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

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November 2011 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Eigg, Rum, Arisaig, Morar
Railway and harbour news
Birdwatch and Local Genealogy

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

Happy birthday to West Word - 17 years old this issue!

Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, is to chair a public meeting to give a progress report on work to improve the now notorious A830 which has been the scene of numerous road accidents, including one which claimed the lives of two local youngsters.
At 5.30pm on Friday November 18th Mr Thompson will be joined at Astley Hall in Arisaig by road experts from Transport Scotland, Northern Constabulary officers and members of the local community. Relatives of Kirsty Bryden and Roddy MacInnes, who died when the car they were travelling in left the A830 in September last year, have been also invited to attend. Following that accident, Mr Thompson worked with Kirsty's father, retired local policeman John Bryden and other local interests to press for the addition of a crash barrier on the corner where Kirsty (19) and Roddy (17) were killed and a detailed analysis of the road's surface and layout.
'We need to find out what lies behind the shocking number of accidents on this stretch of road,' said Mr Thompson, 'so I hope that next week's meeting will allow us to hear more about extra measures to improve public safety on this route.
'Concerns have been raised about a number of potential road hazards, such as spillages, negative cambers and mud thrown onto the road surface when vehicles stray onto the verge and also about a road surface that is said to reduce road-holding in wet weather.
Mr Thompson added: 'I wish to pay tribute to the tireless efforts of John Bryden to record and document evidence from dozens of incidents and to bring these to the attention of Transport Scotland, the body responsible for ensuring the road is safe and fit for purpose. Transport Scotland planned to carry out friction tests on the section of the A830 between Glenfinnan and Lochailort, to discover if a slippery surface could be responsible for the high number of accidents. The investigation lasted a day and traffic was not affected. Many local motorists have experienced skidding and sliding on this section, even at slow speeds, causing an alarming number of accidents.
John Bryden has repeatedly called for an enquiry into the condition of the road and has counted around 160 accidents over the last two years. Last December, over 100 people turned out for a 'Save Our Souls' protest march alongside Loch Eilt, arranged to highlight local concern about 'the most dangerous stretch of road in Scotland'. MSP Dave Thomson backed the call for a crash barrier which was erected at the site of Kirsty and Roddy's accident earlier this year.
A year ago, Transport Scotland stated that 'none of the investigatory work identified the need for remedial action to be taken in respect to the road's layout', and said that it would be reasonable to wait for the outcome of the Fatal Accident Inquiry, even though that might take 18 months to two years. However, John Bryden paid the chairman of the European Union's road safety committee, Ian Walsh, to fly to the Highlands to carry out an assessment of the section, which he subsequently described as one of the most dangerous in Europe. John claims that the narrow width of this section is forcing passing lorries onto the verge, leaving mud on the road and ruts which can cause cars to skid. He has also blamed diesel spillage caused as lorries brake on corners.

Hello all,
Another month flies in and a month that is to be remembered for all the right and the wrong reasons. Isla, almost as she was stepping on the plane, told us all of her and Victor's happy news - a bairn due in April. The Knoydart Baby Boom is a bona fide event; this following on from Jim & Claire, Mel & Jim, Chic & Joanne and Izzy & Steve! Water tests of a different sort than usual may be required. But just as we got used to this prospective new addition to the community we heard the sad news of the death of Donald MacLugash. Donald had not been well for a while now and he passed away in the Belford on Tuesday 18th October. Donald was well-kent and well-liked and will be missed. Our sympathies go out to Marie. Rhona had it right on the occasion of his retirement:

This verse it is finished, but not quite done
Donald, we've shared in a lot of good fun
And so have the folks who have all come this way
To mark this occasion: your retirement day.
So raise all your glasses and drink to Big D
No-one kinder or nicer in all Inverie
To Donald.

I know for a fact that Isla and Rhona raised a glass to Donald while on their travels (although of course in Isla's case it was non-alcoholic) as they have regaled us with stories since their return. If anyone can bring cheer to a bad situation it is these two. Even the fact that Isla was sick in all eight of the US states they visited as well as on the Queen Mary 2 and in London and Edinburgh, has not dampened the verve of the tales. Talking of the US; Matt, Sam and the kids have had a cold blast to welcome them to Connecticut where they have no power or water because of a big freeze. Could almost be Knoydart. We're not freezing here yet, although there is much gloom about predictions that have us frosting over in two weeks' time. In fact the warm wind has brought a second outbreak of houseflies infestations which are starting to send not a few plain daft in the desire to kill. They'll be gone with the frost.
Social event of the month was Sheila's surprise 70th held at Bob and Morag's. Bernie pulled out all the stops and the big crowd was rewarded with Sheila's limbo dancing, Bernie's crane and the revelation of a secret spy career. A party for Heather's birthday and of course a Halloween party at the pub, Freaks and Creeps, made up the rest of the social whirl. As ever the outfits on show for Halloween, including the kids out guising, were beyond inventive. The pumpkin, impressive as it was in the carving, was even more so in the growing by Bernie round at Ridarroch. All in all still loads going on even though the visitors are thin on the ground. And I haven't even mentioned the end of stag season do for the Stalkers and Ghillies. The Rugby World Cup was a big event round these parts, especially for the French and Welsh in our midst. Surely there has never been so many Dragons and Tricolours attached to flagpoles or hanging onto landrovers round these parts.
But all that has calmed down now and everybody is onto winter hours. Britta, after fully enjoying her stint at the T-Room, has slipped off to see family in Germany. Nana is off back to Australia. Sam is continuing with her marathon film project - Stay the Same. The Pub is back onto the Sunday Roast regime. Smoked venison is available at the Foundation. The Knitting and Sewing club has been resurrected in some part as a reaction to the previously mentioned baby boom (although Rhona senior is in no need of a club her hands a blur as she produces garment after garment). And one of the polytunnels has succumbed to the wind. November is going to bring Bonfire Night, music at the pub, a swishing night (look it up), former resident Liz Logan's book launch and a training course on the use of the defibrillator held in the display room in the village. The training has been organised by Tommy who recently found out, and brought back the evidence from a sun-kissed break, that Fig leaves and skin do not mix - one tending to rub the other up the wrong way.
Anyway that's enough for now.
Davie Newton

Since 1st August Loch Nevis or Loch Brusda have missed Muck on 22 occasions during two incredibly wet months which though often windy had few gales. This has been difficult for KDL building the hall and those involved with visitors to the island. One B&B has lost business worth well over £1000 - most unfortunate!
Our fish farm has still not reached the Planning Committee but this is reported to be imminent. Meanwhile we are increasingly concerned by the sound of opposition to fish farms coming from across the water and the effect it may have on our project. Muck needs the farm to broaden our economic base, in simpler terms to provide jobs on the island. At the start I called it a 'once in a lifetime opportunity' and I still agree with that statement. There is no evidence that fish farms have any adverse affect above the water and below the effect is only local Marine Harvest have been great - more than willing to share the benefits with the island and offset any adverse effects it may have on tourism.
Eigg being bigger has more opportunities for employment. It could for example expand into serious agriculture. It could export 2000 lambs and nearly 200 calves every year worth at current prices £200 000 and help to feed an increasingly hungry world.
So it has less need of a fish farm which if near the coast should be the islander's choice. We have made our choice!
On the social side we have had Cuilin Sound, a woodwind trio of flute, clarinet and bassoon who refused to cancel despite my warnings about getting on and off the island. They just got here on Orion and we had a very enjoyable concert in the Craft Shop - the first group ever to come in winter.
Next month. Could our hall be finished……. it could be! Find out in December West Word.
Lawrence MacEwen

Canna Fèis
Another first for Canna! The Fèis on 1st October was a really good day and we want to say a huge thank-you to all the amazing music makers and visitors who joined in and made this a great day...and evening!

Photo courtesy of Stewart Connor

photo photo
Photos courtesy of Winnie Mackinnon

We also have to thank the Rum crew of Georgie, Mike and Jamie - endless help and enthusiasm.
The beer on a bike idea may just have been a step too far... and it was cheating to have Murdo use the landrover! Jamie's cultural music at the end of the night was certainly different - maybe we are just getting old but how do you strip the willow to punk brazil gypsy drum and bass???? And finally a huge Thank you to Willy Tucker for taking the terrible trio back to Rum on Sunday - on his yacht no less.... what a star!
We were also privileged to have a bit more impromptu music in the Gille Brighde Cafe and Restaurant after the weekend - the ferry was cancelled, we were all marooned, including Fiona MacKenzie, Alex and Issy Hodgson so we got busy doing waulkin songs and basic Gaelic classes over dinner and real ales til they could get home.
Watch out for next year!

Other News from Canna:
Gerry and Murdo finally managed to get sheep off the island after several cancelled ferries and too close to call lorries. Gerry was ably assisted by Caroline Donna to the mart this time.... Caroline knows the importance of presentation at these things - she had her hair straighteners packed! (Apparently they weren't for the sheep...)
The weather has caused a fair few disruptions to the ferry so far and the dry docking of the Nevis hasn't helped - we have had a real mix of sea-faring vessels to get our visitors and ourselves on and off - from the super fast Seafari Catamaran and the well at least we got there Loch Bhrùsta.
The new winter timetable is in place now with a Sunday Stopover on Canna - so if leaving from Mallaig you arrive in Canna at 11.10am then depart at 1.30pm... just enough time for our new winter early lunches in the Gille Brighde or a quick tour of Canna House - maybe even both!
And finally we are all gearing up for the long-awaited housewarming of Duncan and Alison - am sure they won't mind me sharing this as they have proven to be quite sociable people really!!
Tìoraidh ma-tha!
Amanda Lastdrager

Back again as guest columnist as Eilidh and Jamie are off down south for a couple of weeks. They got engaged this month which was very cheery news in a such dreary, wet, windy month, making it the worst and wettest autumn for a good many years. Wedding bells in May or June 2012!
The wet weather has had its casualties, with Morag Mackinnon slipping outside her door and ending up in a helicopter ride to Inverness where an op had to be performed on her double ankle break: ouch! She came back with a bright purple cast and we wish her a speedy recovery as she is now on enforced rest until Christmas.
However, the rain stayed off for the party of ghouls, ghosties, bats and bad fairies that raided homes on Eigg for sweets on Hallowe'en, ending up at the pier, where young Clyde Wallace got the first prize for his cute Green Goblin. The best dressed adults were definitely the volunteers staying up at the Earth Connections Centre, whose fresh greenery attire brought enough of a touch of middle earth to Eigg to offset the Cormack brothers and other assorted zombies… all duly photographed by the National Geographic team currently roaming the Inner Hebrides. As to Frances (now back from Knoydart with Steven) she made a very fetching "freedom" waitress! Thanks also go to Clare Miller for her yummy bat cakes. Mention must be made of the enormous pumpkin grown by the children, one of five monsters they grew in their school garden! Music by Gabe, Damien, Joe and Donna rounded the night very pleasantly, and the next day some of us, took ourselves off to the new Cleadale "Bijou" Social club for a game of darts and spin pool, Mick's very own invention, which will add some fun to our dark winter nights.
As days shorten, there are plenty projects to keep us occupied, with the latest being our involvement in the Zero Waste Zone Scotland's community engagement programme which will focus on how to deal with plastic this time round, There is also plans for a rethink of our pier building and area to accommodate growth and Greg Carr's timely return to Eigg from several years in Vietnam means that we can have our in- house architectural consultant! Welcome back, Greg!
Meanwhile we are hoping that Ruairidh Kirk and Yasmin Findlay who flew to Thailand just as the floods started will manage to avoid the worst of the disasters over there. Guess we have to be thankful that the constant rain in the past months has not caused the damages which have occurred in so many parts of the world!
What we have to worry about is the very real impact of man-made damage with the proposed fish farm in Eigg waters. So if you too are concerned with fish farm chemicals polluting our shellfish beaches at Kildonnan and Sandaveg and affecting our already struggling sea-birds, and if you care about the decline of wild salmon stocks (already down by 40% according to "Scotland's Fishy Secrets' programme this month"), please help us reach our target of 3000 signatures by adding your name to our online petition (only 37% more needed!) http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/stopeiggfishfarm
Camille Dressler

Recent articles in the national press carried accusations of a mass cull of Rum's wild goats, ordered by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), with the carcasses then thrown in to the sea, causing outrage among animal welfare campaigners.
SNH reply that it is maintaining a healthy and viable population of feral goats on the island of Rum, even though some are being culled to protect the island's fragile habitats.
The goats are thought to have been on Rum for at least 200 years and, along with eagles, red deer and Manx shearwater, have become an established wildlife feature of the island's national nature reserve.
Over the past ten years there has been a marked increase in the size of the feral goat herd, for reasons that are not entirely clear. This has been shown to have a negative impact on protected fragile heaths and grasslands.
Richard Kilpatrick, SNH reserve manager on Rum, said that while they will need to reduce the size of the goat herd, a healthy population will be maintained.
He said: 'We had a herd of almost 250 feral goats on Rum for many years, but over the past decade this has increased notably to more than 350. We're not sure why goat numbers have risen but what has become clear is the increasingly negative impact they are having on some of our more fragile habitats on the island. We are confident that a herd size of around 270 will be compatible with other interests on the island and will therefore reduce the herd to around that size.'
Mr. Kilpatrick dismissed, as 'absolute rubbish', some claims made about how goat carcasses were being disposed of on the island.
'Where possible we have been recovering the carcasses and selling them to a local game dealer', he said. 'Where it is simply too dangerous to recover carcasses, we are leaving them where they are to become fodder for the island's eagles. This is completely acceptable practice on both welfare and health and safety grounds.'

The north side of Canna, the Sea Eagle cliffs

These stunning photos of Canna were taken by Peter Waller of Somerset, who has been visiting Canna and Sanday every year for twenty years.
Peter flies round the islands in his microlite and says he has many more photos if islanders or anyone else would like them for research etc. He also has some hd footage filmed from the air and you can see some of this on youtube - click here
Many thanks Peter!

The Church and cross.

Morar Community Trust - news
As announced last month; few changes took place within the board of directors of the Morar Community Trust at the last AGM. I, Tiina Heinonen (formerly McVarish), am honoured to get the opportunity to be the chair for the Trust and I'm looking forward to the challenges and the exciting opportunities this position may offer.
First of all I want to thank Gemma van der Zanden for all her hard work as the chair over the last few years and I'm glad she has agreed to be the vice chair.
I would also like to thank all our members for the support we, the Trust, have received. Your support does not only make the fund raising event successful but, moreover, it is keeping our community spirit on high notes. I truly hope we will see this support to continue.
The Trust is continuing to find a solution for the demolition of the old Morar Hall. Unfortunately one of the stumbling blocks is money. Therefore, in order to raise some funding for this project we have decided to host a 'slave auction' at the beginning of December. Slaves with special 'talents', such as gardening, car-washing, window cleaning, DIY amongst others, will be auctioned to the wider community. This is a great opportunity to give something different as a Christmas present to someone special or as a treat to yourself. Mince pies and mulled wine will also be provided.
The final date and the venue are still to be confirmed, so please keep an eye out for next West Word and posters.
By the time the West Word is out hopefully we can all look back at Saturday (5th November) bonfire night and talk about what a great night we all had.
As I write this, I truly hope the weather will clear for us all for this night and our community will venture out to enjoy each other's company, the fireworks and have a great feast of nibbles and home-baking.
Congratulations to Christine Haynes, the very first winner of our 'Morar Community 200 Club'. The November draw will take place at the bonfire night on Saturday 5th of November with December draw taking place during the 'slave auction' (date to be confirmed). Good luck to everyone who already has joined the Club. For those who wish to join, please get in touch with Audrey (or any of the directors).
For any questions, ideas, suggestions or even complains, please don't hesitate to get in touch with any of the directors of the Trust or send us a message via our website www.morar.org.uk
Morar Community Trust (formerly Morar Futures)
Gemma van der Zanden, tel. 462876; Anna Cornelius 462702; Audrey MacEachen 462592; Eleanor Read 460007; Keith Elwell 460216; Tiina Heinonen 462230

Arisaig Community Trust - Take 3 - ACTion!
Time to put out the flags! At last the lease negotiations for the Arisaig playing field have been concluded and the field is now the responsibility of the Arisaig Community Trust. It's been an interesting, if at times frustrating experience, and although I'm not quite ready to take my law exams (apologies, Iain!), I feel I've learnt quite a bit about legal processes along the way. There are many people to whom thanks are due, not least among them Iain Macniven, and the Macmillan Family Trust.
We have been granted a 50 year lease, and, in addition to its regular use as a football field and general playing field, we will be able to use the area for school sports, and for events such as gala days and the like.
Once we have paid the legal fees, we'll tackle the task of raising funds to upgrade the space. There's an initial obligation to erect a fence along the side of the ground, and then there is a (long) wish list of improvements. These include erecting a storage shed and improving the playing area by addressing the drainage problems and levelling the surface. The space could make a pleasant amenity area for all to enjoy - there are lovely views from the field, so we could include some picnic tables, perhaps.
And what about the toilets?, I hear you say. Well, although we don't actually own them yet, things are progressing. Highland Council has attended to some, if not all, of the repairs it promised to do before handing the toilets over to ACT. We're waiting for the wind to die down (will it ever?) before tackling the lopping of the overhanging trees. We've had very generous offers of support from the business community, including the provision of an ongoing supply of paper consumables, a free deep clean of the premises, and the supply of renovation materials - some at cost, and some donated, from a Fort William company. These offers, together with the early support we received from local business, are a huge help, and we are most grateful to all concerned. The deep clean of the premises will take place on Monday 21 November, followed shortly after by some painting and decorating, and general refurbishment. If anyone is a dab hand with a paintbrush, or has good carpentry skills and can offer a few hours of help, we'd be delighted to hear from you - do phone 450321 or send an email (mail@arisaigcommunitytrust.org.uk). This is a community venture, so it would be great to get real community input, and we can all feel a sense of pride and ownership.
All of the entries in our logo competition will be on display at the Waterstone's Book Fair in the Astley Hall on 10 December, and the prize giving will take place in the afternoon. Prize winners will be announced shortly.
Mention of the Astley Hall brings me neatly on to the Arisaig Christmas Fair which will be held in the Hall on Thursday 24 November (3pm - 7pm).
Come and do a spot of early Christmas shopping - on your doorstep, with no travel and no tiring queues! There'll be plenty of choice (17 stalls), ranging from local Christmas produce to handmade cards and pottery. Arisaig Community Trust will be providing the refreshments, which will include all sorts of seasonal treats. We'd like this to be a really successful fundraiser for the Trust - we've lots of local community projects to fund! So, please do come along and give your support - you'll be very welcome. Of course we'd love to see you, but if you are unable to come, do send us a donation and we'll buy raffle tickets in your name.
Alison Stewart, Local Development Officer

An open meeting in the Astley Hall will help to launch a two stranded project aimed at the 2014 Year of Homecoming in West Lochaber. The idea is being put forward by Arisaig Highland Games organisers, and is aimed at welcoming home émigrés and descendants of those who left our shores in the past. One strand is An Diasporran, the second An Tilleadh.
The project has three main aims:

Chas MacDonald, secretary of the Games Committee, explains:
'An Diasporran (The Diaspora) will be a new archive of information, which will seek to bring as much genealogical data together as possible. We know the Scottish diaspora finds it difficult to obtain good quality information with any ease. And it is the same for finding people who know the information, or where to find it. So we aim to make that significantly better.
'An Tilleadh (The Return) will be a series of events over 2014, run by the group who will be putting An Diasporran together, to encourage the diaspora to 'come home', to see what we know, learn more about the people and places, and to give us information they have about how life was for emigrants. The proposed theme for An Tilleadh 2014 revolves around emigrant ships - however, it is unlikely it will be restricted to this, especially if demand for something else is demonstrated. If you have a significant topic you would like to see covered, or to which you could contribute an event, please get in touch.
'We know that the diaspora would dearly love to visit more often. However, it's quite a trip when there is little certainty of information to be gained, or what is to be seen or experienced. A trip from Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, etc, is an expensive, time consuming and often exhausting venture.
'In our experience, if people make connections, they visit and revisit. An Diasporran aims to make that easier, and to ensure that they can at least get an indication of what there is to find and see, and if there is anybody they can talk to about it all.
'We hope many sources will donate information. However, as is probably obvious, this will be data gathered over a number of years. And although they may not have spent large lump sums, the overall expense can be significant.
'We hope all museums, heritage centres, local archives, groups, and private researchers will be involved. One major research team is already committed, and another is very sympathetic to the cause. Others will follow. However, the simple family tree in every household could also be contributed.'
If you'd like to know more about An Tilleadh 2014, or An Diasporran, please get in touch with Chas Mac Donald at: antilleadh2014@arisaighighlandgames.co.uk
He will be happy to hear your comments, ideas, enthusiasm, etc. And, if you have information to donate to An Diasporran, he says that would be simply fantastic.
If you are interested in the project, please attend the open meeting on Wednesday 23rd November 2011 at 3pm in the Astley Hall
If you wish to be involved, please get in touch with Chas at the email address above. This also applies if you wish to be involved but can't get to the meeting.

(Editor's Note: A diaspora is 'the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland' or 'people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location', or 'people settled far from their ancestral homelands'.
The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of people with common roots, particularly movements of an involuntary nature.)

September saw North-West Lochaber Parish celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the building of Arisaig Church of Scotland.
Originally a Roman Catholic Church, it was handed to the Church of Scotland sometime later when the Catholic congregation outgrew it.
Stories from the Old and New Testaments were illustrated in flower arrangements by more than twenty members of the Parish with appropriate quotes using the King James Bible to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of its translation. The Posters designed by Mallaig High School pupils for the anniversary were on show in the Hall where lunches and teas of home-made food were served throughout the three-day Festival. The posters were made into calendars which are available for sale and notelets and book-marks were printed showing the various flower arrangements.
Three children from Arisaig Primary School performed an impromptu concert after lunch on Saturday to an appreciative audience.
Grateful thanks are due to all those who helped in so many ways to give us such an enjoyable weekend which culminated in a joyous Songs of Praise led by Morag Muirhead. The weekend raised over £700 towards the restoration work at St Columba's Church in Mallaig.
Arrangement: Bread Of Life

News in Brief

Sir Jimmy Savile
The sad news that Sir Jimmy Savile had passed away on Saturday 29th October, two days before his 85th birthday, brought lots of memories flooding back into my mind.
Like how he lead the local children - like a kilted Pied Piper - round the Circular Walk as they raised sponsorship money for the new Mallaig Playing Field in 1976…like how he was encouraged to take a penalty kick at the park - I do remember he was left footed but I can't remember if he managed to beat Stars FC goalkeeper Manson Sutherland…like how he attended a fund raising concert in the Mallaig Hall and presented the raffle prizes…like how he got Traffic Warden Alistair MacDougall to hold up the traffic for him…like how he met with and encouraged the local Cub Pack, and any member of the public who wanted to meet him and greet him…like how he became a family friend of James and Jessie Hepburn and invited their daughter Roberta down to a recording of Top of the Pops - howzabout that then!!!...`like how he became an integral part of the Fishermen's Mission Gala Weekend and for his efforts he was made Hon Admiral of the Fishery Protection Fleet at a ceremony on Mallaig Pier - no flash tracksuit but a naval suit and gold braid…like how on a later visit he took part in a sponsored run around the Circular Walk, arriving back at the Fish Market as fresh as a daisy saying it was all too easy!!!...like how we presented him with a large model of a fishing boat inside a ship's wheel. He autographed the photo for me but his signature, like his life, is now sadly gone.


Born in Leeds, Jimmy seemed to consider Lochaber his second home for, as well as offering support to Mallaig Playing Field and the Mallaig Fishermen's Mission, he also supported the Belford Hospital in Fort William and was Chieftain of the Lochaber Highland Games for nigh on 40 years, and owned a cottage in Glencoe. As Provost Allan Henderson says, Jimmy will be sadly missed and fondly remembered in Lochaber, his spiritual home.

He launch of Fort William author David Cargill's first crime novel, The Statue of Three Lies, was celebrated in Mosspark Nursing Home on Wednesday 26th October. Music was provided by The Strathspey and Reel Society.
Right: David presents a cheque for £100 to Moss Park Nursing Home matron Libby McKee, accompanied by Teresa Mathieson, head of Nevis Day Care, Invernevis House.
The proceeds of the book will be donated to the carers who looked after David's wife Sheila including, dependent on sales, the Mackintosh Centre in Mallaig. The Statue of Three Lies, which was reviewed in last month's West Word, is on sale at numerous outlets including Waterstones, W H Smith and online (Amazon stocks are selling out!) and also as a Kindle ebook.
Photo courtesy of Iain Ferguson, The Write Image

Don't get caught out over the weekend December 9th - 12th when the A82 will be closed entirely so that a 200 - 250 tonne, potentially unstable boulder can be removed in a controlled way from the hillside above the road.
The closure is from 10pm on Friday December 9th until 8am on Monday December 12th on the stretch of road a mile north of the Corran Ferry.
Deemed a potential public safety risk, geotechnical experts have advised that the rock should be removed before the winter when the risk of an unplanned fall could increase. Full details of the closure will be publicised online by Transport Scotland as well as Forestry Commission Scotland , and information signage will be located at all main routes into the area over the weeks leading up to the closure to make sure that as many regular road users as possible are aware of the closure.
Forestry Commission Scotland will also promote the closure widely amongst hauliers, bus companies and road users from elsewhere in the UK.
The date has been agreed following detailed discussions between Forestry Commission Scotland, Transport Scotland, the consulting engineer Coffey Geotechnics and the contractor Geo-rope. Calls have been made for the Corran Ferry to extend its operating hours, currently 8.30am to 9.30pm on a weekend. Travellers will have a detour of 35 miles via the ferry and single track roads, and without the ferry link, a 166 mile diversion via Laggan to the A9, reaching Fort William via Inverness.

Planning permission for the controversial erection of three 20 metre high wind turbines on a croft at Bunacaimbe was refused for the second time at a meeting of the Planning Committee on 1st November, held in the Astley Hall, Arisaig after a site meeting. The vote was six votes against two on the grounds of adverse visual impact.
Planners recommended approval but councillors took on board the concerns of members of the local community who felt the site was too prominent in an area designated an Area of Great Landscape Value.
The original application was rejected earlier this year on noise grounds. The new application was for quieter, though slightly taller, turbines.

On and Off the Rails

2011 Jacobite Steam Train Season Ends
Friday October 28th saw the very last Jacobite of yet another successful season for West Coast Railway Company and tourism in the West Highlands of Scotland.
As reported in my last month's column, The Jacobite performed well, with only a few minor hiccups. Thanks go to all involved in bringing is The Jacobite Steam Train: the operators West Coast Railways; Ian Riley, Bert Hitchin; and John Cameron for supplying the locomotive used during the season; the support crews, engine drivers, engine and carriage cleaners, catering staff, on board train staff and the guard. Without their dedicated skills and support the Jacobite could not run. Thanks also to Network Rail, and the signallers at Banavie, Fort William Junction and Annat for the help and co-operation they give, which enables smooth pathing of the train.
We look forward to welcoming West Coast Railway Company and their Jacobite next year. There is a good chance that, during the mid-season, the two Jacobites will run again in 2012, with the afternoon one running five days a week instead of this year's three.

Florence McLean, Guard, and ‘the Boys’!
Photo Barbara MacDonald

BBC Film Crew in Mallaig
On Monday October 10th, a BBC2 film crew and presenter arrived in Mallaig to start filming for a programme series to be called Grown in Britain. It will be aired on BBC2 in the spring, with the episode featuring Mallaig to be shown in April 2012. The programme will feature the aspects of the Herring industry past and present to date. I do not have any more information as to who appears in the programme except that the producer did say that they had visited the Heritage Centre and were due to interview George Lawrie. If you see George he may be able to give more information.

American Harry Potter fans on Jacobite
On the very same day as the BBC2 filming was taking place for Grown in Britain, an enthusiastic United States air Force group of adults and children, mostly dressed in Harry Potter costumes, took over the First Class Lounge Car of The Jacobite. Based at RAF Mildenhall, and living the Harry Potter Film Trail, it was only when the BBC2 Film Crew were returning to board the train for the return journey to Fort William that the two groups of people met! The BBC2 producer then decided to include the Potter fans (who were only too willing to be included!) into the filming, the thinking behind it being that it would emphasise the importance of the Railways turn-around from transporting Herring to transporting Harry Potter fans! It just goes to show the versatility of our wonderful Railway Line! The families were delighted to be filmed on Mallaig Railway Platform in front of their carriage and enthusiastically met the presenter, were filmed and excitedly boarded the train which had banners, balloons and quizzes on board. The Harry Potter magic lives on!
On departure from Mallaig, the film crew were given permission to travel to Morar on the footplate of Ian Riley's Black 5 locomotive, and interviewed driver Bob Duncan, all of which we hope will be included in the full programme next April.

Photo by Steve Roberts

Superior 'Pullman' Coach used on Jacobite
On Friday October 14th, the usual First Class Lounge Car was taken off The Jacobite and was replaced for one day only by a Pullman Coach in Chocolate and Cream Livery. Named Hadrian's Bar, and owned by David Smith of west Coast Railway Company, it had been delivered up from Carnforth Depot the previous day, having been chartered specially by a Harry Potter themed Russian group. They arrived by helicopter at Fort William to join the train, in costumes, and even had their own magician on board to perform Harry Potter magic tricks for their entertainment!! Oligarchy ruled for two hours in Mallaig!!


Footplate experience
On Thursday October 20th, Ronnie (Seaview) MacLellan relived his ScotRail engine driving days by taking to the footplate again.
He climbed aboard the footplate of Ian Riley's Black 5 at Arisaig and travelled into Mallaig with his long-term colleague and friend, driver Alex Iain MacDonald. It was like old times for Ronnie, he thoroughly enjoyed himself, and hopefully the family have now seen him on their computers as 'Film Director' Mary recorded the experience for him. Thanks go to Alex Iain and the crew for making the opportunity available to him, giving him the chance to relive old times.

Photo Barbara MacDonald
Alex MacDonald, Frank Santrian, Ian Riley and Jonathan Muirhead on the last Jacobite of the season.

End of an era at Annat Signal Box
Owing to an upgrade of signalling between Loch Eil Outward Bound and Banavie Signalling Centre, Annat Signal Box has now closed, with all its operations being undertaken by Banavie Box. The two road barriers situated either side of Annat Box are now operated using CCTV surveillance, as are the signalling aspects either side of the crossings. Colour Light Signals have replaced the old semaphore aspects and new track activators have been fitted and connected to the existing relay room (situated next to the old Signal Box). This change means the loss of four signalling jobs, although it is hoped to retain all four persons within the rail industry.
Network Rail say that the new equipment will now comply to meet the demanding standards regarding reliability and safety regulations. The loss of Annat Signal Box means (as far as I know) that there are now no manned signal boxes which operated both semaphore signals and road barriers left on the Scottish Rail Network. If anybody knows of any still operating in Scotland, maybe they could let me know.

Right: Annat Signal Box with Signalman Lachie MacNeil
Photo by Steve Roberts


Looking for the perfect Christmas Present for the Steam Train enthusiast?
Biscuit makers Stewart's of Perth have produced a Special Edition Tin of their Luxury Scottish Shortbread Selection in a rather nice tin depict The Jacobite steam train crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct, in full colour, on the lid. The picture is raised, embossed and costing under £10 would make a perfect gift. After consuming the contents, the tin would be ideal for storing collectable items, i.e. postcards, photographs, badges, etc. It is available locally only from Mallaig Tourist Office, and so popular has it been that they are currently sold out! I am assured that new stocks are on their way!! Call Johnnie or Evelyne to place your order.

Competition and Review of new DVD and Book on Jacobite

New DVD: Author, cameraman and photographer Bill Williams has produced a brand new 2011 DVD called Steam in the Hills; Sights and sounds of restored steam on the Road to the Isles. In three parts it depicts the journey from Fort William to Mallaig and back, plus a colour photograph slide show. Many of the video shots are from places on the line that are usually quite inaccessible, but Bill has always had a reputation for filming where most photographers do not! The DVD is on sale at Mallaig Tourist Office and Mallaig Bookshop - priced at £9.99 it is excellent value for money and would make an ideal Christmas present, not just for steam enthusiasts but by West Highland Extension Line lovers and users! I have tow copies of the DVD to give away. To be in with a chance to win a copy, answer the following question on a postcard to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD by November 20th please.
Question: During The Jacobite's journey from Fort William to Mallaig, the train crosses a viaduct made famous in a series of Warner Brothers films. What name is given to the principle character in the films?

New Book
Once again Famedram Publishers, owned by rail enthusiast Bill Williams, have just brought out a brand new, all colour book of over 250 pages, entitled Highland Steam - a Scrapbook of Images from the Kyle, Mallaig and Highland Lines.
The book is a photographic record of Steam and Scenery all around the area. Once again, Bill has come up trumps with interesting, remote trackside locations and observations. This excellent book is on sale at Mallaig Tourist Office and Mallaig Bookshop - just in time for Christmas - at £9.99.
For a chance to win a copy of the book just answer the following question and send your answer on a postcard to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD no later than November 20th please.
Question: How much coal does The Jacobite burn on its journey from Fort William to Mallaig and back? Is it a) 4 tons; b) 40 tons; or c) 1 ton?
The lucky winners will be published in December's West Word.
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron

Photos courtesy of Steve Roberts


Kenneth MacKenzie (left) is pictured here presenting a cheque for £4217 to Mission Superintendent Murray Campbell.
The money was raised by Kenneth through sales of second-hand books and DVDs in his ‘shop’ in the Mission.
Also in the photo is Christine MacDougal (second from left) and centre manager Karen Calder.
Photo courtesy of Moe Mathieson

Heavy rain on Saturday 22nd October resulted in flooding in East Bay Mallaig,
and turned the Circular Walk into a waterfall


Cathodic Protection
It's now twelve months since work was completed on the Cathodic protection of the steel piles situated throughout Mallaig Harbour. The main contractor on the £625,000 project was the Aberdeen based engineering company iicorr.
The company, now renamed Stork Technical Services, visited the port recently and along with Harbour Engineers Wallace Stone determined to assess if the CP system was operating to maximum efficiency and protecting the steel piling as it should.
Findings noted the under-performance of the CP system on the Steamer Pier so this will necessitate Stork returning to Mallaig to install further anodes. A further eight anodes will be installed later this month which should give the system a significant boost and bring it up to specification.

CalMac Timetable Changes
CalMac Regional Manager Mr David Taylor announced at the October Board Meeting of the Authority that weekend changes to the winter schedules of both the Small Isles and Skye Ferry Services were in the offing.
At the date of the meeting the proposed changes were awaiting the approval of the Government Minister so I could not include the news in the October column.
The changes being introduced, following requests from local people and businesses, will see two new Saturday sailings, morning and afternoon, between Mallaig and Armadale and an afternoon service on Sundays.
To enable the Lochnevis to carry out a Saturday afternoon sailing to Skye the service to the Small Isles on a Saturday will not now include a visit to Canna. However a dedicated Mallaig to Canna Sunday link will replace this and allow for a two hour stopover at the island. Click here to view timetables.

Colin McGilvray Thom
As I reported in September's West Word, Colin Thom former Secretary to the Mallaig Harbour Authority and the Mallaig & North-West Fishermen's Association died in his Edinburgh home recently aged 83. The following excerpts are from a Eulogy prepared and spoken at his funeral service by his daughter Julia:
'Growing up as a small child in Cyprus I remember him most clearly in sports mode - always on a tennis or squash court, skiing or diving...looking tanned and athletic. He was very handsome and generally popular. It was a source of pride to have such a glamorous father.
'Colin was born 1928 in Benares, India, following his older sister Muriel. His first language was Hindustani. He came back to school in Edinburgh at an early age and was brought up in Morningside by his grandparents - together with his cousins Alasdair and Shirley. He saw his parents again ten years later, after the war.
'He went on to read classics and law at Cambridge, prior to which he was a captain of pretty much everything at Fettes. I also went to Fettes and was somewhat daunted to be greeted by a myriad of photos of him there - captain of rugby, head of house, head of school and on and on; really there was no end to it, boxing, rowing...
'His career spanned the diplomatic service to tour guiding in Edinburgh and in between he lived in various exotic countries, learning many of their languages along the way. His favourite job, I believe, was when he represented the fishermen of the west coast. I have a very clear image of him on the pier at Mallaig, listening to the news of the day's highs and lows, and caring profoundly about the livelihoods of the men he went in to bat for.
'He had a natural ability to engage with anyone - from diplomat to deep sea diver, and he made particularly good friends among some of Mallaig's roughest diamonds.
' His happy period there was cut short by my mother's untimely death. He moved to Edinburgh, where he courted, literally and assiduously...Dinah, via the squash courts at the Grange Club.
'He was extremely lucky to spend the last 20 years with Dinah who has been his cheerful and devoted companion despite his grumbling and hapless ways. It has been a huge solace both to me and Simon to know that he was in such good and caring hands. I know she brought much comfort and joy to his later years, and together they created a warm and cosy home in their beloved Edinburgh. Colin was often given to observe that his very favourite view was of Dinah gardening. I shall leave you to imagine why.
'He was very fond of his family and felt the physical distance between us all greatly. He was always hungry for news of his grand children - Nikolai, Anneka and Annabel and they in turn were closely connected to him. He always had stories to share of his own cousins and of Catherine in Inverness and Caitriona in Fort William, and he was avid for word of Kirsty's well being.
'As a father, I could not have asked for anyone more loving, kind and attentive and I know that my brother Simon feels the same. Many, many people from far and wide will miss his generous spirit.'
Julia Thom Regan, September 2011

An envelope addressed to The Mallaig Fish Market (if there is such a place), Mallaig, Inverness-shire landed on my desk recently. Inside was a note signed by Shona (no other name or address was provided) dated Oct which I reprint below without comment.
Mallaig Fish Market
I found this old paper in my attic and thought you might like to see the fish prices in 1953 - that's to say if there's many old fishermen around.
Our family have great memories of Mallaig - fishing in the harbour and the kids getting the odd "free" fish from the boats.
I think we had about 8/10 years around your area - we spent a few days last year in the area and Mallaig is a "sad place".

The prices referred to by Shona were listed in The Daily Record of Monday 25th May 1953 under the heading "Herring prices":
MALLAIG 8 boats 113 crans; 33 crans 90s to 108s;
balance fishmeal 45s

For West Word's younger readers 1 cran = 4 baskets (approx 100kgs).

Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154


Outside the 'Frauenkirche Church' in Dresden, Germany with their copy are Alex MacDonald (Jacobite Driver) and son Ronnie on a recent family visit to see Ronnie who is working there.

The Mackinnons took their West Word on a visit in October to Times Square, New York. Hazel, who sent us the photo says 'We are annual visitors to Arisaig with our caravans, making a little change but we'll be back.'

Sheena (nee Duncan) took her copy to the sun on holiday in Crete.

Alex Davies and Arisaig's Colleen MacLean managed a snap with their West Word at the Taj Mahal, just before they were drenched by the monsoon...more of their stories to follow...

Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay is a long way from Knoydart but Rhona and Isla Miller made it, taking their copy with them.

Mike Kingswood of Arisaig read his copy by the harbour in Palma, Majorca. Could Mallaig be like this in a few year's time wife Sheila wonders?

Eigg Nature Notes
A really miserable wet & windy October dominated by westerly winds, hardly the ideal conditions for recording bird migration. Nonetheless the month did turn up a selection of late summer visitors plus the odd passage birds.
More notable records include a long staying Brent Goose, 26 passing Barnacle Geese on 10th, a Little Grebe (rare here) from the 12th -19th, lots of Peregrine & Merlin activity, two Bar Tailed Godwits until the 18th, several passing Arctic and Great Skuas, a couple of very late Arctic Terns, occasional Swallows, a White Wagtail on 27th, a Wheatear on 18th, Fieldfares and Redwings arriving on the 26th and a couple of Blackcaps.
A few Otter sightings were reported & Pipistrelle bats were on the wing whenever the weather allowed. More unusual was a Common Hawker Dragonfly still active on the 27th.
John Chester

Birdwatch - October report by Stephen MacDonald
A few more migrants appearing this month with the first Redwings and Fieldfares of the winter noted from the 11th. Slightly later than usual and still in small numbers. A single Goldeneye near Millburn, Loch nan Ceall, on the 4th was the first report, again later than usual. A juvenile Glaucous Gull was seen at West Bay, Mallaig, on the morning of the 19th, and presumably the same bird was seen roosting with other gulls on the fish pier, Mallaig, the following night.
Some birds still lingering included a Wheatear at Traigh on the 2nd. A couple of Arctic terns at the mouth of Loch nan Ceall during the last week of the month, and a very late Swallow seen in Arisaig on the 29th.
Wader passage decreased as the month progressed but still a few Bar-tailed Godwits seen at Traigh and the Morar Estuary. At the latter site, there were still at least 2 Greenshank present at the month end.
A few flocks of Whooper Swans were noted flying south during the month, the largest reported was of 22 birds battling against a strong head wind on the 28th at Silver Sands, near Traigh. A single Whooper was resting in the Morar river, by Rhubana, on the 9th and possibly the same bird was on Loch nan Eala, Arisaig, from the 16th. By the end of the month there were 5 Whoopers on Loch nan Eala.
Small groups of Wigeon were seen on Loch nan Eala and Morroch, a few Little Grebes were scattered round the shores of Loch nan Ceall, and a single Shelduck was seen just west of Camus an't Allen on the 28th. A few Great Northern Divers appeared during the month, mostly reported off Traigh and Arisaig.
Still a few Skuas reported during the month, the latest reports included 2 Pomarine Skuas off Eigg on the 29th and 2 Arctic Skuas between Arisaig and Eigg on the 28th. The last grounded Manx Shearwater recovered in Mallaig was on the night of the 17th.
A female/immature Hen Harrier was seen near Millburn, Rhue, on the 11th. again, numerous reports of Sparrowhawks from throughout the area and several reports of Sea-Eagles, including an adult, seen on the south side of Rhue point on the 1st, and another adult flying across the east end of Loch nan Ceall on the 28th. A juvenile was seen circling over Glasnacardoch on the 26th.

A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
The "Bogainn" MacDonalds of Eigg

In 1791, John MacDonald 4th of Laig, Isle of Eigg and his wife Effie MacDonald of the Glencoe MacDonalds, emigrated to Canada on the ship "Dunkeld". Accompanying him were his brothers Angus, Donald and Ruaraidh (Roderick) as well as a married sister, (possibly Janet) spouse of John Bán MacDougall. No passenger list has been found for the "Dunkeld" so we are not sure who was on board. It may even be possible that John was already in Canada, as he had joined the British Army in 1765 and was known to have been in the American War of Independence. (1775-1783) After the War he was entitled to land grants in Canada and may have taken them up at that time. Anyway, the family was in Nova Scotia in in the early 1790s.
Effie died ca, 1795 and John re-married Annie Flora MacKinnon. They moved across to Cape Breton in 1798 and took up land at Little Judique where all the family eventually settled. An account of this genealogy is contained in page 43 of "Fair is the Place" by John Colin and Mildred MacDonald. This book details the descendants of two families who went away about the same time. They were the "Bogainn" MacDonalds from Eigg (See note 1) and the "Clann Sheumais" MacDonalds descended from James of Baillie in Eilean Shona. Donald Ruadh, eldest son of John "Bogainn" MacDonald married Mary, eldest daughter of James of Baillie and in that instance, a common descent is recorded of both families.
We received an enquiry from a descendant of the Bogainn MacDonalds, Shaun O Connell, passed on via Camille Dressler of the Eigg Heritage Society.
One difficulty in identifying Shaun's ancestors was that there are two different branches of Clanranald MacDonalds, recorded as "Laig MacDonalds". The earlier family is that of the Morar MacDonalds. The later family is of the Balivanich &Milton/ Dalilea MacDonalds of whom came Alasdair mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, whose son Raghnaill Dubh took over Laig ca. 1770.
Shaun's line, is of the Morar MacDonalds, documented in "Fair is the Place" as John, 1V of Laig - "Iain mac Dhomhnaill, 'ic Raghnaill, 'ic Uilleam, 'ic Calum. i.e. John s/o Donald, s/o Ranald, s/o William, s/o Malcolm. By my reckoning the sloinneadh should read, " Iain mac Iain, 'ic Lachlainn, 'ic Iain, 'ic Alasdair, 2nd of Morar. I suggest that there has been a confusion and that Malcolm and William are incorrect here.
The genealogy of the Morar/Laig MacDonalds (See note 2 below) starts with Alexander 11 of Morar who had the island of Eigg and leased the tack of Laig to his son John, 1st of Laig. John's son, Lachlan, 2nd of Laig, was a wealthy man who lent a sum of 17,000 merks to Allan, 9th of Clanranald to help fund the 1715 Rising. Allan was killed at Sheriffmuir after having castle Tioram set on fire as he left to join the Rising. Lachlan, 2nd of Laig, left the property to his son, John, 3rd of Laig who was the island Baillie for Clanranald. John, 3rd was imprisoned in London after the 1745 Rising and on release returned to Eigg. His successor was his son John, 4th of Laig who in turn sold the land back to Clanranald in 1760. In return, he received a thirty year lease which, due to harsh new leases imposed by Clanranald he relinquished in 1765. He then he joined the British Army which is where we began the story. Laig was leased from 1765, to Janet MacDonald, a relative, who was only permitted to hold it for four years. (See "Eigg. The Story of an Island" by Camille Dressler.)
Shaun O Connell's ancestor was Angus, brother of John 4th of Laig.
Angus was married in Scotland and had three daughters there. However, his first wife must have died before he emigrated in 1791 and he married for a second time in Nova Scotia. His second wife was Isabel Campbell and they had a further eight children. Angus' first child, by his first marriage was also called Isabel. She married John Livingston of Fort William and their first child was called Malcolm. (Calum). Angus' ninth child was called William.
The names "Calum" and "William" may have come in from the Campbell or Livingston families as it was not a name that I can find here in this MacDonald family.
Could a confusion in the written sloinneadh of the Bogainns detailing a William and Calum (Page 43 Fair is the Place) arise from these Campbell and Livingstone marriage connections? If anyone has further information on this family, we would be glad to hear from them, particularly Andrew MacDonald, from Canada, a descendant of the "Bogainn" MacDonalds. Andrew came into the Upstairs Downstairs Café in Arisaig in 2001 and introduced us to his ancestors through "Fair is the Place" (see West Word Oct. 2001) If you see this Andrew, contact us. A kinsman is looking for information.

Note 1.
The "Bogainn" MacDonalds were so -called because local people likened them to the "bog-an- lochainn"- the water ouzel or "dipper. When everyone else was sheltering because of bad weather, these MacDonalds would remain out on the Minch, fishing.

Note 2.
The genealogy of the Morar/Laig MacDonalds originates with Allan and Lachlan, sons of the murdered Chief of Clanranald, Dugald 6th who was supplanted as chief in 1520 by his uncle Alexander 7th of Clanranald. In 1538, Dugald's sons - Allan, the eldest and his brother Lachlan, received, amongst other lands, the nine merklands of Eigg.

Snippets from The Oban Times
Allan and Elizabeth have sent West Word these extracts from past Oban Times - more next month!

March 1913
Nearly 4000 emigrants left the Clyde on Saturday. All the Canadian-bound steamers were as full as they can hold at every sailing:they are booked up to the last berth for many weeks ahead. Last year 140,000 persons left this country for the colonies. This year the numbers are expected to reach 160,000. these formidable and disquieting figures raise many questions.

April 1919
A terrible outbreak of this scourge broke out recently in the parish of the Small Isles, the island of Eigg being chiefly affected. Nearly all the people - young and old - were prostrated simultaneously, including the doctor. There were several deaths.

October 1916
On Thursday 21st September, the shooting lodge on the island of Eigg, known as Eigg Lodge, took fire, and was completely destroyed in a few hours. The lodge contained many valuable paintings and objects of art collected by owner Mr Thomson during his travels in the East - the whole collection was totally destroyed.

March 1924:
The steading of the farm of Mains, tenanted by Mr Lachlan MacLaren, situated on the estate of Sir Arthur W. Nicholson of Arisaig, was at a late hour on Tuesday night discovered to be on fire. Considerable difficulty was experienced in saving the farm stock. The steading, however, was gutted, and the whole crops and farm implements were destroyed.

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