CHAIRMAN’S REPORT FOR 2013-14

1. This has been another successful year for the Book Trust, although financial challenges remain. During the financial year ending March 2014, the Trust delivered a further very full programme of events and publications on island themes.

2. Our big event was a three day conference in Tiree in May 2013, held in conjunction with An Iodhlann, on the subject, ‘The Secret Island – Towards a History of Tiree’.  We had a tremendous line-up of speakers, including Professors Donald Meek, Rob Dunbar and Margaret Mackay. The conference was a great success and was very well supported by the local community. A book based on the conference proceedings was published in early 2014.

3. We also held a second conference in June 2013, a two day event held in Orinsay, South Lochs, Isle of Lewis, in conjunction with the Colmcille Initiative.  The theme was ‘Slighe Chaluim Chille – Exploring the Life, Legend and Legacy of St Columba in Ireland and Scotland’.  Speakers included Professors Maire Herbert and Donald Meek.

5. We also organised and delivered talks in Lewis, Harris, Uist, Benbecula and Barra.  We held the annual Angus Macleod Memorial Lecture in October 2013 in South Lochs, Lewis, which was given by Kenny MacAskill MSP; and organised visits to several offshore islands in the Outer Hebrides, Skye and Caithness, with related walks and talks in Gaelic and English.

6. We published a number of well received books and booklets during the year, including ‘Steamers to Stornoway’ by Colin Tucker; ‘George Murray – A Schoolteacher for St Kilda’ by Maureen Kerr; ‘Island Spirituality’ by Alastair McIntosh; ‘Recovering from the Clearances’ with a foreword by Ewen Cameron; ‘Forgotten Star’ by Alex O’ Henley; ‘Nights of Passion at the Scarinish Temperance Hotel’ by Donald S. Murray; ‘Love and Music Will Endure’ by Liz Macrae Shaw; ‘Teaghlach Machair – The Machair Family’ by Donald Sinclair and ‘How an Island Lost its People’ by Robert Hay.

7. The Book Trust is continuing with the management role in relation to the Hebridean Connections project which began in January 2013 and which runs to March 2015. The management fee which we receive for this work is helping to bridge the gap between projected income and expenditure.

8.  This year has been a time of change for the Trust.  In July 2013 Donnie Morrison stepped down as a Trustee which has been an enormous loss but we wish him well for the future.  In September Margaret MacDonald retired.  Margaret had worked for the Trust for more than a decade so her knowledge and experience was very much missed.  The post was filled temporarily by John Groom until the end of March 2014.  In addition to this John Randall stepped down as Chairman in December after twelve years although he has remained as a Trustee.  I took over as Chairman in January 2014.

9.  In April 2014 we commenced a project funded by CnaG as part of their Business Innovation scheme.  We received funding for two part-time marketing posts for a period of nine months.  John Groom and Mairi Mackenzie were appointed and commenced work on 1 April.

10. However, we still face a challenge in covering our costs. Although we have received several grants for projects in the last year fundraising is ongoing and I would ask members to continue to do their best to support the Trust and to recruit new members.  On the advice of the new marketing officers the trustees have decided to simplify the membership fees by eliminating the Gold and Family categories in the hope that it will prove more attractive to prospective members.  Endorsement of this decision is required by members and is on the agenda for today’s meeting.

11. I should like to close by thanking all those who have contributed so much to the development of the Book Trust over past year, and in particular John Randall for his sterling work as Chairman over the past twelve years.

Alasdair MacEachen
Chairman
August 2014

Posted in Chairman's Reports

New Membership Rates

As of the 1st September 2014 we are introducing a new single tier membership rate of £25 per year.  This entitles you to:

3 Newsletters

A free publication

10% discount on Islands Book Trust publications

Discounted event admission

If you currently pay by standing order please ensure that you update the amount to £25 prior to your renewal date.

Posted in News

Change of Date – Boat trip to Southern Pairc

The boat trip to Southern Pairc will now take place on 14th June, and not 5th July as previously announced. To book, Call Alayne on 01851 820946.

Posted in News

Colonsay Conference Programme and Booking Form

The programme for the Colonsay conference on 6-9 June has now been finalised. Please click on the link below for details and booking form. Accommodation is limited, so please book early. We are grateful to Awards for All and the Colonsay Estate for their support.

COLONSAY-CONFERENCE BOOKING FORM

Posted in News, Uncategorized

An Evening with Books

DONALD MacCORMICK –‘An Evening with Books’, Thursday 20th March, 7.30pm: Claddach Kirkibost Centre, North Uist

Posted in Events, Uists and Barra Events

BOOK TRUST PROGRAMME FOR 2014 CROSSES NEW SEAS

 

The Islands Book Trust have developed a reputation for adventure in recent years, and their programme of events for 2014 – just announced – includes several exciting new venues and ventures.

As always, the emphasis is on talks, conferences, and visits which shed new light on the history and culture of Scottish islands. In 2014, highlights include:

* A first ever visit to Colonsay, where a 3-day event is planned in honour of Professor Donald MacKinnon, a Colonsay man who held the first University Chair of Celtic and who died a hundred years ago.

* A 3-day conference in Ireland about St Columba and the development of Slighe Chaluim Chille linking Ireland and Scotland. It is hoped this event will include a visit to Tory Island off the coast of Donegal.

* A boat trip from Uist to Canna to take in Feis Chanaidh. Two talks about aspects of the history of Canna are also planned.

* Evening talks by Mairi Hedderwick, Bill Lawson, Tony Marr, John Love, and Eric Richards, and on themes ranging from the enigmatic Lady Grange to 1st World War graves.

* Boat trips to Ensay, Haskeir, Mingulay, Mealista Island, Southern Pairc, and Ronay.

Alasdair MacEachen, who takes over as chairman of the Book Trust at the start of 2014, said:

‘We look forward to another exciting and varied programme. Our events are open to all, whatever your background, and I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to join in our visits and talks. You can keep up to date with all our activities by consulting our website www.theislandsbooktrust.com or by joining the Trust and receiving regular newsletters.’

A full list of events is appended. Further details and information on advance bookings are available from Alayne Barton on 01851 820946 or John Groom on 01851 880737.

Posted in News

Review of ‘An t-Eilean’ by Aonghas MacNeacail

Review  in Northwords Now by Aonghas MacNeacail of Aonghas Phadraig’s book ‘An t-Eilean’ .

I hadn’t gone far into this book when I began to feel that I was not the one who should be reviewing it. The layers of knowledge, of tradition, of the culture, that Angus Peter Campbell seemed to be able to access, left me with an ineffable, almost unbearable, sense of loss.

But, in reading on, I realised that, while he could recreate glimpses of what previous generations had taken for granted, in terms of myth and lore, he was also driven by that same sense of what we have lost. His particular gift is to be able to find something to treasure, and vividly reanimate, even in these fragments.

The conceit shaping the book is found in its sub-title (deriving its first six words from the artist Paul Klee): “Taking a line for a walk through the Isle of Skye”. The formal title, An t-Eilean (The Island), by which Skye is known, is a form of abbreviation, as the full Gaelic name is An t-Eilean Sgitheanach which I, a Skyeman, pronounce ‘Sgiathanach’. Continue reading

Posted in News

Island Conversion – the Transition of a Gaelic Poet from Sceptic to Believer

This compelling book, written by the acclaimed Gaelic poet Myles Campbell and his wife Margaret, tells the amazing story of how they were brought together and how these uncanny or providential events were instrumental in converting Myles to Christianity.

The book also contains new poetry by Myles in Gaelic and English.

Professor Donald Macleod, formerly Principal of the Free Church College, said:

‘This book offers three for the price of one: the spiritual autobiographies of both a Gaelic poet and his wife, interspersed with learned excursions into the scientific findings and philosophical theories which so deeply colour life in today’s western world. It is a story of fulfilled dreams and divine coincidences, interrupted by encounters with Jung and echoes of the Big Bang. Very human at its heart, and tinged with mysticism, yet unmistakeably reflecting its own time; and a fascinating reminder that scientist, poet and religious seeker can happily inhabit one and same mind.’

Myles Campbell was born in Skye and is one of the most talented Gaelic poets of his generation. Margaret (nee Smith) was born in Lewis. John Randall, chairman of the publishers the Islands Book Trust, believes this island background is fundamental:

‘The story told by Myles and Margaret Campbell in this book is inextricably linked to their island upbringing and cultural background, to the extent that it is unlikely to have been written in these terms by people less familiar with the traditional ‘world view’ of island societies . It is a very personal story, and one which honestly seeks to understand and interpret the events they have experienced and the conflicting intellectual and religious ideas to which they have been exposed.’

Myles and Margaret will be giving four presentations for Faclan 2011 in Uist, Barra, Harris, and Lewis. The Stornoway session takes the form of a conversation between Professor Macleod and the Campbells about their personal and religious experiences, with readings from the new book.

Posted in News

Còcò is Crùbagan Shortlisted for Tesco Bank Summer Reads Competition

We are delighted to announce that one of our books, Còcò is Crùbagan (Cocoa and Crabs), by Benbecula author Flora MacDonald, has been shortlisted for the the Tesco Bank Summer Read Competition! The competition was launched at the Aye Write! Book Festival at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow on Sunday 7 March, and Flora was there to read from her book.

The Tesco Bank Summer Read is an initiative by the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature to promote reading and new Scottish books and is supported by the Scottish Government and The Herald newspaper. The judging panel for the shortlist included representatives from The Scottish Library and Information Council, Publishing Scotland, Edinburgh International Book Festival, The Herald, and Glasgow Libraries.

The shortlist of twenty books are all set in Scotland or written by Scottish authors and were published between March 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010. The titles vary from fiction and non-fiction, adults, teens, children's and Gaelic books across different reading tastes, levels and formats so there is sure to be a favourite for everyone!

There will be special events taking place in libraries around the country during the summer months as well as special features on the short listed authors in The Herald to help you decide on your favourite. All the short listed books are available to borrow from your local library. The five winners will be voted for by the Scottish reading public and the results will be announced at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August.
Còcò is Crùbagan is an evocative and memorable account, in Gaelic and English, of Flora's idyllic childhood memories of growing up in the remote and long-deserted township of Meanish in eastern Benbecula in the 1940s and '50s.

Flora is thrilled to bits that her book has been nominated and was delighted to be asked to speak at the launch in Glasgow. She read a couple of extracts from the book and talked about how she came to write it, saying that it was, 'a tribute to my people, and to all the people of the islands.'

If you would like to vote for Còcò is Crùbagan, you can do so online at www.heraldscotland.com/go/tesco-summer-read-2010

Posted in News

The French MacDonald – Echoes of Jacobite and Napoleonic Links with the Hebrides

Launched at Faclan (The Hebridean Book Festival) on 1st September 2007

When Frenchman Jean-Didier Hache bought on impulse a 'MacDonald print' in a Paris auction in the 1970s, he had no idea what fate lay ahead: the beginning of close personal links with a remote part of the Outer Hebrides which would last a lifetime, and the unfolding of a dramatic story going back over 250 years which will forever bind together the history of Scotland and France. The culmination of this heady blend of personal coincidence and national destiny is the publication by The Islands Book Trust on 1 September at Faclan (the Hebridean Book Festival) of 'The French MacDonald – Journey of a Marshal of Napoleon in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland', a truly extraordinary story:

  • It is based on the previously unpublished travel diary in 1825 of Marshal MacDonald to Uist and other parts of Scotland to see the birth-place of his father Neil MacEachen and meet some of his MacDonald/MacEachen relatives.
  • In doing so, the Marshal was remembering, in a very different era, the exploits of Neil MacEachen and Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1746, when Neil played the major role in hiding and protecting the Prince after Culloden.
  • Born in France , where his father lived after the failure of the '45, his son Jacques Etienne Joseph Alexandre MacDonald, achieved a meteoric rise to power in military and political circles, a Marshal of Napoleon during the latter's supremacy but also eventually negotiating Napoleon's abdication.
  • As a retired elder statesman, the Marshal (who spoke little English and no Gaelic) visited Scotland with the assistance of the British Government, meeting people like Sir Walter Scott, and eventually setting foot in the land of the MacDonalds, including Howbeg where his father was born, and the cave at Corrodale where his father and the Prince had hidden all those years before.
  • Only a few years ago, the Marshal's travel diary, not written with a view to publication and containing many frank comments about the Scotland of his time and the people he met, was discovered in the French National Archives in Paris by Jean-Didier Hache , a Frenchman who has been associated with Benbecula for over thirty years.

Jean-Didier Hache has translated the Scottish part of the Marshal's travel diary into English for this publication. Alongside it appear commentaries on the French and Scottish backgrounds to the Marshal and his visit by Jean-Didier Hache and Domhnall Uilleam Stiubhart of Edinburgh University , with some beautiful colour illustrations. Jean-Didier visited many of the locations while working on Caledonia TV's film 'Dòmhnallaich na Frainge' for BBC Scotland and the Gaelic Media Service.

This new publication is important on many different levels – as a valuable record of Scotland and particularly the Highlands and Islands at a time of rapid economic and social change, and as a fascinating footnote to the momentous events of Jacobite and Napoleonic history.

Posted in Reports & Past Events