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

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September 2000 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Arisaig Regatta
Mallaig & District Swimming Pool Gala Day
Local band Dàimh
Monthly reports from Eigg, Muck, Glenuig, Arisaig, Mallaig
Gaelic choir televised

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This first time two day event was a great success and the organisers promise it will definitely become an annual occurrence! The weather held fair, with a little rain beginning only at 5 o'clock on the second day as everything was finishing up. yacht

Day 1, Thursday 10th. August, was the 'Eigg and Spoon' race. Seven yachts set off from Rhu pier at 11 am to see who would be the first to reach Eigg, put a crew member ashore to collect the qualifying wooden spoon from Eigg's shop, and reach home again. Perhaps the only complaint is that the wind was too favourable! 'Lola' skippered by Simon Helliwell of Eigg was first home in just under three hours, by a lead of 30 seconds corrected time!

The second day was the 'fun day'. The Secretary's caravan was set up at the end of the causeway next to the raffle stall, tombola, and 'Guess the weight of the Lobster', and the pontoon became the centre of operations for the various races. There were plenty of craft to borrow, so anyone who wanted to could have a go. The Mallaig Lifeboat made a welcome and popular visit, the crew allowing members of the public aboard for a look round.

This 'dry run', so to speak, has shown the committee plenty of ways in which next year can be even better, and suggestions are welcomed.

The trophies were presented by Mr. John Westwood, assisted by Regatta Treasurer Alison Gaukroger, outside the Arisaig Hotel, each place holder receiving an Arisaig Regatta pennant, which were sponsored by Arisaig House.

Yachts Luinga, Lola, Tumult, Mishnish, Aurelia and Galathea racing for the start line


The Mallaig & District Swimming Pool Gala Day was a great day out for everyone, incorporating as it did many of the activities usually held at the Fishermen's Mission Weekend. One of the popular competitions is the raft race. Five teams took part in Mallaig Harbour and the winners were the Mallaig Lifeboat Team. A special thanks to Mallaig Coastguard for organising the raft race so safely.

The Hook-a-Duck proved very popular!


Local band Dàimh have launched their first CD to an enthusiastic audience of some 200 at a concert in Glenuig Hall on 5th. August. Supporters had travelled from far and wide, including 26 from the Small Isles, to hear the lively mix of foot-tapping tunes with a sprinkling of Gaelic songs.

Dàimh is the Gaelic word for 'kinship' and represents the fact that the band members come from the corners of Gaeldom. Gabe McVarish (fiddle) has returned to his ancestral home of Morar from Prince Edward Island via San Francisco; Colm O'Ruaidh (banjo and mandola) is from Ireland; James Bremner (bodhran) from Morar; Ross Martin (guitar) from Arisaig; and Angus MacKenzie (Highland and Border pipes) from Mabou in Cape Breton.

The CD is called 'From Moidart to Mabou' (and now you know why!) and was produced by Iain 'The Whaler' MacDonald, who features on some of the tracks, playing Highland pipes, flute, whistle and Jaw's Harp. Also guesting are Ingrid Henderson (piano), John Pursor (cello) and singer Anne Martin from Skye.

The CDs are on sale at various outlets in Mallaig and at the Centre in Arisaig.


Friday July 28th, Neil and Sue's wedding day dawned bright and warm despite dire threats by the weather forecasters, this encouraged Marie to marry them in Kildonan garden, where there was plenty of room for the many members of both families who had travelled from the mainland. In the tearoom a magnificent buffet had been laid out by the staff and several willing helpers, but before Neil and Sue could get inside they were bombarded by several pounds of rice!

D.J as Neil's Best Man had a feeling of Deja Vu, having been presented with the same situation twice in a week, but he coped manfully. Later, in the Hall, the Ceilidh music, played by Ross Martin, Colm O'Rua, Gabe McVarish, Andrew Stevenson, piper and Angus McPhail, Gold Medal accordion player from Tiree, was hugely enjoyed and during the evening, one of Sue's little visitors entertained us with an Irish dance and Donna followed later, with a Highland Fling.

We recently welcomed four new residents to the island. Our new Project Officer, Andrew Binnie and his wife Sheryl, have moved into Crows Nest and both socially and professionally are busy settling in. Pasqual and Kathleen Carr (no relation to Colin!) moved into Shore Cottage and found six dead rats in various states of decomposition, in a rather old water tank so are hurriedly replacing their supply!! Kathleen has joined the (part time) tearoom staff.

John Chester is now resident in a totally enhanced Millers Cottage which of course, has been thoroughly "warmed" in the usual way! Work has started on Hill Cottage, the second stage of the scheme.

Two unusual birds have appeared here recently, both in the same garden and within a couple of days of each other. The first looked very like a Brambling in winter plumage except that there was too much white and yellow on it's back. It was later identified by our bird warden as an aberrant Chaffinch. The second was unmistakably a Black Headed Bunting and it should not have been here at all, it belongs in Italy and Greece. John was very excited, it is the first time a bird of this breed has been recorded on Eigg.

Congratulations to Simon and the crew of "Lola" for winning the "Eigg and Spoon" Race, the big event in the Arisaig Regatta. Because of handicapping they won by only 30 seconds but the yacht actually arrived at the finishing line hours before the other contestants. Hopefully the regatta will be an annual event in the local calendar.

Eigg did not do too well at the Small Isles Sports Tug-of-War, which was easily won by the Rum team. The Sports took place on 12th August on Rum, but the Eigg residents who attended, had a good time at the Ceilidh on Saturday evening and the Bar-B-Q on Sunday. Our visitors from Mustique enjoyed the entertainments but sadly the children were too shy to take part in the races. Three young people from Mustique and two of their teachers visited Eigg recently, it was good to see Venetta Geofrey again. Unfortunately their visit coincided with a period of bad weather but both the Eigg children and their visitors were busy teaching each other their own music and dances. On a reasonably good day there was a cycle ride to Grulin and on the last day of their holiday they were able to climb the Scurr. We hope that the exchange between Mustique and Eigg will continue.

The "Green Watch" week of activity organised by SWT was a great success. A number of teenagers from Edinburgh came to Eigg and among their activities were dry stone dykeing, Rhododendron cutting and clearing up the beaches. The party stayed in the Barn where there was much music and dancing with the Eigg youngsters in the evenings. On Saturday 2nd September between 1.00 and 4.00pm there will be a guided tour of the Kildonan Early Christian Site led by the Eigg Historical Society in connection with the Council of Scottish Archaeological Month. This tour is open to all so we hope to be joined by visitors from near and far.

Congratulations to Camille on becoming an Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust Director, she replaces Karen who steps down and who will be an extremely hard act to follow. Karen was part of the original group who were instrumental in designing and implementing the Eigg take-over. She became one of the first Directors and since then has worked long and hard for the benefit of Eigg. Our deeply grateful thanks for all her endeavours. Davy and Sue have become stand-in directors.

There was no need of a miracle to feed Eigg residents on Sunday. Donald and Mairi caught more than eighty beautiful Mackerel and distributed them to all of us, and very good they were too. Many thanks!

The following item is left over from last month, everyone was so busy with preparations for the nuptials and other events that it simply didn't get written in time!

Alastair Morrison (MP for Highlands and Islands) visited Eigg on the 27th July after opening Muck's wind power operation. He was taken on a tour of the various developments on the Island and, afterwards was entertained with refreshments in the tea room. Mr Morrison said he was very impressed with our achievements over the last couple of years and remarked on how well communities could develop when given the opportunity to do so.

Joy Williams


As you all know the fine weather of July ended with the change of month and the Small Isles Sports were lucky to have a really fine Sunday afternoon on the 11th. Muck acquitted herself with honour in the field winning many events and as the day drew to a close were slightly ahead of rum. However Marcus Walters came second only to Rum in the hill race, Muck did not enter the children's' haggis eating and finally in the Tug o' War after a mighty struggle Rum just pulled us over.

Next year we must make sure we have an ample supply of heavy boots! However it is always fitting that the host island wins and Rum must be congratulated on her victory and for a superbly organised event.

On the farm lamb sales are here again and prices are more cheerful than last year. The best Suffolk cross Cheviot lambs made £27 against £20 last year and Cheviots rose by a similar amount.

A major reconstruction task is soon to begin - replacing the roof of the barn at the Square. The new sheeting supplied by John Douglas is now on the island but before it can be put in place much of the steel frame has to be replaced.

Lastly, daughter Mary is now en route for South Africa to spend six months working in a home for handicapped adults near Peitmaritzberg. The islanders and pier workers gave her a great send off at a party in the craft shop on the 23rd.

Lawrence MacEwen.


Plans are still progressing for the new shop, fuel station and tearoom in Glenuig, with much work being done by the steering committee to develop a viable business plan which will meet the needs of the community. Although progress does seem to be slow things are happening behind the scenes and we do hope to have the new shop up and running within a couple of years - at the moment we are reluctant to set a more definite deadline which we may not be able to meet.

In the meantime the shop has been re-opened in the old building, supplying basic groceries and other essentials (such as copies of West Word). The shop is being managed by the New Glenuig Shop Steering Group and staffed on a purely voluntary basis, as the limited turnover does not generate enough income for wages. The whole community is extremely grateful to those who give freely of their time to keep this much needed facility running, and their commitment demonstrates both our need for a new shop properly stocked and also the community determination to make it happen.


This year's Church of Scotland Flower Festival in Arisaig carried a marine theme and was held at the same time as the Regatta. Outside the church (above) was an antique boat 'rigged out' with flowers and a gladioli mast! Inside the Church were displays depicting Biblical events, such as the Creation and Noah's Flood, and including one for the RNLI.

A site tour of the Astley Hall attracted about 15 people to see how it's getting on. It doesn't look much different from the outside - well, it won't but on the inside…..! The new Club Room, kitchen, toilets and entrance halls are a transformation. The landscaping should start before long, and the copper beech looks the better for a wee trim. Not only have ugly branches gone, with the attendant threat to the roof, but Highland has about a quarter of an hour extra evening sunlight! Later on in the Autumn we plan a Millennium Tree planting ceremony, at the back of the Hall, and with some expert advice we've decided on a Kilmarnock Standard Willow - native, not too big, and very graceful.

Social Work are very keen to use the new facilities of the Hall for the Senior Citizens Lunch Club, meals on wheels, and possibly some kind of Day Centre. We hope to have an open meeting quite soon to see what people would like.

You may have read that we will be getting a community computer for the Hall. The computer will be situated in the new office, where I also aim to keep past files and copies of all the booklets and leaflets received by the Community Council, for ready access for anyone interested - and to save my spare bedroom floor from falling in! Here also could be stored such things as archives of village history, complementing and supplementing the Land, Sea & Island Centre's exhibition.

On display in the Land, Sea and Islands Centre just now are the trophies won by Arisaig WRI this year: the Ness Trophy for the 'Small Institute with the most points' at the Housewives' Handicrafts Show in April, and the Shield for winning the annual Quiz at the Federation's AGM in May.

Speaking of the Centre, the committee would like to thank Arisaig Gardening Club for the creels full of Busy Lizzies which have been brightening up the environs all summer! We had a lovely day for Kath's presentation, and the Community Council wish to thank everyone who made sandwiches and baked; and to the MacDonald family who offered the use of Cnoc na Fara and worked very hard all afternoon to make sure everyone was fed and watered! Enjoy your retirement Kath and hope you'll be fully recovered soon.
Ann Martin


Things are really hectic for the management committee just now. The building is coming along in leaps and bounds and work is due to be completed in December. We have received a grant from the Lankelly foundation for £10,000.00 towards the building project. We are working on an Arts application at the moment for a sound and lighting system, staging, and film projector for video. We hope to be able to show box office films two to three months after they premier in London. The total cost of the equipment is in the region of £80,000.00, so we are still burning the fundraising trail!

Another smaller project we are working on is for a mosaic to be designed and laid into the floor in the entrance area of the new building. We would like to involve local people in the process, and intend to run workshops lead by a professional artist.

We would particularly encourage pupils from the High School to be involved, but anyone with an interest should contact Niki. It's a great opportunity to create something really special. We have raised funds towards the mosaic, but still need more.

Any help with fundraising would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to all who came to the dance on the 12th, Hunky Dory are in demand for a return visit! Don't worry - they'll be back. Coming up fast is the "Madame Prawn - Lady of the Millennium" event in the West Highland Hotel on Sat 23rd September. This is advance warning for all the contenders to get their outfits chosen, nails manicured, shoes made?! and chests firmed up…...

For more information on any of the above, or if you have an idea / can help with fundraising etc. please contact Niki Robertson - 01687 462633.

Gaelic Mass televised

St Cumin's, Morar was the scene of some high tech activity on Wednesday 16th August when a TV crew descended on Fr Michael's Church. Media nan Eilean, Scotland's foremost Gaelic TV company, had come to record a Gaelic Mass.

The Parish of Morar & Mallaig, plus friends from other Churches, had been rehearsing all summer for the event. Around a hundred people turned up for the recording, which lasted from about 6:30 till 9pm. Locals who took prominent roles in the Liturgy included Donald Lawrence MacNeil, Kathleen MacNeil and Mae MacDonald (Readers), Leah Kenning, Sean MacDonald and Ruaridh Fairbairn (Servers), Mary Ritchie and Morag Morrison (Gift Bearers) and Jean MacKellaig and Chrissie MacDonald (Ministers of the Eucharist). William MacLean of Roshven was MC. Ronnie MacLellan and Mary MacDonald were the Cantors for the Mass and the Parish Choir sang well in Gaelic and Latin. Canon John Angus MacDonald from Fort William was the Celebrant, with Fr Michael relegated to the Organ.

But - undoubtedly - the stars of the show were the Gaelic Medium pupils from Lady Lovat Primary School, accompanied and well-rehearsed by Mrs Lawrie and Miss MacNeil, who sang a beautiful rendition of 'Colours of Day' in Gaelic. The Mass will be broadcast in the New Year. Details later.
Fr Michael

It is exciting that we will see ourselves on television because we practise a lot and our singing was really good. The cameras were flashing and the lights were really bright. The cameras were different sizes and we must have felt a bit like Robbie Williams.
Iain Dempster, Friseal Coates, Stephanie Milligan & Clare MacLean.

Anns an eaglais, bha eideadh sgoile oirnn agus bha sinn a'coimhead uabhasach tapaidh. Bha sagart eile ann comhla ri Maighstir Michael a'deanamh na seirbhis. Bha daoine a'gabhail dealbhan taobh a'muigh agus taobh a staigh na h-eaglaise.
Bernadette Mackellaig, Olivia Johnson & Donnie Dempster.

Bha an -seirbhis anns an eaglais ann nam Morar agus bha sinn a'seinn Dathan na Maidne. Bha sagart ag ionnsachadh seo feadh an t-Samhraidh. Tha seo ri bhith air an telebhisean anns a' Ghearran an ath bhliadhna.
Megan MacLellan, Vicky MacKinnon agus Kenna Robertson.

Before the Mass started, our photographs were taken by Anthony MacMillan and Mick Rodgers. It was a beautiful evening and so the photographs were taken outside St. Cummins Church in Morar. As we sang, we were quite nervous because there were a lot of people watching us and we were also thinking of the number of people who were going to see us when the mass is shown on television. Ronnie MacLellan and Mary MacDonald sang very nicely in church and they were a hard act to follow! We would like to do this again sometime.
Donna MacEachen and Jamie Milligan.

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