Islay News Roundup Second Half of August

Today the news roundup for the second half of August with information and news snippets from Islay. For an overview of the news which I've already posted on the blog you can visit the blog's August overview. Today a somewhat shorter version because I have just returned from holiday where I celebrated my birthday, hence the lovely surprise of my wife and daughter in this weeks Ileach.

Cycle parking in Bowmore by brian palmer Each successive year on Islay sees an increasing number of cyclists making the trip across the water for what is likely some of the finest cycling in the islands, given that the bumpy bits are mostly round the edges. And not unnaturally, with the island’s Tourist Information Centre and a number of eateries located in Bowmore, a good many of these bicycles end up leaning against a village wall or two. Surprisingly, because nobody remembers them being mentioned in the same breath as the ‘improvements’ currently underway in Morrison Court, two cycle ‘racks’ have appeared adjacent to the plethora of bollards now guarding the pavement outside Bowmore Hall. Why on earth they have been sited there is beyond us. In all the years the Ileach has been at the corner of Main Street and Jamieson Street, we have never seen any cyclists find the need to park at that particular point. Rumour has it that another six of these are to be sited around Main Street. As a cyclist, I do not wish to look a gift horse in the mouth, but might it not have been a good idea to consult with those who frequently use this form of pedal-powered transport as to what type of cycle rack would be useful, and where would be the best place to put them? As it is, the best that can be achieved is to lean a bicycle against one of these items. Sort of what we’ve used walls for all these years. Continue reading...

In the previous episode I forgot to mention an entry from Mark Reynier which I like to share with you today. Mark sent the following info early August: The Prime Minister's right-on green credentials have been reinforced in a truly Churchillian way. Not only does Mr Cameron ride a bike, he has also famously applied for a rooftop wind generator. Now he drinks organic whisky. In a hand written tasting note the Prime Minister says its new whisky was so good that he has already ordered more. The Prime Minister's tasting note for Bruichladdich Organic says "wonderful single malt", "remarkable whisky" and a "real treat". Mark said: "We know the man has great style, now we know he has great taste too."

Worship al fresco Over 30 island worshippers gathered at the foot of the Kildalton Cross on August 8 for the annual open air service conducted this year by the Rev Dr Rob Barlow, the minister for the linked parishes of Kilarrow and Kildalton and Oa. This was an ecumenical get together and the Bible readings and prayers were led by representatives from the island’s Roman Catholic and Baptist congregations. The weather behaved impeccably and a considerate Creator kept the usual voracious midges at bay. All this took place in the shadow of the now ruined Kildalton church dedicated to St John the Divine and also known as the church of the foster child or brother. This is the only local church to have a scriptural dedication. All the others are dedicated to western saints.

Co-op benefits lifeboat Members of the Islay lifeboat crew are to be provided with new life jackets thanks to the generosity of the shoppers who supported the nationwide fund-raising venture sponsored by the Co-operative food stores network. Staff and customers at 430 retail outlets throughout the country helped - as did the RNLI plastic ducks - to raise £190,000 which more than doubled the original target of £90k. Also benefiting from the shoppers’ generosity will be the crew at the Campbeltown lifeboat station whose training costs will be met from the Co-operative fund. On Tuesday morning the Islay lifeboat went to the assistance of a 10 metre motor yacht which ran aground at Tarbert Bay on the east coast of Jura. The grounded vessel and its four man crew was refloated with the arrival of the high tide early in the afternoon.

Islay Vikings conquer Dalriada With the same stealth as their Scandinavian forefathers, the Islay Vikings crept quietly upon the unsuspecting town ready to do battle. The date was 1st August 2010 and some things had changed since the first Viking invasions from 1100 years ago. The Islay Vikings were, on this occasion, made up of the Islay Masters swimming club together with some of their friends and family. The helmets were made of plastic and had been acquired from Ebay, their mode of transport was, for the first stage of the journey anyway, a CalMac ferry. Overnight they lay low in the Empire Lodge and a nearby campsite but they rose early in the morning ready to fight. The battle was, in fact, the dragon boat race which was part of the Crinan Canal Water Festival near Lochgilphead. The intended prize was neither land nor treasure but a red Chinese dragon trophy which would be unlikely to sit comfortably with the décor in anyone’s front room. Seven teams of eleven people (ten rowers and one drummer) were entered and the race involved two boats at a time competing in a 200m sprint at Dunardry locks. The timings were incredibly close which made for high pressure racing and great spectating from the canal banks.

The Islay Vikings moved through the heats with narrow victories of between 0.3 and 1.8 seconds in the three races! The semi final was even closer with an unexpected collision and a nail biting win for Islay of 0.07 seconds. The final took place at 3pm and the Vikings whooped their way to championship. The team took proud possession of their individual medals and the ‘distinctive’ dragon trophy and returned to the ferry leaving the town in their wake. With navigation of the homeward sail safe in Calmac hands, high spirits abounded. Lindy MacLellan proudly gushed that she had ‘never won a medal other than when she was third out of three’.

Islay Half Marathon With a total of 160 entrants, and 157 finishers in this year’s Ardbeg Islay Half Marathon, it would not be stretching credibility too far to admit that the event was a resounding success. For an hour or two prior to the start, tracksuited runners could be seen jogging up and down Bowmore Main Street in an attempt to warm-up. The sight of so many runners heading up towards the Round Church was inspiring. Paul Thomson of Helensburgh took first place, Terry Coyle from Glasgow, second, and third place went to Alasdair McLeod, also from Glasgow. First local runner, in a creditable 5th place, was Marcus Covell, while first lady runner in 12th place was Rebecca Moore from Edinburgh. Ardbeg Distillery continued their sponsorship again this year, handing out many prizes in liquid format, gratefully received by the competitors.

Energy round-up by Andrew MacDonald The Islay Energy Trust and Scottish PowerRenewables were very busy in the last couple of weeks with public exhibitions on Jura and Islay and local information sessions in Port Ellen, Portnahaven and at the Islay Show. Following the completion of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), an application has been submitted for consent to Marine Scotland for the 10MW Tidal Project in the Sound of Islay. The public events covered details of the technology, location and reports on the environmental and technical survey work. The proposed Tidal Array will have a capacity of up to 10 Megawatts (MW) of renewable power, which will be fed into the national electricity grid and will contribute to meeting the Scottish Government’s target of providing 50% of Scotland’s electricity generation from renewable sources by 2020. The ten tidal stream generating devices will be placed in an area with a water depth of over 50 metres just south of Port Askaig. They will be fully submerged on the seabed and will have an approximate height of 34 metres from the seabed to the blade tip. The devices will not be visible from the surface after they have been installed and vessels will be able to pass over them. The Tidal Array is estimated to generate approximately 26 Giga Watt hours (GWh) of energy each year. This is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 5,600 UK households or the annual energy consumption of Islay (domestic and commercial). The cabling will come ashore and be connected to the grid on Jura where marine and terrestrial surveys have been carried out to identify the optimum route. More details about the project and copies of the Environmental Statement are available in the Islay and Jura Service Points and at the Islay Energy Trust office on Main Street, Bowmore.

Quality bowlers’ success The John Stewart Memorial Trophy, presented to the Port Ellen Bowling Club by Professor Sir William Stewart in memory of his son John, was won this year in a thrilling mixed doubles competition by local residents Marion Hope and Kathleen Bonar. The runners-up were Annie Anderson from Bowmore and Port Ellen’s Adrian Farrel. Sir William, accompanied by Lady Stewart, warmly congratulated the winners on their success and commended the bowling club for attracting such a large and high quality field of competitors.

The Great Glen Challenge In order to both train for and publicise the Great Glen Challenge, a ‘monster’ triathlon in aid of Help the Heroes, taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend this year, Jonathan and brother-in-law Calum swam from Bruichladdich to Bowmore on Tuesday 10th August. It took them about an hour and fifteen minutes to complete, the hardest part coming when trying to access Bowmore Harbour. The Great Glen Challenge will see both men run, swim and canoe the entire 105 km length of Scotland’s Great Glen, from Inverness to Fort William.

Islay Pipe Band The Islay Pipe Band became 6th in the world championships, in their first season competing in Grade 3A. Congratualations to everyone. The video of their performance can be seen below. More information and updates are available from

The Islay Wildlife Blogs Don't forget to check out the wildlife blogs from John Armitage, Ian Brooke and the many posts and images from the Islay Natural History Blog.

I'm convinced I've missed something here and there but that doesn't prevent me from wishing you a pleasant Sunday evening, and I look forward to seeing you here soon.

Parts of this roundup were published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.

Tag: news roundup ileach