Islay News Roundup September

Today the news roundup for the month of September with information and news snippets from Islay. I have had a very busy period in August and September with hardly any time to blog, let alone write lengthy news roundups. And in the meanwhile we are preparing to go to Scotland as well in a week. We will be staying in the far north-west of Scotland, Wester Ross & Sutherland, for a week and then we will come down to Islay and stay on the island from the 16th to the 23rd of October, we can't wait!! Today I finally had enough time for the roundup and the result is quite a lengthy edition, I hope you enjoy it.

For an overview of the news which I've already posted on the blog you can visit the blog's September overview. The weather is gradually changing and autumn is taking over from summer, or should I say winter is taking over from Summer! The change however was quite visible last month when high winds caused some ferry diversions. Autumn also means that the colours in nature are changing and it is a beautiful time of year on Islay. It probably won't be long before the first geese will arrive on Islay. The latest info from Loch Gruinart however is that the Baracle Geese haven't arrived yet. Judging from the weather patterns this will likely last another week or so. Right now the winds are south and will remain so well into next week. The Geese need notherly winds on their journey from Iceland and Greenland. Continue reading...

Ella Edgar Highland Dancers To win a Cowal Medal is the ultimate ambition of every Highland Dancer in the world and members of the Ella Edgar Highland Dancing School danced at a very high standard which gained them good results. Some of the dancers were taking part at the games for their first time and all the dancers once more did themselves and their island proud. For 7 y.o. Sophie Baker and 9 y.o. Isla MacCalman it was their first attempt and each gained a trophy in their section! Ashley Harrison was one of 26 competitors in the 13 years & under 16 years Argyllshire Championship and whilst not gaining an overall placing danced extremely well.

Those Bollards.... At a meeting of the Community Council 6th Sept the matter of the bollards erected in Main Street, Bowmore was discussed and needless to say the members were all of the same opinion – unsightly and unnecessary and not what was originally planned. The story had circulated that they were also to be erected in Shore Street but Councillor Currie assured me this morning that this was not correct but there are plans to erect more in the Square. If you are concerned about the “ New Look “ Bowmore it would be good to hear your views. You can contact any member of the Community Council or e mail the community council at

Ileach Calendar Photography It is almost time for us to start production of the Ileach 2011 calendar. As with last year, we are inviting photographic contributions from our readers, so if you have taken some pictures of Islay this year and would like to have them considered for one of our ‘pictures of the month’, then please send them to We look forward to hearing from you.

Scottish Cyclocross success Morwenna and Michael Hastings (under 14 and under 12’s respectively both came in 3rd in their classes at the National Cyclo Cross Championships at Erskine sponsored by Scottish Power Renewables and Johnstone Wheelers. This was the largest and most ‘professional’ race that the two young Hastings cyclists had attended and their results are a considerable achievement. Riders came from all over Scotland to compete. Well done to you both!

Islay Pipe Band come third at Cowal Highland Games On the 28th of August Islay Pipe Band competed at the Cowal Games in Dunoon. We were supposed to stay in Dunoon but our hotel went into administration! The only good news there is that we paid the deposit by credit card, so hopefully we will get our money back one day. We only received twelve days notice of this, but luckily our friends at the Heritage Hotel in Glasgow managed to put us up, with a few going into the nearby Botanic Hotel. On hearing of our predicament Alisdair Ross phoned the pipe major and offered us a free return ferry fare on Western Ferries and a generous donation towards any extra costs for the bus. Thank you very much from all the band to Alisdair and Western Ferries. We were up at 6am to catch the 7:45 ferry to Dunoon as we were due to play at 11:18. There were a few showers during the morning but it was dry when we went on. We had a good run and were quite happy with our performance. We then had a long wait until 6pm for the results. However the Ceilidh Tent at Cowal was brilliant, with Gunna Sound, Deoch ‘n’ Dorus and to cap it all, the magnificent Skerryvore all playing. It started to pour down in the afternoon so we were glad we were on early! Local boy Robert McEachern was policing all day at Cowal and got lift back to Glasgow with his Islay compatriots. We were awarded 3rd place and the whole band was ecstatic with this great result to end our season. We then went on to play down Argyll Street in Dunoon. We arrived back in Glasgow at 11pm. It’s hard work this rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle…

The first boat at the new pontoons Bowmore Harbour Association are delighted that the latest phase of their improvement programme has been completed with the installation of new pontoons. Local boat-owner Michael McIntyre is pictured as the first person bringing his vessel alongside the new facility where he was welcomed by John McIntyre of the BHA and Scott Nelson from contractor TAL. The project has also seen remedial work done to the harbour wall and a significant amount of dredging to the main harbour. Hours after this picture was taken every berth on the pontoon was full with boats engaged in the Stormcats Tope Fishing Festival. The BHA is planning to install a plaque at the harbour in memory of the late John Ross, one of their founder members, without whom none of these welcome developments would have taken place.

Michael MacNaughton’s ‘Jeanie Anne’ moors at Bowmore Harbour’s new pontoons

Fèis Òigridh funding secured Generous funding has been secured by the Gaelic teaching festival for children, Fèis Òigridh Ìle is Dhiùra, to start weekly classes in traditional music. It is a move that could open up huge opportunities for local children, and thereby the island as a whole. The funding package also means that a collection of trad instruments will be purchased for local children to hire. Classes in clarsach and fiddle will start at Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle the week after the October break; classes in Gaelic singing will start in January. It is enormously important to make the most of this fantastic opportunity now; the funding sustains one year of tuition, and it’s up to you to make the most of the toolkit being provided. Our community can then grow its own talent and make the case for sustainable provision for trad music tuition in Islay and Jura in the future.

It’s a Mesolithic pollen thing Prof Steven Mithen (right) of Reading University and his team of archaeologists have been on Islay during August surveying various Mesolithic sites. He is pictured during the course of extracting peat cores from the edges of a lochan, using a special boring tool to reach depths of more than six metres. Pollen samples from the material gathered will be analysed in the laboratory to help build up a picture of how the island’s landscape and vegetation has changed since the end of the last Ice Age, around 12,000 years ago. Prof Mithen, who is one of the leading authorities on this period of Scottish history, is the leader of the Southern Hebrides Mesolithic Project and previously conducted a programme of research excavations excavations on Islay and Colonsay/Oronsay between 1988-98.

Islay Book Festival 2010 The 5th IBF was a great success, says Mavis Gulliver. The feedback from adult audiences was enthusiastic. When it was time to go, the children were reluctant to leave. All the authors spoke highly of the audiences, the appreciative children, and the joy of visiting Islay. Our committee packed up and went home for a well-earned rest – but not for long. The programme for the 2011 Festival is already taking shape. So if you missed this year you can, with us, look forward to September 2011.

Another A83 landslide Reacting to the recent landslip which again caused blockage of the A83 for several hours on 13th September, Jamie McGrigor contacted the Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson “Yet again the A83, a lifeline route to Argyll, Dunoon and Campbeltown and the main gateway for tourists to these areas was blocked, but I congratulate the speedy reactions of Scotland Transerv and its employees in clearing the route. The so-called temporary traffic light on the A83 has now been there for years and my constituents are beginning to wonder if temporary means permanent. It continues to cause delays to tourists, businesses and local residents. “ On this occasion I am delighted that the blockage is being removed speedily but ask why is the traffic light on the south side of the Rest still in place?” Argyll MP Alan Reid said, “Yet again we have had a landslide near the Rest & Be Thankful after a spell of heavy rain. When the A83 is closed, the journey time to reach many parts of Argyll & Bute is greatly increased. This obviously has a severe impact on local businesses. If this happened in the central belt, the Scottish Government would spend millions of pounds solving the problem. They must do the same for Argyll & Bute. It doesn’t matter how much it would cost; this road must be made safe and kept open at all times.”

Nach sinn a rinn gu math! Islay’s Gaelic choirs, the senior, youth and primary schools varieties, had a great day out on Saturday 18th September at Mod Dhailriada in Lochgilphead. Luckily the weather was fair for an easy journey, and the competitors all arrived in fine fettle and ready to do their best. The day was very busy with warm-up and rehearsal time, then the competitions themselves. While the timing was was close for squeezing in both choral performances and solo singing causing some dashing about within the Lochgilphead schools’ large joint campus building, just about everyone managed to get to their venues before it was time to head back for the ferry. On the whole, Islay competitors had a very successful day, either winning their competitions or being placed. The Lochgilphead Mod is quite important as it is a good chance before the National Mod for intending National competitors to receive an adjudication and critique on the quality of their Gaelic and musical performances. Islay competitors certainly turned up trumps at Lochgilphead, and all are now preparing and looking forward to the National Mod in Thurso, held this year from 8th - 16th October. The whole Islay community must be recognised and thanked for the individual and corporate support which is given to our Mod competitors. All do their very best to make the island proud. The Senior Choir is now sponsored by Diageo’s Caol Ila distillery.

Local Biodiversity The Local Biodiversity Action Plan was originally launched in 2001. This is its first review, and the Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Partnership hopes it will result in agreement on a series of far-reaching conservation activities over the next few years. The partnership has been working with RPS Consultants in reviewing the current plan. Now the general public is being given the chance to have their say on what is planned over the next four years. The consultation focuses on threatened habitats and species through adopting the nationally-accepted ‘ecosystem’ approach as a means of ensuring cohesive conservation activities. There are six work programmes under the scheme - Freshwater and Wetland, Marine and Coastal, Lowland and Farmland, Woodland, Upland and the Built Environment . Each programme contains a number of habitats and associated species, for which projects will be developed in a bid to ensure their sustainability. The consultation will concentrate on exploring these programmes, and how best to deliver them.

Beef Herd Competition On Saturday 11th September the 2010 Islay Beef Herd competition was held. Judge J Armour of Highterfergus inspected twenty-four beef herds on Islay farms. Neriby farm had an outstanding day, putting forward a splendid display of cattle and winning several prizes including the Best Overall herd prize.

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

Islay Info and Social Media The list of Social Media websites is growing and there is something for everyone. As a web enthusiast I'm keen on staying up to date and I'd like to share the various known and less known Social Media websites in which I'm (more or less) involved in. There is more out there, much more, but not everything is worth mentioning. I think the list below, extracted from the Islay Info web portal gives a nice idea:

  • Micro Blogging service Twitter where you can find the latest news and links.
  • is a website that turns a Twitter account with its followers into a Newspaper. Have a look at the Islay Daily News
  • Become friends of Islay Facebook for updates, images and to meet many other friends of Islay
  • When I'm on holiday on Islay I will post images and text on Islay Posterous
  • Flickr is a photo sharing site and you can find my Islay Images here as well
  • Tumblr is another link sharing service where you'll find Islay updates
  • A combination of most newsfeeds as well as Twitter and Facebook updates can be found at Islay Friend Feed
  • The all new Digg where you can read posts that Isleofislay and friends have dugg
  • Foursquare is a service where you can discover the area you are in by checking in into venues with your Android, Iphone or other smartphone. Check out Islay Foursquare for more info.
  • Scan barcodes, you or others can attach media to it and stick it on an object anywhere you like. This service is called "Sticky Bits". Check out for more info.
  • Stumble Upon is a service that let's you share links with others. Visit Islay's profile at

I'm convinced I've missed something here and there but that doesn't prevent me from wishing you a pleasant weekend, and I am looking forward to seeing you on the blog or in person on Islay soon!

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

Tag: news roundup ileach