Tag Archives: Isle of Tiree


On Saturday 31st January 2015 An Iodhlann held an Open Day to give more local Tiree folk the opportunity to come in and find out about what goes on there. The building was dressed with colourful bunting to draw people’s attention, and a number of staff, committee members and Summer volunteers were present to welcome visitors and provide additional insights into Tiree’s history.

An Iodhlann first opened its doors to the public in 1997 after refurbishment of the original building, known as The Reading Room (pictured left), which was built in 1886 as a waiting room for ferry passengers. The history of the building makes fascinating reading. The extension was built a few years after 1997, and the current permanent exhibition was opened around 2008.

Entry was free and each visitor received a free raffle ticket, the top prize being won by Morag MacKenzie. The event was a success with around 25 people dropping by over the course of the day (that’s 21 more than during the whole of November through January!) one person decided to join our growing family of members, and we raised a few funds through raffle ticket sales and donations.

Many thanks to all who attended and made the day a success, to the volunteers who helped out, to those who donated raffle prizes, and to Alan & Janette at the Cobbled Cow for the use of their ‘Open’ sign.

Janet Bowler


I went along to the open day but will have to go back as it merits a full half day rather than a quick half hour.

The layout has been well considered and there’s lots to see and discover. I was lucky to grab a few minutes with Janet to find out more about her role at An Iodhlann, here’s what she had to say:

My job title is Archive Manager, a role I have enjoyed since January 2009. It is the only paid position at An Iodhlann and part-time. My job is to catalogue and care for our library and all the historical artefacts, documents, photographs, and audio recordings, to welcome and assist visitors, to search the archive in response to queries from the public, and to keep an eye on the building’s fabric.

From time to time I work on additional specific projects such as Frasan, our ‘app’ that allows users to see some of our collection as they explore the island http://www.aniodhlann.org.uk/index.cfm?method=home.frasan . At the moment I am collaborating with our IT manager to create a new website, one of the aims of which will allow people to search the archive database themselves online.

Other specialised work is done voluntarily by members of the An Iodhlann Committee, most notably Dr John Holliday who is our chairman and does most of the historical research and collecting, and Mr Duncan Grant who is our genealogist and who helps people from all over the world trace their Tiree ancestors.


RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch


The annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch took place over the weekend of 24th and 25th January. Here, the RSPB ask the public to record the numbers and different species of birds they see in their garden or local park. These results are then logged and used to help the RSPB target specific areas of concern.

John Bowler, our local RSPB representative, teamed up with the Tiree Trust to hold a birdwatching session at the Rural Centre to mark this national event. Those who attended made bird feeders before heading outside to see what birds they could spot. John’s expertise was invaluable, and a wide variety of birds were spotted, including snipe, golden plover, song thrush and lapwing, as well as the more common starling and herring gull.

The afternoon was rounded off with hot-chocolate, biscuits, and lots of chat. There was a good turnout, and everyone enjoyed the afternoon’s activities.

The results will be posted on the RSPB website in due course, and for any further information on birds, unusual or otherwise, you can contact John Bowler on 220748 or by email john.bowler@rspb.org.uk

Cùram’s Care Center Project


In the last issue we heard about Cùram’s day care on Tiree, and how successful we have been so far raising the money to keep this going. But our other ‘hat’ is working behind the scenes with the various bodies to build a completely new care centre in place of the Scarinish ‘Home’ at Taigh an Rubha.

Cùram Thiriodh was set up after a big public meeting early in 2011, following an unsuccessful attempt to privatise care services for the elderly on Tiree. There were two things we learned early on: no one is building old peoples’ homes any more, apart from huge private ones in cities; and, looking at other islands, the process takes a long time. The care centres on Jura and Mull both took about ten years to plan and build. A similar £10 million project on Barra has taken even longer.

The modern replacement for ‘old peoples’ homes’ is the ‘Progressive Care Centre’, like those on Jura and Mull. These are built by Housing Associations, and are basically a number of flats connected to rooms for day care and community use. Each unfurnished flat is self-contained with a small kitchen/dining room and bathroom as well as the bedroom. The residents become tenants of the Housing Association, and every resident has their own individual social work ‘care package’. But as well as a new building, there are other changes in the offing on Tiree. The nursing and the social work teams on the island are about to be brought together under a national initiative to end decades of wrangling over budgets. The artificial distinction between those carers who work in the community, and those who work in Taigh an Rubha is likely to be phased out. And, most importantly, the new ‘Progressive Care Centres’ work in a different way to the old ‘Homes’. The staff will no longer be employed in ‘The Home’, but as part of a team of carers looking after individual clients, whose needs vary from day to day.

We don’t know how this is going to work on Tiree, but Cùram has made the case strongly to the Working Group that a new building is no use if the staff is not happy. After a couple of years writing proposals to the Council, without much success, Cùram was approached by Argyll and Bute’s Housing Department to ask if we were interested in joining a group to plan a new care centre. For a year we have been part of this ‘Working Group’, along with ACHA (Argyll Community Housing Association), the Health Board, and the Council’s Social Work and Housing Departments. We meet by video conference every couple of months, and are making slow progress. So far we have agreed the following:

· Tiree and Coll do need a new care centre; the existing ‘Home’ has got to the stage where it is not worth modernising

· After analysing the number of people likely to be living on the two islands in the next twenty years, we are presently aiming to build eight new residential flats and two ‘respite’ flats, one of which will function in much the way the ‘medical’ bed does at the moment

· Dementia is on the rise. We estimate there will be twice as many people with this condition in twenty years’ time. The new centre has to be particularly designed for this and there is a world-class dementia unit at Stirling University, which has agreed to help us.

· Attached to these flats we hope to build a day care centre, where Cùram can continue and expand its work. This will include a kitchen, so that fresh meals can be made for the residents that want them, islanders coming to the day care centre and the meals-on-wheels service.

· Existing residents should not have to move out while the new centre is being built

· There will be new offices for the care staff and district nurses in the new complex

It is possible that a new ambulance station will be built next door

· The group has decided that it would not be appropriate to build a chapel of rest as part of the same development

· The two possible sites being considered for this development are:

the area around Taigh an Rubha and the Rubha Cottages; and the ground around the doctor’s house in Baugh. An architect will be employed soon to produce a report on these two options. One possibility the Working Group has discussed is integrating some of social housing next to the Home into the new centre. The Tiree Community Council has noted this and has made it clear it does not want to lose the limited social housing we have on the island.

It’s all very slow work. I suppose it has to be when there is so much at stake and there are so many different organisations involved. Our decision to start agitating for a new ‘Home’ in good time seems like a good idea!

Cùram welcomes your ideas, your contributions and your energy: we always are open to new members. Our AGM is a good place to start.

Dr John Holliday, chair of Cùram Thiriodh

A harrowing escape

I was clearing out my old emails and I’m embarrassed to admit I have overlooked this
editor’s letter.
I thought you may like to read about the reader’s frightening experience and relief to
have been rescued by local men.

I would be pleased if you could send out a heartfelt thank you to two amazing people, Adam Milne from Beachcomber and Suds from the surf school.

Saturday 9th August 2014, my boys aged 16 and 10, wanted to go wave jumping in Balevullin beach, the waves looked great and the water crystal clear. We picked a spot in the middle of the beach and jumped in and over the waves, within a few minutes I noticed that we had drifted a great deal to the left of the beach and were heading rapidly towards the rocks. My husband on the shore, called for us to swim back up the beach. I took hold of my youngest and propelled him sideward and my husband swam out and helped both boys ashore.

Unfortunately, I was not managing to make any progress and was just swimming with all my energy and getting nowhere. My husband raised the alarm on his way to shore with the boys and Adam Milne tried to rescue me but very soon we were both stuck and being pulled towards the rocks. I was also panicking by this point and my head kept plunging underwater. My husband swam back out to us both with a boogie board and we gratefully grabbed it and all 3 started swimming for shore.

Meanwhile, Suds headed out toward us on a surf board grabbed me on board and headed across the water and out on a wave. I came in to hugs from my boys and my dog. Suds explained that the place I had been pulled to was one of 2 rip currents that appear on the beach at high tide.

I have grown up next to the coast and lived near the sea all my life but was unaware of how to react in a rip current. Rip currents can move up to 8 feet per second, faster than any person can swim! They are caused by a break in the sand bank. I was unaware how to get myself out and was becoming panicked and exhausted. I would be pleased if you could tell my story to raise awareness of how to react in a rip current, and send my thanks to two people who came to help me and saved me from going under.

Thank you! – Allison Leslie

For those that are interested in learning more, here are a couple of links that explain rip currents and how to escape them:



On Gaelic as (non)trivia


Hello a chairdean,

I am sure it was not intended in this way but the signposting of Gaelic as ‘trivia’ in the Tirisdeach is sending out a very poor message indeed, especially on an island that essentially exists in a Gaelic isolation as the last cornerstone of the language in Argyll.

I would have thought a swift response in both languages would be appropriate.

Le meas MA

Mary Ann Kennedy


Dear Editor

I am very sorry that I should have to write to you in these terms. As a native of Tiree, and also a prime mover in the establishing of Bord na Gaidhlig and the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act of 2005, I feel particularly strongly about your unfortunate ‘error of judgement’. It reflects, potentially and by implication, on myself and others who have done our utmost to maintain the Gaelic language across the years and in very difficult circumstances.

May I suggest, please, that the Tiree Development Trust and ‘An Tirisdeach’ should consider the newsletter’s editorial policy on Gaelic as a matter of some urgency? Might you even think of providing a paragraph of Gaelic in every newsletter, for the benefit of those who are trying to learn the language, as well as for the benefit of the island’s Gaelic speakers?

I would suggest too that it is a little unwise to entitle a page of this newsletter ‘Tiree Trivia’, whatever the language. Sooner or later, the validity of the title, relative to a particular item, will be disputed by someone. What is ‘trivial’ to one person may not be ‘trivial’ to another!

On a happier note, may I say how much I appreciate the brighter and better format of ‘An Tirisdeach’? That aspect of the newsletter has improved immeasurably, compared with its drab format a year (or less) ago. Well done!

Professor Donald Meek

Dear Mary Ann & Professor Meek

When the Trust approached An Tirisdeach to have a regular Gaelic saying featured in An Tirisdeach, it was embraced wholeheartedly. The suggestion of placing the article on the Tiree Trivia Page was in no way intended to upset or demean the Gaelic Language and speakers.

The situation of the phrase was chosen as An Tirisdeach is aware that many readers enjoy this page and considered it somewhere to showcase the language so many are trying to preserve with the intention that it may encourage more readers to try learning something new in a fun way.

Two actions have been taken as a result of the above articles,

1. The Trivia Page has been re-named “Fun Puzzle Page”

2. The Gaelic Phrase will be situated somewhere else in An Tirisdeach

Please accept my sincere apologies for the obvious upset this has caused not only to you but many others in the Gaelic speaking community. Regretfully I cannot reply in Gaelic as although I would like to, I do not speak the language..

Lyn Bryce, Editor

Senior Citizens party In Style


On Saturday evening a beautifully festive An Talla was the venue for the best party night of the year. Over a hundred happy and expectant citizens turned up for their Christmas Party and they were not disappointed.

A complimentary drink started off the night followed by Rev Alan Millar saying grace before Alasdair Straker, Balemartin cut the beautiful cake.

Josie and her team came up trumps again with the most delicious three course Christmas meal followed by coffee and cake. Crackers cracked, colourful hats were worn and there was some hilarity as jokes were shared and some tables even played Charades. Carols were sung after dinner and then entertainment was provided by Bernard Smith singing two beautiful Gaelic songs.

Santa arrived to Jingle Bells and he was also a complete entertainment package as he danced around the hall and teased the recipients of his presents, even comparing beards with one happy gentleman. Patricia Sharp donated a beautiful painting which raised over £300 in a raffle and was won by Sue Bottomley. Proceedings continued with dancing and games. During Pass the Parcel we found out among other things, which ladies had the longest painted nails and the nicest perfume and which gents had the sexiest smile and most beautiful hands.

Huge thanks of appreciation must go to The Parties Committee who organise this wonderful event helped by the An Talla Committee, bus drivers and many volunteer helpers. As you will see from the pictures there was a new Elf in the kitchen this year and he did a great job we hear!

TMF Named UK’s Best Small Festival


The multi-award winning Tiree Music Festival has now been hailed the ‘Best Small Event’ at the prestigious UK Event Awards at Grosvenor House, London.

TMF is proving to be one of Scotland’s most successful annual events having been awarded a commendation for ‘Best Small Festival’ at the Scottish event awards (having held the title in both 2013 and 2012) and been shortlisted at the Scots Trad Music Awards (ceremony 13th December). In 2013 organisers walked away with ‘Best Cultural Event’ at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and ‘Best Cultural Event in Scotland’ at the Thistle Awards.

The festival has sold out each year since its inception in 2010 and the early bird release for 2015 sold out in a record time with 750 tickets being sold in just over 6 hours. Festival Director Stewart MacLennan, who travelled to London for the final of the UK Event Awards said: “We are overwhelmed to have won this award. The judge’s feedback on our application was that the overwhelming positive impact the festival has on Tiree was commendable which makes it mean even more .When we started TMF six years ago it was with the intention to attract people to Tiree and give Islanders a great festival experience. We knew demand would be high for early bird tickets due to the number or emails and requests, however to sell out 750 tickets in 6 hours was much quicker than we imagined! It was also great that we made these tickets available to the local community first at our annual Community AGM and we’d like to thank all those who braved the horrible weather to attend last Thursday.”

TMF has been praised for its positive impact upon the local Tiree community with the 2014 economic impact report showing that 94.2% of the attendees were visitors to Tiree and on the island as a direct result of the music festival. The report also showed that three in ten respondents were newcomers to the island, which confirms that the Tiree Music Festival continues to play an important role in attracting new visitors to Tiree. The total economic impact of the Tiree Music Festival was £634,971 – an overall increase of 29% on the 2013 figure.

More tickets for TMF 2015 will be released in the New Year, to make sure you stay up to date with the latest news on TMF 2015 sign up to the mailing list at tireemusicfestival.co.uk

Charity Auction


Curam’s Slave Auction fund raiser was a runaway success. Over £4,000 was raised by the good folk of Tiree in support of keeping the Resource Club running. The Slaves’ objective was to provide a fun filled evening whilst raising funds for a serious cause and they all clearly achieved their goal.Some slaves were in costume donning laurels and togas and tirelessly worked the room, bestowing us with savoury and sweet canapes washed down with flutes of fizz.

The evening was kicked off by a warm welcome from Kate MacCallum who explained the purpose of the Resource Club and the positive impact it has on the Tiree Community. Kate then handed the mic to Maureen McMullen one of the locals who relies upon the Resource Club services. Maureen thanked everyone for supporting the Resource Club, explaining that it is her lifeline to living on Tiree. The Club allows the elderly to buy their weekly shopping, attend local meetings, social events and keeps them involved in the community.

And so it began….. In bounded Mr Will Wright the auctioneer for the evening who may have missed his true calling in life. He took to auctioneering like a duck to water keeping the atmosphere light, adding his little anecdotes to each LOT and egging on the bidder to part with more cash. There was a lot of bouncing back and forward and everyone in the hall was caught up in the fun and good feeling, even when out bidded.

One of the biggest laughs of the night was when pals Fifi Munn and Fifi Malcolm (sitting next to each other) independently began bidding to win a sail for two with Dr Keith. Fifi Malcolm won and turned to Fifi Munn and asked her to chum her, hilarious!!

Local DJ’s Bino and Andy must have spent ages selecting a song to link each LOT and my personal favourite was Spirit in the Sky to go with Cameron Kennedy’s offer to write a Will.

One of the biggest surprises of the evening was the telephone bidder for Jessie Gray’s clootie dumpling, my oh my, I thought I was in Sothebys.

A fabulous night enjoyed by all ages, thank you, you all deserve a huge pat on the back.

Tiree Association Annual Gathering


The third Thursday and Friday in November are always very special dates in The Tiree Association calendar of events as the Annual Gathering takes place: the 114th Gathering took place on the 20th and 21st November.

An audience, in excess of 100, soaked up the atmosphere in Partick Burgh Lesser Hall as the evening kicked off with a medley of airs courtesy of John. We were then entertained by Isobel’s witty repartee, Linda, Darren and Alasdair’s superb singing and Alan & Kyle’s exquisite instrumentals. A complimentary dram with Susan’s dumpling/ shortbread at the interval went down a treat before the audience participation started in earnest as Kathryn led us in a variety of favourites. The artistes continued the programme with some old favourites to which the audience continued to sing along. Fantastic!

Another great night followed, at Glasgow University Union, as Skipinnish played to a huge crowd of all ages. Many folk, having travelled from Tiree, had the chance to catch up with friends – old and young – in Glasgow. As you can imagine, the dancing was fast and furious; the band – phenomenal!

The committee would like to give a huge thanks to all those who entertained on both nights and a massive thank you to all those who bought tickets and joined in the tremendous fun on each occasion. Thanks also to those who donated prizes for the raffle.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that we have now launched our 100 club. If you require further details please contact us at contact@tireeassociation.com and remember …….. you’ve got to be in it to win it! Hope to see you at our Burns Supper 24th January 2015!

£1.2 Million Down the Drain


Like many of you, Tiree Community Councillors are unhappy – to say the least – at the state of the island’s roads only a few months after Argyll and Bute spent £1.2 million improving them.

Having completed my own survey of the Tiree road network I was amazed to see potholes, flooded cattle grids, poor passing place signage in some areas, bumpy, badly – finished passing places and other serious faults.

road_edgeThe most significant of these are the badly formed road edges which are now crumbling away and could result in safety concerns, particularly in the summer months when cyclists move in to allow cars to pass. We were told that this improvement programme would ensure that the roads would be serviceable for the next fifteen years. The way things are going they will be lucky to survive another winter!

The Tiree Community Council has passed on a 14 point document outlining faults to the head of roads at Argyll and Bute. This is backed up by photographs – all of which make it clear that the so-called improvements are inadequate for a modern road system. Now we are seeking to meet road officials because we believe the whole exercise has been a botch-up and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

potholeThe Council’s reaction to the points raised after our survey was, quite simply, to brush off every single one of our complaints as nonsense. We have also been told that there is no more money in the pot for Tiree’s roads. The purse is empty and there will be no more ‘improvements’ for a very long time to come.

Please feel free to send us your own thoughts on the road programme and if you think it has indeed been £1.2 million down the drain! We’d like to hear from you! You can contact us at alisonk@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk or www.tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

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