In the article below you can read the line "at this time of year nostalgia becomes legitimate" hence this quotation from the Ileach Newspaper of 10 December. A wonderful insight in life on Islay 30 years ago, it makes a lovely read.
The Ileach Newspaper: What was happening on Islay thirty years ago? We took a dive into the Ileach archives to check out some of the happenings that were featured on our pages in November and December 1981. The top story was how the DHSS (remember them?) were going to withdraw their agency arrangements from Islay and Jura despite â€œdeplorable and depressing unemployment problems.â€ Winnie Ewing, our MEP, was pledging her support for the campaign to build a swimming pool on Islay.
Mairi Macintyre, the first editor of the Ileach was writing to the incumbent, Catriona Bell, â€œCongratulations to the Ileach on its ninth birthday, and to you, both as Editor, and before that as a very regular contributor and organiser of the paper from its first issue. If the ILEACH cannot by its very nature be a radical and influential paper like John Murdochâ€™s â€˜Highlanderâ€™ or Brian Wilsonâ€™s â€˜West Highland Free Pressâ€™ (both with Islay connections) I am confident that no burning issues affecting Islay will be left to flicker out unnoticed while you are Editor. More â€˜renewable energyâ€™ to your pen.â€ Mairi continued, â€œI canâ€™t agree with Mr Cornwellâ€™s lack of distinction between â€˜oil-fired weapons and nuclear weapons. â€œLetâ€™s cry a barleyâ€ on them all (as I think they say in Glasgow) - and thatâ€™s not being idealistic, but realistic, or down to earth without a bang.â€
CB radios were all the rage and Islay â€˜handlesâ€™ from the â€œWhisky Island Breakers Clubâ€ were being invited down to North Biddick Workmenâ€™s Club by Razor Eddie, Mysteron, Rubber Soul, Oddball, Shoestring, Corgi 1, JR and Jack Frost. Continue reading.....
An interesting article on Islay wildfowl noted â€œThe numbers of Barnacle geese trebled in the course of twenty years, from around 8,000 in the late 1950s to a peak of 24,000 in 1976. This led to complaints of agricultural damage. In response to this the shooting season was lengthened and the level of shooting and associated disturbance was increased. This has resulted in a marked decline in the numbers.
â€œGreenland White-fronted geese have changed little in numbers on the island in the last twenty years, with peak numbers usually between 3,000 and 4,000.
â€œIn view of the above, it is interesting to learn from Mr Ogilvie the result of his most recent goose counts on the island, carried out in mid November 1981. There were no more than 14,800 Barnacle geese, representing a further sharp drop to a level last seen twelve years ago. The count of Greenland Whitefronts was about 3,700, also quite a bit lower than last winter.â€
The Ileach reported that Cheese production started in the new Islay Creamery building in Port Charlotte. The irrepressible Donnie McKerrell was writing â€œIf the people of the Rhinns wish to fight for a separate councillor, then I say good luck to them; it is no skin off my nose, in fact it would be less work for me, but it would be interesting to know the true views of the Rhinns folk....
Ship surveyor Walter Weyndling was writing of the passing of the Gordie, â€œferryman extraordinaireâ€ who had ferried folk across the Sound of Islay for nearly half a century. The committee of the Museum of Islay Life was R Hodkinson, Dr G McEwan, C N Jupp, J A May, Mrs M Attwood, Mrs N Early, Mrs G Gilchrist, A Hay, A Ingram, J Macaulay, Miss A Sinclair and Mrs I Woodrow.
Many things have changed since 1981.There were five whist drives listed in the Islay Diary. There were two Gaelic choirs, conducting AGMs, and the Dower House Hotel welcomed enquiries for Christmas dinners. Miss Bullman won the first Miss Jura contest and the Lions Club of Islay gifted 75 Christmas hampers to persons on Islay and Jura.
The â€œIleach Editorialâ€ from our issue of December 23rd 1981 read â€œAt this time of year nostalgia becomes legitimate. In Glasgow howff, by Hong Kong harbour or wherever else exiles foregather, there will be an extravaganza of praise complete with all the scoops up and scoops down which Mod adjudicators can never eradicate, for the â€˜Green Hills of Islayâ€™. As the year nears its close, the hills are not green, nor even seasonal brown, but white, glistening with a hard frost which goes many feet down.
â€œThe frost of recession is affecting the people too, and hard realism is more prevalent than nostalgia amongst those who live on Islay. As we see distillery jobs becoming precarious and building contracts being completed with nothing to replace them, we realise the necessity of holding on to every service we have got and asking firmly for any other to which we feel we have a right.
â€œThere are services too, which others might thrust upon us (as has happened to our fellow islanders in Lewis) but whose merit we must carefully consider before accepting. On all, or any, of these matters the ILEACH exists to provide a voice for the Islay people. The strength of that voice in 1982 depends on you all.
â€œThanks to all who have read, contributed to or advertised in the ILEACH this last year. â€œWhether in Islay or just â€œyearning its green glens to strayâ€ Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadna Ur Dhuibh.â€