District News: Butt to Barra 31.02.14

Alasdair Wanless from Gress took this photograph which he thouught captured the mood and atmosphere of the islands at this time of year
Alasdair Wanless from Gress took this photograph which he thouught captured the mood and atmosphere of the islands at this time of year


Light lunch - There will be a light lunch at Ionad na Seann Sgoil Shawbost on Saturday February (St Valentine’s Day!!) between 12.30 and 2pm. Come along on the 15th and enjoy a choice of soups and puddings prepared by members of Clann an Latha an Dè. Raffle tickets will be on sale with the usual assortment of great prizes. Everyone Welcome.

Clann an Latha an Dè’s annual mainland trip is being organised now and all those who are over the age of 60 in the area Arnol to Dalbeag are eligible to come along and take part in this very popular and looked forward to annual event. The chosen venue this year is the Hilton Coylumbridge Hotel by Aviemore, and the dates are Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 7th June.

Enquiries to Etta on 710400, Margaret on 710413 or Cathie on 710257.

Dinner - The Community Council annual “old folk’s dinner” will be happening in March - venue being Eleven restaurant at Caladh Inn Stornoway. Invitation fliers will be delivered soon.


Weather - Hopefully the now improving weather of during February so far will continue, days of relative calm and clearer heavens making it much easier for people to get out and about, especially the pedestrian, to do outdoor activities, and last Monday the correspondent was forced to remain indoors and was unable to have this column forwarded by the usual method by the lunchtime deadline, which was frustrating due to the foul weather.

Since it last appeared winds in excess of Force 12 were occasioned, including one Sunday morning between 5 and 7am, in a window-and-roof buffeting experience of some note, lightning strikes amid a series of vivid and illuminative flashes and loud crashes of thunder were also reported and getting up to date, the dawning skies on Saturday were quite surreal in nature, producing a stunningly contrasting ‘two-tone’ spectacle as daylight hours began to edge in

Tom Rossi from Winfield Way in Balinvanich is in charge of the Underwater Fun business based in the area and we hope to include an article on this soon. Meanwhile thanks to Tom for coming to the rescue of the correspondent when he got stuck outside his (Tom’s ) house in the rapidly increasing gale force winds.

In hospital - Best wishes are extended to in patients currently incapacitated at the Uist and Barra Hospital in Balivanich and from the Isle of Benbecula and beyond.

Ceilidh - Moving north to Berneray, ceilidhs are now regularly held at the Lobster Pot restaurant at Ardmaree, the latest of which is due on last Friday. These feature local artistes and musicians including the evergreen Duncan Macknnon from Ferry, son of Beneray bard, the late Hector Mackinnon, and one of numerous fine Beneray singers to figure over the years.

Valentine’s Day - Valentine’s Day is upon us once again so the postman can leave the usual sackful of cards on the doorstep. Ah well, I was always told I had a quite fertile imagination m’tha!


Comunn Eachdraidh - On the afternoon of Thursday February 6th a large gatherine of Niseachs and Siarachs from Eoropie to Ballantrusal gathered at Comunn Eachdraidh Nis. The purpose of this gathering was to assist Annie Macsween and Donald Alasdair Morrison in the solemn task they have undertaken to record in book form, as much as possible of the history of our villages and homes during the years of the First World War and the lasting effects these years left in all our communities.

After grace said by Donald Alasdair, we were all treated to the usual Thursday dinner of soup and sandwiches, after which Annie Macsween called on Donald Thomson to present bouquets to Baba Morrison, 14 Fivepenny who retires from her work in the Comunn Eachdraidh canteen and to Ann Macleod whose term as coordinator has now come to an end. We hope to see both of them again in Comunn Eachdraidh.

Ness charity - On the evening of Friday February 7th another gathering was held in the canteen of Lionel School under the auspices of Carthanas Nis, Ness charity.

The purpose of this gathering was for the annual dinner given to the ladies of Ness, who from week to week voluntarily give of their time to share in the work of the charity at their premises on Cross Skigersta Road, enabling the charity to give large financial contributions to Bethesda Hospice and Blythswood.

We thank all those who share in this valuable charity work among us.


The late Duncan Macdonald - On Monday January 20th the whole community was saddened to hear that Duncan Macdonald, 44 Coll, had passed away at his home at the age of 69. Although he had been in indifferent health for some time, news of his final demise was keenly felt in the place as he was well known to us all and well liked by everyone. In common with many of his generation Duncan, whose family home was at North Harbour View, embarked on a maritime career, working firstly on the Cunningham gas boat ‘Isle of Skye’ before joining the family fishing vessel ‘Jasper’.

He built and lived for some years at ‘Brevig’ number 40 with his wife Finella teaching in Scalpay School. He then moved to Lewis, working for 28 years at Stornoway Harbour until his retirement.

Of a friendly and kindly nature Duncan was a man held in high regard by all he came in contact with as he was a hard working and loyal friend who never spoke ill of anyone.

On a personal note I have many happy memories of time spent in Duncan’s company and the warmth of his welcome whenever and wherever we met.

His funeral service on Thursday 23rd, saw a huge crowd gather from all over Harris and Lewis, showing the esteem the deceased was held in. It was conducted by Rev Calum Iain Macleod, Back, assisted by Rev Donald John Morrison, Kyles, and Rev Andrew Coghill. The praise was led by John Morrison, Leverburgh, and Donald Macleod, Highbury.

At this dark and difficult time we remember in our thoughts and prayers his widow Finella, sons Angus James and Alex John, daughter-in-law Christine, grandson Calum, sister Agnes, brothers John, Roddy and John James, sister-in-law Annie and all their families and all the wide circle of relatives and friends. May they be conscious in these days that the eternal God is their refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.

In hospital - In my news last week I should have said Katie Macleod, Cnoc an Tobair, was in the Golden Jubilee Hospital and her mother Jessie Ferguson, No. 37, was in the Western Isles Hospital. We are delighted both are now home again and we hope that are enjoying better health.


At 7.18pm hours on Sunday 9th February the volunteer crew of RNLB The Royal Thames were called to assist a fishing vessel which had reported total loss of power.

The 14.95m crabber was fishing two miles south-east of Hermetray Island, off North Uist, when she requested assistance.

RNLB The Royal Thames was on scene at8.15pm and took the casualty under tow and made their way north. The Leverburgh Lifeboat was met north of Stockinish, on the east side of Harris, by the Stornoway Lifeboat, RNLB Tom Sanderson, which took over the tow, and continued on to Stornoway. RNLB The Royal Thames was back on station, re-fuelled and ready for service again by 11.05pm.