Islay News Roundup May and first Half June 2010

I've decided to start again with the Islay news roundups. There are often small snippets of news or interesting links that can't fill a full blog post but which can be interesting enough for you as a reader to stay up to date with everything that is happening on Islay and its people. For now I will try to keep the schedule I had in previous years. This means that you can (hopefully) expect a news roundup fortnightly on Saturday, or thereabouts. The roundup brings (snippets of) news, both from other websites and the Ileach newspaper, of the previous two to four weeks.

The above photograph was taken from the water works in Port Charlotte, over six miles across the loch
from the fires. This shows only a small section of the flames at around midnight on Monday 17th May.

Grass fires on Islay May saw a number of grass fires that were lit on the High Road (B8016) and the Low Road (A846). Strathclyde Fire and Rescue were called out on seven separate occasions to fight these fires. Strathclyde Police responded to six reports of fires. Roads had to be closed ensure public/road safety. The Fire service were able to determine the majority were set alight deliberately. Two fire fighters were injured fighting the fires and at times all of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue personnel on Islay were deployed. At that time this senseless act deprived the public of the fire service. Not to mention placing fire fighters and members of the public at unnecessary risk. The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have estimated that hundreds if not thousands of moor land nesting birds have lost their eggs or chicks as a consequence of the fires. Hen Harriers (protected species) and the Short Eared Owl will certainly have been affected. Approximately 90 hectares of land classed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (Duich Moss) has been affected. This area is also classified as a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation. Duich Moss is regarded as one of the most important in the UK. SNH have believe the area will take 20-30 years to fully recover. Unfortunately up to 30% will never recover. Although the area looked horrible in the days after the fire it was surprising to see how fast the new shoots of grass were growing making the area less of an eyesore. Continue reading...

Local Hero: The work of Islay Community Nurse Agnes McEachern was recognised in the Daily Record “Our Heroes” awards in May as she won the “Caring Hero” category. Her award was presented by the well known design duo Colin and Justin at a glittering ceremony attended by dozens of celebrities. Television presenter and interior designer Justin Ryan said “Agnes is the personification of why these awards are so important - because she never set out to get an award. She simply set out to help her community - and did a lot of good.” Back home on Islay and proudly holding her elegant trophy Agnes told the Ileach: “I am stunned. It was the most wonderful evening. and it is just great to be recognised.” Congratulations!

Ileach takes the controls at Loganair An Ileach, Captain Robert( Bob) McLellan, AFC, has taken over as the Director of Flight Operations at Loganair. Robert, son of Margaret and the late Neil McLellan of Kilchiaran, has been involved in flying since leaving university at Glasgow. He spent 20 years in the RAF flying fighter aircraft where he retired as Chief Instructor of the Tornado Tri National Training school in 1993. He was awarded the Air Force Cross by Her Majesty The Queen in 1988. From 1993 to 1996 he was a pilot with Loganair before moving to British Airways flying large Boeing jets worldwide, in addition to leading the Flight Operations Quality Group.

New Chief Executive for CalMac David MacBrayne Ltd, the parent company of ferry operators Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) and NorthLink Ferries Ltd (NFL) has announced the appointment of Mr Archie Robertson OBE as its new Chief Executive. Mr Robertson, (56), is a former Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, which is responsible for England’s vital trunk road arteries. Prior to that he was Operations Director at the Environment Agency of England and Wales. These posts followed a 20-year-career with BP across the world including Singapore, New Zealand, Rotterdam and Brussels. He spent his early years on Skye, and still has strong family connections there. He will take over from David MacBrayne’s Chief Executive Lawrie Sinclair, who is retiring after 10 years at the end of June. Mr Robertson is due to start on June 1st, to allow a short handover period.

Barge removal at Kennacraig In case you've been wondering what is happening at Kennacraig.... A seagoing heavy lift crane is on location at Kennacraig as a team of engineers work to remove the sunken barge that is impeding access to the pier. The barge requires removing to allow the new ferry ‘Finlaggan’ being built in Poland to serve Islay.

ISIS 2 launched by Iain Lagavulin Fundraisers have launched their second skiff, the ISIS 2. The Irish built boat was set into the water (after an appropriate baptism) by Iain (Smudger) Smith whose generous donation enabled the Fundraisers to buy the boat outright. The honour of being the first crew to put ISIS 2 through her paces fell to last year’s winners of the men’s Challenge, Osiris, who had a row-off with the ladies winners the Islay Master’s.

Local Gaelic events at Feis Two events highlighting Islay Gaelic language and song were held during the recent Islay Festival of Music and Malt, and both were much enjoyed by Islay people and visitors alike. On Saturday 22nd May at one of the first Festival events, an introductory Gaelic lesson was given by Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle’s Gaelic tutor, Sìne MacKellar. Following this lesson, using our newly practiced Gaelic, Islayís Cúisir Ghàidhlig Ìle conductor Iseabail Mactaggart taught the participants several Islay Gaelic songs, some with choruses which are often sung at local ceilidhs. Along with the songs, Iseabail gave the class some fascinating snippets of Islay’s folklore and history connected with the music. On Wednesday evening, May 26th, a Gaelic and Traditional ceilidh was held in Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle. A feast of music was performed by both new and well-known Islay singers and instrumentalists, playing to a packed venue filled with people from all around the world. This evening was a showcase for islay Gaelic culture, and many Islay Gaelic songs were sung, including works of some of the Islay Bards; Duncan Johnston, Duncan and Charles MacNiven of Kilchoman, and William Livingstone.

Neat Sand All the children of Port Ellen Primary School spent a Friday afternoon down at their adopted beach, giving it a good clean, just in time for the Feis Ile celebrations on the green. It was a glorious afternoon and all the children worked really hard, picking up pallets, creels and a lot of plastic. One resident of Frederick Crescent was so impressed by the school’s commitment to their local community, that he made a donation to the school. On top of that, Re-JIG sponsored the beach clean, and £220 was raised for the Eco Committee. A fantastic job done.

Eat Sand 4 Its a small step from neat sand to eat sand. A highly successful and very enjoyable day of rugby was held on the beach opposite the White Hart hotel. This is a cracking event that goes from strength to strength. 32 strongly competitive teams fought it out over 80 games during Saturday afternoon on June the 12th. The atmosphere was electric among the 1400 strong crowd, basking in a glorious afternoon's sunshine. Picnickers enjoyed top quality Islay produce - prawns, scallops, squat-lobster tails, venison burgers, beef pies - and Bruichladdich Rocks - while watching the tournament unfold. For a full report and images I can recommend the Laddie Blog

Grid Connection for Tidal Project The Sound of Islay Tidal Energy Project has taken another step forward with the signing of the grid connection agreement with SHEPD (Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution). The agreement covers the investment in the grid infrastructure to provide the ScottishPower Renewables project with the 10MW capacity that it requires. This is an important milestone as the relatively limited capacity of the electricity network from the mainland over Jura was seen as a potential restriction on renewable energy projects on Islay, Jura and Colonsay. The proposal for ten 1MW tidal devices could generate more electricity than is used by the whole of Islay.

Machrie Open 2010 This year`s Machrie Open was played over Islay`s favourite patch of marram grass last weekend (29th/30th May), and attracted a very healthy entry of 127 players. As usual there was a diverse array of golfing ability on display, but among the field was littered a good number of very talented individuals. Gordon MacMillan produced the best round on a wet Saturday, returning with a 75 that set a good target that was almost matched by perennial contenders Ross Currie, Davey Lamont, Gordon Tyre, Alan Crawford and a new face in Neil Paterson from Dunbar. Over in the handicap section, local stalwarts Jim Rozga and Alex McLean produced fine scores, but were just pipped to the best of the day by Mark Breen. The weather cheered up a bit for the 2nd day`s play, but there was to be no real improvement in the scoring. The course was getting a bit more fiery in the stiff Northerly breeze, and with the hardening greens repelling most competitor`s balls from going anywhere near Sam`s testing pin positions, it was left to Ross Currie to show everybody how it is supposed to be done.

Distilleries running dry This is not a news item yet but due to the lack of rain in the last months, or should I say this year, I wouldn't be suprised if some distilleries have to shut down early due to a lack of water. Mark Reynier wrote earlier on the Laddie Blog: "Having enjoyed a particularly pleasant and windless winter, we have now had a decidedly dry spring. By June 1st just half the rainfall of last year had fallen - 12.5 inches as opposed to 22.5 in 2009." Up till now June was quite dry as well which means that the distilleries and farmers could do with some rain.

I think this is pretty much everything I can come up with right now, next time I'll include some of the blogs as well. I wish you a pleasant weekend and 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