If we can collect a list of Colonsay email addresses (NOT for publication), it will be possible to arrange a simple facility whereby a message can be circulated within the island at the touch of a button. This could be useful for Community notices, messages from the Surgery or about the ferry or indeed for almost anything. The facility would, of course, be available to everybody ("Come to my barbecue.."?).
To save a lot of trouble setting this up, please send a blank email to the Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org) and put "group" in the subject line.
Daniel McNeill, proudly presented by his eldest brother, Calum
There was plenty of activity on 12 and 13 February, when a helicopter was employed in moving 150 tonnes of wet concrete onto the western flank of Beinn a' Gudairean. It took a tonne at a time, which was being prepared in 6 tonne batches by Nigel Grant and his team. Two mixers based at Kiloran transported each batch by road to Loch Turramin before it was taken into the air.
The old square reflector near Suidhe a' Bantighearna will now be removed, and the poured concrete will be the base for a new Telecoms mast.
The new mast will appear to the left of Scalasaig Farnhouse
The good news is that reservations seem to be coming in at an even faster rate than usual, which is really quite astonishing. Colonsay traditionally enjoys a very strong repeat business and it seems that this is being boosted by new business and an extended season. When CalMac launched its summer promotion a fortnight ago, there was a dramatic response; it seemed that this was from people who had no previous knowledge of the island.
It is in everybody's interests to ensure that as many people as possible can book the accommodation that they require, and with the minimum of difficulty. It would be a big help if everybody with accommodation on offer would be so good as to list the dates that are still available and email them to email@example.com each Saturday. To get an idea of how it can be done, have a look at the Island Lodges or Cill a' Rubha entries - it is very helpful for people to know if they dates they want are likely to be available. It is a simple courtesy, it costs nobody anything and it does mean that enquiries will be properly directed to where than can do most good.
On the same front, it is rumoured that only one person expressed any interest in the Colonsay Heritage seminar which was to have been conducted next week. As far as is known, the project is to be cancelled and the funds will be applied elsewhere.
The Post Bus service to Oransay has not yet been re-instated, despite widespread publicity and progress. This means that a major heritage site is no longer accessible to persons with disability and that both Colonsay and Oransay are greatly diminished in consequence. The community council is monitoring the situation and has proposals which might help, but these cannot replace Keith's excellent service.
AIE GRANTS Etc.
Please follow these two links to study the entire range of assistance given recently. We rather liked the laundry service (Sud-u-like) and were truly impressed by the level of activity… if anybody is looking for ideas, these are clearly ones that are regarded as being likely to succeed.
The only local reference is for "Professional fees to develop the provision of an upgraded Fuel Station on the Island of Colonsay, £7,500" (100%).
Thanks to the IaaO Seedcorn Fund, there is now a second fully-accredited skipper for "Lady Jayne". Pede MacNeill has completed the final phase of the two-year process and has had his licence upgraded accordingly - although he is mainly committed to his work at the shop and elsewhere, it does mean that "Lady Jayne" has much greater flexibility. In particular, Wednesday will be the day for "Pede's Ploys" - see details on the website.
"Lady Jayne" will be operating the same level of service as last year, with slight changes in the bicycle and passenger ferry timetables to tie-in with the enhanced CalMac car-ferry. Once again, there will be a full range of pleasure trips, including all-day expeditions each Saturday to climb the Paps. A special trip is planned for 21 June, to give people the chance to explore Scarba, passing through Corrievreckan in both directions. There is also a possibility to visit Dubh Hirteach on 23 May, but both trips depend upon a level of interest as well as suitable weather.
Circumnavigations of Colonsay and Oronsay continue to be a bit of a challenge - Donald "Gibbie" McNeill was guiding Kevin and Pede on these trips throughout 2002, and it is hoped that he might be patient enough to offer a refresher course in 2003.
"Whenever, at a party, I have been in the mood to study fools, I have always looked for a great beauty: they always gather round her like flies around a fruit stall."
Jean Paul Richter
The above was written by the grandfather of Emma Richter-Kallenburg, "the German spy" of Machrins. Mr. Dugie MacGilvary is fairly sure that he met her once, when he was about 5 years old. He cannot be quite certain, but it tends to confirm the idea that the lady had returned to the island subsequent to her 1900 visit, and that she was indeed here at the outbreak of the Great War.
A number of people are agreed that the traditional story was that "she was taken away", in other words that Ms. Kallenburg had not left the island under her own steam in order to register as an alien or whatever. Another detail has been remembered by Dugie, and has subsequently been recalled by others who were familiar with the story - Miss Kallenburg is said to have been discovered to have had "a map, sewn into her hat".
It is, perhaps, just possible that as war approached Miss Richter-Kallenburg was prevailed upon to return to a remote island community with which she had some acquaintance. Although nobody could land from a foreign craft in Colonsay unannounced and unremarked, perhaps documents could have been posted via the island and secreted in a "letter-box" somewheree about Ardskenish. Perhaps a light-signal would therefore have a purpose, to indicate whether or not there was "post" to be collected? Could the "map" have been an ingoing or outgoing document that was intercepted?
Does any reader know how we can get access to intelligence files of that date? They will surely be available, if only we knew where to look. Meantime, details of the manuscript that she wrote in Colonsay in 1900 can be accessed via Ms.for sale by Alex Fotheringham, Bookseller (Tel 01434 270046) Her cottage was wrongly identified in our last issue and Hughie McNeill has kindly supplied photographs of the cottage itself, together with a splendid picture of his brother Seamus. The cottage is on the left in the first picture.
It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Mr. Derek Taylor on Sunday 2 February 2003. Mr. Taylor and his family have been regular visitors to Colonsay for many years and recently obtained a site in the island, at Cnoc nam Fad, where they built a magnificent new house. It was the fulfilment of a dream for Mr. Taylor when he moved into the new house, and a matter of great regret to us all that he did not have longer to enjoy it. He had already become an active and very popular member of the community and is sadly missed by all who knew him.
A HEBRIDEAN CROSS
(The beautiful Great Cross at Oronsay - the tidal island off Colonsay,
in the inner Hebrides)
Lone outpost of the Faith! I see thee stand
Erect, though vext by wind, and rain, and sea:
Grey rocks, and slumbering blue waters near;
Birds wheeling seaward o'er the happy land;
Air that hums sweetly with the homing bee-
What of yourselves do you find written here?
Say is there need of thee,
O stern rebuke to all this radiant peace,
Fashioned of cruelty and suffering?
'Tis well! The sign and symbol never cease
To tell of discord dire, and bring
The sharp reminder to this sunlit shore,
Of shadow and shame, and tribulation sore,
And of the primal sorrow of the earth,
That comes, delaying not with each new birth-
Throbbing in every child that mother ever bore!
Many thanks to Eleanor McNeill, who has contributed the above poem from a number that were collected by her late husband, Alastair "Machrins" McNeill.
NOOKS & CRANNIES: Port na h-Iùbhraich
One could easily become nervous of submitting this column, but in all truth it is very useful to receive corrections and additional information. The location of this issue's site has been marked on some maps as at Luba na Eisearan (which is the opposite end of the same inlet), but I have been assured that the correct location is pictured below. Most of my original informants have passed on, but it would be helpful to have comments since this is a very important spot.
Port na h-Iùbhraich ("port of the barge") is in the southeast corner of Tràigh nam Bàrc, and it is said to have been in this very spot that St. Columba landed, with twelve companions, in order to establish his first foundation in Scotland. It is now accepted that Colonsay tradition is correct, and that St. Columba's beloved Hinba is the island now known as Oransay. Very close to Port na h-Iùbhraich is An Dùnan ("the small settlement"), about 50 metres to the south (not 200 metres to the east, as shown on the Ordnance map). St. Columba was resident in Hinba when he was visited by the angel and commanded to consecrate Aidan, at Iona. His uncle, Ernan, was briefly the abbot of Hinba, but made his way to Iona when he felt his end was near, and is buried there.
St. Fergnae, who lived for many years among the community in Hinba, eventually withdrew to live for a further twelve years "in isolation at the place of the anchorites in Muirbolc Már ("great seabag"), and died a victorious soldier of Christ". The "great sea-bag" is, of course, a reference to the strand. It is uncertain where the anchorites may have lived, but one is tempted to think of the area at the point of Garvard; the raggle of rocks now know as Tigh na Cealpairean ("kelper's cottage") might have suited his purpose.
Symington Grieve gave a good account of the St. Columba tradition in Colonsay, but it would be good to know if any reader can add to it. For a modern and carefully researched account of the background, see "Adomnán of Iona: Life of St. Columba" by Richard Sharpe, which is an excellent annotated translation published by Penguin (ISBN 0 14 044462 9).
Port na h-Iùbhraich
WHAT'S ON IN COLONSAY
Series about "The Realm of the Isles" including Oronsay, Donald William Stewart presenting it, Thursday evenings on BBC2
February 16th - St, Valentine's Day Service, conducted at Church of Scotland by John Roberts, 11.30 a.m.
February 21st or so - Heritage Course, see notices (probably cancelled).
Badminton, Thursdays 18.00hrs.
Quiz in the Hotel every Wednesday at 9.30 pm.
Take-Away Meals available Monday to Saturday from the hotel.
The Pantry - Winter hours
Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10am to 2pm
Saturdays 10am to 3pm
Takeaway meals Friday 5pm to 6pm
Evening meals provided but must be booked in advance Tel 01951 200235
Please note that services in both the Baptist Church and the Church of Scotland are at the new time of 11.30hrs. Services are held regularly - see notices in the shop and hotel for details.
The 14th International Gathering of Clan Macfie is to be held May 14-18, 2003 in Gatlinburg, TN, hosted by the Macfie Clan Society of America. For more information see http://www.macfiesocietyofamerica.com or contact:
Jim McAfee, Macfie Clan Society of America
420 Ash Dr.; Baxter, TN 38544 USA
Only one person has gone from Colonsay to the anti-war demonstration in Glasgow, although probably even less would go to one in favour of it; a video library has been established at the Service Point; at least 3 people have been struck down by a very powerful 24 hour bug; there is a planning application for an extension to the shop; the mediaeval chapel in the graveyard is in a parlous state - a major collapse will occur at any moment unless remedial work can be arranged:
The large stone on the left of the dog has fallen from the hole above its head, and to the right of its head another can be seen which is about to fall. At its tail, another has already slipped and may fall with the next frost. In the second picture, it is possible to see just how many stones are slipping - they are being forced out of position by changing humidity and temperature.
For convenience of readers, letters now appear in two sections. Anything to do with current events appears here, and letters to do with the Magazine section or historical research etc. will appear at the end of the Magazine section.
Alan Davis is researching all Colonsay's war graves and fallen, and is looking for any information about Birger Oest Larsen. He is commemorated in the book of Remembrance at the
Danish Seamen's Memorial in St. Nicholas's Cathedral at Newcastle upon
Tyne. Using this as a start, Alan has made progress - as can be seen below. The situation has been muddied by the memory of the sailor who made it ashore at Balnahard, but who died before he could be found. So please, do get in touch if you have any knowledge of either case.
Hi Kevin - I have more details about Birger Oest Larsen from the National
Maritime Museum in Copenhagen. He was a Styrmand [Ships Mate or
Navigator]aboard the S.S. 'Brosund' a Danish Freighter built in 1916. In
1941 the vessel was requisitioned by the US authorities as it was either in
a US port or in US waters - all foreign vessels were effectively taken over
like this before the US entered the war.
She was renamed 'Crusader' however kept her Danish crew. In November 1941 she was part of eastbound convoy SC53 in the central North Atlantic when together with another vessel she fell
behind and was attacked by a German U-boat, U-561 - eventually sinking with
the loss of all crew plus one German POW. There is some confusion about the
exact date which I will sort out, however it seems to be 26 November 1941.
I have a few more leads to follow up - however what interests me is the
story about him arriving alive at Port an Obain and making it up across the
shore and behind a wall where his body was discovered in Jan 1942 - do you
know the origin of this story or anyone who may be able to shed some more
light on it? On the face of things it would seem unlikely that having been
sunk in the middle of the Atlantic in November he would have survived that
long but there may well be an explanation - was a lifeboat found nearby?
I would welcome any views you have on this one as it is an interesting story
and needs more investigation. Certainly the Maritme Museum in Copenhagen are
interested to know about how Merchant Seaman Larsen came to be buried on
Colonsay - hope to hear from you about this one - best wishes to yourself
and all friends on Colonsay - Alan
Discovered your excellent website today and then caught story of threat to mail and tourist delivery to Oronsay by Royal Mail action. How can such a traditional route suddenly in the 21stC develop into a hazard? This must be contested, as many people would have great difficulty in visiting the Priory without the invaluable postbus service and the guidance of Keith Rutherford.
Visited Colonsay last September for the first time, staying with Annie Lawson at Seaview, and was impressed with the beautiful island and the friendly and hospitable people.
Best wishes and look forward to the next time
And a big welcome for this cheering letter….
A lot of people showed great interest in us last week when we arrived on Colonsay with Mrs. Jane Howard and were probably wondering who we were. Well, by now most will already know.
We are Stuart and Carol Rumble from Mull and we are delighted to given the opportunity to live and work on such a beautiful Isle. We look forward to moving and meeting everyone next week.
S. & C.Rumble.
Thank you -
It is very cheering to receive letters of encouragement - a particularly fine one arrived this week (on two postcards!). Modesty prohibits publication, but messages like that are greatly appreciated and sometimes they arrive just when they are most needed… Sincere thanks to all those who give support - Kevin
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