Today saw a Ceremony to remember sinking of HMS Otranto on Islay at Kilchoman, the disaster happened 100 years ago today. Earlier this year another salute to the victims of the HMS Otranto took place in the water of Machir Bay as the Badlads Diving group visited what remains of the wreck to pay their tribute. Peter was so kind to get in touch to share the link to the video of the event:
A very nice tribute I think, very well done. The group has been visiting Islay for many years, I’ve shared a number of videos by them before.
As it turns out they were on Islay at the same time as me in June, I actually took pictures of them leaving and returning to Kilchiaran Bay, where they had set up base. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised at the time that it was them, otherwise I would have gone over to have a chat. Maybe another time.
This is a post I wanted to write almost a month ago, unfortunately then my leg injury got in the way. Recovery is now well under way (this morning I walked 3 kilometres in I think just over half an hour) and I think I can allow myself a wee dram tonight. With that over to the real topic, one of the many factors which brought me to Islay and made me fall in love with it:
Earlier this year I came across my original Friends of Laphroaig certificate. I bought my first bottle of Laphroaig whisky (the standard 10yo, an expression I still enjoy regularly) in early 1998 and duly sent in my claim for my square foot of Islay. A few weeks later my certificate arrived. Iain Henderson was the distillery manager back then (he retired in 2002), so it is signed by him.
A few months later, on a rather wet August morning, I arrived on Islay for my first visit. The first distillery I visited was of course Laphroaig. There was no visitor centre back then, as far as I can remember I found the way to the reception where someone welcomed me and found a miniature bottle for my annual rent for me.
All of this is now 20 years ago (or will soon be), so with a month delay I’m going to open a bottle of Laphroaig Cairdeas tonight for a wee dram to celebrate being a Friend of Laphroaig for 20 years.
A slightly different Islay video today, a walk to one of the most beautiful ruins on Islay. Especially on a bright and sunny day it’s very nice to walk around it, the light under the trees now towering over it (and even growing in and on it) is wonderful. Here’s the short video recorded by a recent visitor:
I’ve got two pictures of it on the photoblog as well:
Sorry for the lack of blogging here, no post for a week. Not good. My excuse is that the day job had to take priority. Better get back to it. A rather sad video this evening, filmed by Leon a few months ago. Yet another winter with its winter storms won’t have helped the situation either. Here’s a view of the ruin of Kilchoman Parish Church from the air:
The church was last used several decades ago. At some point (not entirely sure when) it was sold to a private owner. Plans for an alternative use never came to fruition for various reasons, among them the lack of water supply. When I first visited Islay in the late 90s the church still had a roof, this gradually disappeared over the years until the last parts of it collapsed and fell into the church a few years ago.
Sadly I think the building is beyond repair now, at best what remains can be stabilised. I fear if nothing is done the gable or part of the side walls will start to collapse soon.
The Lagavulin 200 Legacy is set to make further contributions to the local swimming pool, cyber cafe and arts and festival organisations, as well as a new partnership with the RSPB to restore and conserve peatlands on the island.
Something a bit scary today. I’m not sure how I came across these in the David Ramsey Historical map collection a while ago, but essentially it looks like there was at least some material covering Islay for plans by the German Wehrmacht to invade Britain during WWII (known as Operation Sea Lion, which would have mainly focused on England, but they also seem to have prepared information about Scotland). The material seems to be from 1940 and 1941, i.e. still during the early years of the war. A search for Islay initially turns up three results:
They were filmed 10 years apart, but both are a bit older, showing Islay 33 and 43 years ago respectively. The first one seems to be some old TV footage filmed in 1983, showing Port Charlotte and a few other places on Islay in a short clip:
Going back a further decade to 1973 we can watch some fascinating old footage with some long gone history, starting with the MV Arran ferry (not to be confused with the MV Isle of Arran, which was much later) leaving from the old West Loch Tarbert pier:
The rest of the film shows a variety of familiar places, some in a way now gone: The Oa with the American Monument I believe before it became an RSPB reserve (not sure which year that happened?). Port Askaig long before it was redeveloped to what it is today. Ardbeg distillery with smoking pagodas. A brief glimpse of what I think is Western Ferries’ MV Sound of Jura. An excursion to Jura with of course plenty of deer.
The filmer seems to have also had some interest in birdwatching. I think there were a number of Whooper Swans (the quality of the footage isn’t great, making it difficult to see) and there’s some footage of the Barnacle Geese as well.