Butt to Barra district news 18.12.14


Lately, the weather experienced appears to have been a mixture of good, bad and awful.

At Balivanich Hall in Winfield Place, patrons were seen to race from their cars in energetic and uncompromising fashion to attend a meeting there as the severe storm first began to kick in.

Benbecula Police, however, said that apart from them being forced to close down the causeway for a short period of time, they had little problem otherwise.

On a personal note, thanks to they and also some neighbours when this correspondent became ‘stormbound’ at home and unable to make the necessary shopping trip, and also to the woman officer upon a ‘welfare check’, while Britain’s award-winning Donald Ewan Morrison’s library van was parked outside his house the following day!

Meanwhile, down the road at the Substance Misuse office, situated opposite MacLennans Supermarket, reeled with flood damage, casuing something of a disaster there.

The ceiling came in, to the ruin of carpeting, and workmen toiled all day Friday in a bid to rectify the situation. The manager expressed his regret about the situation and on Monday morning workmen were there again.

On Monday the winds finally came down as had been forecast for Sunday, and a bright, sunny day was occasioned.

It is to be hoped that the forthcoming Christmas and New Year period yields similar faire in this respect.


Postman retires - Now that he has time to enjoy his morning cup of tea without the worry of delivering our mail, and sharing the local interesting news with us, we thank Angus Buchanan, 37 Lionel, for his 17 years service to the community, and now wish him many happy and healthy retirement years.

Weather topics - Although some structural damage was caused during the local thunderstorm, and the severe gales of last week, we are glad to note that, to our knowledge, no one was injured during this time, when the height of the waves seen round the Ness coastline were higher than any seen in living memory.


Sympathy - We send sincere condolences to the family of the late Marion Smith, Caros, Cromore or better known as ‘Mor Caros’ who recently passed away in Bethesda Hospice following a short illness. Mor was of a quiet disposition but always with a kind word to one and all. She had a phenomenal memory of times gone by to which many relied on when looking for historical information.

Pre funeral services took place in Gravir Free Church with interment taking place in the nearby cemetery. To her daughter Bell, son in law Roddy, grandchildren and extended family we send our sympathy in their sad loss.

Congratulations - We send congratulations to Dawn Mackenzie, Cameron Terrace who recently graduated as a nurse and now taking up a position as a nurse in Edinburgh. Dawn is the grand-daughter of the Late Mary A Matheson, Gravir.

Good Wishes - It seems like only yesterday that we were writing to wish one and all a forthcoming good Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. One wonders where the year has gone and with good times and trials and tribulations for some we hope and pray that the forthcoming year is blessed with goodness and Gods Richest Blessings for 2015.

“As the dawn breaks on a new year, let us give thanks for all we hold dear, our health, our family and our friends, may your year be filled with peace, prosperity and love. May God’s blessings shower upon you and bestow upon each of you a bright, healthy and peaceful new year”


Psalmboat - Psalmboat, the new arts project is centred on the custom of psalm singing at sea, when communities bordering Loch Erisort, travelled to worship by boat. Prior to the building of the road to South Lochs and within living memory, members of the congregation rowed or travelled under sail to the only or closest church in their district.

Déirdre Ní Mhathúna is the artist at the helm of Psalmboat, which will feature visual representations and stories of sea voyages, aspects of island worship and its traditions, in a film and artist’s book.

Déirdre, an audio and visual artist is no stranger to Lochs. Her soundscape of the village of Keose, ‘Clachan – a portrait of a Village’, attracted much attention when shown in Balallan Hall in 2008. More than one village visitor expressed regret that Gaelic psalm singing could no longer be heard in the bays around Loch Erisort... cue Psalmboat 2015, which will endeavour to document local memories and aspects of family histories, as well as making works of art - all centred around the place of Gaelic Psalms in the everyday life of Lochs folk, as they sailed the sea routes to attend church services .

Déirdre is collaborating with an impressive team of artists: Lorna Simpson, an Edinburgh filmmaker, Hugh Brydon, printmaker from the Borders, Ian Stephen and Donald S. Murray, both Lewis writers and Maggie Smith from Cabraich Community Arts.

The first stage of research and filming in November captured several local people telling stories of boat journeys, revivals, communions and they also shared the special place the Gaelic psalms hold in their own lives. The Psalmboat “crew” would like to express their appreciation to those who took the time to contribute to Psalmboat’s archive. Also the funders Creative Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar who contributed to this phase of the project. Funding permitting, Psalmboat artists will be producing various art exhibits and events in 2015.

A supporter in the community said “This exciting project is of interest to the whole district. It is difficult to comprehend in the present day, but this involves the most vital components of the social and ecclesiastical history of the parish of Lochs”


Community Centre – The Café will be closed for the festive period from 18 December and will reopen on Tuesday 6 January. The Association and staff would like to thank all those who have supported this venture and wish all our Customers a good festive season.

The Community Association Hogmanay night is to be held in the Community Centre on 31st December. There will be a band, and snacks are available on the night. We would also be pleased to receive any donations for the raffle. There will be an entrance charge of £5 for over 12s to cover costs.

Christmas bingo held on 12 December raised £340 for the festive events. Grateful thanks to all who attended and supported, especially to those who took the time to attend from other areas.

Community Council - There are plans to shortly make repairs and improvements to the War Memorial in Breaclet and details of this will be made available. This is one of the oldest Memorials in Lewis and we are looking for any photos, memorabilia or articles relating to the Memorial over the years. If anyone has any article or photo that may be of interest we would be very grateful for a copy for the project. These are of local historical interest and are also requested by those supplying the grant. Any items will be copied and returned. Please contact Bernera Community Council if you can help with this.

School News - We are hoping that Santa will be able to attend the annual Christmas party to be held on Thursday 18 December at 1.30.

Church of Scotland - Please come along and attend the Carol and Readings evening in the Community Centre on 23 December at 7pm. Everyone is welcome.

Congratulations - Our congratulations go to Mairi Macleod Gray whose magazine Dee n’ Do was recently nominated for two awards at the Scottish Magazine Awards in Glasgow. Mairi’s successful design company also produces the free magazine Dee n’ Do. This was a remarkable achievement for such a new publication in a highly competitive industry, especially as they also received an Outstanding Achievement nomination. Well done Mairi!

Festive Season - As we all have noticed, the recent bad weather has created many problems for the Island in terms of power cuts, broken phone lines and poor quality roads and cancelled services. The strength of the storm in terms of wind was not, unfortunately, a rare occurrence here, but it was noted that the frequency and strength of the thunderstorm was unlike any seen and heard before in recent memory. Hopefully this will be a very infrequent event and luckily as far as we are aware, problems were inconvenient rather than major.

We look forward therefore to the hope that many families will be able to make their way home safely to Bernera for the Festive Season and that those leaving have a safe journey to their destination.


Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil is backing a campaign by Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) to make sure local residents know how to stay safe, warm and informed if winter storms cause further disruption to power supplies.

Last week, the first major storm of the winter hit the north of Scotland and the islands, with 5000 recorded lightning strikes, gale forces winds and waves the height of a six storey building. Engineers worked throughout the course of the incident to restore power supplies to over 59,000 homes that were affected. As part of the current campaign, residents are being asked to:

1) Be safe: Extra support is available to customers who may be vulnerable during a power cut - for example, if you rely on electricity for home medical care. It’s easy to register and discuss your needs with SHEPD’s Priority Service team by calling 0800 294 3258.

2) Keep warm: Make sure you have what you need at home for light and warmth. A home resilience kit might include a torch, spare batteries, light sticks, hand-warmers, high energy food or even self-heating food or drinks available from outdoor shops.

3) Stay informed: Keep in touch without electricity. For example, a basic ‘plug-in’ landline telephone will work without mains power; a battery-operated radio tuned to your local station is ideal for updates; or, SHEPD’s award-winning Power Track App which gives accurate, localised information on power cuts and restoration times.