order to perform on Canna in the most beautiful setting of The Camus Arts Centre. It was a full house with Islanders and visitors in attendance and the play was very well received by all. Hopefully there will be a tour in the near future. The play explored the extraordinary life of Margaret Fay Shaw and other well known women of Canna through scenes and monologues interspersed with physical theatre and live Gaelic song sung by Colin Irvine and Amie Mcmillan.
The Canna shop is now fully stocked and is open to the public selling crafts, gifts and food too so visitors and locals can shop till they drop. We are all very proud of the new shop and a big thank you to all who volunteer with their time and hard work to get this venture off the ground.
Baby animals are everywhere at the moment and it's a beautiful sight, the cows are catching up now with calves although they were holding back a little for a while. The new children on the island have had great fun feeding the baby animals.
Talking of Children, the School is set to open and a teacher is on their way which is great news for the Guthrie Family and a bit of a relief too I should think.
Colin Irvine

New ferry timetable and people are arriving in droves. Accommodation is booked up for most of the time and stray campers who can't stand the rain have been knocking on doors for respite - come on, it's only been raining for a couple of days, clearly not the hardy types, but good on Norman for taking pity on them and providing food and shelter.
Easter happened with egg painting at the school, easter bonnets at the hall and much chocolate for everyone else. In a surprise turn of events, the shop was not awash with Easter goodies this year, most out of character Jinty!! We were expecting to be buying eggs well into June.
Dave, the current king of multitasking, is nearly finished at the playground, with a big push before the weekend, including a few volunteers, he hopes to get it ready for this weekend and our anniversary ceilidh to celebrate community land ownership, should see a heap of familiar faces along with the band 'Cirque du Rum' (because it is most of the time), Eilidh Shaw, Tam the banjo, Ross Martin and Tia Files. That'll be Friday 9th May, but since West Word will undoubtedly go to print after the event, I'll take the liberty of saying it was an amazing ceilidh!!
Anyway... the playground... the little ones have been chomping at the bit for ages so Dave had better have it ready...
There's a new garden at Farmhouse Bothy, in a springtime frenzy of cleaning and creation, Steve has created a place of relaxation and solace away from the cut and thrust…. The wind chimes do it for me, mine got blown away years ago!
In more gardening activity, Rum primary has been very busy, the polytunnel is blooming and we have already had a bag of rocket sent home along with pea and sunflower plants, looking forward to lots more.
Bunkhouse update... the roof's on; the doors and windows are in; first fix electrics and plumbing done; the larch cladding is going on as we speak. Top job.
Dave's new buggy is here for the 'Rum Shuttle service', seats a lot and goes quite fast you know #flash
Breaking news, IRCT have appointed a new ranger, more details when we get them.
Fliss Fraser

Beginning of April, whilst most of us were stretching our hamstrings by catching-up on the gardening, yoga enthusiasts arrived at the glebe barn for a week of healthy stretching and fantastic veggie food guaranteed to detox and revitalize. Versatile tutor Morgan, whose course included many different styles of yoga practice, was so pleased with the on-and-off island attendance that she is returning for a week-end at the end of September. Further on in the month, the Easter holidays brought lots of visitors keen to try archery with Jamie, and it was also the visit of Eigg's first ever paragliders who gracefully flew down the Sgurr on Easter Sunday.
The perfect Easter weather making up for the cold end of March, led our SWT warden reports to a sudden eruption of early flowering plants. . Alongside the ubiquitous bright celandines and primroses flowering in ever larger drifts, large numbers of Early Purple Orchids have appeared in the grasslands & a fine display of Purple Saxifrage is now in evidence on the Beinn Bhuidhe cliffs.
Following the spring ceilidh on Easter Saturday which saw the return of the Marwick brothers to the island with their lively line up which had everyone on their feet, bonfires seemed to spontaneously appear on Laig beach in the spirit of spring celebration: 5 in a row! Surely a record even for Eigg! One of the them was to say goodbye to Megan Frey, who is now returning to Alaska after coming over for Tash and Gabe's wedding. Megan has somehow managed to find another congenial community to live in on the other side of the planet, but she still misses Eigg! However, she is now returning with a fiddle and feels that Gabe's tuition has got her well underway to play her fave Scottish tunes.
Faraway countries was the theme of the month in Eigg Primary school where children and teachers are preparing for the Small Isles commonwealth games week in May. They have been reaching out to island countries like the Maldives, Tuvalu, St Lucia and many more and will be producing a blog with the help of Lucy aka the Eigg Box project.
On the artist front, we are now getting kind of used to become a kind of Scottish St Ives with the weekly coming and goings of new artists, all with a new take on the island and its stories. Alastair Dearie made and fired a kiln for the bothy project with Eigg clay objects some of them made by the islanders who tremendously enjoyed not only pottery making but the whole firing experience. The Eigg wild life club also had a fun afternoon with Finnish artist Beata looking at the potential plastic rubbish have for art. We made jewellery, and games including a maze of bits of ropes attached together in a big spiral, which was really fun to run in and out of!
Meanwhile, Saira and George's wooden beachhouse is taking good shape. The other good news is that work is starting at last in the renovation of the Manse. The Manse, which had been acquired from the Church of Scotland by Schellenberg and typically left to rot until finally sold to a builder with Eigg connections, has now been bought by Steve and Do Coyle who themselves have had a long association with Eigg, renting Grulin bothy for a number of years. Do, a professor of ecommunication at Aberdeen University has been a great help with the start of the IScape project on Eigg and the Small isles. She and her husband are delighted although somewhat daunted by the challenge of restoring the largest of the many farmhouses built on Eigg for the tacksmen in the 18th century. The B listed manse was certainly a status statement, showing the minister to be on top of the island hierarchy but its building costs were bemoaned by MacDonald of Loch Boisdale who, as one of the Small Isles largest 'heritors', had as such to contribute most of the funds to built it. It is good to see this fine 18th century house saved from almost the brink of dilapidation!
On the other side of the island, Celia Bull is delighted with her success in acquiring the tenancy of croft 17, one of the crofts created by the Trust. 'I have solved the current dilemma of my life,' she said, 'I can put my roots down in the land and I don't have to give up the sea!' She sees crofting and building a sailing business on the island as being quite complementary.
Some things on the island do remain the same, like the return of Eigg avian summer visitors throughout the month. Common Sandpiper (25th), Cuckoo (21st), Swallow (8th), Whinchat (25th), Wheatear (March 22nd), Sedge Warbler (28th), Blackcap (15th), Chiffchaff (19th) & Willow Warbler (14th).
Passage birds were rather thin on the ground with best records including a passage of 130 Pink Footed Geese on 15th, a lone Canada Goose on 23rd, 3 offshore Velvet Scoter on 29th, a good passage of Whimbrel from 25th & a Ring Ouzel on 15th. As usual a few wintering species lingered throughout the month with up to 10 Great Northern divers present until the month's end while a Glaucous Gull was seen on the 3rd.
On the mammal side, a few Harbour Porpoises have been spotted offshore & the first Pipistrelle bats appeared from March 26th . A notable sighting was the family of five Otters was also seen near the Singing Sands on the 20th.
Butterfly recording was typically slow to get started, notes John, with five species (mostly Peacocks & Green Veined Whites) by the end of April. In contrast early flying moths have been pretty active & trapping exercises has produced a further four new species for the island's list!
Camille Dressler

Spring/Summer has finally arrived and we are preparing once again for the Road to the Isles Agricultural Show which is being held on Saturday 7th. June at Camusdarach, Arisaig, by kind permission of the Stuart family.
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. Entries were down a bit last year but we are hoping for a good turnout this year. Please telephone Audrey MacDonald on 01687 450267 if you wish to enter any of these classes and have not yet received a schedule. Entries are open to all on the Ardnamurchan and Morvern peninsulas, all communities along the A830, and also Knoydart, the Small Isles and the Isles of Skye and Mull.
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 some of our local young pipers, then we are pleased to welcome Renegade Riders from Perthshire who are a stunt riding display team and promise a lively show for us! There will also be a display of Birds of Prey who may even fly depending on the weather! Sheep dog handling and Chain Saw carving are also on the programme, and let's not forget the ever popular Dog Show, so smarten up your pooch and you could win a prize! There are prizes for both local and visiting dogs! During the afternoon there will be a display of wood-turning, and there will also be stands for agricultural implements and garden plants.
The catering tent, bar and barbecue will be open for all with lots of good things to eat. The baking stall this year is supporting the school in India for which Colleen Maclean from Arisaig is raising funds, so we will welcome ALL donations of baking for the day. It is a British charity called Friends of the Children of Orissa and they support a school for 350 orphaned and abandoned girls near Bhubaneswar, the State capital.
All in all, 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!

Major Refurbishment of MV Western Isles Secures the Ferry Service's Position as West Coast's Premier Tourist Attraction
The MV Western Isles, a passenger ferry that has been running from Mallaig to Knoydart since 1950, has been fully refurbished to the highest standards by it new owners - and is set to begin the next stage of her life.
Following the purchase of the MV Western Isles in September 2013, the vessel's new owners - Mr Joe Blower and his family - have spent the winter refurbishing her. No expense has been spared and the Blowers believe that the boat's extensive refurbishment will position the MV Western Isles as the West Coast's premier tourist attraction.
The MV Western Isles is 64 feet long (18m), with capacity to carry 81 passengers on voyages from Mallaig Pier. The vessel was previously owned by two generations of the Watt family - Bruce Watt Sr, followed by Bruce Watt Jr who took over the business in 1974.
photo photo
Before.... and after!

Returning to the same slip in Mallaig where she was originally fitted out 50 years ago, the MV Western Isles holds a special place in the heart of everyone who has come into contact with her. For example, Alasdair the joiner who has carried out much of the oak-finished refit has a particular connection with the MV Western Isles: As a baby, he was in need of urgent medical attention and he was rescued by this special boat in bad weather. All's well that ends well - and thanks to the boat, his family got baby Alasdair to the doctor. As such, he has never forgotten his connection with the vessel and has now put his heart and soul into the truly stunning refurbishment which includes a bespoke oak stair case and fully licensed bar.
New owner Joe Blower says: 'Our business is all about creating memories that will last forever. MV Western Isles is a very special and unique boat and she means so much to so many people. My family and I have a responsibility to ensure the service continues in the spirit that has made her so successful by Bruce Watt and his father before him'. And, in these days of 'profit before service' it's good to know you can still get a free cup of tea on the afternoon sail from Tarbet!'
Western Isles Cruises has also teamed up with the Ben Nevis Distillery to provide a unique on-board whisky tasting experience. 'The best way to taste whisky is out at sea in the salt air with the mountains all around, the bagpipes playing and the best local produce Scotland has to offer,' concludes Joe Blower.


Planning Approval for the Mallaig Shoreside Esplanade was granted by Highland Council on the 17th of April. No objections to the development were received by The Highland Council. The Esplanade will connect up the new Marina Building with the Marina Shorebase and provide safe access for mariners, locals and visitors.
Incorporated into the development will be a seating area with interpretive boards detailing Mallaig's fishing heritage, rationalisation of car parking bays and a widening of the main road round by the slipway corner. Access to 'Smiths beach' will be maintained for kayakers and pedestrians and two disabled parking bays will be relocated to the head of Lovat Pier (adjacent to the Fish Market Restaurant). It is also our intention to have some seating and planting in this area and also cliff face lighting round by the Marina.
The Authority has been granted some European Funding for the project and it will be our aim to have work completed by the end of this year!

MV Coruisk

Despite some operational difficulties being encountered on the Mallaig - Armadale service when, for several days the lunchtime crossing to and from Armadale was cancelled due to extreme low tides, the Hallaig did well on the Skye Ferry Route. It was pressed into action due to the Coruisk undergoing repairs on the Clyde. Although the Coruisk did not make it up on time for the Good Friday holiday it did take up the Mallaig/Armadale service on Easter Sunday!

The Authority is currently in negotiation with the British Heart Foundation concerning the placement of a public access heart defibrillator in the Harbour Area. Expect details soon!
Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154

There were only two call outs for the Henry Alston Hewat, Mallaig's Severn Class Lifeboat, during the month of April.
Sunday 13th April: Lifeboat launched at the request of the Stornoway Coastguard at 09.50 hrs to go to the aid of two construction workers who had sustained eye injuries from metal swarf the previous day. Attempts to flush out the swarf with eye wash proved unsuccessful so it was agreed with hospital and doctors that the two workers be taken to the mainland for proper medical treatment before any irreversible damage was done.
The lifeboat docked at Muck at 10.40 hrs and the casualties and companions were quickly boarded with the assistance of local coastguard and the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig, docking at 11.30 hrs. Casualties handed over to the care of the local Ambulance crew. Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 11.40 hrs.
Monday 21st April: It was a clear, calm and starry evening when the Mallaig Lifeboat was launched at 22.20 hrs to go to the assistance of the deep water trawler Adventurer INS8. Not long after departing Mallaig Harbour and heading for the fishing grounds, Adventurer experienced engine problems. Needing to return to the port, Adventurer requested - via the Coastguard - Lifeboat assistance to escort her back to Mallaig.
On scene at 22.30 hrs the Lifeboat quickly secured a tow rope, and the journey back to the safety of Mallaig Harbour commenced. Lifeboat towed the Inverness registered trawler into the Outer Harbour, safely berthing the Adventurer alongside at 00.15 hrs.
Lifeboat ready for service at 00.30 hrs.


Who won the ScotRail Keep Cup?
Marion Carr from Mallaig, that's who! Congratulations Marion. Enjoy your six free hot drinks when travelling with ScotRail from the hospitality steward, plus a discount on all future hot drinks for as long as the mug lasts!! The competition, set in last month's column, proved to be very popular, with multiple entries from some families. The other two winners were Robert Greenhorn from Bletchley and Evelyn Dunsdale from Arbroath.

Keep Cup winner Marion Carr with Sonia

Mallaig Railway Station Artwork
At Mallaig Railway Station, as you enter the Waiting Room/Booking Office from the Platform, there is a display board on which there used to be a written and pictorial introduction to Mallaig. Over the years it has become bleached white and un-readable due to UV light, plus the fact that I have hung two of the hanging baskets directly above it and watered them copiously over the board! However, inspiration has now struck, and with permission from ScotRail we have now been visited by Leo du Feu, currently accepting commissions for Scottish Landscapes as seen when travelling on ScotRail trains. He stayed in Mallaig for a couple of days sketching and is now currently working up sketches for approval, one of which will eventually grace the board as a work of art.
Leo was born in Edinburgh in 1984. He graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 2006, and now paints full time, exhibiting regularly in galleries throughout Scotland and Britain. Leo has a keen interest in environment and takes every opportunity to explore and paint the landscapes of Scotland. The natural world, and birdlife in particular, is a major interest and source of inspiration to him.
Leo has won various awards, including The Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, The Alexander Graham Munro Travel Award and a Royal Overseas League Arts Commonwealth Travel Scholarship in 2010 which led to a journey by train across Canada, and a book resulting from it of his sketches has been included in competitively selected RSA, RGI, SSA and RSW annual exhibitions. His largest commission to date comprises four towering 4 metre paintings on permanent display at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. And in the future - he'll be exhibiting in Mallaig Railway Station!!! (You can read his blog of his commission on www.leodufeu.co.uk

Leo has donated copies of his book for a competition this month. So the question is: What year was Leo born? Answers by post please to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD, to arrive no later than Tuesday May 27th. Good luck - you've got to be in it to try to win it!!

Welcome back to The Jacobite steam train
Monday May 12th sees the welcome return of West Coast Railways steam train service between Fort William and Mallaig and return. I covered all details last month, but if anyone requires brochures for this year's service - just stop me and ask! Florence - the well known train manager - came to Mallaig on Friday May 2nd when the steam hauled Great Britain VII Touring Train arrived in Mallaig, and various other crew members are currenlty being spotted on ScotRail services re-familiarising themselves with the route before keeping us safe on the rails. Trips to Carnforth have been taken so they can assess themselves for fitness and rules, and the stock comes to Fort William on Friday May 9th.

Railway Touring Co. The Great Britain leaving Mallaig behind North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group's 62005 K1
on Friday 2nd May 2014.
The first steam hauled train of 2014 to Mallaig - note chimney first!

Royal Scotsman Luxury Touring Train
This superb rake of coaches hauled into Mallaig twice this month already and visit again on Saturday May 31st. top and tailed by West Coast Railways' engines it is a wonderful sight to behold.

The second Royal Scotsman of 2014 arriving into Mallaig on Saturday 3rd May with ex-Ian Riley's CL37518 named 'Fort William'. This is very unusual traction as The Royals Scotsman is usually hauled by WCRC Maroon locos!
Photo Steve Roberts

Steam Dreams Cathedrals Express - Highlands and Islands Explorer Steam Hauled Luxury Touring Train
This nine day touring train visits Mallaig for three hours in the afternoon of Thursday May 15th. Steam hauled by Ian Riley's Stanier Black 5. West Coast Railways are the train operating company.

SRPS Edinburgh to Mallaig visit
On Saturday May 24th we welcome back The Scottish Railway Preservation Society - using The Jacobite train to run from Fort William having travelled from Edinburgh to Fort William, top and tailed by West Coast Railways diesel locomotives.

ScotRail Timetable change
Commencing Monday May 19th, the current 09.03 departure from Glasgow will revert back to 08.21 departure, all stations to Mallaig, arriving into Mallaig at 13.34 pm seven days a week.

Mallaig - Morar - Arisaig - The train now standing...!
Delivery has been made to all these stations of the wooden barrel trains made from aged oak whisky casks, and I have to say I'm rather pleased with them. I am currently awaiting them being made secure by Network Rail. As soon as this happens, I will take pleasure in planting them up.


ScotRail Club 55 Returns - Happy Days!
Currently available form 1st May until 30th June, this ScotRail return ticket offer lets you explore Scotland for £19. What value!
Anyone 55 or over can buy a Club 55 ticket - no need to join and no membership fee. All you need to do is show ID confirming your age when you travel.
You can even travel beyond Scotland - to Carlisle or Berwick-upon-Tweed.
If you are a Senior or Disabled Persons Railcard Holder (over the age of 55) you can get a further £2 discount on Club 55 tickets.
You can book online by going to scotrail.co.uk/club55, call 08457 550033, or buy from a staffed ScotRail station. Information leaflets are available at staffed stations now - or ring the above telephone number, ask for a leaflet by post and it will inlcude 2 vouchers for a free tea or coffee from the on board hospitality steward when travelling Club 55, if you buy a cake! All travelling terms and conditions are explained online or in the leaflet.
See you on the train
Sonia Cameron

CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting

CAP reform
While crofters and farmers wait on the final stages of CAP reform being decided, uncertainty in the future is being reflected in the downward trend of the price paid for finished cattle. It would take a rise in the price of beef in the shops to restore the falling trend to the highs of last summer and autumn . A shortage in the supply would also help prices but the real shortages wont show in the markets until the drop in the Scottish beef herd numbers reaches a stage where it is too late for recovery
While farmers in Ireland are encouraged to produce we in Scotland are predicted to receive less than we were promised in Voluntary coupled support , this boost would have certainly helped crofters and hill farmers. Please support Scottish beef and lamb when you are buying your groceries.
Looking at the priorities for crofters in CAP reform, first and foremost we need:

Forthcoming courses
As I will be too busy all summer to run any more courses I have planned them for September and October. Courses that are definite will be Sheep handling and husbandry and Cattle husbandry including the use of veterinary medicines and practices (tubing, injecting, dosing, calving aids). The safe use of pesticides and the animal transport certificate are the other two courses planned, the former now being obligatory for those who had grandfather rights previously.
I know it is only May but the sooner I have numbers for these the better so please get in touch if you are interested.


Our Councillor, Allan Henderson, caught up with West Word online at Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) in Australia on his recent trip!

Subscriber Gill Ing from Derby tells us: 'West Word travelled with us to Normandy
in the year that marks the 70th Anniversary of the D Day landings.
This was taken on 25th March 2014 on Utah Beach on the Cherbourg Peninsular.
'Looking forward to the same sunny weather later in the year when we plan to come back to Arisaig for our 32nd consecutive year!'

Michael Ian and Anne Marie Currie packed their copy in Mallaig
and took it to the Cathedral Square in Santiago De Compostela, Galicia, Spain in March this year.

Su and Ranald Coyne, Arisaig, read their copy in a huge underground village in Turkey!

Extract from Personal Angle

Courtesy of Ewen Nicholson, I have a copy of correspondence dated 27th October 1949 from the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust which seems to indicate that the initial Mallaig Village Hall, described in the letter as a Reading and Recreation Room, was built in 1909.
The two letters make very interesting reading and Ewen tells me that he obtained them from Lizzie (Crawford), wife of the late Murdo MacDonald.

Letter from The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust dated 27th October, 1949 and sent to John MacLean, Esq, 12 East Bay, Mallaig.

Dear Sir,
I have received your letter of the 25th October regarding the Mallaig Hall.
As this Trust was founded only in 1913, our records of all earlier promises, i.e. those made personally by Mr Carnegie are very incomplete. I have, however, looked through the small collection of letters which were handed over at the time of the foundation of the Trust and find that Mr Carnegie gave £192:10/- towards the building described as a hall and library, the total cost of which was £385. The original request to Mr Carnegie seems to have been in the form of a circular (copy enclosed) sent to him in October 1906. Apparently many changes in plan had taken place before the building was finally completed. Mr Carnegie's donation was paid in October 1909, when the building was finished and it was not accompanied by any conditions.
Yours faithfully,
J Wilkie

A long-felt want in Mallaig is a Hall, suitable for a Reading and Recreation Room, for the use of the inhabitants and the large number of fishermen who come here during the fishing season. As there is no Shelter or Hall of any kind for the poor fishermen to spend their time profitably this want is particularly felt when the fleet is unable to put to sea through stress of weather. A Hall, suitable for the purpose named, is estimated to cost from £800 to £1,000. A Committee has been formed with a view to raising the necessary funds, and they have been successful in raising £200 locally.
Through the kindness of Lord Lovat an excellent site has been secured at a nominal feu duty. Mallaig being a poor fishing village and yet in its infancy, the Committee are compelled to go beyond the limit of the district and request aid from other sources. They beg to appeal for funds to enable them to have the proposed Hall erected as soon as possible.
Subscriptions will be gladly received and acknowledged by
MacBrayne agent John A Scotland, Victoria Place, Mallaig, Hon. Secretary, or J MacTaggart, Caledonian Bank, Mallaig, Treasurer.

This postcard is dated 1938, and shows the Hall in the centre of the photo.

I'm grateful for the following Mallaig Village Hall Memories as provided by Jane MacPherson and Corpach's Margaret MacIntyre. Margaret's maiden name was Stevenson and she is the daughter of Lena and Burnett Stevenson.
'Although I am saddened to see the demolition of the old village hall, I am confident that it is for the best and that the new Marina Building and Crannog will certainly enhance that area of the village. After all, we have to look forward and provide for the next generation and be thankful to Sir Cameron Mackintosh for providing the finance for it all to come about. Indeed I would hope to be able to call in to the Crannog once it's built for a cup of tea.
My memories of the hall are mostly childhood ones. It's where we went to see the 'Pictures' (films) and I recall cine-operator Bert MacGillivray who was helped out from time to time by Archie Lawrie and Ronnie Mackenzie. Many's a courting couple would be kissing and canoodling in the back row while the film was on. Remember folks!!!
Some of my favourite memories revolve around my days as a Girl Guide, meeting weekly in the hall under the watchful eye of Leader Lizzie Orr and Mrs Bertie Boyd. The Brownies were also going strong at that time and of course the boys had the Cubs and the Scouts with Jack McNeill. We used ot have some lovely school concerts when the hall would be packed and I also remember stars like Andy Stewart, Calum Kennedy, Alistair Gilles and many more visiting and performing at the hall. Happy Days!!
Jane MacPherson

When I was young the Village Hall was the venue for concerts, wedding dances, parties, school events, etc.
We went to the 'pictures' every Wednesday and Saturday (to the matinee) and cheered on the cowboys and booed the Indians, then played at whatever had been in the film until the following wek.
Then there was badminton - my mother never missed a night and I often went to the hall with her. Sometimes she even went in the afternoons. It was a very popular club.
As I grew older I went to the dances which never really started until11 o'clock - some nights the music was from records but there were bands too. There was always a rumour that Jimmy Shand was coming….We all learned the dances and I can remember thinking that Carmine and Angie were just the Best Dancers ever. 'Strictly' was not a patch on their dancing!
When the Railway hall was built, it never had the atmosphere of the old hall. I'll be sorry to see it go…it was part of my childhood.
Margaret MacIntyre

I'd love to hear more of your Village Hall Memories folks, so get thinking and writing. Thanks in advance.

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald - April 2014
Summer migrants appeared from the start of the month, just a trickle at first but quickly the place was awash with them.
Sand Martins were the earliest, with two back at the colony at Rhubana, Loch Morar, on the 4th. The first of the House Martins was a single bird seen hawking insects along with several Sand Martins over Loch nan Eala on the 9th. The first Swallow reported was in Arisaig village on the 14th, another the next day at Gorten, Back of Keppoch, and 4 at Glasnacardoch on the 21st.
The first Warblers reported were Chiffchaffs, 2 reports on the 7th, one from Beoraid, Morar, and the other from the Larroch-mhor gardens, Arisaig. A female Blackcap appeared in a garden at Rhubana View, Morar, from the 8th and several males were seen and heard from the 18th around the Woodside - Beoraid area.
Common Whitethroats were heard around Woodside, Morar, from the 24th and the first 'reeling' Grasshopper Warbler was reported from Fank Brae, Mallaig, early on the 27th. A Sedge Warbler was also heard the same day at Loch nan Eala, Arisaig.
Numerous Cuckoo reports: an early bird was seen and heard briefly at Mallaig Vaig on the 14th. On the 17th and 18th birds were heard in the Millburn - Camus an't Allen area (Arisaig) and from the 21st they were seen and heard around the East Bay - Circular Walk area, Mallaig. The first Whinchat reported was a male seen at Achnaskia, Back of Keppoch, on the 30th, when there was an influx of large Wheatears, presumably 'Greenland' birds on their way north. A single Common Sandpiper at Millburn, Rhue, on the 23rd, and another by the road bridge over the Morar river the following day were the first reports.
On the 26th, Whimbrel were heard at Gorten and two were seen feeding on the shoreline near Millburn. Six were seen by the Traigh golf course on the 29th, with nine there the following day. Also on the 30th, at least six .Northern' Golden Plover were seen by the Caimbe, Arisaig.
By the month end several groups of summer plumaged Dunlin and Turnstone were seen along the shoreline by Traigh golf course. Several small flocks of Redshanks were also seen there and around Loch nan Ceall, most likely migrants, as at least two pairs were already on territory by the Caimbe Bridge, Arisaig.
The first two Common Terns were seen by the mouth of Loch nan Ceall on the 29th.
As the summer migrants came in, our winter visitors were clearing out. Thirteen Whooper Swans were seen flying north over Arisaig on the 16th and several skeins of Pink-footed Geese were also seen flying north. Several small groups of Redwings were seen around Morar during the month.
A Moorhen was seen in Loch nan Eala on several occasions from the 17th. An immature Glaucous Gull was seen in Mallaig on the 9th and the Kumlien's Gull was present all month.
Several reports of Twite and Linnets coming to feeders from Mallaig and Morar gardens.
A female Merlin was seen briefly by Traigh golf course on the 16th.
At the end of the month, recently hatched Tawny Owl chicks were seen at the entrance of their nest hole in a dead tree in Arisaig.

Kin Connections by Marlene (Màiri Éilidh) MacDonald Cheng (mcmcheng@shaw.ca)
In the year 2000, a new and exciting book appeared, entitled Bŕgh an ̉rain; A Story in Every Song, subtitled 'The songs and tales of Lauchie MacLellan'. Dr. John Shaw, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Fellow in Celtic & Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and a lecturer in Celtic at King's College, University of Aberdeen, is the editor and translator of the book. Trained in Linguistics and Celtic Studies, Dr. Shaw is well qualified; not only does he have a PhD from Harvard University, but he has also spent a copious amount of time living in Cape Breton, doing fieldwork and studying Gaelic oral traditions and folklore. He has made a huge contribution in recording and preserving the singing and folklore of the Gaelic-speaking people of Cape Breton.
The subject of this book, Lauchie MacLellan (christened John Lachlan), was born in Broad Cove, Inverness County, Cape Breton, in 1910. By family and friends, Lauchie was called 'Lauchie Dan N.' (his father being Donald - called 'Dan N.', his grandfather being Neil or Niall, in Gaelic.). Lauchie's sloinneadh (male lineage) was Lachlann mac Dḥmhnaill 'ic Nill Ruaidh 'ic Ghilleasbuig 'ic Fearchair {Lauchlin son of Donald (Dan), son of Red Neil, son of Archibald, son of Farquhar}. Lauchie Dan N. came from a long line of Gaelic-speaking tradition bearers. The ones who had the biggest impact on Lauchie's life were Lauchie's uncle Neil (his father's brother) and his paternal grandmother, Jessie (Seonaid), wife of Neil. Jessie was a MacLellan too, descended from the Clan of Archibald, son of the Tailor (Chloinn 'Illeasbuig an Tailleir), of whom I wrote in the last two columns. Archibald, son of the Tailor (Angus), and his wife Mary MacFarlane, were Jessie's parents.
This book is pure magic. Not only does it introduce the reader to Lauchie as a person, but it records vignettes of Lauchie's favourite people, painting a vivid and precious picture of the Gaelic culture in which he grew up. In addition, the book presents a collection of Lauchie's favourite songs for posterity.
Lauchie MacLellan had a great gift for story telling and especially for singing. He knew a large number of Gaelic songs, most of which had accompanied his ancestors from Morar to Cape Breton in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Lauchie liked nothing better than getting together with individuals who knew Gaelic songs - songs would be traded and both sides would share information about the meaning and proper method of presentation for each song. He also enjoyed ceilidhs at people's homes, still common in his day. Lauchie was highly regarded for his extensive knowledge, but he was very humble about it. Everyone was fond of him. In spite of his gentle nature, Lauchie was nonetheless a force to be reckoned with when it came to his wide spread knowledge of all things Gaelic.
John Shaw provides a lovely description of Lauchie's personality; 'Lauchie demonstrated an extraordinary ability to put people at their ease in a society already renowned for a natural openness towards strangers, and showed exceptional kindness toward young children as a matter of course.' (page 7) He goes on to say, 'Perhaps the most interesting views on Lauchie's appearance and character are supplied by his Gaelic-speaking contemporaries and lifelong friends, who portray him as a small, trim, fit, and energetic man whose size was deceiving, for he possessed such physical strength that there were very few who could stand up to him.' (page 7)
In Lauchie's day, most households hosted extended family members, as well as the immediate family. Often there would be relations living close by, and there would be daily visiting back and forth. Lauchie lived close to his paternal grandparents, Jessie (Seonaid) and Neil (Niall Ruadh) and thus they were able to pass down the ways of their ancestors to young Lauchie. How fortunate he was to receive such a gift! Jessie was a storehouse of tradition - stories about the family, relations and others; ways of doing things; history of their clan; and plenty of songs. Her own MacLellan family, especially Archie mac an Tailleir (her father), was renowned for passing down their traditions, and of course Lauchie was an eager recipient. She knew that her ancestors had come from Buorblach, Morar, and she was diligent in passing on the many traditions and stories from the Old Country. One can imagine young Lauchie sitting at Jessie's knee, spellbound, as she filled his head with stories about their ancestors and the country they had left behind, and why. Lauchie's father's family was not so interested in holding onto the old stories, although there were some.
Lauchie was very close to his Uncle Neil, his father's brother, who lived with Lauchie's family. Neil lost his sight when he was about nineteen years old and, as Lauchie put it, 'he gained other talents because of this.' Neil knew his way around the farm and was very helpful with the chores. He was a very good worker, and especially enjoyed looking after the horses and cattle. The animals seemed to know that Neil had no sight, and he had a special way of relating to them. Lauchie enjoyed helping Neil with the chores. One day the bull got out. Lauchie and his mother were terrified and didn't know what to do. Neil couldn't see, but his hearing was excellent. He walked to the barn and found a box which he filled with oats. As he was walking toward the bull he kept talking to it, calling it to come back. The bull looked at him for a bit, then suddenly gave a huge bellow and charged at Neil. Neil held his ground and when the bull got within 20 feet of him, it put on the brakes and skidded to a stop in front of Neil. The bull put his head in the box and started eating the oats. Still talking to it, Neil put his arm around the beast's neck and walked him back to the barn.
Neil might not have his sight, but people from miles around had a great deal of respect for him nonetheless. He was especially good at remembering things and he knew a great deal about the genealogy of the local families from listening to people talking. Neil always knew who was related to whom, and how they interconnected with other families, a very useful tool in a Gaelic speaking community. Neil's great memory was also useful for learning songs which he passed along to Lauchie.
Bŕgh an ̉rain; A Story in Every Song provides insight into the way our ancestors lived, both in the Old Country and in their new land. It is rich in history and oral tradition, and portrays how our ancestors lived. There is so much more than what I am able to cover in a short article. The book is a joy to read and you can find it for sale on Amazon. If you can afford to buy the book, please do so. You won't be disappointed! I am so grateful to Dr. John Shaw for this wonderful book! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
You will see a picture of Lauchie and hear him singing by opening the links below.
If you would like a chart illustrating the genealogy of the MacLellans of Broad Cove, Cape Breton, and their relations in Antigonish County, do e-mail me and I will send it to you.

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