Islay Letters

Dr Angus MacTaggart.

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Gathering line-up

Local GP Dr Angus MacTaggart will be the guest chairman at the Glasgow Islay Association’s 155th annual gathering, which takes place in the Glasgow University Students’ Union on Friday March 3.

A native of Bowmore, he took over the Port Ellen medical practice in 2010 before also becoming the co-owner of the Rhinns medical practice at Port Charlotte.

As well as looking after the needs of his local patients, he is also an honorary senior lecturer in Remote and Rural  Medicine at Glasgow University, his alma mater.

Angus’s mother, Mavis, in fitter days was highly active in local  Gaelic circles and his father, James, is the manager of the Arran Distillery.

Gathering artists doing as the doctor ordered will be Port Ellen award-winning duettists and twin sisters Eilidh and Anna MacDonald, and Bowmore’s Ryan Johnston, a regular top prize winner at both local and National Mòds.

Also on stage will be vocalist Clare Campbell, younger daughter of Elizabeth and Malcolm Campbell, the association’s immediate past president. Clare is no stranger to Mòd success and neither is her older sister Alison, who was among last year’s gathering soloists.

Also treading the boards will be CalMac ferryman Hector MacKechnie, who struck gold at the Royal National Mòd in Stornoway last October. Solo singers will draw breath when the ever popular Rowan Brothers, whose family connections are with Islay and Tiree, up the tempo with their accordion and keyboard selections. Association piper Andrew McCowan Jnr will also do his bit, as will piano accompanist Kirsteen Grant.

Honorary patron Lord Roberston of Port Ellen will laud the talents of the performers and the efforts of the organisers, and, while all this is going on, Trail West will be tuning up for the benefit of those who will step out at the ensuing gathering dance taking place in the same venue.

The Glasgow Islay Association was established in 1862 by Glasgow printer and publisher Archibald Sinclair, an
Ileach born at Mulindry in the Bridgend district. Its aims were to bring together natives of Islay and their friends, cherishing and developing native attachments, preserving the traditions, poetry and music of the island and providing relief in necessitous causes. These remain the association’s remit.

The Glasgow Islay is one of the ‘big three’ territorial Highland associations still active in the city. The others are the Glasgow Lewis and Harris Association, and Comunn Eilean a’ Cheò, representing the interests of the Glasgow Sgiatheanaich.

Explosive start

The night skies above Lochindaal were a blaze of colour when both Bowmore and Port Charlotte greeted the new year with spectacular fireworks display which brought gasps of admiration from the spectators.

Happily, recent gales had become a spent force and the events attracted large numbers in  full festive mood.

On the stroke of midnight, the bells of the floodlit Round Church rang out to usher in 2017, and piper Lynsay MacArthur, accompanied by her drum-playing sister Rhona, provided the musical welcome.

Meeting the costs of the displays were generous local donors and fundraisers and the money collected on the evening was shared equally between the Fire Brigade Benevolent Fund and the Islay Hospital. As the last rocket streaked across the night sky, revellers made their way to the village hall where they partied far into the night.

The pyrotechnics were generally considered to be ‘the best yet’ and organisers are to be congratulated for a memorable celebration and a friendly community get together.

Hugh Smith, 4 Flora Street, Bowmore, Islay PA43 7JX.
Telephone: 01496 810658