Category Archives: Latest Stories

Tiree Flag Competition Announced

It’s finally here!

The committee behind the project is officially launching Co-fharpais Bratach Thiriodh, the Tiree Flag Competition, this week, with the launch of their new website,

Tiree is seeking to join a select, but rapidly growing, movement in Scotland of communities that have designed their own flags: communities such as Shetland in 2005, Orkney in 2007, and Caithness, South Uist, Barra, Kirkcudbrightshire, the town of Denny and Dunipace in Stirlingshire, and Sutherland over the last two years.

This project is being organised by Tiree Community Council, the idea for a flag having been overwhelmingly backed by a public vote last year. The competition starts on April 2nd and runs until May 1st, and is open to everyone, on and off the island. In fact, the two joint winners of the design for the flag for Denny and Dunnipace were Spanish and Brazilian.

Tiree has a huge worldwide diaspora numbering hundreds of thousands following the emigration of a quarter of the island’s population in the nineteenth century, and the committee hopes to attract entries from Tiree heartlands in places like Canada. People can also enter more than one idea. Designs can be submitted digitally. But entries can be as simple as a doodle on a piece of paper – Orkney’s flag was designed by a local postman, DuncanTullock, who sketched his initial idea over a couple of hours using his granddaughter’s crayons. Children are particularly good at competitions like this: the winner of the Black Country flag competition in the English Midlands was just twelve.

Philip Tibbetts, the Communities Vexillologist at London’sFlag Institute, is visiting the island next week to hold classes on good flag design. He will be holding sessions with two of the youth clubs at An Talla, visiting the school on Friday 2 March, and holding a tutorial for adults on Wednesday 28 February (details to be advertised). There should be no shortage of inspiration. Dr John Holliday, the Convenor of the island’s Community Council said:

“Tiree has such a distinctive signature, from its rich summer carpet of white, yellow and purple machair flowers, its corncrakes, its dazzling, white shell sand beaches, its leaping windsurfers, the unique silhouette of its thatched houses, and the recent success of its bands such as Skipinnish, Skerryvore and Trail West: plenty for designers to get their teeth into.”

The well-known Tiree Association crest, with a sheaf of barley crossed by a fork and rake, is bound to be influential.

All the details of the Tiree Flag Competition are on the competition website, at Entries will be judged by a panel including the Lord Lyon, Scotland’s highest flag authority, along with members of the committee who have organised the competition: Dr Holliday, Ian Gillies, Lachie Brown, Iain MacKinnon and Donna MacLean. The designs of the six finalists will be flown at the Tiree Agricultural Show on July 20th, where those attending will get a chance to have their say. There will also be a chance to vote online and by post. The winning design will then be submitted to the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh for registration.

Lachie Brown, a member of the committee, summed it up neatly: “Cumaibh suas air bratach! [Encourage the flag].” Philip Tibbetts said: “It is wonderful to see another community develop their own flag. This will give Tiree a symbol for the people, grow awareness externally and help preserve part of the rich fabric of the nation. I have enjoyed my time working on the island and have seen at first hand the island’s rich history. As such I can’t wait to see the ideas that will come in for the Sunshine Isle.” Ian Gillies, another member of the flag committee, said: “As someone who regularly flies a flag, I feel that a flag says a lot about the land – in our case island – and the people that the flag represents. A strong identity and purpose is important for every community, and while in itself a flag can not wholly provide this, it does its part to bring any community together.”

The flag competition has been funded by the Windfall Fund.

Trail West to Singapore

Tiree exports, Trail West have recently returned from their first overseas trip to Singapore, where they were performing at a variety of venues to celebrate our national poet, Robert Burns.

The boys, pictured(from left to right, Ian Smith, Alain Campbell, Seonaidh MacIntyre and Andrew Findlater) were made very welcome in Singapore and their west coast tunes went down well, as they performed at three different events. At Molly Malone’s Irish Pub, The British Club – Singapore’s Hilltop Retreat, and lastly at the St Andrew’s Society Burns Supper.

The boys are back to Scottish venues this weekend, playing at the legendary Park Bar on Friday and Sunday night and finishing off February in style, playing alongside Gunna Sound at the Royal Hotel in Oban, 23rd – 25th February.

For a list of all upcoming gigs and all band news please visit the website:

Phone Scam Warning

Local residents are being warned to be aware of scam calls and emails about council tax. It comes from Argyll and Bute Council’s Trading Standards team after reports of attempted frauds.

One local resident has reported a call from what appeared to be a London-based number, insisting the household was paying the wrong level of council tax. There have also been reports of callers offering refunds, and others have been sent emails asking them to provide information via an online link to claim money back.

People who get a call are told they will get the refund if they pay £74 and are then asked to call a number. The number is not in the UK and is likely to be very costly for anyone calling it. Scammers are also contacting people by email. The message claims the recipient is due a refund and it can be accessed by clicking on a link and confirming personal details before cash is transferred.

Policy Lead for Planning and Regulatory Services, Councillor David Kinniburgh, said: “These scams are widespread but have been reported to us in Argyll and Bute. “The Council would never contact you to ask for personal information or discuss your level of council tax.

“Please heed Trading Standards’ advice – don’t reply to these emails as your information could be sold to other scammers or even used for identity theft, and hang up the phone if you suspect a scam. “If you receive a call asking you to call back to claim a rebate, ignore it. You can check with us whether the call or message you’ve received is legitimate, but it’s most likely to be fraudulent.

“Too many people are being conned out of their hard-earned cash – we’ve all heard the awful stories of people thinking calls and emails are legitimate and paying the price. The elderly and vulnerable are a particular target of these scammers but they are so plausible, anyone could be taken in. “Don’t let yourself be one of them.”

If you receive any suspicious correspondence about council tax refunds, please report it to the Citizens’ Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506.

A Night at the Races

Cùram Thiriodh are steadily building a fantastic reputation for putting on some of the best fundraising events, doing something a little different and bringing new and exciting events to Tiree.

This year was no different as they organised and ran the very successful Ascot themed Race Night, which was held at An Talla.

Cùram director Jackie Jones and outreach worker Margaret Worsley have been the driving force behind this event, working tirelessly to create a fun filled evening, which was enjoyed by over 70 people. An Talla was decorated with fantastic bunting, created by the lunch club and an array of jockey hats and race memorabilia. The event was billed as ‘Ascot Themed Race Night’ with hats very much encouraged and many in attendance made a brilliant effort, with lots of fancy headgear, some of which was homemade and customised beautifully.

Guests were treated to all of the Ascot fineries, with some bubbly on arrival and beautiful canapés which were hand prepared by Jackie and assisted by Alison and David Clark. The main event was of course the horse racing which was excellently explained and arranged by Stuart Smith. There were seven races in total, with eight horses in each race, which were already bought by members of the public and very aptly named by Stuart.

All in attendance were then encouraged to place their bets with the attentive tellers before the race was then projected onto the big screen. Much like previous Tiree Race Nights, the audience got very into the ‘races’ cheering on their chosen horse, which I’m sure made all the difference and definitely added to the atmosphere. Pictured within this article are all the owners of the winning horses, which includes: Jo Vale who was the owner of ‘Chocolat’, Fiona Green who won two races, with ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’ and ‘Ernie’s Lot, Barbara MacLean with ‘Postmans Knock’, Jennie Niven with ‘Jack the Lad’ and Elaine Hayes (stand in for Bino) who’s horse ‘Power Ranger’ won the 4th race. The last race was slightly different, as none of the horses had been previously bought and were instead up for auction. Eight ‘horses’ were sold, raising a total of £280, with the winning ‘horse’ owned by the table ‘Syndicate Shergar’ headed by Claire Urquhart.

Each race was very generously sponsored by local businesses, some who were on hand that evening to present the winners with their prizes. Cùram would like to say a big thank you to all of the businesses who sponsored each race, which includes, Cornerstone Construction Scotland Ltd, Bottomley Optometrist, Esteem Ltd, John MacKinnon Builders, Rockvale Guest House and CKR Construction Ltd.

Much like all Tiree events, there was of course a huge raffle which was again donated to by a host of local businesses and individuals, which was greatly appreciated. Rosemary Omand did a fantastic job of organising the raffle on behalf of the committee. A lengthy game of stand-up bingo also took place, with a beautiful painting by Annine MacLean up for grabs, which was won by Elspeth Gilles. A second painting was also donated by Andrea MacArthur, which was won by Maureen McMullen through the envelope game.

From start to finish the entire evening was very professionally put together and I’m sure enjoyed by all. At half time we were treated to a beautiful buffet, prepared by An Talla committee, who had worked very hard throughout the evening to help with various aspects of the event – a big thank you must be said to them. As there were so many fantastic hats on show, it was only right that a few prizes were given out to two of the best on display. Julie MacLennan was awarded a runner up prize for her very apt design and Catriona Cowling scooped first place with her black addition, which featured its very on ‘cat’ teddy – well done ladies!

Overall the entire evening made a fantastic profit of £1600 for Cùram Thiriodh which will go towards running costs for the next year. Cùram are responsible for the running of the Lunch Club and the Cùm a’ Dol bus which is a fantastic resource for the island. The event also generated over £700 in fundraising for An Talla, bringing the grand total to £2400 raised throughout the night. A fantastic effort for one evening of entertainment and for two very important local charities – what a generous community we live amongst.

Jackie, Margaret and the rest of the Cùram team would like to thank everyone who attended the Ascot Race Night and helped to make it such a great success. The event would not have been possible without support from all of the sponsors and those who generously donated to the raffle and other fundraising activities. Various other people were involved in assisting on the evening, including Jack from Screen Tiree who assisted with the projection and IT, Stuart for his expertise and commentating, Monica, Jessie, Louise, Donna and Teen who were all assisting throughout the evening and of course An Talla committee and helpers.

Let’s hope Cùram have their thinking cap on for their next fundraising event – we already can’t wait. Well done once again.

Passenger Growth at Highland and Islands Airports Reaches New Heights

Latest figures have revealed a record number of people used Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) airports in 2017, as the group reported 1,722,913 journeys during the year.

The 2017 figures show numbers were up 102,577 on 2016’s total of 1,620,336 people who used the company’s airports across Scotland, an increase of 6.3%. Highlights include a 6.3% increase at Inverness and an 18.9% jump in passenger numbers at the world-renowned Barra Airport which had 14,264 passengers using its beach runway in 2017.

Sumburgh, which serves the Shetlands and the North Sea oil and gas industry, recorded a rise of 13.9% to 386,039 – up 46,948 – continuing the growth it has enjoyed sinceHIAL refurbished the airport and enhanced facilities for offshoreworkers. Orkney’s Kirkwall Airport saw passenger numbers increase by 9.2%to 195,544 from 179,140 in 2016 and Stornoway also saw increased demand with passenger numbers up 4%to 137,103. Tiree, Campbeltown, Benbecula and Islay all reported increases year-on-year.

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said the performance of the airports was encouraging and demonstrated the growing demand for regional airport services. Mr Lyon said: “These figures indicate a positive economic outlook for the regions. This illustrates the continuing need for strategic investment across the HIAL operating area.We are working with our colleagues in Transport Scotland to deliver a regional airports network that can grow passenger numbers and has long-term sustainability.

“We continue to see the benefits to passengers of increased connectivity that our airports deliver for the communities they serve.

“We are pleased that the increased numbers at Inverness which has seen strong numbers on the international connecting flights to Amsterdam, Heathrow, Gatwick and Dublin. Sumburgh is performing well on the back of an improving oil and gas industry and our other island airports have also seen encouraging passenger increases.”

Mr Lyon said an anticipated increase in international visitors to Scotland in 2018 could see the strong growth figures continue.

“The UK is very attractive as a destination for visitors benefiting from favourable exchange rates. With the number of connecting flights growing, it means they are better able to arrive in the Highlands and Islands, spend less time travelling and more time enjoying the stunning natural beauty of Scotland and experience the hospitality of the region.”

“HIAL will continue to invest in our airports and we continuously work to improve and enhance the passenger experience for all those who use our facilities.”

Passenger numbers were down 16,029 at Dundee as a result of the withdrawal of the Flybe Amsterdam service by the operator in December 2016. Figures also decreased at Wick by 7,871, due in part to reduced demand from energy sector services to-and-from Aberdeen and offshore platforms.

Community Bulb Planting

As you may remember from previous An Tirisdeach editions, Tiree was very kindly gifted a selection of planting tulips earlier this year, from a Aad van Ruiten, a bulb expert based in Holland who had links to Tiree through Dr Robert Nisbet.

Mr van Ruiten explained in his letter that he planned to visit Tiree in 2018 having been fascinated by the bulb project (The Hebridean Bulb Growers Ltd.) that took place on Tiree throughout the late 1950s. Along with the letter, Mr van Ruiten had enclosed over 100 tulip bulbs which he had suggested could be planted somewhere on the island as a homage to the project.

Last Saturday a small group got together and planted the bulbs within the grounds of the Business Centre, located in Crossapol. There are two patches just at the entrance to the grounds which will hopefully come into bloom in Spring time.

Well done to all involved, let’s hope they make for a nice display for Mr van Ruiten’s visit next year.

Youth the Focus for Tiree Music Festival as it Announces New Elevate Stage

Once again, Tiree Music Festival Early bird tickets have proven very popular, selling out by Monday evening following Saturday’s ticket release. The award-winning festival has sold out every year since 2010 with next year’s dates confirmed as Friday 13th – Sunday 15th July 2018.

Brand-new to TMF 2018 will be the ELEVATE STAGE. This new outdoor stage will showcase the best talent on the Scottish music scene with its line-up focusing on up-and-coming Scottish artists. As well as opportunities for young musicians, the festival is offering a unique opportunity for an aspiring artistic programmer to shape this new stage alongside the Festival’s Directors. Applications will open on Monday 27th November for young people from across Scotland to apply for an Artistic Director Internship role for the ELEVATE STAGE programming. Anyone aged between 18 and 26 can apply for this position and will work with the TMF team between January and July 2018. Prospective applicants should keep an eye on TMF’s social media pages for more information.

The ELEVATE STAGE at Tiree Music Festival 2018 is supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund, managed by Event Scotland and part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. During 2018 Scotland will put its young people in the spotlight, celebrating their talents, contributions and creating new opportunities for them to shine. The Year of Young People 2018 is a year-long programme of events and activities that will give young people in Scotland the opportunity to show the world what they are made of.

TMF has always prided itself on being a family friendly festival and 2018’s festival will see the introduction of a creative programme for young people and their families. As part of this there will be workshops, sport, music and culture that are all focused on four core elements that are a key part of life on Tiree – Sun, Sand, Wind and Water. The Island of Tiree is often dubbed “The Hawaii of the North” and with picture-perfect white sands and world-famous surf, a trip to Tiree Music Festival is a real Island adventure. Tiree has been described as one of the most stunning festival locations in the world and each year it welcomes world-class musicians from Scotland and beyond.

Daniel Gillespie, Festival Director of Tiree Music Festival, said: “We are really excited to be part of The Year of Young People 2018 and to create an opportunity through the brand new ELEVATE STAGE for young people to really show what they are made of, both through the artistic direction of the programming and the young artists performing on the stage itself. “I know from my own experiences how important it is to be given the right opportunities from an early age and The Year of Young People is a fantastic initiative to give all our young people a real chance to shine, both on a local, national and international stage, and we are really delighted to be a small part of it.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Tiree Music Festival in 2018 as part of Scotland’s Year of Young People. The festival, which always provides a wonderfully family friendly atmosphere will provide even more opportunities for young people and families to get involved in a range of different activities as part of the 2018 festival. “The addition of the new ELEVATE STAGE will give young people from across Scotland the chance to showcase their unique talents, and the exciting opportunity for a young person to be part of the artistic director internship is a fantastic way to spotlight young people’s talents and contributions during this special year.”

The Tiree Association – Annual Gathering 2017

The 117th Tiree Association Annual Gathering was held last weekend in Glasgow, with both The Concert and the evening Dance being hugely successful.

The traditional November gathering has stuck to the same structure for many years, with the concert being held on the Thursday evening followed by a dance on the Friday. This year’s concert was held in Partick Burgh Halls, with record numbers in attendance. There was standing room only as the crowd were kept entertained by their chairperson for the evening, Angus MacPhail. Angus did a fantastic job of introducing the evening’s performances, many of whom were treated to a witty poetic rhyme coined by the chairman himself. He talked proudly about the Association giving us an insight into past concerts and their chair people, which he had come across while researching information for the event. He spoke extremely highly of the quality of musicians who were due to perform, none of whom disappointed throughout the event.

The night was kicked off by our President Ian Smith, who extended a warm welcome to all in attendance, giving us a quick run-down of the evening’s activities and reminding everyone about the Songbook Project and Launch which was to take place the following Saturday. Throughout the evening we were treated to some very fine performances, tunes and sets from the highly talented Rowan Brothers, with Kyle on accordion and Alan on keys. Both boys have previously been awarded top spots at national Mods, and it was very clear to see why. It is also safe to say that the boys received their musical talents from their father, Gordon Rowan who was the Association Piper for the evening, introducing both halves of the event. Angus went on to congratulate Gordon on becoming the Director of the Army School of Piping and Highland Drumming, a position he took up in late 2016.

As Angus pointed out in his introductions, it is fair to say that the Tiree Association concerts have always managed to secure a fantastic standard of musicians to perform and the 2017 event was no different. We were entertained by three different singers throughout the evening, hearing from a man with strong Tiree connections, Norman MacKinnon who treated us to some beautiful Gaelic singing. Next up was one of this year’s BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year finalist, Kim Carnie, who has a truly beautiful voice, again singing in Gaelic and English. Angus had plenty of interesting stories to tell about the last singer, Robert Robertson, who of course used to play alongside him in Skipinnish. Robert mesmerised the crowd with beautiful renditions of Gaelic and English songs. Many of the singers were accompanied by the regular Association pianist Kathryn Callander who did a fantastic job of accompanying the singers and also leading a sing along session, which the crowd all enjoyed and got involved in.

As the evening came to a close, we were reminded about the exciting Tiree Songbook launch which was taking place on Saturday (more about that below) before the vote of thanks from the Vice President, Margaret MacKinnon, who took the opportunity to thank everyone who made the concert so successful. This included all of the performers from the evening, Angus as chairperson; all of the committee who assisted in putting on another fantastic event; to Susan Weir who very kindly baked the dumpling and shortbread; to all who donated very generous raffle prizes; and to all those who came along to the event.

The following evening, we were off to another west end venue, the Glasgow University Union, where the annual dance was taking place. Again, numbers for this year’s event were at a record high, with the dance selling out on the Monday prior. Our very own Trail West were the band of choice, with President Ian taking to the box for the evening. He was accompanied by Alain Campbell on guitar and whistle, Seonaidh MacIntyre on whistle, pipes and vocals and Andrew Findlater on drums. The boys fairly entertained the crowd with the dance floor packed for each dance – young and old taking to the floor. The dance went on until the smaller hours of the morning, with committee members receiving excellent feedback about the event.

Much like all Island gatherings, the Park Bar is often a pit stop for islanders, with another Tiree band entertaining the crowd throughout the weekend. Gunna Sound, led by Campbell Brown and Johnny Scoular were in residence over the weekend, which proved to be very popular.

Another meeting point for many Tirisdich. The Saturday saw the launch of the Tiree Songbook, which was extremely well attended. Donald Iain has provided us with an update, within this edition. Overall, it is fair to say that the 117th Annual Gathering was another fantastic success. A great opportunity for many Tirisdich and connected Tirisdich to meet with old and new friends. The gathering weekend is a great testimony to The Tiree Association and its committee who do a fantastic job of creating such wonderful events.

The next upcoming event is the now annual Burns Supper which is taking place in Ralston Community Centre on Saturday the 28th of January. Stay tuned for more information regarding that.

Tiree Skiff

There has been a lot of interest in building a St Ayles skiff on Tiree since the subject came up last month.

Tiree Maritime Trust has therefore decided to fire the starting gun and work will start in The Noust in Scarinish in the second week in January.

After several extremely generous donations, we are on the way towards raising our target of £3,500 for the kits, wood and glues.

We would like to sell seventy £50 shares in the boat, and have already sold ten. If you are interested in buying a share of your community’s boat, please go to where in the right hand column there is a donations button. Please let me know if you do this, so I can keep a list of supporters and donors. If you are eligible for Gift Aid, you can get the form from me.

We have had a number of kind offers of help from a whole range of people. If you have some time to help build this beautiful boat between January and June, let me know. I am told chocolate cake is an important ingredient for projects like this!

An extra ingredient was added when Coll decided they would like to build one too. The race is on!

Tiree Success at Lochaber Mod

We are happy to report that Tiree was well represented at this year’s Royal National Mod, held in Lochaber.

Five local school children took part in competitions, having spent the last few months learning their pieces. Saturday saw the start of the competitions and we were delighted to hear that Emily Armstrong received a Bronze Medal in the under 13s Piano Instrumental. This is not the first-time Emily has competed in the Mod, having also received a medal at last year’s event in Stornoway – Well Done Emily.

On Monday, another two Tiree girls took to the stage, with Martha Campbell (P3) receiving a 4th in the 7-8-year-old Girls’ singing competition. Her sister Anna (P1) also performed in her singing age group and received excellent feedback from both judges.

On Tuesday the two remaining Tiree High School pupils performed with Kieran MacDonald (P6) competing in the Boys’ Singing competition. He wasn’t placed for a medal, however he received an excellent score and feedback for his performance. Lucy Kennedy (P3) was competing in the Girls’ Singing for her age group and received a Silver medal for her performance, a fantastic achievement for her first time at a National Mod!

Many congratulations to all children who took part, a very nerve-wracking experience for many. They all did exceptionally well and we hope to hear them perform on a stage closer to home in the near future.

It wasn’t just the children taking part in this year’s Mod, as local singer Ishbel Campbell took to the stage to compete in the singing competitions, with great success! Ishbel was awarded a host of prizes, picking up one of the top accolades, the Silver Pendant – a very well deserved award. She qualified for the final having already won a first and second place in the qualifying competitions. Furthermore, Ishbel was also awarded an additional three prizes, receiving the Catherine Gemmel Memorial Trophy for the female with the highest marks, The Morag Robb Memorial Salver for the highest aggregate marks in Gaelic and the John A MacRae Quaich for highest aggregate marks in Music. What a fantastic achievement and massive well done to Ishbel for winning such well-deserved awards.

A variety of other Tiree connected youngsters had successes at this year’s competitions. Kyle Rowan (Grandson of Catriona Rowan, Crossapol) received a Bronze and a Gold Medal in two different under 19 year old accordion competitions. Seona Brown (Daughter of Donald Iain and Elaine Brown, Crossapol) also received a host of different prizes within her categories, a third for singing, a second for fluent conversation, storytelling and singing and a first place for poetry recital. Very well done to both.

Both this years’ Mens’ and Ladies’ Gold Medal Winners were won by familiar Tiree faces. With Alastair Currie from Islay, receiving Gold for the Men and Rachel Walker receiving the female award. For the past few years Alastair has been the singing tutor at Feis Thiriodh (let’s hope he has been passing on his singing talent to his Tiree students) and Rachel is of course known as being part of Skipinnish.

A massive well done to all who competed and won awards at this year’s Royal National Mod, a fantastic achievement and experience for all.

Next year’s event is being held in Dunoon, let’s hope we will be reporting on further successes then.

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