Carloway Community celebration hailed a great success

Chrissie Ann MacArthur, Guest of Hounour
Chrissie Ann MacArthur, Guest of Hounour

Carloway folk recently turned out to celebrate the past and the community’s future plans.

Local people enjoyed an afternoon of food and music laid on by the area’s Community Association.

Christine Primrose, celebrated Gaidhlig singer

Christine Primrose, celebrated Gaidhlig singer

The celebration was in three parts, first to mark the long, proud, and very successful 160 year history of primary school education in Carloway, secondly to celebrate the purchase by the community of the Sgoil Chárlabhaigh site earlier this year, and thirdly, with Association support, to consolidate the community resolve to develop the school site into a community resource that will stand them well in the years ahead.

The very special guest of honour at the Celebration was Chrissie Ann MacArthur, herself of Carloway, who had taught at the school for 39 years, 24 of those as the Head Mistress.

Chrissie Ann lives at Park House, the very building in which the Edinburgh Free Church Ladies started the first Board of Education School in Carloway in 1857.

The traditional BBQ fare proved very popular, as did the wonderful seafood selection on offer, complimented nicely by an excellent array of tray bakes and succulent home baking, all served with a willing smile by the volunteers.

Neosa and band with Mairi Morrison on keyboard

Neosa and band with Mairi Morrison on keyboard

The local fishing boats Carlsbay and Perseverance, the Callanish Visitor Centre, the Doune Braes hotel, Willie Johns the butcher all kindly donated succulent offerings for the celebration.

Coisir Chárlabhaigh, the Ness Melodian Band, Neosa, a Clarsach sextet and the exceptionally talented local soloists Norman MacLeod and Jennifer Spiers kept the patrons happily amused and entertained all afternoon with the very best in music and song.

Back again in her home town by popular demand for the celebration was Christine Primrose who kicked off the music festival with, of course, Aite Mo Ghaoil, that wonderful Gaidhlig song that speaks so powerfully and beautifully about Carlabhagh.

Comann Eachdraidh Chárlabhaigh hosted a wonderful exhibition of the 160 year educational history and heritage as seen through the lens of Sgoil Chárlabhaigh, and many a happy memory it brought back to mind of days gone by in these classrooms.

Nerf Guns action with  Pursuit Hebrides

Nerf Guns action with Pursuit Hebrides

School photos going back to the very earliest days, and school registers telling their own daily story about attendance, could all be enjoyed with a very reminiscent cup of cocoa and a cheese sandwich, served just like it was in the old school days.

Entertainment for the youngsters was provided by Pursuit Hebrides who kept the youngsters entertained and amused with the Bouncy Castle, and their Nerf Guns.

A raffle was held was in aid of the Western Isles Foyer in Stornoway and it raised the wonderful sum of £598.10 for this very deserving charity who who assist young people to move on to successfully sustaining their own tenancies and live independent and fulfilled lives and participate as active members of their local community.

Don Mackay, Chairman of Carloway Community Association said: “This was a really important celebration for our local community.

“The sun shone, the excellent cuisine on offer and the very best of music and song kept us very happy and content and we had a really great day.

“I offer my thanks to all those who contributed or worked so hard on the day and made this event really special.”

He added: “Carloway Community now own the school site, and we will continue to work with local people in the period ahead to transform and develop it into a valuable community resource that will serve our community well in the years ahead. “We have plans for a community shop, a Cafe and bistro, business units, office space, and very relaxed surroundings for local people to meet, mingle, chat and eat.

“These are hugely important plans, because we will offer key community facilities where there are none, and we will tackle social exclusion, whilst simultaneously, regenerating a fragile local economy and offering employment for local people within their own community.”