Issue 41/21 9 August 2014

islay rowing regatta
Islay Rowing regatta

Taking place on wet and blustery Saturday (2 August) Islay held its first rowing regatta off the shores of Port Ellen

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Calmac: the weigh forward?

It's now just over a month since CalMac implemented the new commercial vehicle weighbridge on the re-vamped port facilities at Kennacraig.
On the surface, and according to rumour, this is either a means of the ferry company adding to the corporate coffers, or simply an iniquity that will inevitably lead to an increase in carriage costs (and subsequently living costs) on Islay and Jura.
If the boats have been sailing with heavier loads these past many years without apparent difficulty, do these strict commercial vehicle weight guidelines mean that the ferries will now be travelling well under their weight carrying capacity? And is this the portent of migrating such regulation to passenger vehicles?
The Ileach asked CalMac for clarification.
A spokesman said: "In order to improve safety and remove the risks associated with carrying overloaded vehicles on our ferries, the company has begun weighing all commercial vehicles and light goods vehicles from 1 July 2014 in order to confirm that these vehicle types are complying with the weight regulations that apply to them.
"The decision to enforce this has not been taken lightly but we have anecdotal evidence that some vehicles may be overloaded and in the light of the recent South Korean ferry disaster, where overloading and falsified documents led to the deaths of nearly 300 people, we feel we have no option but to take this step. We are certain that customers will understand the importance to everyone's safety of ensuring that our crews know precisely the weight of vehicles being carried and that they are properly stowed on the car decks."

"There has been no change to the fares policy; we are simply enforcing the rules on vehicle size and weight, therefore anyone who meets the set rules will pay the same fare as before."
Councillor Robin Currie is currently working with the Argyll Ferry Users Group to identify a short term method of introducing a lower tariff for small vans that are over the 3.5 tonne plated weight but are below the 6m vehicle length.
They also hope to put a proposal to Transport Scotland that can be considered in their ongoing freight fares review that would see a graduated charge levied on a per ton of freight basis.

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Coisir Ghaidhlig Ile
coisir ghaidhlig Ile

Members of Coisir Ghaidhlig Ile, Islay's senior Gaelic choir, are excited. The release of their recording Sruth air a' Charraig, is imminent. You should be able to get a copy from Show Day onwards.
The title chosen, Sruth air a' Charraig, is a metaphor for Islay; withstanding the flow of tide and current, enduring and steadfast. It is a glimpse into Islay's story, is a heartfelt tribute sung with love and with pride, according to Fergus Muir, president of the choir.
Praise is due to all these involved for keeping production of the recording as 'local' as possible: as Fergus pointed out, "We recorded it at Smaull up near Gruinart and our producer, sound engineer and mixer was Giles Perring who runs a music label called Sound of Jura based in, well, Jura! The graphic design was done by a graphic artist, Deborah Bryce, who also lives on Jura. Raymond Lafferty produced the images for the cover and he's from Bowmore. We only had to go 'off-Islay/Jura' to have the CDs printed and packaged. Pretty good, I reckon."
Arlene McKerrell, Coisir Ghaidhlig Ile's conductor since 2013, thinks that this is a really exciting achievement by the choir. "It demonstrates the choir's outstanding ability to deal with a wide range of material of different moods and tempos." she said. "Many of the songs were winners for the choir at National Mods over the past few years, and I hope that we will build on those successes in the years to come."
Iseabail Mactaggart, who conducted the choir from 2007 through 2013, said: "Coisir Ghaidhlig Ile can rightly be very proud of this recording. It showcases some of Islay's most magnificent Gaelic songs, as well as two fabulous sets of puirt-a-beul. As well as capturing the island's rich heritage and the skills of the very talented arrangers featured on the recording, it also captures the sheer talent, pride and passion of all the choir's members."
Fergus Muir, President of the choir said, "This is the first CD that the choir has produced and we are very excited and proud of it. The choice of songs very much reflects Islay and Islay's rich history and cultural heritage. The choir are already anticipating a follow-up, which will reflect the musical journey they will be taking with Arlene conducting, and with Libby Morris as the choir's Gaelic Reader."
"The choir welcomes new members. Singing in the choir is a really fulfilling experience," said Fergus.
Anyone who is interested in singing in the choir, regardless of whether they already read music or have Gaelic, is always welcome to come along any Thursday evening to a choir practice in Bowmore Hall.

Sruth air a' Charraig on iTunes


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Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival 2014

Stuart Todd writes:
Across the island, mid-September sees ten very different venues hosting concerts during the Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival. 17 different events are programmed. Top Scottish artists will be joined by international visitors, and some very local talent will also feature. The opening concert, in the Lagavulin home of the sponsors, has music from the 20s by energetic 20-somethings, the Gramophone Jazz Band. Other concerts between September 12 - 14 range across jazz styles including bluesy, dancey, swinging, lyrical, spiky, and even humorous. And sometimes also unique: the way the Festival is organised, some artists have chances to work together for the first time so great music can happen that is of-the-moment, special to Islay.
Diageo's Nick Morgan says, "It is a privilege to be sponsoring this year's Islay Jazz Festival, introducing new visitors to this special island to join other local and international jazz lovers."
The Festival is organised by a partnership of Jazz Scotland and Islay Arts Association. Full details, including advance tickets, are available on islayjazzfestival.co.uk.


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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 23 August 2014

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Islay Natural History Trust Blog

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islay community council

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Additional information is available on the Isle of Islay
and Isle of Jura websites.

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Islay Diary 2014

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