I'm sometimes surprised by the amount of websites that have Islay as main subject. Today there is another one to add to the ever growing collection and this site is about Portnahaven in particular, in fact there are two sites but more about the other one later. I came across this one yesterday and it's such a lovely nostalgic site to visit with many old photographs and memories of days gone by. Tom Graham is the owner of this lovely website and he recollects memories, both good and bad, from his childhood when he spent his summer holidays in Portnahaven with his mother's cousin, Jane McIntyre from Queen Street, and he has been a visitor to Islay ever since.
I love these kind of websites which are built with so much love and contain such lovely and personal pictures that give other people a glimpse in their own world. Tom writes: "I suppose the reason for indulging in this nostalgia is the fact that it occurred to me that the one of the constant threads in my life to date has been my association with Islay and in particular Portnahaven" and later he says: "Most things in life are constantly changing whereas little in Islay changes and it?s appeal for me is that very fact!". I guess this is one of the many reasons for people to visit Islay, it certainly is one for me.
Tom's website contains a lot of information and pictures and definitely deserves some more attention. From the Home page you can click your way through several very interesting pages like a lovely slideshow with pictures of Portnahaven accompanied with lovely nostalgic music. There are several pages with family photo's both in colour and black and white. There is also a page with pictures of Portnahaven and more of his family. If you look any closer you will find another page with pictures and one of them contains an old photograph of a "Miss Portnahaven" contestant. Reading this I wonder if there have been more Miss elections on Islay and was there ever a Miss Islay as well? If any of the readers have some more information on this, with pictures of course, please let me know. Another page on Tom's website is about a song called "Danny Boy" which is linked to Portnahaven and you can hear a fragment of this lovely, and again nostalgic, song. If you like to send Tom a message you can visit his guestbook. Continue reading........On one of the photo pages you'll find a black and white photo showing Portnahaven in 1890. If you click this image you enter the Betsy West Photo Gallery which is a hidden little treasure with eight pages of old Islay photographs, and since we are on a trip to memory lane I thought this would be an excellent follow-up on Tom's website. The homepage explains some more about Betsy: "Betsy McNeill is a true daughter of Islay. She was born 1915, and brought up on Islay, daughter of Malcolm McNeill and Marion McKinnon of Portnahaven. She left Islay to train as a nurse in Glasgow. She married her husband Fred West in 1950 and lived in Fraserburgh until Fred died. Later Betsy moved to Port Wemyss in 1992, where she is today, one of the oldest residents on the island. She has a comprehensive, and with many, a personal knowledge of many of the families in the Portnahaven / Port Wemyss area." Iain MacIntosh was responsible for collecting all the pictures and information and Iain says: "When I was first introduced to Betsy in 1996, I was immediately invited into her home in true island style. Over a cup of tea, and 'something to eat', she hauled out a supermarket carrier bag full of 'written on the back of' envelopes, sheets and scraps of paper, containing information received from related families all over the world. She led me through my connection with the McNeills and the wider family, sharing what she had in the true genealogist style. I pulled together her data in a computer program (which we are still 'making adjustments to') of the McNeill, McKinnon, Ferguson and McAllister lines, as well as the inter-marriage between families from the across the Rhinns."
According to brian and Marjorie from the Ileach Betsy West is still living in Port Wemyss and she is doing fine.