MacTaggart Leisure Centre Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Gary Scott explains that IJCE is still going strong after 25 years and invites you to the celebrations.

Back in 1979 people were saying it was impossible. A swimming pool and leisure centre on Islay? Not a chance. However a group of dedicated people with the community behind them had other ideas and set about raising the finance and identifying premises.

A staggering £1m was raised over a period of eleven years which coincided with Morrison Bowmore Distillers donating the redundant whisky bond in the village to the community for £1. The Mactaggart Leisure Centre was built and opened in June 1991. Mountain No 1 climbed.

Then came the problem of how the operational costs would be financed as the small service level agreement from Argyll & Bute Council together with trading income did not balance the books. Everything was turned into projects and funding applications submitted to grants providers, private trusts and foundations to cover the cost of each project. Through much work, huge amounts of energy and volunteer time over £2.5m has been raised over the past fifteen years to fund additional services and activities needed by the community. Mountain No 2 climbed.

In 2009 after eighteen years of heavy usage the building was looking run down, the roof was leaking and the plant was unreliable. The Mactaggart Leisure Centre needed a big injection of capital. Where would we get that amount of money everyone asked? Continue reading...

Wild Islay Birding - Wildlife Tours on Islay

After Jeremy Hastings of islay Birding left the island, now some five years ago, there was nobody who followed him up, at least not straight away. Becky Williamson started Islay Welly Walks a few years later but she left the island two years ago. The only "official" wildlife guide right now is DJ MacPhee who runs Islay Outdoors. On an island with such an abundance of wildlife there was certainly a need for another business doing wildlife and birding tours on the island. And here came Gary Turnbull, a former Police Officer from Glasgow and bird nerd since his early years. Gary has started up a new business recently called Wild Islay Birding and I've asked him for a wee introduction:

"Hello, I am Gary Turnbull and I have started a new wildlife tourism business on Islay, Wild Islay Birding. This is a guiding service for visitors to the island to show them the wonderful bird and wildlife which abounds here. I have visited Islay for sometime and retired here last year with my partner Samantha, she works at the Islay Woolen Mill. We came to Islay for the wildlife and met some very nice people and decided to move here permanently. " Continue reading...

Pod of Bottlenose Dolphins in Loch Indaal Islay

What a stunning morning to wake up to today and on top of all that a pod of Dolphins in Loch Indaal entertained us just after 7am this morning. They first passed our cottage and were heading towards the pier where more and more people came out of their houses to witness this stunning Islay wildlife spectacle. Later on they headed back towards the lighthouse and that gave me the opportunity to get very close to them and take some nice pictures. It was impressive to see them and, as it was very quiet, to hear them as well every time they surfaced.

Continue to more pictures

A&B Council Approves plans for Ardnahoe Distillery Islay

Earlier this year, in January to be precise, plans were revealed for a new distillery on Islay, roughly between Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain, at Ardnahoe. Today Argyll and Bute council announced that planning permission has been granted to the applicants which means that construction of Ardnahoe distillery will commence anytime soon.

The council writes: "The proposal will deliver sustainable economic development within an ‘economically fragile area’ in a manner which, notwithstanding the concerns expressed by third parties, will not give rise to any unacceptable, or significant adverse effect upon the receiving environment. As well as the distillery itself, there are a number of additional benefits. The whisky industry supports a range of other businesses, such as haulage firms, who take the product round the country and even overseas." Continue reading...