Category Archives: Latest Stories

Special Skerryvore Track Release

International trad-fusion band Skerryvore are to release a new music video and a special edition of their EVO album tracks Soraidh Slàn and The Rise on Burn’s Day, January 25, with all proceeds going to Oban High School Pipe Band (OHSPB).

The project was inspired by a mind-blowing on-stage collaboration between the two bands at Skerryvore’s signature music festival Oban Live back in June 2018. The slow, respectful air Soraidh Slàn, a farewell to loved ones lost in 2017, plays before The Rise, an upbeat note delivered by all eight Skerryvore musicians playing at full pelt. Both were written by the band’s co-founder Martin Gillespie (Highland bagpipes) and produced by Alan Scobie (keys).

The new adapted tracks bring a pipe band flare with the addition of snare drum sounds and instrumental drum solo, as performed with OHSPB at Oban Live. The six-minute music video, an absolute must-see, was directed and filmed by multi-talented TV actor and film-maker Dòmhnall Eòghainn MacKinnon and stars Skerryvore and members of OHSPB.

In the video’s atmospheric opening, Soraidh Slàn plays as viewers hear spoken words from William Blake’s Introduction to the Songs of Innocence “Piping down the valleys wild” while watching stunning drone footage of the Isle of Tiree and Oban. It then leads into the exciting fast paced track The Rise with footage of OHSPB at Oban’s iconic McCaig’s Tower and that very moment that inspired the project, on stage with Skerryvore at Oban Live 2018.

Around 4,500 people at Oban Live 2018, and 93,000 viewers on Facebook, witnessed the unique moment when the 25 strong OHSPB joined headline act Skerryvore on stage. Goosebumps were sent across the concert arena when around 17 pipers performed in unison Soraidh Slàn. The haunting atmosphere was soon switched up to full adrenaline pumping speed when 15 drummers from the school band joined the pipers and all eight Skerryvore musicians for an extraordinary performance of The Rise, including a spectacular drum solo accessorised by LED drumsticks and stagelighting production.

Since it was founded in 2005, Oban High School Pipe Band, led by Pipe Major Angus MacColl, has had unprecedented success claiming the titles of Scottish, European and even World Champions in Novice Juvenile, being crowned Champions of Champions in 2010. OHSPB Pipe Major Angus MacColl said: “We are really grateful to Skerryvore to have this track and video released with proceeds going to OHSPB. Joining them on stage for such an exciting spectacle at last year’s Oban Live, as well as featuring in this stunning music video, has been a real highlight for OHSPB. Working with Skerryvore on this project has brought fantastic and well deserved opportunities for the young people to showcase their hard-earned talents to thousands of people and provided them with an experience that they will never forget.”

Martin Gillespie said: “Huge credit and thanks goes to Angus and all the young people in OHSPB. Their professionalism, talent and enthusiasm is very impressive and inspirational. They are a joy to work with. We were delighted to collaborate at Oban Live and give them such a valuable opportunity and experience which was equally memorable for us in the band too. We are delighted to donate the proceeds of this release to OHSPB, a great cause that provides many opportunities for young people in traditional music.”

Download and listen to “Soraidh Slàn & The Rise” on all formats, out Friday January 25, 2019. Full length music video, featuring OHSPB, will be available to watch on Skerryvore’s You Tube and Facebook page. All proceeds will go to OHSPB.

Dolphin Rescue

white beaked dolphin

On Tuesday 15th January, the Tiree BDMLR medic group were tasked to the live stranding of a believed porpoise.

When we arrived on scene it was actually found to be a white beaked dolphin. Although an unusual event, this has occurred in the past when three of the same species stranded on Tiree.

Once on scene the training previously delivered by the British Divers Marine Life Rescue truly kicked in, and with assistance from fellow medics and members of the public, we successfully managed to re-float the dolphin using learned techniques, which enable us to help the animals effectively with minimum stress. As we assisted the dolphin it was almost as if it knew we were trying to help!

The BDMLR is an organisation dedicated to the rescue and wellbeing of all marine animals in distress around the UK. If you see a marine animal that you believe to be in distress around our coast you can call on the BDLMR on 01825 765546 after which a local medic will be called to assist.

Please note, in the case of some seals and seal pups it is natural for this species to leave their young for periods of time and in some cases human intervention can do more harm than good, however if you are unsure, call the above number and someone will be happy to advise. Many thanks Donald Brown for reporting the dolphin, and to everyone who arrived on scene.

Special thanks to fellow medics Margaret Worsley and Mike Archer, and to Jack Lockhart for literally jumping in at the deep end to help!

Polar Bears Dip

The air was crisp and the sun shining down as the Polar Bears made their way into the Atlantic Ocean on the 1st of January for their New Year’s Dip.

It was the biggest gathering yet with around 10 people turning up for a refreshing swim in the cold sea. The group has been meeting frequently for over a year and welcomes swimmers and non swimmers of any ability and any age

! Cold water swimming has been proven not only to have physical benefits but also does wonders for our mental wellbeing!

Thanks to everyone who came along and made such an amazing start to the New Year! To find out more about our sessions you can find us on Facebook under Tiree Polar Bears.

A Seal Called Taz

I have quite an active job, but I’ve never been a big fan of exercise. For a ranger, jogging on Tiree’s beaches is a sure-fire way to uncover extra work: dead things that need to be recorded and sampled, or alive things that – for whatever reason – need to be sorted out.

I’d already passed a mummified dolphin and a fusty seal. When I spotted the pup, motionless and jumbled in with a cast of kelp, I chalked it up as just another casualty. However, it looked fresh. This warranted closer inspection, as it would likely need to be sampled In fact, the little seal was so fresh it was still alive – but only just.

It didn’t open its eyes to my voice, hand clapping, or even to a judicious prod with a kelp stipe. Though it was carrying a good amount of weight, it was clearly sick. Once it stirred, it started to shiver uncontrollably.

A group of community volunteers were recently trained to assist marine mammals in distress. After contacting the BDMLR and explaining that vets Anne and Mark were on standby, we were cleared to assess the animal. As a new volunteer team, we don’t yet have a full strandings kit. Following an examination by Anne, the seal was rolled onto a discarded tonne bag and carried back to our vehicles. This sounds straightforward – but the pup weighed almost 30-kilos. Even its weak protestations were enough to make the job awkward. It was deposited in the back of my jeep. At the surgery, Anne and Mark expertly administered antibiotics and hydrating fluids. Noting the animal’s laboured breathing and yukky nasal discharge, nobody was getting their hopes up.

The next morning, thanks to the fluids and initial medication, the seal was much better. Anne managed to source some Tiree Mackerel, which he munched with enthusiasm and then spat out all over the large animal area. Giving further treatment became challenging: 30-kilos of ‘no thanks’ – with big teeth at one end – will give even experienced handlers cause for thought. Anne consulted with the BDMLR and the decision was made to try for immediate release; rather than transporting the animal to the Fife rehabilitation centre, and causing considerable stress to all parties.

Volunteers Stuart and Linda came to help load the animal into a borrowed livestock trailer. When we arrived at the surgery, it was reclining in the bottom of the large pet unit like a giant slug; peppered with bits of half-chewed fish, and stinking to high heaven. It had no desire to leave this paradise. Indeed, it was so keen to remain where it was, that encouraging him out of the pet unit proved difficult.

All went smoothly until we reached the trailer ramp. Sensing that the good times were coming to an end, the seal wriggled off the tarpaulin and set out purposefully across Anne and Mark’s lawn. It made its feelings very clear on recapture, with a series of ill-tempered gargling noises. We had high hopes for a fairy-tale ending once we reached Balephetriash Bay. The water was calmer there than over at Gott, and as this animal was fully weaned Balephetrish offered a better option for the release.

When the ramp dropped we all stood back, record button at the ready, expecting our seal to sprint out and be joyously reunited with the sea. A couple of hostile snorts came from the trailer, but nothing else. Eventually, we decided to walk him out – at which point he bounced down the ramp in a very undignified fashion and landed like an angry sack of potatoes on the sand. From this vantage point, he glared at us all, and declined to move for the next two hours. We withdrew to the dunes and watched as the tide crept in.

Other seals bobbed in the surf, craning their necks and holding themselves upright to get a better look. While seals naturally spend time out of the water, they get all of their moisture from their food. As our seal had experienced a difficult few days, it was important for it to feed and avoid further dehydration. Even when the tide washed over the seal, it stayed put. Our proverbials were comprehensively frozen and it was pitch black. I couldn’t see the sea anymore; never mind the seal. Stuart and Linda kindly checked on him in the morning: he was very close to the same spot. Anne and Mark took another look, and decided that despite the previous day’s progress, something still wasn’t right.

Ann from The Green kindly lent us her large dog crate, and arrangements were made to have the seal collected at the Oban ferry terminal. Coaxing it into the pet crate was tricky. We then used straps to lift him up the dune track and into the back of the ranger van. When we reached the Scarinish Pier ferry queue, negotiations opened to find a suitable seal chauffeur. Alan Worsley and his canine companion Butch crumbled first. Alan chatted to the seal as it was removed from the back of the ranger van and safely installed in his transit. The seal responded with a series of yowls and much snapping of its teeth. Butch looked apprehensive.

Upon arrival in Oban, the seal was collected by a SSPCA officer and our BDMLR area coordinator. I am told that he was quite a handful when it came to administering further treatment. Staff at the SSPCA rehabilitation centre in Fife have called him ‘Taz’, after the famously angry cartoon character; at the last check, they still hadn’t quite got to the bottom of what was troubling him.

My sincere thanks to everyone who assisted us with Operation Seal: – Volunteers Linda, Stewart and Louise for time given; – Claire and Duncan for the Mackerel; – George for the use of his livestock trailer; – Ann for the use of her pet crate; – Alan and Butch for being Seal Chauffers; – Derek Wilson Carriers for very kindly transporting the borrowed pet crate back, free of charge. A special mention goes to Anne and Mark of Coll and Tiree Vets – who not only bore the main burden of caring for this animal, but have also purchased and donated two plasterer’s baths to construct a custom-made seal transporting device! This will be a huge help to Tiree’s Marine Mammal Medic team, and we will be fundraising for other items of kit in the near future.

Hopefully, Taz the seal will live to gurgle another day.

Highly Commended At The Nature of Scotland Awards

The awards presentation dinner was hosted by TV wildlife presenters Kate Humble and Euan McIlwraith at the Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh on the 22nd of November.

There were nine different categories: Young Nature Champion, Food & Farming, Business, Political Advocate, Innovation, Nature Tourism, Sustainable Development, Youth & Education, and our category – Community Initiative.

Within each category, there were between four and eight shortlisted projects, seven in ours.

Tiree’s bees got a special mention from Euan McIlwraith who “loved the title of this project”. Perhaps he thought that it was a great project about yellow bumblebees!

I am delighted with the result and proud of the recognition that our work has received, possibly even be a little relieved that we didn’t win the top prize – winners of each category were invited onto the stage in front of bright lights, cameras and around 400 people! Nervewracking.

As this award is for all participants and supporters of the project, we’ve made the original framed certificate available to view in the Ranger Service Information room at the Business Centre. Congratulations everyone!

Tiree Association Gathering

The third Thursday and Friday of November – the 15th and 16th – marked the 118th Gathering of the Tiree Association.

The concert – held at Partick Burgh Hall on the 15th and once again a Facebook Live Event – attracted some 120 people and proved to be an extremely successful evening. Following the remarks of our President, Margaret MacKinnon, John Campbell treated us to a selection of pipe tunes before our chairperson, Ian Gillies, delighted with his array of jokes and regaled the audience with tales of his early days on Tiree – we’re waiting for a new column in An Tirisdeach now: ‘Ian’s Anecdotes’.

He reminded us of the journey leading to the choosing of the Tiree Flag and the Association was proud to have an example of same – a gift from the Flag Committee – displayed in the hall.

As Ian introduced our artistes we were reminded of the sheer talent and range of achievements of each and every one. The concert kicked off with a rousing set from Martainn Skene on accordion and the tapping feet of the audience bore witness to their sheer enjoyment of the tunes. Alasdair Currie followed, much to the delight of the audience, with ‘Mo Mhathair’ and ‘Oran Mhanitoba’. Josie Duncan added to the relaxed ambience, inviting those present to join her in the chorus of ‘Ain’t No Ash’. Accompanist Kirsteen Grant provided stellar support to the singers – an accomplishment which was even more impressive as she’d had minimum notice of her appearance. Kathryn Callendar, who usually provides accompaniment, had to withdraw due to injury. (We wish Kathryn a full and speedy recovery).

After the inimitable James Graham completed the first half with a beautiful rendition of ‘Clachan Mo Ghaoil’ we moved to the interval.

Interval at the Tiree Association Concert would not be complete without Susan’s delicious dumpling and seriously tasty shortbread – for both we say Moran Taing!

During the second half Kirsteen led us all in a rousing sing a long before we were again treated to more from our artistes. After John’s vote of thanks the raffle was drawn; and a Grand raffle it was indeed! (Many thanks to Josie for her kind comments!) the committee would like to thank all those who so generously donated to the raffle – the list too long to itemise here.

The evening ended with a rendition of ‘Oidhche Mhath Leibh’ from all the singers accompanied by an enthusiastic audience.

A sincere thanks to all those who helped in preparation, on the night and by attending; thus making for a thoroughly enjoyable, uplifting evening.

Strictly Ceilidh Dancing

So, if Thursday was the concert then Friday must have been the dance!

Glasgow University Union was the venue and, from 9pm onwards, Dun Mor Ceilidh Band kept things jumping! An enthusiastic crowd immediately showed their love of the dance – any dance – and, as the evening progressed, eventually, a veritable tsunami of dancers was descending on the floor: the average age plummeted and, as these young folk birled around the floor, their sheer energy and enjoyment shone through: “..the piper loud and louder blew, the dancers quick and quicker flew.” To have their support – FANTASTIC! The committee would like to thank the band – who were magnificent – and all those who attended.

It was great to see so many over from Tiree to enjoy the concert, the dance, and more … As we head into the final month of 2018 we’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy and Healthy New Year.

And, as we head into 2019 – anyone fancy a Burns Supper? I can thoroughly recommend T.A. Burns Supper, Ralston Community Hall, Saturday 26th January. A three course meal, a toast to Burns and some superb entertainment – all for £15? You can’t go wrong! Hope to see some of you there.

Author Visit To Tiree

On Tuesday 20th November, the Tiree Library was visited by author Merryn Glover to give a workshop on The Ingredients of a Novel.

Merryn was born in Kathmandu and brought up in Nepal. She spoke of her fascinating upbringing and experiences, and how they inspired her first novel, A House Called Askival.

This was followed by a Q&A with the author, as well as home baking, tea, coffee and prosecco provided by Marion Burns and Monica Smith. Although the evening was chilly, the event was well attended and enjoyed by the islanders, where they had a chance to buy a copy of Merryn’s book and get it signed.

The following day at the Alan Stevenson House in Hynish, Merryn ran a writing workshop themed around Hands and Feet. The locals participated in writing poetry and small exercises.

Despite the event running for only two hours, it was gently-paced and inviting, with the freedom to participate in whatever parts the group felt comfortable. The atmosphere of the workshop was open, warm, non-judgemental and enjoyable to all that attended. Afterwards the group enjoyed lunch with Merryn, provided by Fiona Malcolm and her team in the cafe. If you would like to learn more about Merryn Glover, her website can be reached here:

Merryn’s book can be purchased from Amazon or a signed copy can be organised through her website by contacting her.

The event was arranged by Mairi Fleck, Training and Activities Coordinator from North Argyll Carers’ Centre, with funding from the Scottish Book Trust, to enable the Carers’ Centre to bring the event to Tiree for island carers and the wider community.

Tiree Rowers Hold Their Own At National Skiff Sprints

Four rowers from the island attended the end-of-season freshwater sprints held by the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association at Loch Tummel, near Pitlochry last weekend.

The four were all part of the team that built the Tiree St Ayles skiff, An Gille-Brìghde, earlier this year: Alasdair MacLachlan, Dr Ute MacGregor, Clare Jones and Dr John Holiday.

The event is held every autumn, attracting 150 rowers from as far afield as Northern Ireland and England. One club alone, Broughty Ferry, brought forty-four competitors. These were grouped into regional teams that battled it out in around twenty categories, from open mens’ teams to the ‘230s’, where the team’s ages had to add up to over 230.

Clare bravely rowed in the novice team for the north-west region. (By ‘novices’, they mean rowers who have never won a race). Dr Holliday told An Tirisdeach:

“The standard was blisteringly high, and, by all accounts, rapidly improving as the bigger clubs invest in winter training, technical improvements and weekly competitions. I made the mistake of agreeing to be part of a so-called ‘Intermediate’ crew. There’s nothing quite like rowing flat out for five minutes with three twenty-somethings from Ullapool to teach one respect and to give thanks at the end that one had lived to tell the tale! There was breath-taking sunshine and bone-numbing cold, but a great atmosphere among the rowers strung out in their teams along the banks of the loch. Several of the clubs had even brought pavilion tents with the club name emblazoned on them. Afterwards they held the AGM of the association. The 2019 Skiffie World Championships will be held in July in Stranraer, with over two thousand skiff rowers expected. We on Tiree have a long way to go, but I am sure we can build a healthy rowing group on the island and – who knows? – we might even get out there and start racing.”

The team had a good snoop around the skiffs on show, bringing a hoard of photographs back for the design team at home to work on.

Maclennan Motors Party raised £10,000 for Tiree Play Park

MacLennan Motors celebrated 40 years of business with a party at An Talla on Saturday 27th.

Family, friends and customers were invited along to join the party and it was nice to see everyone dressed up for the occasion.

Argyll Foods were the caterers for the evening who served up a fine selection of hot dishes. Entertainment was provided by local band Trail West who kicked the party off and followed by Big Vern N the Shoots finishing off the evening with an electric set.

Throughout the evening money was raised for Tiree Play Park with a raffle and an auction. Ian Smith did a fantastic job as auctioneer, pushing people to dig that little bit deeper into their pockets. We are delighted the auctioned to raised £4935 and the raffle bringing in £2700. With a selection of other donations and the bar income total was £10,000.

We would like to thank everyone for coming along and making the evening a memorable occasion. Special thanks for all the donations we received.

Tiree Tech Wave

This will be the last Tiree Tech Wave ‘as we know it’.

However, TTW will continue in spirit as a peripatetic event continuing the theme of technology at the margins (geographic or social), but in a variety of other locations. The first non-Tiree TTW will be in Penparcau in the Spring. If you have a location you believe would be good and are prepared to do a little local organisation, please get in touch wth Alan.

The Atlantic fringe was the haven of scholarship through the Dark Ages and is the haunt of windsurfers today. The Tech Wave tries to capture a little of the spirit of each (see vision); from mashups to breadboards, Arduino to RDF, we will consider the social and philosophical challenges of technology by engaging directly with it.

Come to take time to explore ideas that keep being put on the backburner, to be stimulated by others, or simply to be intellectually refreshed. As always there is no fixed agenda, the issues and activities depend on you! If you want to get an idea for what happens, read about previous Tech Waves or see some of the projects or outcomes.

Tiree Tech Wave offers a time to step out, albeit momentarily, from a target-driven world, to experiment and play with hardware and software, to discuss the issues of our new digital maker culture, what we know and what we seek to understand, and above all to make things together.

This is all about technology and people: the physical device that sits in our hands, the mashup that tells us about local crime, the new challenges to personal privacy and society and the nation state. It is also a chance to explore the margins and understand what technology means outside the urban digital heartlands.

Important notice: children under 16 must be accompanied at all times by an adult who is responsible for them.

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