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WW100 Islay Public Meeting

WW100 Islay hosted a public meeting at ICCI on Tuesday 28 February which around 40 members of the Islay community attended. One of World War 100 Scotland’s main commemorations in 2018 will be held on Islay, marking the loss of the troopships Tuscania and Otranto. WW100 Islay group has proposed a calendar of events for 2018 which also remembers the part that Islay men and women played in the Great War.

Stuart Graham provided a very informative and moving presentation of how the war affected Islay in 1918. As the stories of the two troopship tragedies unfolded in the waters around Islay, around 50 Islay and Jura men lost their lives on the battlefields of France and further afield. It was a very difficult year. Stuart underlined the compassionate and respectful way that Islay people looked after the American service men who were washed up on Islay, both those who survived and those who were lost. Continue reading....

Deserve the Islay Wave on Single Track Roads

With the Tourist Season starting soon it might be good to point out that a good number of roads on Islay are Single Track Roads. These typical roads can be somewhat troublesome if you drive them for the first time, especially if you do so in your hired motorhome. Former Ileach Editor Calum Murray wrote a nice article a while back about his view on the behaviour of some of the islands visitors. It's a great piece of advice and mandatory reading for all the visiting motorists to Islay, and some of the locals too!

Calum Murray: "There is no doubt that visitors to our island identify the Islay Wave as one of our most endearing conventions. They certainly find it worthy of mention as proof of our conviviality when telling their friends about their encounters with the islanders. In fact, we even let them join in though they are not au fait with all its subtleties. Visiting motorists all experience this distinctively Ileach practice of being waved at by passing car drivers. And mistakenly believe that this means we are accepting of the idiotic way some of them behave on our roads. Oops! I feel a rant coming on. But that's okay; sometimes you need to let off a little steam.

"It would appear that visiting the island is the first time that some drivers have ever come across a single track road. Some of them just don’t understand the protocol. We know that driving on single track roads requires the making of a lot of fine decisions: when you see a car coming towards you, you have to figure out who is nearer to a passing place and drive accordingly. Is it you that will pull in or will it be them? Usually the decision is easy. The passing place is somewhere between the two of you and you adjust your pace so that both of you arrive there almost simultaneously.Or there are two passing places between you and there is a slight war of nerves to find out who will stop first. Continue reading....

Theatre of Drams Islay Whisky Symposium

In an earlier blog post I ran a poll and asked folk what they would think about the festival lasting two weeks. The majority, 69% of 515 votes, voted in favour of a two week festival in the near future. Right now all festivities are cramped into one week and for many folk on the island it's extremely busy. Having a two week festival could possibly bring a somewhat more relaxed atmosphere to the festival and more folk could join. It's great news therefore that someone is organising an extra whisky related event which lasts almost a week. This event, however, is not related to the Islay Festival at the end of May, but it takes place in October, and on a smaller scale.

Rachel MacNeill, owner of Whisky for Girls (and Guys!) is hosting ‘Theatre of Drams’ in October, from 23rd to 27th, and tickets are on sale from this month. Rachel’s festival will mainly be held in Bowmore Hall and she aims to offer variety to suit each person’s needs with the offer to “book on a tasting, a talk, a workshop, anything you fancy.” In previous years Rachel has run Whisky Course Islay which will be incorporated in Theatre of Drams although events can all be booked individually even for those not taking part in the course. Continue reading...

Islay Lighthouses History

Mavis Gulliver reflects on their history

Around the coast of Scotland, two hundred lighthouses send out their warning lights. Managed by the Northern Lighthouse Board, they are strategically located to warn of danger and to aid navigation through perilous waters. Once lit by braziers, candles or whale oil lamps, all lighthouses are now fully automated. Keepers no longer have to live in isolation for weeks at a time.

Islay, the most southerly island of the Inner Hebrides, lies to the north-east of the North Channel. Because Loch Gruinart and Loch Indaal cut deep into the island, the coastline is 155 miles long. The surrounding seas have long been hazardous to ships for there are hundreds of hidden rocks and reefs. Consequently, there have been many wrecks over the years.

One of the most tragic concerned the loss of the Exmouth Castle. After leaving Londonderry, the Rhinns of Islay Lighthouse was mistaken for that of Tory Island. When the ship wrecked in April 1847, 241 emigrants, men, women and children lost their lives. A memorial near Sanaigmore Bay is dedicated to their memory. Continue reading...

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