Welcome to Islay Weblog

Islay Weblog Brings News and Events from Islay

Welcome to Islay Weblog

Islay Weblog Brings News and Events from Islay

Welcome to Islay Weblog

Islay Weblog Brings News and Events from Islay

Loch Gruinart

Loch Gruinart

Kildalton Cross

Kildalton Cross

Islay Cloud Formations

Islay Cloud Formations

Atlantic Sunset

Beautiful Sunsets on Islay Westcoast

Port Charlotte

On the Rhinns of Islay

Loch Indaal

Loch Indaal

Atlantic West Coast

Sanaigmore Bay Saligo Bay


Isle of Jura

Islay Whisky Distilleries

Islay is famous for it's malt whisky

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Book Review The Caledonian Steam Packet Company

The recent spate of storms battering Islay's coasts and the subsequent disruption or cancellation of our ferry services, was perhaps a timely reminder of just how fragile an existence is experienced by the islands off Scotland's west coast. This relative isolation from the mainland (daily air service notwithstanding) can be considered either a plus or a negative depending on your point of view. Several days without ferries often means a lack of essentials such as bread, milk, newspapers (apparently) and no letters on the doormat. To an extent this underlines CalMac's definition as a lifeline service, even though the advent of Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) for visitors as well as residents may be seen as a slight undermining of that status.

But the islands and coastal ports of the Clyde are also served by this Scottish national ferry service, ultimately an amalgamation of several competing ferry groups over the past hundred or so years. One of these component parts is the Caledonian Steam Packet Company (CSPC), founded in 1889 and subsequently merged with the David MacBrayne fleet in 1973. This itself was an outgrowth of Caledonian Railways, a company keen to provide steamers to complement the trains serving its new terminal at Gourock and from Wemyss Bay.

The growth of the Caledonian Steam Packet Company eventually encompassed many Clyde ports that some may have nostalgic memories of visiting. Rothesay, Ayr, Ardrossan, Ardrishaig and Arrochar were all visited by a fleet of paddle steamers that had no need of 'fitting the pier' in the manner that MV Finlaggan didn't. For in those days, any cargo that might have been carried, including motor vehicles, were lifted aboard by crane or driven across two strategically placed planks of wood. Presumably devices such as 'linkspans' were either not thought of or unwarranted in those halcyon days of yore, when large crowds of passengers and would-be passengers could be seen thronging decks and piers. Continue reading....

Snowdrops in Bridgend Woods Islay

Despite the nightly frost, chilly northerly winds and the frequent snow and hail showers, one of the most beautiful signs of spring is displaying in between the majestic trees in the woods of Bridgend. The snowdrops are out again, in their thousands or millions, who knows. It's such a heartwarming view to see these fierce wee plants flowering so beautifully despite the gales, cold and hailstones. Below a few views taken this morning south of the community garden

Snowdrops in front of Islay House

Small groups of Snowdrops at the base of a tree

A white carpet in the woods at Bridgend

Tag: snowdrops bridgend islay house

Commemorating the WW1 Centenary on Islay and Jura

Stuart Graham explains why he was driven to write a book about the men of Islay an Jura who gave their lives in the First World War:

Why is it important to remember the men from Islay and Jura who fought in WW1?
Millions of men from all sides died fighting for what they believed to be a 'just cause'. Many millions more suffered appalling injuries and disfigurement. Others endured traumatic psychological effects e.g. shell shock some of which were officially acknowledged, a great many were not. The after-effects of the war lived on in damaged families across the world.

On an even wider scale the greater part of the turmoil and troubles of the present day can be firmly placed at the door of the First World War. The rise of Nazism and the Second World War; current problems in the Middle-East; the rise of the Soviet Union and the Cold War plus numerous other smaller conflicts all have their roots in the carnage and aftermath of the 'War to end all Wars'.

How many men from Islay and Jura were involved?
The Glasgow Islay Gathering held in February 1917 claimed that 'a thousand Islay men (were) at the war'. This from a population of 6287 (1911 Census) and a proportional number from Jura (population 570). To serve in the armed forces, men had to be at least 18 years old and no older than 38. Age limits did not apply to the many men from Islay and Jura who served in the Mercantile Marine. Scores of men who were officially in reserved occupations e.g. farming, fishing, transport, still enlisted, so many that emergency notices were issued, urging, for example, shepherds not to enlist and to remain with their flocks. Continue reading....

Scottish Opera comes to Islay

Scottish Opera will celebrate the 21st anniversary of Opera Highlights with a 17-date tour of Scotland in the New Year. Promising a great evening for those brand new to opera, seasoned fans and everyone in-between, Opera Highlights features music from some of the world's most popular operas, as well as some lesser-known treats selected by Scottish Opera's Head of Music, Derek Clark.

This January, Scottish Opera's trusty van will be loaded up with a piano, a handful of props and four singers to perform at some of the smaller or more remote venues the length and breadth of Scotland. The annual tour has been taking to the road since 1994, when it started life as Essential Scottish Opera. This year's tour as well as visiting Islay will go to another seventeen venues. Arias from Mozart's The Magic Flute and Verdi's La Traviata will be showcased alongside the famous Habanera from Bizet's Carmen. Audiences will also be treated to Gilbert & Sullivan classics from HMS Pinafore and The Gondoliers as part of the 2-hour production. This year's Opera Highlights programme also includes a world premiere from Scottish Opera's new Composer in Residence, Liam Paterson, entitled 'Touching Eden'.

Thursday 5 February, 7.30pm at Bowmore Village Hall. Tickets from: C.& E. Roy, The Celtic House, Bowmore PA43 7LD Tel: 01496 810 304, Stuart Todd, Islay Arts Association Tel: 01496 860 216 and IG Laurie Newsagent & General Store, Charlotte Street, Port Ellen PA42 7DF Tel: 01496 302 264 or Book Online

Free Entrance to Islay Museum in February

Jenni Minto writes: "Although closed for the winter season, things haven't been quiet at the Museum of Islay Life. In November, Archibald Campbell's saddlers tools came home to Islay. Archibald, and his father, Peter, before him, were the saddlers based in Port Charlotte and after whom Saddlers Brae is named. It is said that not only was Archibald a talented saddler but he was also proficient in extracting decayed teeth from Port Charlotte residents! The tools had been donated to the National Museum of Scotland in the 1970s and were in storage at the Museum of Rural Life in East Kilbride. When Archibald's grand-daughters, Gael Roy and Wendy Feist, requested that the tools be returned home to Islay, where they would be on display, their request was granted. The Museum in Port Charlotte is in the process of creating a display of the tools there are over 20 of them alongside photographs of the saddlers at work. It would be wonderful if anyone has a piece of leatherwork or an object crafted by the Campbells which could be loaned to the Museum to be incorporated in the display. Continue reading....

Fascinating Fungi of Islay

Fiona MacGillivray writes: A new year and a fresh programme of talks for the enthusiastic, curious and sociable amongst you. There is talent among the Islay Natural History Trust’s committee and enthusiasm for a wide range of subjects which we’re keen to share with everyone and anyone who is willing to listen. Our first instalment on the last Thursday of this month will be a fascinating look at some of Islay’s fungi through the informative eyes of Alistair Hutchison. Although he claims to be just learning, he has already accrued a wealth of Meadow Waxcap knowledge and understanding of the diversity of fungi that can be seen on Islay if you know where to look!

He describes his talk as ‘a snapshot of the rare, unusual, poisonous, edible and the fascinating and delightful an introduction and personal journey of discovery’. Having participated on one of his fungal forays with a varied array of toadstools and diverse fungal formations seen around the Lily Loch, I know that he may inspire you to head out to discover the magical world of the fungus. Continue reading....

The Ella Edgar Highland Dancers in 2014

Many visitors to Islay have most likely seen the colourful Highland Dancers performing somewhere, on a visitor welcome evening, at the Islay Show, the Islay Festival or somewhere else. Back in I wrote about their successes and since then things have only become better. In the Ileach of 10 January Ella Edgar wrote an article with an update on 2014, so time for an update.

Ella Edgar wrote: "2014 was a very special and successful year for the Ella Edgar Highland Dancers. The special occasions commenced with a display at the Annual Islay Gathering in March leading on to two performances on Glasgow Green at the Commonwealth Games in July. A team of 12 dancers participated at the Kindred Ceilidh organised by Glasgow Life and another dancer at the SDTA (Scottish Dance Teachers' Alliance) Performance Team display. Continue reading....

Two New Islay Winter Panorama Pictures

No wild weather today, just a rather calm and frosty winters day with a magnificent sunrise this morning, while an Islay Fisherman was checking his lobster pots in Loch Indaal, see the first image below. I've also managed to create two new Islay panorama pictures. The first one shows the Sound of Islay in its entire length including the snow capped Paps of Jura. The second one is quite something, it's a very large panorama of over 10.000 pixels width, showing the central part of Islay behind the High Road from Gartbreck to Glenegedale. Look closely and you can spot the new community wind turbine. This one takes some time to load. Enjoy.

Fishing boat in Loch Indaal at Sunrise

Sound of Islay in Winter - Click on image to enlarge

Islay Hills with Snow behind High Road - Click on image to enlarge

Tag: winter sound of islay gartbreck glenegedale fishing boat loch indaal


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The Maggie

Buy The Maggie from Amazon The Maggie is one of Ealing studios lesser known comedies. It is however a 'gem' in the true sense of the word. The film has everything, humour, tragedy, pathos, romance. A wily old skipper of a Western Isles 'Puffer' and his motley crew lead all who come into contact with them a fine old time!


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