Category Archives: Latest Stories

Tiree Wave Classic and Coll Challenge

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In endurance sports, they say that if you’re not living on the edge then you’re taking up too much room. The annual invasion of the tiny Hebridean island of Tiree by windsurfers from all over the world (including many top-ranking professionals) brings with it some of the most focussed, single-minded athletes you could ever wish to meet. But even though these surfers (or should it be sailors?) come to compete against each other they do it in a spirit of camaraderie and community.

They also like a bit of fun, which is as well because after the first day of the Tiree Wave Classic, sanctioned as a World Cup event since 2007, the Isle of Tiree decided not to live up to its reputation as one of the windiest places in the country.

For most of the week the little island, 14 miles long, 6 miles wide, was well and truly becalmed. Nice if you live here. Nice if you’ve come on holiday with the family. Not so nice if you’ve travelled, say, thousands of miles to get to the Tiree Wave Classic only to find there is not so much as a breeze and very little in the way of waves.

Timo Mullen (Ireland) effectively won the Wave Classic on day one of the competition. But these bare facts don’t paint the whole picture. The Tiree Wave Classic is so much more than a competition. Many ancillary events play an important part in making this 23-year-old competition a hit with islanders and competitors alike. For instance, the Tiree Team 15 Junior Racing Event, held at Loch Bhasapol, was a great success. 17 rounds of racing were completed with the junior racers prior to finally announcing the winners of the event. William Angus MacLean, of Wild Diamond Windsurfing, said ‘Overall the day turned out to be a great success, even with the light winds that we had over the course of the day. This is an event which we hope to grow for next year to involve more young windsurfers in racing and give them the opportunity to interact with the top stars in the sport.’

The highly anticipated Coll Adventure Challenge had to be ‘tweaked’ in view of the lack of wind. However the brave souls who took part were enthusiastic and the large crowd of spectators did their utmost to cheer them on. After a 6k run on the beach the competitors raced paddle boards in Gott Bay (instead of windsurfing to Coll). After the paddle board heats were over everyone piled into a Rigid Inflatable Boat to be ferried to Coll for the mountain bike stage. This was the second year in which this very special triathlon has featured at the Wave Classic and hopefully it is now a permanent feature. George Shilitto won the C.A.C. in spite of falling off his bike while going round the half-marathon course on Coll.

A host of peripheral events and activities ensured noone would be stuck for anything to do. This included a community drinks reception in which the public were extended a warm welcome to come along and find out more about the Tiree Wave Classic. In addition, the Tiree Lodge Hotel ensured there was something different on every night including two full to capacity gigs by local bands Trail West and The Defenders. And this is where the bit about ‘surfers liking fun’ comes in. There’s no doubt about it: if you want to be in the middle of a great party you had to be at The Tiree Lodge Hotel in the evening during the Classic! And whether you approve or not there’s no denying the fact that the photo-shoot at Gott Bay of three naked windsurfers certainly got the island into the news. There’s something about the combination of the words ‘nude’ and ‘windsurfer’ which causes internet search engines to go into overdrive. My own blog – Isle of Tiree Diary – had hundreds of hits within hours of my featuring a link to an internet report on the subject.

And so, the Tiree Wave Classic is over for another year. Undeterred by the unseasonably good weather here’s hoping these good natured, dedicated sailors – or is that surfers? – will come back next year. We’re looking forward to it already. And some wind to go with it, hopefully!

-Gordon Scott

Tiree attends Oban mod

Tiree pupils attend the 2009 Mòd in Oban

Tiree pupils attend the 2009 Mòd in Oban

21 pupils and 5 members of staff from Tiree High School attended the Royal National Mòd in Oban last week.

Ian Smith and Eilidh MacFadyen started the ball rolling when they competed in the Accordion competition on Saturday. This was a popular spectator event and the venue proved to be too small for all those wanting to get in to hear the competitors. Gordon Connell, the pupils’ tutor said the standard of playing was very high but he was very pleased with Eilidh & Ian’s performances.
Ian came away with a silver medal and although not in the top three, Eilidh gave a very creditable performance. This was her first experience of competing at the Mòd and will be better armed to compete next year.

The rest of the group competed over Monday & Tuesday in Solo singing, Conversation, Poetry recitation, Choral, Action Song and Folk group competition and although none were placed in the top three, the youngsters performed extremely well and did themselves proud.
It was a great experience for them and interesting for them to see how other competitors interpreted the pieces.

Some parents and friends came to Oban to support and this was much appreciated by the young people and the staff. Siusaidh NicNeill, who had been the driving force behind fundraising for the trip, said she was pleased and delighted with the performances and as she leaves Tiree to take up a new teaching post in Plockton she goes with very happy memories of the Oban Mòd.

Tiree adult choir – Oban Mod 199?

Are you in this photo?

Are you in this photo?

Are you in this photograph? Do you recognise someone in the photo?

If you can supply any information about who, where and when, please contact An Tirisdeach and we will be happy to print the relevant details in a future issue.

Camper Van Public Meeting

Camper van drivers were accused of living in “Never, Never land” when they arrive off the ferry taking them to a Scottish island.

they end up in a Never, Never land

Andrew Montgomery, the Duke of Argyll’s estate factor, claimed the owners of the vans and other types of motor homes, break the law by selflessly driving over valuable grazing land. He told a public meeting on the Isle of Tiree:
“When the drivers arrive here they end up in a Never, Never land and think they can do what they like. They will have to be educated that Tiree is part of the rest of Britain and they should respect the same laws as they do back home.”

The meeting, attended by about 80 local crofters and other residents, heard how the van owners damage the land and shoreline dunes by driving over unfenced areas to get to the beaches. John Bowler, chairman of the local Access group set up to protect the fabric of the island, accused the van drivers of emptying their toilets on open ground. He said:
“We don’t want to ban the vans, but we must find a balance to stop the damage being done to the island. To allow unlimited access to the island is unsustainable as the increased traffic has already impacted on natural environment, water, sewage, waste and transport systems.”
He said there had been a 154 per cent increase in the number of vans to the islands, including Barra, Coll and the Uists, this summer because the ferry fares had been halved by the introduction of the Road Equivalent Scheme.

The small camp sites had been full along with two local parking areas. The meeting voted overwhelmingly, with only three people against, to introduce a scheme to restrict the vans arriving to those that prebooked an overnight parking site. The scheme would allow locals to provide parking for a small fee and enable the van drivers to empty their toilets in their sceptic tanks. The drivers would not be allowed to travel on the ferries when booking with Caledonian MacBrayne unless they had prebooked a site.

Councillor Mary Jean Devon, of Argyll and Bute Council, told the meeting that other islands, Colonsay and Iona, had schemes to restrict vehicle numbers to safeguard the fabric there. Alison Spence, Tiree’s full time Access officer, told the meeting that she counted 20 camper vans parked at one of the island’s beaches that day, but could not say how many more were elsewhere on the 12-mile-long by five-mile-broad island.

The meeting also agreed to hold a postal vote of local residents on the scheme to “manage” the flow of camper vans to the island – population 800 – and which is owned by the Argyll Estates.

-Ian Sharp

Skerryvore Rock China

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And named Argyll’s Award Winning Entrepeneurs

Celtic Rock group Skerryvore made their furthest venture yet , travelling to the Far East to perform in Beijing, China.

The band were performing at the International Routes Event that was held in Beijing from the 12th to 15th September, attracting over 4,500 people from all over the world. The band also managed to fit in two other performances at music venue Ginko and went down a storm with locals and tourists alike.

Piper Martin Gillespie said “Beijing was an incredible experience for all of us, however, coming from Tiree which has a population of around 700 to then being in a city with a population of 14 million really did take my breath away. The locals were really friendly, and we received a fantastic reception at all three of our performances. We met the head of the Beijing Caledonian Society regarding performing at one of their annual events so hope to return to China again in the near future.”

Upon their return to Scotland, Skerryvore were then announced winners of the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) Young Entrepeneur of the Year for Argyll & Bute and received their award at a ceremony at the A & B Council headquarters in Lochgilphead. The band now go through to the National Final with the chance of winning Young Business of the Year for Scotland and £2,000 towards their company. PSYBT regional manager Mags Watson said “They have demonstrated ambition and enthusiasm for taking good ideas and transforming them into a successful, thriving business. We wish them every success in the future.”

Skerryvore’s second album, On the Road, released in 2007 was re-pressed within a week of its release. They are currently working on a new album.

Alan Reid MP’s Flying Visit to Tiree

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Mr. Alan Reid MP flew over for the day to Tiree on Wednesday 23rd September to hold a Surgery at the Council Offices.

Despite posters and advertising in the An Tirisdeach, it was a quiet morning and it would have been easy to think Tiree had no issues to raise with their Westminster MP. Also, due to Tiree’s extreme weather at the beginning of the week, the Modern Studies schedule was scuppered and Mr. Reid’s visit to Tiree High School was cancelled.

“The issue on everyone’s lips”

This gave Mr. Reid plenty time to be interviewed by An Tirisdeach before heading off for a late lunch at the Cobbled Cow, and then on to Ruaig to look at the turbine site as well as the two new builds at Caoles which have generated so much verbal indignation.

Our interview began with Mr. Reid stating that the “issue on everyone’s lips” was the camper vans that have increased due to the new RET system introduced this year. Although tourism is important to the economy of island life, it is argued that the camper vans add nothing to the economy and are frequently seen as detrimental to a fragile environment.
Andrew Montgomery, factor of Argyll Estates has had his own negative experiences with some of the drivers of camper vans who are insensitive to island life, and he is not alone as Mr. Reid stated: “the comments I have had from people have been mostly negative.” However, as the summer season is now over this is an issue that will come to the fore again next summer.

“Ill thought out regulations”

Mr. Reid’s opposition to the Draft Crofting Reform Bill has been well documented, he simply stated “ The proposed regulations are ill thought out and it will be extra red tape to no good purpose. The Scottish Government has to agree a sensible way forward with crofters that will give crofting a sustainable future. That is not apparent in the current Draft Bill.”

Inevitably the state of Cal-Mac ferries was discussed and Mr. Reid added to previous comments: “I receive regular and justified complaints that the winter sailings to Tiree & Coll are too few. I cannot stress enough the importance of building a fleet that would be reliable. The money has to be found.”

“It’s a disgrace that the firestation lacks basic facilities”

The plight of our firefighters also came up. “It is a disgrace that the fire station lacks basic facilities. It must be a priority to install them. Firefighters risk their lives to protect the local community, the least one can do is provide them with decent facilities. I will be keeping an eye on how this progresses.” The unregulated shenanigans of the bankers and the thorny subject of MP’s expenses also came up, but lack of space in this issue means these subjects will have to wait until issue 452.

Fire Chief Visit to Tiree Promises Results

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Due to the fundamental necessity of a Firefighting service on Tiree, issue 443 carried a front page story of our quietly heroic volunteers.

During the course of the interview it became apparent that all was far from well in terms of facilities, travel and training. Enquiries as to funding , and keeping the Tiree firefighters’ situation on the agenda of the relevant councillors and firefighting management , eventually led to a long overdue visit to Tiree on 25th August by the Chief Fire Officer Brian Sweeney for Strathclyde Fire & Rescue, the Argyll & Bute Commander Paul Connelly, the Convener and two Vice- Conveners of the Board as well as, amongst others, Councillor Donald MacDonald.

“The Chief Officer has given his commitment to upgrade the current site”

The visit was an excellent opportunity for the fire-fighters to air their concerns about a number of issues as well as clearly expressing their views on the need to improve the current facilities on Tiree.
The Chief Officer took note of the suggestions made as did the Board members who were fully supportive. Paul Connelly told An Tirisdeach “The Chief Officer has given his commitment to upgrade the current site if at all possible to include an extension that can be used to house toilet, shower and training facilities.”.

A commitment to explore and develop these ideas further was given with a view to putting something in place during the course of next financial year.

Tiree’s Margaret Worsley, Deputy Crew Commander was very positive about the visit and is optimistic that the guarantees they were given will bear fruit next year.

Vital Day Service Continues

councillors_mary_roddyCouncillors Mary-Jean Devon (Oban South & The Isles) and Roddy McCuish (Vice-Chair of Oban, Lorne & The Isles Area Committee) show their delight at the letter sent by Ann Austen Service Manager of the Social Work Departmment in response to the Day Service / Lunch Club’s letter to her Department.

Councillors Roddy McCuish and Mary Jean Devon held a surgery at Tiree Business Centre on Monday 7th Sept. Top of their agenda was our much cherished Lunch Club which is known as the Tiree Day Service.
Councillor Devon showed An Tirisdeach the letter which said “Sincere apologies for the manner in which people were notified of the intended closure of the Day Service. We will re-assess the situation over the next four months.” The Lunch Club were given assurances that the Club would be up and running by the 11th of September.

“We will be doing our utmost to keep this vital service”

Councillor Devon confirmed that this crucial service will run as normal until a consultation takes place. Councillor McCuish added ” Coming over here today can only endorse what Ann Austen said. It was handled poorly and having seen the facility for myself along with my colleague we will be doing our utmost to keep this vital service.”
Both councillors were unanimious in their unequivocal support of the Day Service, aware that the Lunch Club and Craft Class helps, amongst others, the elderly and the vulnerable. “We would encourage islanders to contact their councillors with any concerns regarding the island. We knew nothing about the situation until Mrs. MacCallum contacted us and we are thankful that she did.

“Sustaining communities in fragile rural areas is a big priority for us”

We will be more than happy to help continue this crucial service. Sustaining communities in fragile rural areas is a big priority for us, and we are committed in our support of islanders for these essential services.” The councillors pointed out that they can only act on information they receive and are keen that islanders keep them informed of issues that affect our community. Both councillors are aware that the problems islanders face are often unique to island life and do not always have a mainland equivalent.

Destruction of Caoles Dunes

caoles_beachAn Tirisdeach finally went to Caoles to find out what all the brouhaha was all about regarding the dunes at Caoles.
Indeed, it is a shocking sight to behold.
The sand in the picture is not a beach, but where the marram grass used to be. The 9,000 year old dunes were destroyed in the construction of two holiday homes.
A phone call to Andrew Montgomery the factor for Argyll Estates elicited the following response:
“ I am furious about what has happened. I have insisted the dunes have to be reinstated with netting on top of the dunes and marram grass re-planted. I will be keeping a close eye on the situation as it needs to be exactly as before.”
Mr. Montgomery informed An Tirisdeach that work will start immediately.
At time of going to press, all endeavours were being made to rectify the destruction that has taken place.

Minister for Children & Early Years Visits Tiree High School

minister_childrenMr Adam Ingram MSP, Minister for Children and Early Years, visited Tiree High School this week.
Accompanying the minister were Cllr Isobel Strong, Argyll & Bute Council’s spokesperson for Education, Mr Robert Grant, Head of Service for Secondary Education in Argyll & Bute and Miss Alison Coull, Deputy Director, Qualifications, Assessment and Skills.
The group were given a tour of the school where they were able to meet some members of staff but few pupils as the visit coincided with the end of the day for pupils. Three members of the Parent Council also met with Mr Ingram and were able to voice their views on some matters relevant to the school.
S2 pupils worked on an interdisciplinary task last term, the culmination of which was an island tour which proved very popular with tourists last June. Mr Ingram and his group were given as much of the tour as time allowed before plane time and they were highly entertained and impressed by the pupils’ knowledge and presentation skills. Mr Ingram indicated that this had been the first time he had visited a 3 – 18 school and had been impressed at the initiatives that were being taken forward especially in the field of Curriculum for Excellence. He also felt he had been able to grasp some of the particular issues which are unique to a remote island school and its community.
(Adam Imgrams MSP pictured with High School pupils Siobhan Kyle Jordan MacArthur Kyle Munn Huch MacKinnon Sean MacCallum)

Tiree Runners Island Adventures

runnersA trio of Tiree adventurers has been pounding the roads of two of our neighbouring islands.
On the 9th August, Will Wright, Joe Kavanagh and Gordon Scott set off from Tiree to take part in the Mull Half Marathon. Both Will and Gordon recorded ‘PB’s’ over the 13.1 miles as did the effervescent Joe, who was competing in the 10k walk.
Not content with this, however, the lads were off to the Isle of Coll to do it all again at the Coll Half Marathon. Will came home in 6th place in a time of 01:27, no mean feat given that the Coll route is very demanding. Once again, Joe did the 10k walk and once again he came in faster than he has done before. This time, Gordon took part in the 5k race, recording a time of 30:06 and coming in 3rd overall in a field of 16 runners.
Also running on Coll last weekend were Michael Holliday and Stephen Cameron, both of whom completed the Half Marathon is very fast times.
The evening was rounded off at the ceilidh in the village hall. Here we were entertained to yet more of what Tiree has to offer in the form of Trail West who played a blinding set and kept the audience enthralled – and dancing – all night.

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