Tag Archives: Isle of Tiree

Tiree Community Council News


The Tiree Community Council met on the 1st of June in An Talla. The first part of the evening was made up of the AGM. The chair ran through a list of the areas where progress had been made: securing two flights a day all year round; a summer double ferry sailing on Saturday and taking our place on the Argyll Ferry Users’ Group; lobbying to keep the laying of the fibre-optic broadband cable to the island on programme; putting the Tiree case for the upcoming Islands Bill; and fighting for the library service and the Crossapol office in the face of Council cuts.

We have had less success convincing the roads department that the island’s roads were in need of significant investment, and moving some derelict vehicles. The Treasurer reported that we had £1,826 in the bank, much of that a Windfall Fund grant of £1,000 which we have not had to call upon this past year.

Angus John MacKechnie, Frazer MacInnes and Alison Kennedy had resigned as Councillors during the year, while Iona Campbell, Paul Le Roux and Rhoda Meek had been coopted in their place until the next elections in November. We had a new website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, and had met in public eleven months of the year. Dr Holliday was re-elected Convenor, Ian Gillies took on the post of Secretary and Rosemary Omand was re-elected Treasurer. We then went on to a Business meeting.

We had asked for the holiday closure of the Council Service Point office in Crossapol to be advertised in advance, as far as was possible. The management had agreed to this in principle.

We had met with the Tiree Trust and it had been agreed to set up a monthly litter tidy, township by township. We agreed this should be called Sgudal.

We discussed changes to the Pre-5 schooling, where Gaelic medium was being re-placed with a bi-lingual programme after a consultation with the parents. This would be looked into by the Parent- Teacher Council.

Tiree Community Council has a proposal to buy some of the rotting phone boxes on the island, restore them, and put them to community use. There is a public consultation about this at the moment, so if you have any ideas or objections, do get in touch with us.

The Community Council and the Trust were looking into setting up a Chapel of Rest in an unused building near the airport.

We agreed to set up a group of interested people to oversee the Tiree flag project, and we had been asked to commission a Tiree tartan at the same time. If anyone is interested in joining this group, please let me know.

We agreed to write to the committee who had run A’ Bhuain, thanking them for the wonderful week they had organised.

We had had an estimate from Stokes Memorials to refurbish Dr Buchanan’s monument in Baugh, and we will consult on this.

We had been approached by the estate to join a group of island organisations to develop policies about sand extraction from the beaches and beach access. We agreed to write to the new factor, welcoming a meeting.

We had been approached by a resident of the new houses at Pier View,who told us how expensive the houses were to heat. We agreed to write to West Highland Housing Association to hear what could be done about this.We hope to visit the Orkney island of Westray in September to see how other, similar, islands are managing.

The meeting lasted over two and a half hours, for which apologies!

We gave a lunch for Alison Kennedy, who is leaving Tiree, to thank her for years of hard work at the Secretary’s coalface. We are really missing her!

Dr John Holliday, Rosemary Omand, Ian Gillies, Rhoda Meek and Paul Le Roux were in attendance. John MacCaskill sent his apologies. The Council has no meeting in July due to the busy summer schedule, so we meet again in August. However, the behind-the- scenes work will go on, and if you have any issues you would like to bring up, do get in touch.

Dr. John Holliday

A’ Bhuain – The Tiree Homecoming – A Great Success


An Talla was once again packed with a crowd on Friday the 27th of May as a wonderful week of activities to celebrate the Tiree Homecoming came to an end! The final concert and dance organised by An Commun Tirisdeach – The Tiree Association was an exceptional night which finished off an even better week.

A’ Bhuain 2016, ten years in the making but worth the wait, was described as many visiting ‘homecomers’ as the best week of their lives. With over 130 people from all over the world descending on Tiree the island was a hive of activity with an action packed week of talks, ceilidhs, plays, workshops, dancing, music, storytelling and much more!

We covered the beginning of the week in the last edition of An Tirisdeach, when we reported on the wonderful opening ceremony chaired by local man Gordon Connell along with a talk on Tiree’s Whisky heritage and launch of Tiree Whisky Company – which you can read more about on page 12. On Monday we were also treated to an interesting lecture by Donald Meek who talked about his life growing up on Tiree, family and memories of Tiree. Tuesday marked the beginning of the workshops that were on offer throughout the week. There was an excellent turn out for each workshop, which included tutoring from Tiree’s elite! You could choose from ceilidh dancing with Jessie Gray, accordion lessons with Eilidh MacFadyen, Ulpan (Gaelic) classes with Rhoda Meek and singing lessons from Ishbel Campbell. Workshops ran from 10am through to lunchtime, when attendees were then able to indulge in delicious soup and sandwich lunch, and a variety of homebaking. Each day a different local committee took their turn in the kitchen, using the opportunity to fundraise for their group or activities. Lunches were open to everyone and each day there were special guests from the Tiree community in attendance.

Tuesday saw our second talk of the week, from Alison Kennedy and Mary MacLean who gave an informative talk about Captain Donald MacKinnon. That same day, local RSPB officer, John Bowler led a walk and bird talk, looking at Tiree’s special birds.

Tuesday continued to be a very busy day indeed! In the evening we were treated to a fantastic performance from Tiree’s ‘West End Players’ who performed the Napier Play, written and directed by Mabel Macarthur. The play was excellently written, directed and performed, telling the story of the Napier Commission Enquiry, which was held in Kirkapol Church on the 7th of August 1883, which led to many of Tiree’s residents emmigrating to foreign lands. And Tuesday is still not finished. After the play attendees got the opportunity to dance to two of Tiree’s finest accordion players, Ian Smith from Trail West and Eilidh MacFadyen from Dùn Mòr.

The sun shone all weekend, with Tiree living up to its name of the ‘sunshine isle’, giving us perfect conditions for Wednesday’s walks and tours. Doctor John kicked the day off with a talk on the Vikings of Tiree, a subject that he has been researching for some time now! Following on from this talk there was then a graveyard tour led by Catriona Smyth, who has worked on a project with An Iodhlann to map and transcribe old gravestones from three of Tiree’s oldest graveyards!

During Wednesday afternoon participants also got the chance to go on the very popular Tiree Tour with Mabel Macarthur and Nancy Kennedy. The bus tour takes attendees all over the island giving them an insight into a variety of interesting facts about Tiree, from history and present day! The tour was very well attended and gave everyone the opportunity to see Tiree at its very best! On Wednesday evening we were treated to an excellent night of tunes, songs and stories from the very popular Skipinnish! Lead accordionist and Tiree native, Angus MacPhail and his band had the whole hall toe tapping and singing along to their very popular songs along with a variety of famous Tiree tunes! It was an excellent night, enjoyed by all!!

With the week nearing an end, Thursday saw us hearing from another Tiree local, Ian Smith who was joined by ‘homecomer’ Sharon Clayton, to tell us about the Balephuil Fishing Disaster of 1856. An interesting talk took place along with a field visit to the site of the disaster. In the evening, homecomers got the opportunity to experience a traditional Tiree ceilidh in the homes of various locals. There were tunes, singing, storytelling and poetry from a host of local and visiting guests, an excellent experience for all!

Friday brought us to the last day of this terrific week long event, but there was still lots to cover! The morning was started with the crofting tour, organised by the Cattle Show committee. This fully booked bus tour stopped at various crofts and farms around the island, looking at old and new farming practices along with hearing about some of the history of crofting on Tiree! Back in An Talla there were back to back talks, starting with ‘The Black Factor’ presented by Robin K Campbell who talked about the infamous factor, John Campbell. Straight after this we heard from Archie Henderson who talked to us about his research into the ‘Kirk Session Minutes’. And on Friday evening, we come to the last event of the week, the final concert and dance organised by The Tiree Association! Both events welcomed a host of extremely talented musicians,some who have never performed on Tiree before and others who are native to the island. The concert was put together by the musical director for the evening, Mary Ann Kennedy and we were treated to an excellent mix of tunes and song, that complimented the theme of the homecoming event!

Many stayed on for the dance which followed the concert and An Talla was full of people dancing, singing and socialising – creating an excellent atmosphere to round off a fantastic event! From start to finish, A’ Bhuain, The Tiree Homecoming 2016 was a wonderfully organised event, which will leave people with excellent memories for years to come. An Tirisdeach would like to say a very big well done to all of the hard working committee and people who were involved in making the event so special and we are eagerly waiting on confirmation of ‘take three’!

For more pictures, videos and accounts of the week’s activities, make sure you log on to the website and social media pages!

A’ Bhuin – The Tiree Homecoming


After months of organisation and planning, A’ Bhuain week is almost upon us!

In just over a week’s time Tiree will welcome a host of people from all over the world who are returning home to join the rest of Tiree for this week long event!

An excellent programme of activities has been planned, including talks, workshops, ceilidhs, site visits, dancing, classes, a play, whisky, a book launch, live music and lots more!

Everyone is invited to take part and I’m sure there will be something that interests most people. The whole programme can be viewed and downloaded by visiting www.tireehomecoming.com.

An Talla will be a hive of activity throughout the week, so make sure you pop in to see what is happening. Lunches will be served daily, merchandise will be on sale and hopefully there will be lots of people milling around, chatting and having a great time. The committee look forward to seeing you all there and hope you enjoy the week. If you have any questions or would like further information then please visit the website above or get in touch with Jessie Gray (jessiegray49{@}gmail.com) or Rosemary Omand (rosemary.tiree{@}icloud.com)

A Tiree Flag?

Barra flagBarra has one (green with a white Nordic cross).

South Uist also has one (green with a white and blue Nordic cross). The Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Angus all have one. The Scottish saltire was everywhere during the independence referendum. But should Tiree get its own flag?



South Uist flagWhen I go to Shetland, I am always struck by the number of houses that fly the Shetland flag. They send the message: we are proud of this part of the country, and we belong here.

I wondered at the last Community Council meeting whether it was time to think about a Tiree flag again. Designing a flag might look easy, but it’s tricky to find something new, something simple, and something beautiful. We would need a competition where designers here and all over the world could submit their thoughts, and then an island-wide vote to choose a favourite.

But first we need to decide if we want a flag at all! Some people love flags. Others think they are a waste of time and money. So Tiree Community Council is launching a consultation: let us know by the end of June what you think, yes or no. Write to the Community Council in Crossapol, post a vote in Bùth a’ Bhaile or the surgery, or go to our website and vote there. Have your say and take part in the Great Tiree Flag Vote!

Scottish Hydro Store Closing

Scottish Hydro closing

Two weeks ago Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) announced that they planned to close their 37 remaining Hydro Electric stores, including ours in Tiree.

The Hydro store has been operating from their premises in Scarinish for many years and will be a big loss to our community, including the loss of a job. The press release from SSE stated that all shops were expected to close by the 15th of May and we received confirmation that the Tiree branch will be closed as of the 2nd of May.

SSE director of domestic retail Stephen Forbes said changing shopping habits and more customer choice meant the shops have been loss-making for a number of years. He said: “Customers’ shopping habits have changed considerably since these shops were first opened with more and more people shopping online, especially for larger electrical items. We know some of these shops have been on local high streets for a long time so we did not take this decision lightly but footfall and sales have reduced considerably and there is, unfortunately, no realistic prospect of that long-term trend reversing.”

Island Communities Take Action Against Council Library Cuts

The Council cuts have been described as ‘salami slicing’; this is throwing the whole sausage away


Tiree High School Parent Council and Tiree Community Council have issued a press release in response to the proposed cuts to the library service, which will result in the loss of library facilities in Tiree.

Tiree High School Parent Council, Tiree Community Council, and local residents of Tiree are furious over the Council cut to their library service, joining the community of Mull who are also up in arms about the proposal. Argyll and Bute Councillors decided, as part of their budget for next year, that Tiree, along with Mull and Iona, should lose their secondary school libraries. This decision has sent shock waves through the community, as the librarian on Tiree also serves the thriving primary school and the wider community. Paul le Roux, Vice-Chair of the Tiree Parent Council told the Oban Times, “We are appalled by this short-sighted decision. The Scottish Government has made the improvement of literacy and numeracy a priority, yet Argyll and Bute want to take our only public access to books away from this island community by removing our librarian at a time when use of our library by the community and children is growing year by year.”

A Tiree resident, who has children at the school but asked not to be named, said, “Tiree High School library caters not only for the High School, but also for the island generally, including Bookbug for under 5s. This is a community that cannot head down the road to another public library – it is our only library. Buying books online is not a replacement for a public library service. Not only does it cost money, but on the one hand we are encouraging children to reduce their screen time, while taking away the opportunity to be able to offer them a good old-fashioned book in its place. Tiree will be losing our library while Argyll and Bute Council reassures us that their hanging baskets will be protected – although I haven’t seen many of those on Tiree.”

Dr John Holliday, Convenor of Tiree Community Council, said, “The Community Council is outraged by this decision by Argyll and Bute, which is possibly in breach of their statutory obligations. If this cut goes ahead our nearest public library will be a four hour ferry ride and an overnight stay away. Our librarian, as part of our community school, provides a wonderful service for older members of the community, for many of whom their day out to the library is one of the high points of their week. It works both ways; the school pupils benefit from the books that the Library Service sends out to Tiree. The Council cuts have been described as ‘salami slicing’; this is throwing the whole sausage away.”

The two bodies are calling upon Argyll and Bute council to engage with the Tiree High School Parent Council and Tiree Community Council and to rethink their decision to deny their community this valuable resource. A petition has already been set up to gather support for all libraries affected in Argyll and Bute. You can sign it here:


Your Community’s Council

There was another good turnout for the last meeting of the Community Council on the 4th of November in An Talla.

We welcomed our two new members: Iona Campbell from Baugh, and Sam Bouchnak from Scarinish, who was the only applicant to put himself forward when we put out a public appeal last month.

One of the main topics was a detailed report on the possible ferry timetable for next summer. There has been some hard bargaining between John MacCaskill and Ian Gillies on the one side for the Tiree Transport Forum, with Cal-Mac and Transport Scotland on the other. Tiree’s argument has been that the island was being given less ferry space than other islands, and that we had had no increase in sailings when RET flooded the Tiree route a few years ago. The draft timetable now has all morning boats leaving Oban at 7.15am; the Tuesday sailing restored to 2.45pm; the Barra connection moved to the Wednesday; and for two boats to come out on Saturdays during the summer season, leaving Oban at 7am and 3.30pm. There are some extra fuel costs that will need the approval of the Scottish Government, and it’s by no means a done deal yet. The Council formally voted to back the proposal.

We also talked about the forthcoming Islands Bill, which is up for consultation. We can all see that Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles are well organised when it comes to lobbying Edinburgh. Scotland’s other scattered islands are easily forgotten, especially the 23 inhabited islands within Argyll and Bute. During last year’s referendum Edinburgh grew nervous that Shetland would declare independence by itself, and the moment is right for Scotland’s islands to push for more resources. Ian Gillies is leading the fight for the ‘forgotten islands’.

Some members of the Community Council met with Stokes Memorials regarding Dr Buchanan’s monument. We all walked up to the remains of the monument itself and then down to the quarry to inspect the broken pieces. Stokes are now going to price up an amended scheme to use the existing granite to re-build a shorter pillar, as well as a scheme to make a cast-iron structure. We’ll take these plans back to a Council meeting for a decision, in tandem with Professor Donald Meek who has led the project, and then look for funding.

We had a private Councillors’ meeting a fortnight ago to thrash out new procedures. We agreed it had been so useful that we will hold one every month, in-between public Council meetings. These private meetings are closed to the public, but we do have to report back to the next open meeting in general terms what we have been discussing. The public meetings remain the place where all major decisions will be made.

We discussed our planning procedure too. We will only become involved at the stage when the project reaches the public planning list, if we think the project will affect most islanders, or if it’s a really groundbreaking building. Our job then will be to find out what people think, possibly by calling a meeting or having an on-line questionnaire, and then sending these opinions to the Council planning department. Most building projects won’t involve us at all. Our role is to reflect your opinions. We did agree that islanders could write to us with their thoughts and we would keep their identities confidential if they requested this. Enormous projects, like another wind farm, will definitely involve us from the start.

The Council is planning £9 million pounds worth of cuts this year, with the same again next. They have distributed questionnaires (available at the Crossapol office and on-line at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/forms/planning-our-future-public-consultation) to ask where we would like the cuts to fall. Some people thought we should fill these in, to show what services we valued most, but quite a few others said we should have nothing to do with it – Tiree was a community on the edge, and any cuts were completely unacceptable. The Council have agreed in principle to send an official and a Councillor out to hold a public meeting on the island about this, and we will let you know when that is. We will need a huge turnout at that.

We agreed to take over the organising of the War Memorial service from next year. We also agreed that we would write to the local Housing Associations to ask if we could encourage a family of refugees to come and live in one of their unused properties on the island.

Rosemary Omand, Alison Kennedy, Dr John Holliday, Iona Campbell and Donnie Campbell were in attendance.

Tiree Community Business – Update


Following the article and appeal in the last issue of An Tirisdeach, the Directors of Tiree Community Business were delighted and encouraged by the turnout at the recent AGM. The office bearers were elected as follows:

Chair – Catriona MacLennan, Vice Chair – Jessie Gray, Secretary – Mabel Macarthur, Treasurer – Myra Brown

The following were elected as new Directors: Alan Millar, Rosaleen Campbell, Louise Reid, Ian Gillies, Fiona Malcolm, Stewart Meikle, John Bottomley and Carole Stoker.

This is an exciting time for TCB and the addition to the board of these new Directors will help to ensure a strong and healthy future for this well established local business.


At present we have one member of staff, Norma Omand, and the hours of business are as follows until further notice: – Monday – Friday 11.00am – 3pm.

AN TIRISDEACH – the way forward:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things:

Of shoes and ships and sealing wax Of cabbages and kings And why the sea is boiling hot And whether pigs have wings.”

Could this be a description of An Tirisdeach – A collection, every fortnight, of interesting, mundane and normal events?

After 25 years at the helm the group in charge of An Tirisdeach feel that the time has come to let a new group, with different ideas and skills, have a go!

We envisage a group of people running all aspects of the paper in the future rather than one editor. It is Tiree’s paper so we would like Tiree people to get behind it and run it. Whoever takes on An Tirisdeach will have the backing of Tiree Community Business and its facilities to enable the group to continue to produce the paper.

TCB Directors have various ideas which we would discuss with the new group – one of them being to perhaps move to a monthly paper rather than fortnightly – and there is also the possibility of some of the work being carried out at home.

There must be several people out there who could bring enthusiasm and new ideas as well as IT skills to the running of An Tirisideach. We are not looking to reinvent the wheel – just to take over the pushing of it. Eg.-

  • Collation of articles
  • Graphics/Layout
  • Finance/Advertising/Marketing
  • Ear to the ground
  • New ideas


TCB plan to upgrade the IT hardware and software in the office but this would form part of the discussions with the new group before anything is purchased. At this stage TCB is looking for names of interested persons and then discussions will take place as to the way forward. If you would like to be involved in this exciting new development please contact either Catriona MacLennan – catriona{@}maclennanmotors.com or Jessie Gray – jessiegray49{@}gmail.com before Friday 11th December 2015.

Ceabhar is crowned Isle of Tiree’s Recycling Can Champion


Ceabhar Restaurant and Guesthouse has been crowned the Isle of Tiree’s recycling champion with a national award recognising their can recycling efforts.

Ceabhar, located in Sandaig, has not only reduced its waste by 40% but has raised thousands of pounds for the local community through the organisation of its recycling. Their business is now more efficient, environmentally friendly and its owners have become obsessed with finding even more opportunities to expand their recycling efforts.

Ceabhar’s environmental initiatives are also attracting ‘green tourists’ giving them a niche in the local hospitality industry. Speaking of Ceabhar’s achievement the Guesthouse owner Duncan Castling said:

“Every Can Counts has started a green revolution in our business. From cans to activities that impact on every single part of our trading environment, we are now aware of it and are thinking more about the environment and recycling in all areas of our business.”

Duncan and Polly invited An Tirisdeach to see the changes they have implemented and it is really impressive what the couple have achieved in a few years. They try to be as environmentally efficient as they possibly can and it is clear they live by their convictions as there are signs all around the restaurant and guesthouse proving they walk the walk.

Both are passionate about recycling and are happy to share what they’ve discovered with other people. They spend time with the guests in the self catering house explaining how they can recycle during their time on Tiree and find that their guests enjoy it and often leave with tips to take away with them.

As mentioned above they have been awarded the Trip Advisor Platinum Green Leaders Award but they are not resting on their laurels and are planning solar panels in the restaurant and a wind turbine which will provide the restaurant’s hot water. Their garden is awash with plants and home grown vegetables and in the corner is Polly’s pride and joy, the composter which is truly impressive- Duncan opened it up and gave it a huge stir up to show me just how effective it is (and whiffy!) Polly explained she has learned so much about composting and encourages anyone to get in touch as she’ll help and advise anyone who would like to “get started”.

They have sayings to remind you of how easy it is to recycle, my personal favourite relating to the can recycling is “wash it and squash it!”

They are a warm and welcoming couple keen for a greener, cleaner Tiree, they so deserved to win these awards. Congratulations 🙂

Visit from Labour MSP


Rhoda Grant, Labour MSP representing Highlands and Islands, paid a visit to Tiree last week.

On her first fact finding trip to the island Rhoda toured the business centre and met members of Tiree Community Development Trust and Tiree Community Council.

Rhoda is interested in health care in rural areas and has a ‘bee in her bonnet’ about the delivery of broadband services to remote locations. She said, ” There is no better way to find out about the issues which affect folk in rural Scotland than paying a visit to talk to people. This is my first time on Tiree but I hope it won’t be the last!”

Rhoda talked at length to Tiree Community Councillors Ian Gillies and Alison Kennedy about air and sea transport and travel problems, about economic development on the island and about broadband issues and mobile phone signal coverage. She was in complete agreement with the argument that development on Tiree, as with other remote locations, was increasingly dependent upon improvements to mobile and internet services. She said, “There is no question that these things are of crucial importance and everywhere I go I am told that the extension of good internet connectivity to rural areas is vital. If these parts of Scotland are left out of the loop they will wither.”

Ian Gillies said, “We had a very productive meeting with Rhoda and hope that she will visit Tiree again soon. We did not hold back in making her aware of the most important issues that affect people here and she took it all on board.”

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