Islay High film shortlisted at FilmG 2019

Islay on Video

Just a quick update on the Vote for Islay at FilmG 2019 entry from December: One of the three entries from Islay has been shortlisted for an award. The entry from Islay High School in the Youth category, ‘Am Bruadar’, has been picked in the FilmG Award For Gaelic – Learners category. Congratulations, and fingers crossed you will be announced as winners at the awards ceremony in Glasgow in February.

In addition, voting for the People’s Choice award is still open. You can vote once a day. Here are the entries from Islay again, so that you can vote for them:

Voting is simple: Go to the page for the entry you want to vote for and click on the yellow ‘Vote’ button. Done. Happy voting!

Vote for Islay at FilmG 2019

Islay on Video

It’s that time of year again, same as last year it’s time to vote for Islay’s entries at the FilmG competition. For this year I’m aware of three entries from Islay so far, from the High School, from Bowmore Primary and from the Islay Voices. Same as last year everyone can vote in the ‘People’s Choice Prize’, to do that all you need to do is to go to the page for the entry you want to vote for (linked below the videos) and click on the ‘Vote’ button. Simple as that.

Let’s start with the entry from Islay High School, titled ‘Am Bruadar’. In it a ‘Hipster couple camp at view of Rhinns lighthouse, fall asleep and dream past, present and future there. There’s a surprise in store for them both!’:

You can vote for it on the AM BRUADAR – Àrd-sgoil Ìle, Ìle Bheò page

Next to the younger students from Bowmore Primary in their second competition entry (I believe their premiere at the competition was last year). For them ‘the children’s bad behaviour leads in the blink of an eye, to jump in time to a school in a hundred years, where wooden desks have been replaced with ipad tables and there is no need for a teacher as Alexa runs the class‘:

You can vote for it on the EACHDRAIDH – Bunsgoil Bhogha Mòir, G4-7 page

The third entry is from the Islay People/Voices about ‘the legacy of landscape, people and song captured in timelapse and aerial footage of Islay‘:

You can vote for it at the GUTHAN ÌLEACH – Muinntir Ìle page.

The voting is open until the end of January, the winners (including hopefully one from Islay) will be announced at the annual awards ceremony at The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on 08/Feb/2019. If you’re on Facebook also follow the CnaG Ìle group for more.

Gaelic map of Islay, Jura and Colonsay

Islay NewsFrom my recent Islay visit I returned with a quite large souvenir which is now hanging on one of my walls. A few weeks ago Pat Farrington announced on Facebook that she had some maps of Islay, Jura and Colonsay in Gaelic for sale. I contacted her that I was interested and if I could pick one up during my Islay visit in November (they were sold pick up / delivery on Islay only).

Picture of a map of Islay, Jura and Colonsay in Gaelic
A closer look at the map, framed by Islay Studios

We agreed to meet in Bowmore, where £10 and in return the map changed hands. From Bowmore I drove over to Islay House Square, where I dropped it off at Islay Studios to be framed. Mark had mentioned that they had framed another copy, I decided to do the same to keep it in prime condition and make it easier to hang up. I picked a light coloured wood as most of my furniture is pine and I wanted them to go together.

Here’s how it looks with the map hanging above my ‘Islay Shelf’ (where I keep my Islay single malts, my Islay books and various souvenirs):

Picture of a shelf with whisky and books with a map in Gaelic hanging above it
The map looking nice above my Islay shelf

I’m very happy how it turned out, I think it fits very well above the shelf. The map looks very nice in the frame, it covers many places including villages, hills, mountains, lochs and more. Of course all in Gaelic, as that’s the whole point of the map. The speech bubble is a lamp (hence the cable), but it didn’t look very nice switched on for a picture, so I turned it off (it looks very nice otherwise and is lit while I’m typing this).

New sign/board at Islay’s Kilchoman beach

Islay NewsLast week a very nice new sign/board popped up at the start of the track through the dunes to Kilchoman beach. A few weeks ago I wrote about a way to help keeping Islay’s beaches clean, Fiona MacGillivray has taken this idea further and written a poem about it. That poem has now been printed on a sign/board and the first one has been put up at the entrance to Kilchoman beach:

Picture of a sign with a poem encouraging people to pick up three pieces of rubbish from a beach
The sign/board with Fiona’s poem

The poem reads (for the benefit of those with a screen reader, in case they can’t read text in pictures):

Three pieces of rubbish!

Make this beach plastic free, Oh what a sight that would be!

Plastic litter on the beach is a scourge to man and beast.

It floats on in, off the sea, in a relentless tide of mans debris.

Piled high we throw up our hands & cry How can we just let this lie?

But with visitors and walkers each day we reduce it day by day.

Pick up three pieces of rubbish each and this beach will be a peach.

There is a bin that sits just here pop it in and you can cheer

Then this beach will just be Sand and sea and clutter free!

© Fiona MacGillivray

As it says in the poem, there is a convenient bin right here:

Picture of a sign encouraging visitors to pick up rubbish on a beach with a bin behind it
The bin right behind the sign

I understand there are plans to put up signs at other beaches on Islay as well. Hopefully they will encourage more people to help with keeping Islay’s beaches clean, so that we can all enjoy pristine beaches (of course it would be even better to avoid the plastic rubbish in the first place, but that’s another topic).

 

Flying Edinburgh (EDI) to Islay International Airport (ILY)

Islay NewsSome good news for Islay visitors planning to arrive by plane. So far most scheduled flights to Islay (i.e. not the Colonsay/Oban route) were from Glasgow Airport (GLA) only. That’s about to change: From March 2019 travellers will also be able to fly to Islay International Airport (ILY) from Edinburgh Airport (EDI). From the Loganair press release:

Picture of an incoming plane over a bay with a beach
A plane coming in to land at Islay International Airport (ILY)

A 34-seat Saab 340 will fly the Edinburgh to Islay route – the capital city’s first ever scheduled air link to the Inner Hebrides. The service will commence on 25 March and will operate up to daily, offering new links from Edinburgh to the “Queen of the Hebrides”, which is experiencing significant growth in tourism and business following the opening of new hotels and growth in the golfing and spirits distillery sectors.

I think this should open up some new routes and opportunities in particular for visitors from further afield, I believe from some countries there are no direct flights to Glasgow, but there are to Edinburgh.

Rhinns of Islay distillery footpath funding

Islay NewsI don’t know more than what it says in the screenshot, but it looks like after the Southern Islay distillery footpath we will soon see a Rhinns of Islay equivalent between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich. Many thanks to Ross Coutts for spotting and sharing:

Beachcombing/walking on Islay with a twist

Islay NewsWe all would like our beaches pristine and clean. Sadly modern reality gets into the way more and more often. Plastic and other rubbish everywhere, destroying the beauty of the nature we so enjoy. So why don’t we all contribute a bit to help keeping the beaches clean? Apart from avoiding littering as much as possible we can all do our bit to help to keep the beaches clean. It’s not my idea, I read about it somewhere else:

From every beach walk aim to bring back at least three pieces of plastic (or other rubbish, e.g. bottles) and dispose of it responsibly.

During my last visit to Islay in June I decided to do my bit. When staying at Kilchoman during the second week of my stay I went for a walk on Kilchoman Beach in Machir Bay every morning. During the last return leg (I typically walked up and down the beach twice) I picked up as much as I could carry, often helped by a bucket or something similar I found to allow me to collect and carry it.

Quite a few of the findings almost certainly travelled all the way across the North Channel, as they clearly came from Ireland. There was a plastic milk bottle from Donegal Creameries and a Tayto crisp bag. And a few items with Euro pricing. But also various other plastic and other items, like a pen and tennis ball. Not to forget a few bottles (both glass and plastic).

I know a number of others are picking up plastic on their beach walks. Also while I was doing it I got chatting with a couple on their beach walk and they joined as well and picked up plastic.

Will you help to keep Islay’s beaches clean?

Badlads Diving on Islay: Expedition OTRANTO 100

Islay NewsToday 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.

Future travel to Islay via Jura? (updated)

Islay NewsSomething that I’ve heard mentioned before seems to be back on the agenda again: Replacing the big ferries directly from the mainland to Islay with smaller ferries from the mainland to Jura, drive down Jura and then take the second ferry from Jura over the Sound of Islay to Port Askaig. In an article New plans for the future of Scotland’s ferry fleet would see more smaller vessels in the Herald we find:

Under the new proposal, Mull and Jura could play vital roles acting as these “land bridges”, slash journey times and increase service frequency to Islay and the Outer Hebrides.

[..]

Likewise, Islay passengers would get a ferry from Keills on the mainland and travel to Lagg on Jura, before crossing to Islay. One other advantage is that carbon emissions would be greatly reduced without the need for hybrid fuel ferries.

Pedersen added: “Both are much shorter than the current Kennacraig to Port Askaig/Port Ellen service on Islay and would allow up to ten daily crossings and the option of direct bus services between the islands and Glasgow.”

I’m not entirely convinced. To start with I don’t see the single track roads leading to Keills on the mainland and on Jura from Lagg to Feolin Ferry coping with all the additional traffic. They would need to be widened, strengthened and regularly maintained, which I suspect will cost many many millions and take many years if not decades to achieve (if possible at all). I suspect the residents of Craighouse won’t be too happy suddenly having a main A-road going right through their village. Similarly the residents along the Crinan Canal and Tavvallich (I assume the mainland part of the route would go along there). Complete new ferry terminals where currently no infrastructure exists at all would have to be developed and built, also the one at Feolin Ferry would need expansion. While admittedly smaller than the current large Kennacraig to Islay ferry I would think a Keills to Lagg ferry still would need to be of a reasonable size to cope with the volumes and the conditions in the Sound of Jura. The current ferry over the Sound of Islay would probably need an upgrade as well to cope with the volumes required.

That’s not to say the idea isn’t possible, I just feel it will be much more difficult than it seems at first glance. What do you think, will this happen, should this happen?

(Link via kenny swan on Twitter)

Update:

As mentioned in the intro, this idea isn’t new. What I hadn’t realised is that it goes back to the 1960 (yes, I know, strictly speaking it goes back way further than that, as the overland route via Jura was the original route to Islay before steamers etc came into play). Neil King has more on his blog in West Tarbert Pier – Part 1:

The Government was presented with two alternative proposals for Islay. [..] The other was the radically different so-called “Overland Route” which involved using Jura as a stepping stone to Islay via new, shorter car ferry routes from Keills in Argyll to Lagg in Jura and from Feolin on Jura to Port Askaig. (This had, in fact, been the original route to Islay until the development of steamship services in the second quarter of the 19th century replaced it with the route to WTP.)

[..]

In February 1968, the Government rejected the Overland Route on grounds of cost. As well as new ferries, it would have involved upgrading more than 30 miles (50km) of single track roads to Keills and on Jura at an overall cost of £3.2m. Instead, the Government preferred to spend £1.1m on a new ro-ro car ferry to operate from a new pier at Escart Bay, about a mile down the loch from WTP. This would serve Port Askaig, Colonsay and Port Ellen. Jura would be served by a new ferry across the Sound of Islay to Feolin instead of the traditional call at Craighouse en route to Port Askaig and Gigha would have its own independent ferry. This option could also be delivered much more quickly than the Overland Route and within the predicted remaining life of the Lochiel.

(update via IanM on Twitter)

A (fictional) Islay crime wave

Islay LinksIt seems Islay is becoming a hotbed of crime. Luckily only fictional, not in the real world. There are two books right now I’m aware of putting Islay on the crime fiction map. One has recently been published and is on my to read list, the other one is scheduled to be published in spring 2019.

Price: Check on Amazon

The first book is Machir Bay by Alasdair Wham. I think I came across it via a news report, but I’m not entirely sure. Not all bookshops have it, but on Islay you can buy it from The Celtic House and online at Amazon. As I said I haven’t got round to read it yet, but I’ll report back once I have. The reviews are very positive, so I’m looking forward to reading it.

The second book I came across via a tweet by the author:

You can find more on Allan’s page for the book, including a teaser excerpt. He mentioned he’s hoping to have a launch event on Islay, so watch out for that.