View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Saturday 14 July

Happy Quatorze Juillet to all in France; 223 years ago today, revolutionaries stormed the infamous Bastille prison in Paris, and razed it to the ground. It commenced what later became known as the French Revolution, which ended up devouring one of the men that started it, Robespierre. The last King and Queen of France lost their heads in the Revolution - through indecisiveness, as it later turned out.

Today is the last day of the Hebridean Celtic Festival, and the town is bustling with people playing the bagpipes, a harp and what not on the streets. Tonight, another set of bands will play in the big tent on the Castle Lawn; yesterday's performances were part televised, but I was underwhelmed to be honest. Until last year, Festival Saturday was also the date of the Lewis Highland Games, which were held in the village of Tong, 4 miles outside Stornoway on the road to Tolsta. Unfortunately, the organisers could no longer afford to meet the legal requirements and decided to pull the plug on the Games at their AGM last January.

When you live in an island, you have to be inventive. That was in evidence in the first week of July, when the gangway to the ferry broke down. New parts were needed, so people turned to Ebay to get these; other parts were fabricated by Lews Castle College. So, now foot passengers can walk on board via the covered gangway, sheltered from the rain (what rain???); rather than via the vehicle ramp.

A little while ago, the sad news reached me that the parish priest for Eriskay, Fr Calum Maclellan, has passed away at the age of about 84. Fr Calum served Eriskay for many years, and featured in two series of An Island Parish on BBC television. He was a man of character, hugely respected and loved in the Southern Isles. May he rest in peace, now that he has gone home.