TO CELEBRATE and introduce to a new generation the history of the Ness longline fishing industry is the aim of a Fishing Memorial to be built at Port of Ness.
The Ness Fishery Memorial Committee are working on the project in association with Comunn Eachdraidh Nis; and the call is out to Niseachs, Western Isles residents and ex-islanders around the world to support the Committee in their bid to raise funds for the project.
Speaking on behalf of the Ness Fishery Memorial Committee, Donald Murray said: “Much of the history of the longline fishing industry and of the construction of the quay – the longest wharfage in the Western Isles outside of Stornoway – is largely unknown, even in Ness and particularly to the younger generation, and it is most important that we make them and future generations aware of this precious aspect of their Niseach heritage.
“Visitors to this very popular stopping-off point are often at a loss to understand how, when and why this large harbour was built – now used only as a base for a small number of boats engaged in summer recreational fishing,” he continued. “The Memorial will go some way to answer their questions and also direct any who wish to explore the subject further to the extensive archive of documentation, plans, drawings and artefacts available at the Comunn Eachdriadh premises in Sgoil Chrois.”
To be constructed by Gordon Diesel Services Ltd, the Memorial will be positioned at the road end, giving a clear view of most of the harbour and remains of the original wharf, completed in 1835; and was designed by former Port of Ness resident and Sulaire sgoth boat builder John Murdo Macleod.
It will present four inscribed bilingual plaques detailing the various stages of the quay and breakwater construction as well as history of the longline fishing and curing trades, and the tragic loss of lives through drowning accidents such as the ‘Bathadh Mor’.
And inscribed on the base, around a brass anchor design, will be the Gaelic names of all 13 Ness villages – a reminded that although centred on Port harbour, the whole district was very much involved in all aspects of the district’s fishing industry.
Funds of around £13,500 are required for the Ness Fishery Memorial, and already the Committee is very grateful to early monies from Comunn na Gaidhlig (£2000), the Macaulay Trust (£890), Port of Ness Harbour Ltd (£400) and to individuals who up to the present time have contributed over £350.
“We await a response from the Crown Estate and from the EU-funded Local Fisheries Action Group to grant applications,” said Mr Murray. “And the Committee are confident that the Ness community will respond in its usual generous manner to the funding appeal.”
Donations to the Ness Fishery Memorial can be handed into, or posted, to the Comunn Eachdaidh premises at Sgoil Chrois. Cash or cheque is welcomed and cheques should be made payable to ‘Comunn Eachdraidh Nis Projects A/C’.
Alternatively, direct payments can be made at any band to Account Number 06007971 and Sort Code 80-09-73.