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, http://tireeflag.com

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 http://tireeflag.com. 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.

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