WW100 Otranto Remembrance Service Islay

Islanders, and descendants of American soldiers and British crewmen who lost their lives when HMS Otranto sank off Islay, gathered to pay their respects on Saturday ( 6 October) at a commemoration on the island to mark the centenary WW1’s worst convoy.

HMS Otranto, a former luxuryliner that had been requisitioned by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the war, was the flagship of a 13-vessel convoy bringing thousands of US troops to the conflict on the Western Front. But, caught in Force 11 gale and unsure of her position, the Otranto collided with another ship in her convoy, HMS Kashmir. While the Kashmir managed to limp to the Clyde, the powerless Otranto was driven by the storm towards the treacherous coast of Islay.

British destroyer, HMS Mounsey, commanded by Lieutenant Francis Craven, dashed to rescue 600 men from the Otranto, but nearly 500 men were still aboard when it struck a reef off Kilchoman Bay, on Islay’s west coast. Local shepherds and farmers rushed to the shore and pulled survivors from the pounding surf, but, of the men still on board the Otranto when it struck the reef, only 19 survived. The islanders tended the survivors and, although many of Islay’s able men had already been killed or were still at war, scoured the rugged coast to recover bodies and did all they could to identify them and bury them with honour. Continue reading....

Looking Back - The First RoRo Ferry on Islay

Saturday 6 April 1968 was a new beginning in ferry travel for Islay and the forerunner of ferries as we know them today.

On a beautiful sunny, day 50 years ago, Western Ferries’ brand new red and white ferry, MV ‘Sound of Islay’, sailed into Port Askaig for the first time, heralding a transformation in ferry travel to and from Islay. On that first day it seemed as if half the population of Islay was in Port Askaig to see the new ferry with, what appeared to be the other half, there on Sunday. Captain Angus Mitchell and First Officer, Sandy Ferguson found their ship overrun by enthusiastic sightseers.

With the arrival of the ‘Sound of Islay’, came a revolution in vehicle transportation to and from Islay, as, up until then, cars were driven onto a net and swung into the hold of the mail boat. Now, here was a roll-on/roll-off ferry, bringing Islay into line with the other west coast islands that had, had roll-on/ roll-off ferries since 1964. In 1964 the Scottish Office had three identical ferries built, the ‘Hebrides’, ‘Clansman’ and ‘Columba’, to serve the islands from Mull to Lewis but, for reasons best known to itself, omitted to include Islay in the plan and as had always been the case, Islay was ‘left out in the cold’, having to make do with the ageing mail boat, the ‘Lochiel’. Continue reading...

Direct Flights from Edinburgh to Islay Starting 2019

Exciting news for those travelling to and from Islay by air. Yesterday Loganair announced that starting next year, on the 31st of March 2019, they will operate a direct link between Edinburgh and Islay. This in addition to the current direct link between Glasgow and Islay. It's in fact the first link between Edinburgh and one of the Hebridean islands.

A 34 seat aircraft, likely a Saab 340, will fly up to 7 days weekly from Edinburgh to Islay and back, with a flight time of 45 minutes. The plane is scheduled to leave Edinburgh around noon and leaves Islay Airport around 2pm. This is not a year round link as it only operates from the 31st of March to the 26th of October. At the time of writing a single journey started at around £80.

You can book your Edinburgh to Islay flight on the Logain Air website: www.loganair.co.uk where you can also book flights from Glasgow to Islay.

Tag: flights edinburgh

Islay Sessions 2018 Line-up

This year’s Islay Sessions will take place from 23 to 25 November, with a very varied and exciting line up planned. Kicking off the weekend of events will be Irish fiddler Grainne Brady with an intimate concert in the Port Charlotte Hotel conservatory. Joined by Andrew Waite and Innes White, Grainne will be launching her debut album The Road Across the Hills. The music explores the social themes associated with the mass immigration of the Irish to Scotland, particularly at the start of the 20th century. Taking inspiration from Donegal writer Patrick MacGillâs novel ̃Children of the Dead End, the music acts as a soundtrack to the story.

Playing at the Saturday night concert in Bruichladdich Hall will be Dallahan, Josie Duncan & The Dusk and Brighde Chaimbeul. Dallahan is one of the most thrilling forces in the international folk music scene; heavily rooted in traditional Irish music, but with hugely diverse backgrounds and influences. They call on their mixed Irish, Scottish and Hungarian heritage to create a unique and seamless musical montage, drawing in influences from jazz, funk, pop and classical music.

Josie Duncan is a folk singer from the Outer Hebridean Isle of Lewis. Having been immersed in Glasgow’s fast-moving traditional music scene for the past few years where she studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, her crystal-clear voice is equally at home in Gaelic, Scots or English. Josie was awarded BBC Radio 2’s Young Folk Award in 2017 alongside guitarist Pablo Lafuente. Josie Duncan & The Dusk consists of Innes White on guitar, Megan MacDonald on accordion, Brighde Chaimbeul on whistles and Signy Jakobsdottir on percussion playing alongside the talented young singer. Read more....

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