Members of a Hebridean Trust team visited the Treshnish
Isles over a 4 day period from 28th to 31st May 2000. Landing parties
visited Lunga, Fladda, Cairn na Burgh Mór, Cairn na Burgh Beg, Dutchman's
Cap (Bac Mór) and Bac Beag as well as some of the offlying skerries.
The group was impressed by the outstanding natural value the islands
represent, making them one of the most important acquisitions The Hebridean
Trust has made.
The visit presented an opportunity to speak to the local
boatmen who service the islands and land on Lunga, bringing over 3000
members of the public a year to view the marvellous puffin and guillemot
colonies and enjoy the dramatic island scenery. A number of visiting
yachts were also observed and it is not known how many such casual visitors
The Treshnish Isles have
been the subject of a long standing seabird survey and an opportunity
arose to liaise with workers from the survey group.
Future survey work and collation of scientific data will be an important
part of a management plan for the islands.
The Hebridean Trust intends to manage the islands in co-operation
with The National Trust for Scotland which has properties nearby including
the world famous heritage sites at Staffa and Iona. Andrew Bachell,
Director of Countryside and Robin Turner, Senior Archaeologist at NTS
were also able to join the Hebridean Trust team and contribute their
assessment of the natural history and archaeology of the islands.
Further visits to the islands will be made later this year and work
has already begun on a management plan for the islands. Priority will
be given to raising visitor awareness of the islands’ natural history
and the status of the castles on the Cairn na Burgh islands as ancient
The Hynish Centre, including Alan Stevenson
House and Morton Boyd House, the award winning conversion of the Old
Stables at Hynish has increased letting to visiting groups by over 50%
on the previous year. Among guests taking advantage of the new multifunction
hall facilities this year are 'One Voice Music' from Manchester. 'One
Voice Music' is an arts organisation established in 1996 to promote
the teaching and performance of Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music.
The possibility of a course on Scotland’s "sunshine island" has caught
the imagination of budding percussionists and the highly acclaimed guest
tutor, Dudu Tucci, has filled accommodation capacity at Hynish during
the second week in September and other guest houses are being sought
to accommodate further students.
Our resident warden, Monica Smith is also looking forward to welcoming
Lochore Windsurfing group in late Autumn and special needs education
groups who will be enjoying pony trekking during their stay.
See our web page for more information on the Hynish
Centre and to find out if accommodation
is available. Use our online booking form
or contact our office (see end of newsletter for address).
I was very pleased to see a whole page of the Oban Times dedicated
to Tiree last Thursday (8th June). Like many other Hebridean islands,
Tiree has all too often been forgotten by commerce and other mainstream
interests and the community has been forced to confront the very real
problems of unemployment, under investment and depopulation.
The focus of the article on the problems faced by agriculture was
important because these are felt acutely throughout the west Highlands.
Frankly it seems amazing that sufficient grant-in-aid is not available
to construct a new livestock market. Perhaps, based upon purely economic
criteria, the vision of a new market on Tiree may not be entirely justified
but, when combined with its social place within the community and the
style of agriculture, which it supports, the market is essential. The
economic and social consequences of having a modern livestock market
stretch far beyond the trade in the market itself.
I was a little disappointed, however, that your article did not mention
some of the other important activities on the island. Over the past
10 years I have been working with the Hebridean Trust to raise funding
for investment in the infrastructure of Tiree and other islands.
Since 1982 the Trust has been working to regenerate the historical
village of Hynish at the southwest tip of Tiree and this has brought
employment and income to the island as well as accommodation for island
residents. Amongst the steps the Trust has taken to encourage the economy
of the island through tourism has been the establishment of the Skerryvore
and Sandaig museums and also through the provision of accommodation
We have achieved this by taking a long-term approach to raising funds
from a variety of statutory agencies and we intend to continue this
into the future. But we are also acutely aware that we are only able
to scratch the surface of what is needed and also what could be achieved.
The community itself is working hard to raise the funds for essential
infrastructure including both a new community hall and the livestock
market. The projects run by the Hebridean Trust on Tiree should not
be seen in isolation from these other activities because the growth
of a sustainable island economy requires the parallel development of
several mutually supportive initiatives.
Professor Ian L. Boyd 13/6/00
The opening of a new Gaelic study centre in the Hebrides will mark
the conclusion of a love story that encouraged one woman to help save
a language at risk of extinction, on a headland overlooking a bay on
the remote island of Canna.
From the windows of her large Victorian house, Margaret Campbell has
watched as work has progressed to convert Canna's 19th-century St Edward's
church. The work will be finished in weeks, and the first visitors will
arrive. Their arrival will complete Mrs Campbell's lifetime's ambition.
The former Catholic church is being renovated to house scholars arriving
to use the vast collection of Gaelic music and literature collected
by Mrs Campbell and her late husband, the island's former laird John
Lorne Campbell. The Hebridean Trust, which is funding the £860,000 restoration,
is also building a library adjoining Mrs Campbell's home, which will
house the collection. The 96-year-old is very positive about the project.
"We achieved what we set out to do. And there are very few people who
can say that," she said. Mrs Campbell came to the Hebrides in 1929 from
New York, where she had studied music to become a professional pianist.
Inspired by a folk singer she heard, she chose South Uist - a harsh
granite outcrop south-west of Skye.
She spent six years on the island, living with two sisters and collecting
traditional folk music, transcribing the songs, and taking photographs
of the islanders who became her friends. Her work formed the basis of
two well-regarded books on Gaelic culture.
There she met and fell in love with John Lorne Campbell, a Gaelic
scholar, whom she married. Mr Campbell bought Canna in 1938. The pair
devoted their lives to amassing a collection of rare Gaelic books, documents,
wax records and music that had been recorded onto wire cylinders
The Campbells' friends included the writer Sir Compton Mackenzie,
the author of Whisky Galore (a comedy film from 1949), who gave
them his now ageing black typewriter.
Mr Campbell died four years ago but his wife never considered leaving
their home. Mrs Campbell, who misses her husband terribly, takes some
comfort from the fact that work is about to begin on the library and
study centre. The archive is now being organised by another friend of
the couple, Magda Sagarzazua, a Basque woman. It is hoped that the study
will have online links to the Gaelic university Sabhal Mor Ostaig on
Skye and Gaelic colleges in Nova Scotia, Canada.
The position of Gaelic in Scotland is fragile. Experts say there are
no more than 70,000 speakers, despite an injection of funding in recent
years to revive the language. Angus Peter Campbell, a poet who teaches
at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, said: "The language is dying but at the same time
it is being born. Every year on Skye four Gaelic speakers who are over
the age of 65 will die and one will be born. The mathematics shows you
the difficulty in sustaining the language."
The collection's value cannot be overemphasised. In the 1930s, the
Campbells spoke to people whose grandparents knew the 18th century.
But the study centre will do more than help a threatened language;
it will also help a threatened community. From a population of 436 in
1821, before the Highland clearances, Canna's community has dwindled
to 14. The islanders – who received 24-hour electricity for the first
time last month – hope the National Trust will appoint a hostel warden
who is married with a family. Winefride MacKinnon, who represents Canna
on the Small Isles community council, said: "The trend [in the highlands
and islands] has been towards tourism. This will be something different
to bring people to the island."
Meanwhile, Mrs Campbell spends every day using Sir Compton's typewriter
to answer her post or playing one of her three pianos. "That was by
Strauss," she said, after a faultless performance on her Steinway. "The
next is a lament performed by a woman I met on South Uist whose sweetheart
drowned in the Sound of Canna." And she returned to the keys, filling
the huge house with the sad sounds of a music she had helped to save.
£700,000 is the estimated bill for putting the Lighthouse
Keepers’ Cottages back into use as homes and preserving them as
an important historical landmark. We have received support from The
Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland and Argyll and Bute Council
as well as a number of private grant making trusts.
Further support is needed to close the funding gap and the project,
which has been planned since the mid 1990s will not go ahead until it
is full funded.
If you can help in any way please see the section on how to join
the Friends of the Hebrides.