THE ILEACH :: THE INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER FOR ISLAY + JURA

Excerpts from issue 46/15 11 May 2019

In this issue: Caol Ila planning approved, Council scraps bin bags, Citizen's dvice Islay visit, Corncrakes annual arrival, Ferry passenger increase over easter weekend, Community Store Cupboard.


Caol Ila distillery

An artist's impression of the proposed upgrade to Caol Ila distillery, for which Argyll & Bute Council have approved planning permission

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Record breaking Easter islands

As if to rub salt in the wounds of all those who faced severe ferry disruption trying to get to/from Islay and Jura over the Easter weekend (as previously reported in the Ileach; Islay services were disrupted for the eleventh consecutive Easter), CalMac has reported a record breaking Easter weekend, as visitors flocked to all of the island destinations it serves.
Passenger numbers across the whole islands network, were up an amazing sixty two per cent on last year's holiday break; up from 69,549 to 112,616; this is also twenty four per cent up on the previous record set in 2017. With twenty one of the twenty seven total routes served showing increased numbers.
Largs-Cumbrae recorded the biggest year on year increase of over two hundred per cent, with total visitors to the island over the four-day period reaching over twenty nine thousand. That's equivalent to twenty visitors for every local resident.
"The good weather over the Easter weekend undoubtedly contributed to the increase, but nonetheless the figures continue to prove the growing popularity of our island destinations, which is great news for the local economies we support," said CalMac managing director, Robbie Drummond.
"Tourism is the lifeblood of many of our communities and we are now sailing more frequently than ever before to bring valuable visitors' pounds to our islands."
The Isle of Gigha also proved popular, with a one hundred per cent increase in passenger traffic. With more than one thousand five hundred visiting over the weekend; dwarfing the local population of just one hundred and forty, While visitors to Arran almost doubled last year's numbers.
For Islay, the figures obtained by the Ileach from CalMac, show that despite, or maybe because of the consistent disruption to Easter weekend Islay services; the Islay passengers numbers were up just 2.9% over the Easter weekend compared to 2018. However, over the past three years, Islay passenger numbers have increased over this particular weekend by thirty four per cent, up from 2,879 in 2016 to 3,855 in 2019. So for all regular readers, subscribers and Easter visitors, you've seen it here first - book early for next year!

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Corncrakes are here; listen up!
corncrake

Reports of calling corncrakes are slowly trickling in from across the region, with the first heard on Islay on 13 April (obviously they heard it was an Ileach publication day!).
Their loud rasping 'crex crex' is unmistakeable, yet very few people are lucky enough to see this secretive, summer visitor, that migrates here every year from central Africa.
At the end of the nineteenth century, they bred in every region of the UK, and were so common, that corncrake pie was a frequent seasonal dish for farmers across the country. This bird's range extends through central Europe and Russia, and large numbers of breeding birds are still present in the extensive wetland meadows of these areas.
However, in the early part of the twentieth century, the species suffered a severe decline in its western European population, driven away by the mechanisation of the grass harvest and loss of its breeding habitat. The UK population was just four hundred and eighty birds in 1994.
The corncrake is synonymous with crofting and low intensity farming practices, and they are a key species in the diverse environment of the Hebrides, often used as a flagship species to promote landscapes of high conservation value. Over the last twenty years alternative, corncrake-friendly harvesting techniques have been developed and implemented, and land managers are offered financial incentives to cut the grass harvest later and to change mowing practices. This change allows for the eggs to hatch and for chicks to leave the nest safely.
Areas of long vegetation also create opportunity for concealment for these secretive birds during their stay, but the the changes in management have been a success with over one thousand three hundred calling corncrakes recorded across the UK in 2014.
Research has also taken place into their wintering sites, and the satellite tracking of these birds to central Congo, has given an insight to other pressures these highly vulnerable birds are facing. Over the last three years the Islay population of corncrakes has begun to decline, and island-wide grassland management suited to the corncrake has also decreased
. This summer, the RSPB will be carrying out habitat assessments across Islay and speaking to land managers about the management of their hay and silage fields; identifying opportunities for increasing corncrake habitat and their breeding success.
They will also be continuing with the 'Corncrake Initiative' and if you are a land manager and interested in helping the Corncrake, they will be running a number of events and projects throughout the summer to help raise awareness of corncrake conservation.
If you can hear a corncrake from your home, B&B or holiday cottage then let the good folks at RSPB know, as they have information sheets available for you (and your guests), as they continue to survey these calling birds throughout the summer.
There is also an open invitation to come along to Loch Gruinart reserve at the end of May for a guided walk, to learn more about these elusive birds, and to hear their call first hand. The date for the event is to be confirmed, but look out for the posters. For further information, please contact Louise Muir on 01496 850 505 or louise.muir@rspb.org.uk

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It's cool to ceilidh in 2019

Catriona Bell updates us all on the Kilmeny Ceilidh Club.
With the club about to begin its ninth season, a look back at the first ceilidh report shows just how much has happened since then. The club was dedicated right from the start to encouraging young people and the May 2011 programme featured teenagers Alasdair Currie, and Mairi McGillivray.
The talent that a ceilidh audience saw then is now recognised throughout the Gaelic world and beyond. Alasdair, having graduated with a degree in traditional music from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, is, as every Ileach reader will know, a National Mòd Gold medal winner.
Mairi, now at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, will, on 31 May, be giving a recital entitled, 'Songs of Gaelic Women' at the CCA in Glasgow, for the third year of her B.Mus (Hons). That's a diary date for Glasgow Ilich, and for any islanders who happen to be in Glasgow that weekend.
In 2019, the Club will again be encouraging young people to come to play and sing for ceilidh audiences. In the mix too, will be experienced singers Andy McCowan and Libby Morris, who were also on that first programme, and after mixed fortunes last year when both had hip operations, they are back in top singing form for the 2019 season.
Libby has continued to play her own part in keeping Islay culture in good heart, as Gaelic reader for the Islay choir, and by coaching young solo singers for Mòd competitions.
The Club had its AGM and planning meeting on 25 March 2019 when Sarah McArthur was welcomed onto the committee. Members Margaret Aitchison, Catriona Bell, Andy McCowan, Libby Morris and Catherine Morrison were re-elected. At the meeting, Joan Brown's and Julie Baker's offers of help on ceilidh nights was warmly welcomed, as was Joan's help with contacting artistes.
The dates of the five ceilidhs for this summer are 21 May, 18 June, 23 July, 6 August and 10 September. Niall Kirkpatrick will be playing at all of them, and we hope he will have Davie Hastie back with him, as we missed him last year.
Ella's dancers will attend all of them, even though, on 6 August, Ella and part of the troupe will be in Canada. Good luck to them there.
The remaining artistes will remain a surprise until the posters go out, or maybe you'll be settled in comfortably before you find out; a pleasant surprise guaranteed.
After keeping the price stable for eight years the Club has decided to make a modest increase to £4 per adult in 2019, while children remain at £1. We look forward to seeing old friends, and making many new ones from 21 May onwards. The Club committee always accepts offers of help, so if you want to be more active, don't be shy.

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE, Saturday 25 May 2019

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islay info

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Islay Diary 2019

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  • Saturday 11 May
  • Fèis Ìle Fishing, Loch Lossit
  • Tuesday 14 May
  • Chit Chat Strollers, Laggan Bay
  • Wednesday 15 May
  • Baptist Church Walk
  • Foreland Gardens Open Day
  • Board Game Lounge, Cybercafe, Port Ellen
  • Thursday 16 May
  • Badminton IHS
  • Saturday 18 May
  • Lodge Meeting, Bruichladdich Hall
  • Fèis Ìle Fishing, Loch Gorm
  • Tuesday 21 May
  • Islay Museums Trust AGM, Port Charlotte
  • Chit Chat Strollers, The Ard, Port Ellen
  • Kilmeny Ceilidh, Ballygrant Hall
  • Dietmar & Martine, Crafts Market, Bruichladdich Hall
  • Wednesday 22 May
  • Board Game Lounge, Cybercafe, Port Ellen
  • Thursday 23 May
  • Dietmar & Martine, Crafts Market, Bruichladdich Hall
  • Friday 24 May
  • Port Ellen Maltings Open Day
  • Islay House/SMWS Open Day
  • Saturday 25 May
  • Fèis Ìle Fishing, Loch Finlaggan
  • Lagavulin distillery Open Day
  • Sunday 26 May
  • Bruichladdich distillery Open Day
  • Monday 27 May
  • Caol Ila distillery Open Day
  • Islay Ales Open Day
  • Tuesday 28 May
  • Laphroaig distillery Open Day
  • Wednesday 29 May
  • Ardnahoe distillery Open Day
  • Bowmore distillery Open Day
  • Thursday 30 May
  • Kilchoman distillery Open Day
  • Friday 31 May
  • Bunnahabhain distillery Open Day
  • Jura distillery Open Day
  • Saturday 1 June
  • Ardbeg distillery Open Day

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