Tag Archives: stories

The Secret Island

secret Island Authors

Dr John Holliday, Charles MacDonell, Donald
Meek, Bob Chalmers and
John Randall.

‘The Secret Island’ is a real first for Tiree.

In a book containing 20 chapters launched last week, in which 18 authors discuss different aspects of the history of the island since 1745 a fascinating story of the past unfolds.

Our very own Gordon Scott, Iain Smith, Iona Brown and John Bowler contribute chapters on the church, the Balephuil fishing disaster, Tiree gaelic and history of birds and their habitats. Professor Donald Meek has written four chapters, on the land struggle, transport, Non -Conformist churches and the Rev John Gregorson Campbell, and Lesley Ferguson discusses the work of the archaeologist Erskine Beveridge on Coll and Tiree.

The book is a real treasure house for those seeking historical knowledge of the island and varied perspectives on its past. The book was born after the huge success of the Secret Island history conference last year. Up until the publication and launch of ‘Secret Island’ last week, Tiree was one of the very few Hebridean islands without a full-length recent book which covered its remarkable history.

Dr John Holliday, chair of An Iodhlann, which organised last year’s conference said ,”It is really wonderful to have this book as a permanent record of so many aspects of the island’s past and it is a real step forward in trying to understand the secrets of this very special place.”

The 425 page book is priced at £12 and is available at An Iodhlann, the Tiree Business Centre and also may be bought in all good bookshops. It makes a wonderful read !

More Contributions Please!

The last issue of An Tirisdeach contained the above plea, but it is noticeable that despite fairly provocative articles in recent issues of An T, (the Geese of Tiree, Road Equivalent Tariff issues, and in this week’s issue, Community Land Ownership), reader response has been a little underwhelming.

I know that these issues are topical and relevant because I hear folk discussing the very same matters on a daily basis. With a circulation currently standing at 800 copies, plus an online version which is read all over the world, An Tirisdeach is an ideal medium, and open to anyone to promote their thoughts or ideas to a wider audience.

Possibly there is a subject that An Tirisdeach has not as yet covered and which needs an airing. If so please let us know and we will do our best to research the relevant information and then get the content out there for comment and debate. While we do like to print the names of contributors, in the interests of fairness and openness, we can also withhold your name from publication, if you wish.

We are certainly not in favour of a newsletter dominated by advertising, though this forms an important part of maintaining the economic viability of An Tirisdeach, but we are always looking for a greater emphasis on local content that is relevant to Tiree.

So, a respectful plea to our readers to share with us, some of your thoughts, ideas, likes, hates, hopes and fears, when we can really begin to understand some of the things that are important to you!

Ian Gillies, Chairman, Tiree Community Business Ltd. (owners of An Tirisdeach)

Contact us; t. 01879 220520

email; antirisdeach{@}btconnect.com

Fèis Thiriodh 2011

feis header

Ar ceòl, ar cànan ’s ar dualchas – our music, our language and our culture. Pride in the rich traditions of Tiree is the theme of Fèis Thiriodh 2011 which starts this week.

Stand out evenings are the night of traditional baking on a busy Thursday, which also brings us a shinty game and a music session, and a talk on the amazing guga hunt in the stormy waters of the Atlantic off the north coast of Lewis. But during the day there are also great classes in singing, Gaelic, guitar, pipes, flute and whistle, accordion and fiddle for young and old – if you want to sign up ring Paper.works at 220055.

  • Monday 11th 7.30pm, Adults’ Ceilidh Dancing Class with Jessie Gray, An Talla
    Come and learn the steps to old favourites and less usual dances and share a glass of wine.
  • Tuesday 12th 7pm to register, Car Treasure Hunt, An Talla
    How many wind turbines are there on Tiree? What are otter droppings called? Follow the fiendish clues around the island in teams.
  • Wednesday 13th 7-9pm, Children’s Dance, An Talla
    Children of all ages welcome to the best knees-up of the week.
  • Thursday 14th 7.30pm, Traditional Baking Demonstration, An Talla, Large Hall
    Ever wondered how to make the perfect scone or prizewinning dumpling? This year we have the answers, with demonstrations of how to make scones, oatcakes, pancakes, shortbread and dumpling the traditional way.
  • Shinty game, Reef pitch 7.30pm
    14 years and over, men and women, boys and girls, all levels of experience welcome! Equipment provided. Or come and watch the action.
  • Session, An Talla, Small Hall, 9pm
    If you play, sing, dance, tell ghost stories or enjoy a good old-fashioned ceilidh where everyone does something, come along to this informal session. All levels welcome.
  • Friday 15th 7.30pm till late, Fèis Ceilidh Dance
    The evening includes another performance by the West End Players of the hilarious short play An Dileab in Gaelic and English written and directed by Mabel MacArthur. Visiting and local musicians and singers combine with the house dance band to provide an intoxicating blend of song, dance, music and stories. By popular request Donald Iain Brown will again be fear an taighe.
  • Saturday 17th 7.30pm, Feis Illustrated Talk: The Guga Hunters with Donald Murray, Ringside Theatre, Rural Centre, Crossapol
    Every year ten men from Ness in Lewis make the 40 mile trip north to the uninhabited rock Sula Sgeir. There they follow the steps of their ancestors over two weeks in killing and salting 2,000 young gannets, known to the Lewismen as guga. The dark, strong flesh of these birds is an acquired taste! Donald Murray is from Lewis but has strong Tiree connections. He currently teaches in Shetland. His 2008 book The Guga Hunters is required reading for anyone wanting to know about this amazing tradition. The same techniques may have been used on the cliffs of Kenavara in days gone by.

The Year In Review

Looking back at 2010 shows that the year started quietly.

The main topic of conversation which divided opinion on and off the island, is the proposed off-shore wind farm, now known as Tiree Array, which caused heated debates and which I am sure will continue through this year too.

February saw the appointment of a new Police Officer – PC Tanner, and the wind turbine at Ruaig was given the name Tilley following a competition run by the board of Tiree Trust.

Following tests in April Tilley was officially declared “open”, with a naming ceremony at Ruaig, followed by a gathering at An Talla where Champagne was served followed by Tea/coffee and cakes. A dance in the evening was well attended.

Work started on the Ringside Theatre and Tiree Maritime Boat Builder Course ended with the full renovation of Morag- Anne and Daisy and the start of the making of a new copy of Morag-Anne.

The newly formed Ch@ room on a Friday evening proved popular with our youngsters as did the continuation of the Youth Club.

In March there were rumours that Tiree High School could be closed as part of Argyll & Bute Councils cost saving measures. This culminated in a packed meeting at An Talla in May being informed that whilst the school would remain open the number of teaching staff would need to be reduced. The Parent Council organised many meetings with council and government officials in order to minimise the harm that this would do to the education of our children.

Over 100 people took part in Tiree’s first ever Sport Relief Mile raising over £1000 for charity.

Highland Airways went bust and the flights from Oban to Tiree were taken over by Hebridean Air Services Ltd.

In May we heard that there was to be another island first –Tiree Music Festival was to take place in July. This turned out to be a huge success with performances from Skerryvore, Skippinish, Gunna Sound, Trailwest, the Defenders, Fortunate Sons, Crooked Reel, Torridon and a unique performance by the All Star Tiree Ceilidh Band. News of this year’s Tiree Music Festival will be announced shortly – watch this space!

A volcano erupting in Iceland caused disruption to flights all over Britain and Tiree was left for a number of days with no planes arriving or departing.

For those of a more energetic nature the annual 10k run in June involved over 200 people both locals and visitors.

The debate regarding Tiree Array continued with over 150 people attending a public meeting at An Talla.

2010 was the year of the 50th Anniversary of Tiree SWRI, a lunch was held at the Lodge Hotel to mark the occasion.

A group was set up to try to find a way to save the Thatched House Museum and although the original building has been sold there are plans to build a new thatched house museum and research into this is ongoing.

July was packed with the Art Exhibition, Feis, Agricultural Show and Dance, Sports Day and 5 A-side football tournament. Strenuous activity continued in August with the Regatta. Once again the Raft Race proved a popular if slightly ungainly affair and the Trawler race was fought out in its unique colourful way!

A Grand Black Tie event was held to mark the opening of The Ringside Theatre and film showings there over the following months have proved to be popular with young and old.

Another first for Tiree occurred at the end of September when a Northern Parula ( a small bird) stopped for a few days of rest. This was so rare that twitchers from all over the mainland arrived – some by chartered plane- to catch a glimpse of the visitor.

Although the winds blew strongly at the beginning of October, by the date of the wave Classic the island was left with barely a breeze and many activities took place on land rather than on the waves.

In October a new memorial was unveiled at Sandaig, to commemorate HMS Sturdy which had been driven onto the rocks following a storm in 1940.

Gordon Connel was winner of Music Tutor of the Year at the Trads in November and Skippinish Ceilidh House won Venue of the Year.

December saw snow lying on the ground for a number of days and temperatures struggled to get above zero despite the sunshine. The Christmas Party season banished the winter chill for a few days at least but a few days into January the snow returned to keep us on our toes.

Sheaves from the Stackyard

an_iodhlann

H. M.S. Sturdy The Final installment

Once all of the 105 crew were accounted for, the captain’s priority was to remove all the secret papers from the vessel. Most of the crew, including the injured, were taken to Oban that evening on HMS Rhododendron, leaving a salvage party of 22 on the island.

The wreck held provisions that were too tempting to ignore for warhungry Tiree.
Angus MacLean, Scarinish recalled “I never saw so much tea in my life.”
He saw an old man from West Hynish wearing an old tweed coat with patch pockets at the Sturdy wreck. He held the pockets open and someone literally poured the loose tea into them.
“It would have done him for a year!”
“The first ‘Crunchie’ bar I had to eat was from the Sturdy”. Mairi Campbell, Corrairigh.

“It wasn’t very safe. It’s a wonder to me no one was hurt or even drowned. I was there myself looking for souvenirs, and I’ve got one of the clasp knives out there in the workshop. And as for tobacco! My goodness, tobacco! Cigarettes by the million! Rum if you wanted it, plenty of rum too. And some of the boys [the Navy salvage party]would pinch a drop for a person, too”. Hugh MacLean, Barrapol.

Willie MacLean, Balinoe, watched another old islander searching on the beach afterwards. There were piles of oilskins and boots tangled up in the seaweed and he stripped off his old trousers and put on the new Navy oilskin trousers. The Sturdy’s chief engineer had fractured his knee during the evacuation of the boat. His son, Mike Gibson, was sent to Tiree to collect what personal possessions he could:

The preceding was extracted from the paper version of An Tirisdeach.