Butt to Barra District News 22.8.13

The past presidents of the Highlands and Islands Society London.
The past presidents of the Highlands and Islands Society London.


Visitors from Canada -Last week we had the pleasure of meeting four Canadians, Susan Ferguson and her husband Murray, and Robert Miller and his wife Ann, on a short visit to Ness from Ontario Canada. Susan and Robert are grandchildren of John Mackay, Iain Allan Bhain formerly from 14 Skigersta, and Catherine Macleod, Catriona Dhomhnuill, formerly from6 Lionel, who with their family were among those who left Ness and sailed to Canada on the ship Marloch in June 1924.

As well as meeting some of their relatives in Ness, they were glad to see where their Grandparents lived in Lionel and Skigersta in these earlier years.

The visitors left on the morning of Thursday August 15th for Glasgow where a son of Robert Jack Miller was a drummer with a Canadian Pipe Band competing on the Saturday. As they all return to Canada we hope they take with them pleasant and lasting memories of their visit to Ness.

Guga expedition – On the evening of Thursday August 15th the usual band of hardy Niseachs which included some new enthusiastic recruits this year left for the annual GugaHunt on Sulasgeirwhere our good wishes follow them for a safe and successful stay on the Rock until they return with the birds ready for the pot.

School Topics- As children, teachers and school staff return to their desks after their summer break, we hope that the changes taking place in our schools environment will be to the future good of our children.

Our good wishes follow Mrs Shona Gunn of 7 Lionel as she new commences as Head-teacher of Shawbost School.


The Highlands and Islands Society of London - On Saturday, August 3rd, around 40 former members of the above Society assembled in the Stornoway Golf Clubhouse for a buffet lunch to be followed later in the afternoon by some musical entertainment.

The get together had been arranged and organised by Iain (Jock) Murray from Gress, a former active member of the Society when resident in London in his capacity as a member of the Metropolitan Police.

Many years had passed in the case of most of those present since their active working lives in the Metropolis and their consequent involvement in the Society when they used to meet on a fairly regular basis.

In addition therefore to the need to exchange news of their lives and activities since they last met there was much reminiscence of events when the society was at its peak in London. The occasion was however tinged with some sadness because of the recent news about the Society’s forthcoming demise.

Although many of those present were now resident in various part of their native island, the majority had come from far and wide for the event. They were there from as far afield as the London environs, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cupar in Fife, Blairgowrie, Bridge of Allan, Helensburgh, Skye and North Uist.

Some had especially organised their holidays, coupled with their regular visit to their native island, to coincide with the event and there were some who had made the trip just to be present at the gathering.

Amongst the latter was the keen yachtsman, Calum Robertson from Billericay in Essex and Skye who with his wife, Cathy, had sailed across the Minch, from Broadford to Stornoway, just to be there.

After an enjoyable lunch, a special cake was formally cut by Norah Macleod who had come all the way from London and who had been an active member of the Society since its formation.

Alongside her while carrying out this operation were several former presidents including the very first one to occupy the position, Hector Macaulay, who had travelled for the day from his native North Uist, where he had retired many years previously when his London working days were over.

He then briefly addressed the assembled gathering with warm words of welcome.

The Society was formed in 1976 following a meeting in a Camden Town hostelry, the Dublin Castle. The Lewis Club had folded a few years previously due to falling support but some former members of that organisation together with a number of other Gaels working in London at the time felt that the need still existed for an organisation that could provide the opportunity for those London Gaels to meet in a social environment from time to time. Thus the Highlands and Islands Society of London was born.

A very active committee under the presidency of Hector MacAulay on those early days drew up a constitution and were successful in promoting the name and reputation of the Society for holding well supported and enjoyable monthly ceilidh/dances, and annual dinner/dance and other activities. The committee was thus able to attract leading entertainers in the Scottish Dance Band and Gaelic singing worlds to its functions.

For reasons that are difficult to fathom and in spite of the still continuing presence of large numbers of Gaels in London (although many of the original members and friendshave inevitably departed from the London scene), support for the Society has been steadily declining since the turn of the century and sadly the decision was made at a recent AGM to close it down, the final event to be a ceilidh/dance on November 23rd.

Sadly missing from the occasion, due to ill health, was one of the stalwarts of the Society in its heyday and its Treasurer for many years Angus Macmillan and his wife, Angusina who still lives in London.

The opportunity was therefore taken for a card to be signed by all present which would be sent to him.

Iain Murray had also laid on some musical entertainment for the latter half of the afternoon. This was provided by the well known singer and piper, Anna Murray, together with a group of youngsters who individually and collectively treated and assembled the gatherimg to a feast of Gaelic recitation and song.


Congratulations - To Angus and Sharon MacArthur, of James Street, Upper Carloway, following the safe arrival of their baby boy, Danny. A brother for Noah. Meal-do-naidheachd!

Champions - Carloway finally managed to make history last Friday, after defeating rivals West Side 3-1 on their own turf to win their first ever League title in their eighty year history.

Goal machine Fraser MacLeod scored the opener, before Duncan MacLean equalised with the head shortly afterwards. In the second half, Seumas MacLeod put Carloway into the lead on the hour mark before Fraser MacLeod scored again with six minutes to play to seal the historic League championship victory.

Fraser’s second goal also made him the first ever Carloway player to score half a century of goals in one season; a remarkable achievement in islandfootie. Hundreds of spectators gathered in Barvas to witness the occasion, with a party in Doune Braes after the match.

The match report for this match can now be read on the club’s website - www.carlowayfc.co.uk.

The League trophy will be presented to Carloway in their final League fixture against Point, on Monday 2nd September.

The venue couldn’t have been any better, for the match takes place at the club’s home ground - Cnoc a’ Choilich. Kick off at 6:30pm. Come along and see captain Domhnall MacKay lift the club’s first League title, an event no Carloway supporter will want to miss!

Meanwhile, Carloway progressed to the semi-finals of the Lewis Cup after a 5-0 defeat against Harris on Monday. Goals from Kevin Anderson (manager), Dan Crossley, Kevin “Barra” MacNeil, Fraser MacLeod and Calum Tom Moody sealed the cup holders’ place in the semi-final, where they will host Stornoway Athletic at Cnoc a’ Choilich on Monday 26th August. Kick off at 6:30pm!


Calbost walk - A walk will take place in and around Calbost on Thursday, August 29th. Walkers will meet for coffee from 10.30am and the walk departs at 11am.

Calbost was the home of Angus ‘Ease’ Macleod, whose archive can be found at Ravenspoint.

Angus was passionate about the history and culture of his people, and the archive embodies the values and beliefs of a distinctive but rapidly changing way of life.

Come and see for yourself the area that inspired this remarkable collection. The walk will be around three hours and is £3 (including tea/coffee).


Balgy Gap Celebrations  - This year is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the road, known locally as the “Balgy Gap” and the small Highland communities of Shieldaig and Torridon, which were linked as a result, are planning to mark this. 

Prior to this, there was no road linking these communities, and anyone from either Shieldaig or Torridon wanting to visit friends or family in the other community faced either a 47-mile drive, walking the rough path, or otherwise the short boat trip.   

The new road was given the go-ahead in 1959 and the work was carried out by the construction firm of Limmer & Trinidad and also involved building two bridges over the Torridon and the Balgy rivers. Many workmen from Lewis and Harris were engaged in the project.

The people of both Shieldaig and Torridon in Wester Ross are trying to reach as many of these people as possible and are hoping to bring them together at an event to commemorate  this - for them - momentous occasion.   

The communities are planning to celebrate this on Saturday 7th September.

This will involve an exhibition of photographs, memorabilia, and other related items in Torridon hall in the morning followed by a meeting of the two communities on the Balgy Bridge, before the festivities resume in Shieldaig hall.    

The communities would like to extend a very warm invitation to all those who were in any way involved in the road .to join them in their celebrations on 7th September. 

For further details, please contact Alice MacLennan, Shieldaig (01520 755 247 or aamaclennan@hotmail.com).