Butt to Barra District News April 12th


Death of Former Nurse – Friends in Ness were sad to learn that Flora Macdonald, nee Ferguson, had passed away in Inverclyde Hospital on Friday, March 30.

Flora, who was aged 78 years and formerly from Islay, was the wife of the late Murdo Macdonald, Master Mariner (Murchadh a Chabair) of 14 Port-of-Ness, who passed away in February 1989.

The older generation in Ness will have affectionate memories of Flora from earlier years when as Nurse Ferguson she served as the resident nurse in the Lionel district.

At the time of writing, the funeral of Flora to Cardross Cemetery, where her husband Murdo is buried, is expected to be on Wednesday, April 11.

We condole with all close relatives and friends who mourn in this bereavement.

Comunn Eachdraidh – The first issue of the Comunn Eachdraidh magazine, ‘Criomagan’ since they moved from Habost to the old school in Cross is now available at the usual outlets. They are now open daily Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.

We recommend a visit to Comunn Eachdraidh which deserves the support of the community, and to help the funding of all their activities and research related to our history and culture, if more of our own people in Ness would consider being annual fee paying members, which at present is £10, this would help Comunn Eachdraidh to continue with their good work in the district.


Services – Services in Scalpay Free Church last Sunday were conducted by Alasdair Macaulay, divinity student.

New Posting – Chrissie Macrae, 1 Creag Aonaich, who was formerly warden of Scalpay Care Unit, has been appointed Social Care Worker in Harris House and we wish her well in her new caring career posting.

New Jobs – David and Donald Morrison, Blue Cottage, have both left school to become Leisure Attendants in Harris Sports Centre and we wish them every success in their new jobs.

Harris 10K – We note in the annual 10K run from Scalpay to Tarbert, Adam Johnson, Scalpay Primary PE teacher, Kenneth Macsween, Stornoway, whose father, Donald, has his family home at Stromeview, and Calum Macsween, Seaside House, Ardnasaig, all competed and returned excellent times.

Well done, boys! Maybe next year I’ll join you!


The community of South Lochs and especially the village of Gravir were saddened to hear of the recent death of Angus Macinnes at the age of 56, he lived and worked in Edinburgh, but had strong ties to the village of Gravir. He was born and brought-up in Brunei in North Borneo, where his father Calum was Director of Education. In 1973 the family returned to Lewis, and throughout his life Angus visited Gravir regularly and kept in close contact with his relations on the Macinnes and Matheson sides of the family. (Angus’s mother was MaryAnn Matheson, of 4 Glen Gravir).

After a degree at Aberdeen University, Angus did postgraduate work at Imperial College in London and Herriot Watt University, before pursuing a career in transport planning. His work took him to Essex, Fife and Glasgow, before a lengthy spell spent with the Scottish Government based at Victoria Quay in Leith. Recently his work and responsibilities had been in the field of local roads policy.

Angus was married Susan and they set up home in Edinburgh. Throughout his life he was keenly interested in piping, and in fact he played regularly at the games in Lewis and Harris in his teens and early 20s. On the mainland he played in a number of major pipe bands, including the Scottish Gas pipe band, and made friendships in these that were to last a lifetime. He was a wonderful musical player.

Angus was quietly spoken and good natured, always obliging and generous of spirit. He took great pride in his family

To his wife Susan, his sons Neil and Alan,brother Iain, sister in law Julie and the extended family we send our sincere sympathy at this time in their sad loss.

Great Bernera

Bernera Community Association - The Association’s AGM meeting was held on the evening of the 26th March.

Chairman David Macleod reported on the activities over the past year.

The Centre kitchen had been refurbished with new units, hobs, work tops, and a new dishwasher, costing some £30,000.

This included revising the layout of the kitchen.

David thanked retiring members of the committee Karl Hill, Eunice Macleod, Karina Macaulay and Fiona Graham.

Lorna Eller reported on the financial position of the Association which currently shows a steady balance.

The new committee was proposed with the following being appointed. Calum Macaulay (Kirkibost), Maureen Maclean (Tobson), Lorna Eller (Linshader), David Macleod (Earshader), Calum Murdo Maclean (Kirkibost), Barry Selby (Earshader), Tom and Susan Macdonald (Kirkibost), Ann Williams (Valasay), Chris Inglis (Breackete), Angus Macdonald (Croir), and Iain Mackay (Kirkibost).

The office bearers will be appointed at the first meeting of the new committee. on the 18th of April. The meeting concluded with cheese and wine.

Condolences - The Bernera Community was saddened to hear of the passing of Ishbeal Maclennan of Hacklete, at the age of 72 years on the 1st March.

Ishbeal’s father was from Callanish and her mother from Edinburgh. Ishbeal was raised in Edinburgh and trained there as a nurse, she used to spend her holidays in Callanish.

She moved to Bernera shortly after her second marriage in 1971 to Alasdair who was from Kirkibost.

She had three of a family: Robert married to Angela resident in Stornoway, Gordon tragically lost at sea in 1984 and Mairi living in Hacklete married to Calum Iain. Ishbeal was known as a hard working lady who was devoted to her grandchildren, Joanne, Judi, Gordon, Jack and Sarah Kathryn.

The funeral service was held in the Bernera Church of Scotland conducted by the Rev Iain Murdo Macdonald and the praise led by Kenny A Mackay. The internment took place at the Bosta Cemetery. The sympathy of the Community is extended to the all the family.


Communions - Services were held in the Free Presbyterean Church on the weekend of 25th March, Assisting ministers were Rev Neil Ross(dingwall) and Rev Allan McColl (ness) Friday service was the Traditional Latha Na Ceist, The text given by Roderick J Macleod Elder was from 1st Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18, seven brethren spoke in reply and gave their testimony.


Congratulations to Angus and Chrissie Murray (osabhat aonghas ban) on becoming Grand parents, Daughter Kay and husband Rev Calum I Macleod (evanton) became parents to son Mark who was also welcomed by big sister Ellis and brother Samuel, Our best wishes to the family.

Stornoway Historical Society Lecture

Following the Society’s AGM on Monday, March 26, a well attended lecture on old Stornoway shops was given in the Sandwick Council Chambers by Sandy Matheson, Norrie Macgregor and Malcolm Macdonald.

They took on their task of delivering the talk with good humour, anecdotes and minor interruptions all night.

They began their tour of Cromwell Street with the Russell family then moved on to the Town House site and then finished with what is now considered to be the oldest surviving business in Stornoway, Murdo Maclean & Sons.

Over 150 years ago, Matthew Russell from Lanarkshire commenced trading at the corner of Cromwell Street and Francis Street, where Sportsworld is today.

Matthew was also one of the principal movers to form the United Presbyterian Church that built, at the corner of Lewis Street and James Street, what islanders would know today as Church House.

Matthew junior took on his father’s business on the original site and another son, William G Russell, traded in the Waverley buildings which the father had built on the corner of Cromwell Street and South Beach. William’s daughter was the mother of Russell Johnston, the former MP for Inverness.

Sandy Matheson then revealed that at one time, in the late 18th to early 19th centuries, the Town House existed with garden plots which were disposed of for building shops.

He also revealed that at high tide the Bayhead River ran down what we now know as ‘the Narrows’ and that the Point Street area was a tidal island.

The Town House site ran from North Beach to Point Street taking in, with regards to shops in the 1950s, A & J Martin, Alex Macaulay’s, Donald Macaulay’s, Central Cafe, Baltic Boot Store, Alex Macleod (Cando) and Roderick Smith’s.

The history of all, or most, of the shops occupying this area were discussed by the trio.

We heard talk of Duggan’s jewellery, Calum Caulay’s Harris Tweed jackets, Maciver & Dart’s late TV showings for street viewers, eating delicacies in the Cake Shop and goodies in the Cando’s.

We also heard about having a foot X-ray in Louis Bittiner’s Baltic boot store and saw the silver Charity Cup for football presented by Iain Lachlan Maclean’s son, Lachlan, in the early 1920’s.

We were also told of the back shops on the site and also of the internal lane from North Beach to Point Street which Sandy and Malcolm knew very well.

Norrie then took us to the business of Murdo Maclean, who was Provost of Stornoway (1916-1919).

He had begun trading as a fishcurer and boat owner in the yard which is now at the back of the Coffee Pot. The signage for this curing business may be seen hanging from the ceiling of the present shop.

The family had two big shops, one of which still trades today, and the well-loved furniture shop which is now the Western Isles Library.

The evening ended following an enjoyable question and answer session with the audience.

At the Society AGM held earlier, Malcolm Macdonald and Jessie Murray were voted in to serve a further three years session as Chair and Vice-Chair respectively.

The five committee members who retired were all unanimously re-elected for that period as well.