Will New Islay Ferry become MV Isle of Islay?

When CMAL announced a competition to name the new Islay ferry they probably didn't, or couldn't, foresee that the four names presented, Finlaggan, Glendale, Locheil and Pioneer, would raise some serious protest on Islay. And lets face it, Finlaggan is a fine name, referring to the seat of the Lords of the Isles, and both Locheil and Pioneer were vessels that serviced Islay many years ago although they don't refer directly to Islay. So what's the problem you might wonder? If you look at the names of the present Calmac ferries you can see that most of them carry names of the islands they serve. Of course there are exceptions. After all, the Isle of Arran serves Islay and is standby for the Western Isles and other routes. The Lord of the Isles, a name that would fit Islay, serves Castlebay and Lochboisdale on the Western Isles, but most vessels and islands have matching names. Wouldn't it therefore be logical to name the new Islay ferry "MV Isle of Islay"? You might think that CMAL at least considered it but they say that they no longer want to name their ferries after an island because these ships can, in theory, service other routes as well. Or wasn't the name available in the UK ship register? Fact is though that in 2005 one of their new ferries was named Bute and services the isle of Bute! Why they suddenly changed policy nobody knows, and why exactly now when Islay is concerned? nobody knows. And will the new Islay ferry really be able to service other routes? Interesting to mention is the fact that the new Islay ferry is built specially for Islay and it looks like it that the facilities at Port Ellen, Port Askaig AND Kennacraig have to be modified to receive this new ferry. Is it therefore safe to assume that it will service other routes? Are the ferry terminals on these routes adequate enough to deal with this new ferry? I have some doubts about that and I think I'm not the only one here. Continue reading....

I wrote yesterday that politicians were launching ideas for the new ferry and they have become active on the naming front as well. First however it's interesting to mention that the Ileach has tried to register the name Isle of Islay as new ferry name protest grows: "The Ileach has determined that the name 'Isle of Islay' is available on the UK Ship Register. The newspaper has accordingly filled in the appropriate form and submitted the fee required (£124) to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. If our registration is accepted, we propose to donate it to CMAL, with our compliments, on behalf of the people of Islay, so that it may be included on the ballot papers for public consideration. Islay MP Alan Reid has also written to CMAL asking that the name be added to the ballot and suggesting an extension to the deadline of 30th November." The same councillor that came with the interesting idea of creating a triangular ferry route, councillor Robin currie, was 'angered' over naming of new ferry according to another article in the Ileach:

The new CMAL vessel currently being built in Poland to service the Islay run will be operational in Spring 2011. The company is in the process of consulting the Islay community about the name of the new ferry but rather than have an open consultation with all names considered, the choice is limited to four, namely, 'Finlaggan', 'Locheil', 'Pioneer' or 'Glendale'. Local Councillor Robin Currie told the Ileach that he is 'angered by what is being dictated by CMAL' saying that islanders should be free to choose their own name for the ferry. He said, 'This new ferry is being specifically built for the Islay service. It is for the people of Islay, and indeed Jura, to decide her name. Why should we be constrained to some names put in front of us, most of which have no relevance to Islay?' He continued by saying, 'Many of my constituents are most upset about what is happening so I have taken the initiative and set up a petition asking that the new ferry be called 'Isle of Islay' (Eilean Ile). However, if people prefer an alternative name, then they should make that known to CMAL. The important thing is, that the islanders have a free choice rather than the ridiculous situation we have just now.'

Cllr. Currie has distributed his petition to most village shops around the island and he says 'I encourage people that feel strongly that the new ferry should be called 'Isle of Islay' to sign. Cllr. Currie has also said that anybody that wants a petition sheet should contact him by email and he will send one electronically.

I was a bit reluctant to publish Cllr. Curries email address on the blog but if you want a petition sheet you can find his email address in the latest edition of the Ileach or you can contact me.

Comments are closed

keith faulks

Friday, 13 November 2009
Dictatorship in the 21st century should be stamped out, and what CMAL are trying to impose on the islanders of Islay amounts to this.
Of the four names proposed by CMAL, there is only one which bears any real significance to Islay ....... Finlaggan.
The choice of "MV Isle of Islay" sounds great, and even better in gaelic .... "MV Eilean Ile". This gets my vote and living in Somerset (but a regular visitor to Islay) I will be requesting a petition sheet to reinforce this view.
My only alternative to Isle of Islay would have to be "MV Ileach" - the ferry for the people!

Good Luck and I hope that the islanders get exactly what they want.

Neil King

Friday, 13 November 2009
I'm not sure I agree with the statement: "If you look at the names of the present Calmac ferries you can see that most of them carry names of the islands they serve."

In fact, only 7 of Calmac's present fleet of 28 ships (it depends what you count as Calmac's fleet - do you count those chartered in and/or those chartered out and laid up?) are named after islands and only three islands (Lewis, Mull & Bute) out of the 20+ served by Calmac (again difficult to enumerate because do you count the likes of Benbecula, Eriskay, Harris, for example, as separate islands?) are served by ships named after the island concerned.

As for the name of the new Islay ship, I have some sympathy with CMAL dropping the "Isle of island initially to be served" naming convention as it can lead to the absurdity - exemplified on Islay - of an island being served by a ship named after a different island. Plus, would the people of Jura not be entitled to feel a bit peeved that "their" ferry is named for another island? And lastly, the "Isle of" names are so dull and lacking in imagination!

Although I voted for Lochiel myself because I enjoy nostalgia, Finlaggan is actually a very good name as it has an Islay connection but also a connection with other islands via the Lordship of the Isles.

I'd also have more sympathy for Cllr. Currie's statement "This new ferry is being specifically built for the Islay service. It is for the people of Islay, and indeed Jura, to decide her name." if the people of Islay/Jura were paying for the ferry. But they're not - every British taxpayer is paying for it so they should have an equal say.

Anyway, talk about a storm in a teacup! I would have thought there would be more pressing social issues on Islay/Jura for Cllr. Currie to be concentrating on!

If I were the management of CMAL, I'd respond to this by calling the ship "CMAL I" as with the Superfast fleet!


Saturday, 14 November 2009

Neil, I didn't make a thourough study of shipnames and after checking a second time I see that you are right. I based myself on the Ships of Calmac website and there are indeed a lot of vessels with non island names. I'm curious about the outcome of all this and even more curious to find out how many people strongly oppose against the current names. So far I have received quite a few emails from people on Islay and they seem to be either happy with the current names or aren't bothered at all. My vote was for Finlaggan and I can understand that Lochiel will be much voted for as well. One of the comments in the original post was: "Locheil was the Islay boat for many years and the mast and anchors and some of the handrails from it when she was scrapped are in the community garden in Port Ellen." There's your connection with Islay :-)

I'd rather be on Islay :-)