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ICELANDERS’ VISIT SUCCESS

The group listens respectfully as they stand around the ruined chapel at Teampall Phàraig on the Kenavara headland.

But this is no ordinary tour. These are Icelanders, come to see for themselves the island setting for a popular novel: Vilborg Davíðsdóttir’s Auður.

Published in 2009, Auður (Aud) is the first book of a trilogy following the adventures of the Viking Auður from her childhood on Tiree to her voyage to become one of the first settlers in Iceland. Auður, a real historical figure, was notable because she was a woman in a man’s world and because she was one of the first Christians there.

Teampall Phàraig and Tràigh Bhì are the setting for the first scene of the book, when a mysterious man is rescued from the sea. The book’s fans were keen to walk along the white, shell sand beach (something they had not experienced before) and clamber along the muddy track to the ancient monastery site. Since Vilborg wrote the book, my researches into the Viking place-names of the island have confirmed many of her ideas.

The morning had been spent at the ruined thirteenth-century Kirkapol parish church and the early Christian rock-carved crosses beyond. The party, including a famous actor and a professor of Icelandic history, heard how an excavation in 2000 had found several skeletons under one of the church walls, presumably reburied from an older Norse graveyard on the site.

We then visited MacLean’s Cross in Soroby, while in the afternoon Julia Welstead took members of the party who didn’t fancy the long walk to Kenavara to the Hough stone circles and on a further tour. While we walked along the beach, I heard about the worries Icelanders have that their language is starting to weaken. There are so many foreign workers in the country now that it is becoming less common to order a meal or to be served in a shop in the capital using Icelandic. Vilborg told me how her own daughter appears to think in English, translating her thoughts into Icelandic. The country’s population is now 338,000 (somewhere between Aberdeen and Edinburgh), which is only five times greater than the population of Gaelic speakers.

At dinner that night in the Scarinish Hotel, one of the evening’s stars was our own Ishbel Campbell, who sang two Gaelic songs and became an instant hit with the visitors. I sat with Svavar Halldórsson, who I discovered was the designer of an advert that had caught my eye as I flew home from Washington to Reykjavík last year. While working as Director of the Icelandic Lamb Marketing Board, Svavar had composed the slogan ‘Roaming Free Since 874’ beside a film of Icelandic sheep. His wife, the well known journalist Þóra Arnórsdóttir, had run for President of Iceland in 2012. She was able to show me on her phone her family tree going back a staggering thirty-one generations – to Auður herself. Apparently, this is common in Iceland. And if she had been able to go back one more generation, she might have found a Tiree name.

After Tiree had been settled by Viking men in the ninth century, some Norse men decamped once more to seek new pastures in Iceland when that country was opened up. Taking wives from the islands, around half of Icelandic women today are of Hebridean or Irish descent. Many of the tour were actually coming to see their ancestral home, as much as re-living the stories in the book. This was Vilborg’s second attempt to reach the island, as her previous trip in May had to be cancelled within sight of Coll when the Clansman broke down.

They are a tough lot though, as their indifference to the muddy scramble and a heavy shower showed. And we haven’t seen the last of Vilborg as she seeks an English publisher for her book. She has two further tours booked for 2020 and even that cannot satisfy the demand. And the final twist? Her book’s front cover features a triskele, the design on the rock carving discovered a few weeks ago in Balemartine.

CMAL To Host Coll and Tiree Public Meetings

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) will host events in Coll and Tiree to update communities on plans for the forthcoming linkspan replacement project.

Two public drop-in sessions have been arranged to share details of the work and discuss the alternative service arrangements which will be put in place by CalMac throughout the duration of the upgrades.

The Coll meeting will be held at An Cridhe, Coll Community Centre, on Monday 2nd September.

The Tiree meeting will take place at An Talla community hall on Tuesday 3rd September.

Both meetings will be held from 4.00pm to 7.30pm and people can drop-in at any point during those times.

The linkspan closure date for Coll is Monday 28th October and it will re-open on Thursday 21st November 2019. The Tiree linkspan will be out of service from Monday 24th February 2020 and will return to service on Tuesday 17th March 2020.

CalMac will operate a passenger-only service during the replacement project, supplemented by a lift on/lift off freight service. Vehicles will not be transported during the linkspan closure periods.

Representatives from CMAL and CalMac will attend the meetings along with consulting engineer, Mott MacDonald and the appointed contractor, George Leslie Limited. Brian Sydney, senior civil engineer at CMAL, said:

“The projects at Coll and Tiree are part of CMAL’s ongoing programme of harbour upgrades and improvements. We understand transport is vital for the islands and our aim is to cause as little disruption to island life as possible. If we can reduce the timescale of closures, we will. “Both islands will essentially remain ‘open for business’ throughout the linkspan replacement period. Alternative passenger and freight services will be put in place throughout the duration of the work. However, there will be no access for vehicles moving to and from the island. “We encourage both communities to attend the events and take advantage of the opportunity to speak with the representatives in attendance. We hope that this will allow locals to prepare for the disruption to services whilst upgrade activities are carried out.”

Robert Morrison, Head of Service Delivery Operations at Calmac Ferries Ltd, said:

“We look forward to taking this opportunity to give more detail of the contingency plans we are putting in place to minimise disruption to our customers.”

Tiree Trust News Bites

• The Trust has recently appointed consultants Delfinity to undertake the Feasibility Study on the Community Owned Fuel Service. Work has started this week and we expect the study to be complete by the middle of September. If any community members would like to join the short-term steering group for this project, please contact andy@tireetrust.org.uk

• The Trust is in the process of trying to secure funds to undertake another feasibility study, this time to assess the viability of a small community owned affordable housing project, possibly at The Camp in Crossapol. Please contact Andy (see above) if you would like to join the steering group for this project.

• Gaelic classes will re-start on Monday 26th August, 7:30pm @ Trust Offices, all welcome to come and learn a song and opportunity to build confidence in speaking Gaelic.

• Bookbug – Gaelic rhyme, song and story time returns, each Thursday 9am in the library. Suitable for under 5’s and parents/guardians.

• Primary Gaelic Choir & soloists will be attending Mull provincial Mod on 13th Sept & National Mod, Glasgow in October. There will be a premod ceilidh in September, and we will confirm the details shortly.

• After school Youth Work activities will be back to normal as of 26th August, with some sessions running from Wed 21st. For more information see the ‘Tiree Trust – Youth Work’ Facebook page or contact willie@tireetrust.org.uk

2019 Tiree Ultra Marathon

Around the coastline in 1 day – runners from far and wide take on the challenge.

This September we will see another day that tests the endurance of 250 visiting and local runners as they take on the 35 mile Tiree Ultramarathon. Now one of the established events on the ultramarathon circuit, Tiree boasts its own uniqueness, with no other event following the entire coastline of an island.

But it’s the community welcome and the support and encouragement that has made this event so popular. Runners will travel from as far as Canada, Finland, Germany and of course from across the UK to take part in this race.

Event organiser Will Wright from Tiree Fitness says

“these runners are looking for a challenge, something that’s a bit different and that takes them well off the beaten track. They’re always a lovely group, and their feedback has been so positive over the years, even despite some pretty vicious headwinds and hail storms!”

The event kicks off with registration and race briefing at An Talla on Saturday 7th September, and then the run starts early in the morning on Sunday at 8am on Sorobaidh.

Full race details can be found at www.tireefitness.co.uk/ tiree-ultramarathon/

Local runners Heather MacArthur and Jo Vale will be on the start line to take on the full distance. And with local relay teams running as well they will all appreciate your support and encouragement. We wish them all the very best! Expect to see runners around the island from the 8am start and eventually coming through Scarinish towards Crossapol from mid day onwards.

“It’s a tough course out there so we’re really grateful for all the help at the weekend to give these runners the best shot at getting around, and thank you for the kind cooperation from everyone around the course.”

35 miles in one day, all the way around the island. The course record is 4hrs32!!! But for everyone out there, getting over that finish line will be an achievement to be proud of. Good luck to all the runners!

If you’d like to join the team, or be involved in any way just contact Will on 07867 304640 or email {will@tireefitness.co.uk}

Tiree Art Exhibition 2019

Tiree’s stunning 2019 Art Exhibition opened to the public on Sunday 11th August in Baugh church.

On a beautiful evening over 90 people enjoyed a glass (or two) of Prosecco while perusing the very varied work on show. The show was opened in great style by Dot Sim who said,

“Thank you to all the talented artists who have submitted their work to create such a diverse and captivating exhibition which I think you’ll all agree reflects this beautiful and inspirational island that some of us are so lucky to call our home. This would not be possible without the tireless efforts of the Tiree Arts Enterprises committee and volunteers organizing, curating and hanging the work. And a big thank you to the Baptist church who have kindly let us host the exhibition here. It is an exciting time for the arts on Tiree with many creative people coming to settle here, joining the already rich cultural heritage of the island; new studios opening, the continuing success of the Feis, TMF, and local musicians, the flourishing of Screen Tiree, the second year of Screen Argyll’s Sea Change – Powering Women in Film, the celebration of the ancient art of Storytelling in Tiree Story Tent, the establishment of Tiree Art Club and the Creative Writing Group, and the exciting prospect of a community panto!

There was a lot of excitement after the show was opened with people rushing to get a red dot on their favourite piece of work and the committee are glad to report that over a third of paintings and sculptures were sold on the night.

Tiree Art Enterprises also own An Turas which is the art installation situated in Scarinish beside the pier. Sadly its condition has deteriorated over the years and it requires urgent restoration. They are using this year’s show to gather funds and have placed a donation box at the entrance to give visitors an opportunity to contribute.

On the opening night a £160 was donated – an excellent start so big thanks to all.

Tiree Regatta 2019

The day of the 2019 Tiree Regatta dawned overcast with light winds, however this didn’t deter a group of sailors determined to pit their skills against each other and the elements.

In the Dinghy race Tim and Ann Esson in their Foxer class dinghy beat Jonathon Marks single handing his laser with Dorinda Johnson and crew leading the way for the club Topaz fleet. Special mention should also go to Kris and Aidan Hynes competing in their first Regatta having only started sailing this year through Tiree Maritime Trusts Community Sailing Programme.

In the Lug Boat race the pace and slick tacking of the Cathadh Mara skippered by Dr John Holliday and crewed by Bruce Kemp and Jack Lockhart managed to narrowly beat Tony Batchelor, Sandy McIntosh and Tim Esson in the Maritime Trust boat the Daisy to win the Traditional Lug Sail Boat class.

The smaller sailed boats; Maritime Trust boat the Morag-Ann sailed by Martin Finnigan and William-Angus Maclean and the standing lug-sailed skaffie Malin sailed John Patience and Jeremy Armitage put in a creditable show in spite of being hampered by the light conditions.

The day also saw a little bit of Tiree history made with Tiree first Skiff race. With three skiff crews racing each other using only one boat the Gille-Brìghde. A time trial was set up with the teams being timed over a course parallel to the beach. Robert Trythall acted as impartial timekeeper – until he was called away to star in the last and winning crew. This was Emma the medical student in bow, Niall MacDonald, Robert Trythall and Dorinda Johnson in stroke, ably orchestrated into a team by Alasdair MacLachlan.

On the shore there was plenty to keep the crowds entertained with a very competitive paddle board race, some truly inventive sandcastles and sand art as well as tests for strength and skill in throwing wellies and creels. The cake stall and raffle also proved very popular and helped raise much needed funds. The day concluded in the traditional prizegiving including a new trophy this year awarded to the junior sailor of the year, Eddie Maclean. This specially commissioned award was donated in memory of long time Tiree Regatta supporter Roger Jarvis.

The Tiree Regatta relies on the kind and generous support of the community, without whose help the event simply would not be able to take place. We therefore have quite a long list of people to thank: Louise Reid, Willie MacKinnon, Rhoda Meek, Catriona Smyth, Clare Jones and David Vale without whose efforts on the day we could not have run the Regatta.

Thank you too, to the businesses that kindly donated prizes for the raffle including Tyree Gin, Dot Sim Jewelry, MacLennan Motors, the Farmhouse Café, The Cobbled Cow and Tiree Chocolates. Thanks also to the Lodge Hotel for their generous support for the Regatta. Special thanks to the Wild Diamond Watersports crew for organizing the SUP racing and keeping the sailors safe out on the water alongside Lochlan Morris and Steph Tanner.

Finally, a big thanks to everyone competitors, spectators and volunteers who all contributed to making the 2019 Tiree Regatta such a great success. For full results and to find out more about the work of Tiree Maritime Trust please visit: www.tireemaritimetrust.org.uk

Tish Celebrates Ruby Anniversary At The Helm of Tiree Airport

Congratulations are in order to Tish MacKinnon, who recently celebrated her ruby anniversary working at the helm of the airline’s operation here on the Isle of Tiree.

Her father, the late Archie MacArthur, headed up the airport between 1960 and 1990 as an employee of British Airways (back then it was British European Airways). Tish’s first visit to her father’s work place took place days after she was born in Glasgow and arrived back to Tiree with her mother and grandmother – she still owns the original ticket written by Archie for the trip to Glasgow Airport.

Her official duties began in 1979 when she stepped in as holiday cover for her father during term breaks while completing a childcare course in Langside College, Glasgow. Father and daughter shared duties for 11 years – where Archie famously worked the morning of Tish’s wedding that had been deliberately timed for Archie to meet the flight packed with wedding guests while Tish prepared for her big day.

After Archie’s retirement in 1990, Tish was promoted to Senior Customer Service Manager which is responsible for Loganair’s operation on the island, which welcomed around 12,000 passangers last year.

“It’s a really rewarding job and the fact I’ve been in post for 40 years shows how much I enjoy it. The air service is really important to residents of Tiree, used by locals going on holiday or to visit relatives, but also for trips to hospital, weddings, honeymoons and occasionally even funerals.” said Tish, “One of my favourite perks is being the first person to meet newborn babies as they arrive back on the island after leaving hospital in Glasgow, which is actually the exact journey I took whenever I first arrived in the world and when I gave birth to my three children. I’ve also met lots of celebrities, politicians, nobility and musicians who visit Tiree throughout the year.”

“Things have definitely changed quite a bit since I first started but Loganair ensures I’m fully trained in all the rules and regulations around aviation as well as the various technologies which are now essential to the role. With the number of customers passing through the airport increasing yearly – as Tiree’s popularity continues to grow amongst tourists, I look forward to welcoming visitors to the island for many years to come.”

Kay Ryan, Loganair’s commercial director said:

“I’d like to extend a huge congratulations to Tish, from everyone at Loganair, for such an amazing service record with the company. Tish is the face of the airline in Tiree, often the first person to greet visitors from around the world while also supporting the local community with all of their travel plans. Her knowledge and passion for the job is fantastic and I can only thank Tish who is an integral part of the Loganair family.”

We will be interviewing Tish for People of Tiree in our next issue; watch this space!

Festivals 10 year praise service hit!

Celtic Worship band

On the Sunday of 14th July members of Tiree’s churches joined Festival goers at the largest service ever held at TMF.

Christian Band ‘Celtic Worship’ took the Big Top main stage and rocked the area outside with their renditions of worship songs old and new.

The Band is sponsored by Christian Charity Tear Fund and between songs an appeal was made for their work amongst Syrian refugees in Lebanon who have been living in tents for 6 years.

As worshipppers left the Big Top over £600 was collected to help in Lebanon.

– Ian Sharp

Cancer Research Fundraiser

cancer walk

On the 21st of June, islanders gathered at the Gym n’ Tonic Studio for a charity walk around the island in aid of Cancer Research UK.

The weather conditions were perfect for the summer solstice; clear skies as the sun sank beyond the Hough, with no more than a light breeze. The cheerful attendees enjoyed a glass of Prosecco and glow-in-the- dark face painting in preparation for the ten mile walk around the island.

Around 20 adults took part, alongside 9 of the island’s children; Lani, Olivia, Calin, Robyn, Keiran, Mathew, Abbey, Aedan, Lewis and Charlie.

Setting off from the Gym n’ Tonic Studio in Scarinish, the group made their way towards Baugh, across the Reef to Crossapol, up through Kenovay and turning left at the ocean towards Balephetrish where they would loop back around to Scarinish, arriving back at the gym around 1am.

The group enjoyed several Prosecco stops along the way, with thanks to Freddie Arnold, Dolina & Alec MacDonald, Janice MacInnes, the Rockvale Guesthouse, Jeanie Fisher, Fiona MacPhail at the Lodge, Beachcomber and Bùth a’ Bhaile.

A total sum of £3254.89 has been raised so far, including a gift aid of £376. Bùth a’ Bhaile will have a bucket to collect further donations over the summer months. Claire would like to thank all the donors and sponsors for their contributions!

For more information on the charity, please visit: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/

Tiree Community Council – June Meeting

Bicycling on Tiree, ferry cancellations and proposals for a new Marine Protected Area around Tiree were three subjects debated at the last meeting of Tiree Community Council before the summer break.

The Community Council recently received a letter from a bicyclist. Tiree’s single-track roads – built for the horse and cart and now used by everyone from crofters hauling seaweed or moving cattle, to joggers, fire engines, cyclists and campervans, including those who are here on holiday and those who call the island their home – usually work pretty well. But we do hear from time to time about incidents, and it seems that some cyclists and some car drivers occasionally rub each other up the wrong way on Tiree roads.

The spotlight fell on the current leaflet about bicycling on Tiree, and the accompanying notice board on the side of the Coop. This advises cyclists to dismount if approached by a car.

This advice was driven by safety: Tiree’s roads look inviting, but they can be hazardous when busy, and in an accident, it’s obvious who is going to come off worse. Councillors felt some guidance was still needed, but that it should be in accordance with the Highway Code.

We will update the material to reflect the fact that all road users on Tiree have an equal right to use the public highway. As a first step, we decided to contact the local policeman and Police Scotland’s Divisional Local Road Safety Partnership Rep to get the most up-to-date advice. In the meantime, we will take down the notice at the Coop. I would be interested in your comments on this issue.

The meeting also discussed the proposal to establish a Marine Protected Area in the Sea of the Hebrides. This extends north to Skye, west to the Uists and south as far as Islay.

This MPA is designed to protect basking sharks, minke whales, productive areas of the sea where two bodies of water meet and mix (so-called ‘fronts’), and something called the Inner Hebrides Carbonate Production Area – in other words, seabed with lots of shells – that generates the shell sand that creates the island’s machair. A proposal to gives the seas around Tiree.

Special status has been in the pipeline since 2014 and is supported by conservation groups such as the Marine Conservation Society. It is not clear at the moment what restrictions this designation might place on island businesses, particularly fishermen. There is a public meeting about this on Tiree on 19 July, and again, I welcome your views.

Earlier in the day, Tiree Transport Forum and members of Community Council had met Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, and Robert Morrison, Head of Service Delivery Operations for the company. This was in response to growing dissatisfaction in island communities who felt that their ferries were getting less reliable, with an increasing number of cancellations due to weather and mechanical breakdowns. An in-depth analysis by the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee showed that the Mull ferry cancellation rate was thirty times greater in the winter of 2014/15 that in the winter of 1999/2000 – despite the weather being comparable. The pair disputed these figures, but did admit that the cancellation rate was higher on the Oban-Coll-Tiree route than on other routes in the network. Part of this was due to the fact that the ferries were getting older – the Clansman is twenty-one years old – because the Scottish Government has invested too little in the fleet and the two latest replacement vessels were now held up by mysterious delays at the Fergusson Marine shipyard on the Clyde. But they made the fair points that health-and safety regulations are now much stricter; that there had been a number of serious berthing incidents such as last year’s damage to the Hebridean Isles at the Gott Bay pier; and that their nonstop schedule now meant that ferry sailings could no longer be put on hold for six hours.

We were told that the old scenario where a skipper would ‘give it a go’ is a thing of the past, and the occasional cancellation was the price we would have to pay for journeys that were safer for passengers, crew and cargo. An idea to reserve some tickets for local passengers is unlikely to come to anything, as CalMac’s contract with the Scottish Government means that every passenger applying to purchase a ticket has to be treated equally. We made the point forcefully that lifeline deliveries on a cancelled sailing should be given absolute priority for the next boat. We also argued that many Tiree passengers would prefer that decisions to cancel sailings were not made too far in advance.

We have been promised a by-election to allow us to recruit more community councillors. When this comes round, do please consider putting your hat into the ring. It’s the island flagship and we badly need more crewmembers! The Community Council has applied to Argyll and Bute Council to lease the public toilets in Scarinish and organise their cleaning at no cost to the council. Despite this seemingly attractive offer, the council has not been able to come to a decision as we go to press. We had also applied to Argyll and Bute for an increase in our grant from £400 to £600 a year to allow community councillors to travel to the mainland to attend meetings. This request has been turned down under pressure from larger community councils on the mainland.

Although there will be no public meetings over the summer, your community council remains alive and well. If you have any issues you would like our help with, please contact me.

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