Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

Homecoming Lismore 2009

The week’s events

 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

 

Considering the population of the island (approximately 180) Lismore’s contribution to Homecoming Scotland 2009 was both enormous and astonishing and it was a great celebration of the island, its people past and present, and its unique and abundant talent. The minibuses provided by Mrs Angela Yeoman  to meet the ferries were busy and all the events well patronised and organised to a high standard and with  high quality guests and performers. It became a sort of mini festival showcasing Lismore’s spirit and talent. The  sustained effort put in by the members of the Comann Eachdraidh on  the organising committee - Jennifer Baker, Donald Black, Margaret Black, Laura Gloag, Bob Hay, Barbara McDougall and an army of voluntary helpers - was never obvious and everything flowed like clockwork. The goodwill generated will draw visitors to the island for a long time to come.

 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 official opening

 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

It opened on Saturday 8 August with a formal reception at 4 pm for descendants of emigrants, visitors and all islanders at the Lismore Heritage Centre.  Just in time the persistent morning rain cleared and the sounds of Ronald Black’s piping echoed around the arriving crowd who gathered to hear Duncan Livingstone, from the museum balcony, welcome them from far and wide on foot, by car and from the two ferries. In his native Gaelic and in English he thanked all those who had supported the Homecoming in any way and said they were in for a great week of celebrating Lismore and that no effort would be spared in showcasing the island’s legendary hospitality. The Oban Gaelic Choir then sang two songs followed by Mary MacDougal singing An t’eilean aluinn and in conclusion the Rev Roderick Campbell welcomed them home and gave his blessing to the packed weeks’ events. Drinks including Lismore whisky and snacks were then distributed to the crowd.

 

Walking Theatre
 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

 

A great hit of the week was Argyll’s very own award winning Walking Theatre Company in a production with Lismore Youth Theatre which linked the week’s events by performing everyday. Written by the indefatigable and inspiring Sadie Dixon-Spain, it centred on the Carmichaels of Lismore who we meet in 1745 as men are being sought for the  Battle of Culloden. As we walked through the land and the generations towards the now abandoned weaving village of Portcharran, we met various movers and shakers who would sweep the very ground from under the families who were cleared in the 1850’s.  Visitors and descendants of Liosach’s were greatly moved  and impressed by this clever dramatic use of the land which tells its own silent story in the many deserted townships such as Portcharran. As Sadie, in the part of Mrs Carmichael, says at the opening of the play, “On Lismore everyone is indeed welcome home” and also welcome to share her scones of course.

 

Shared meal and opening Concert
 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

 

The celebrations continued with a  delicious a shared meal in the hall at 6pm, and at 7.30 visitors and locals were treated to a fine display of Scottish talent, much of it local. Ronald Black opened with some stirring  piping and Katy Crossan, a splendid host, welcomed performers and audience in Gaelic and English. Davie Garret (pipes), Murray Willis (accordion), and Colin Black (guitar) who together play as Balaich Lios Mòr (the Lismore Boys), got the evening off to a foot taping start followed by Sarah Campbell singing and accompanying herself at the keyboard with harmonies provided by her sister Mairi. The Oban Gaelic Choir under their talented conductor Sileas Sinclair  brought us songs from Ballahulish, Mull and Lismore, and Chris Small read his beautiful poem The Migrants  describing swallows coming and going from their homeland.  Mod gold medal winner Mary Catherine MacNeil from Barra, a member of the Oban choir, sang movingly and the first half ended with The Cast, Mairi Campbell on voice, viola and fiddle and her husband Dave Francis on guitar. Mairi and Dave are no strangers to the island as Mairi is a descendant of Bachuil and Balimakillichan Livingstones and has been coming here all her life. With every number they moved, amused and thrilled the large audience and they ended the first half with their beautiful and wistful “Smile or Cry” an exquisite combination of voice, viola and guitar. After tea and home baking the second half had items from Sileas Sinclair on the box, Morag MacNeil and Graham Campbell also from the choir, singing, and a very entertaining spot from Lachlan MacDonald who sang his native Gaelic songs and did some very impressive and hilarious stand up.   The concert ended with The Cast’s wonderful version of Auld Lang Syne  made famous when  used in the film “Sex and the City”.  That was Saturday.

 

Homecoming Service
 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

 

On Sunday The Rev Dr Roderick Campbell welcomed a packed Lismore Parish Church  to the Homecoming Service  inviting us all to consider what homecoming meant and how we experienced our first homecoming. During the service greetings were read from Australia, Canada, the USA and one from New Zealand which John Livingstone read in Maori from his son Iain in Auckland. Homecomers whose forbears had left Lismore also took part: Gaye Strange from Brisbane read from the Old Testament and William Black from Ontario read from the book of Revelations.  Lachlan MacDonald, a Liosach, read the gospel in Gaelic and English and Mary MacDougall, also a Liosach, sang Amazing Grace in Gaelic. After the service the congregation enjoyed a shared meal in the grounds of the wee manse laid on by members of the guild and church.

 

Tour of graveyard
 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

 

Once the meal was over Robert Hay took a good number on an  extremely informative tour of the graveyard, pointing out among other interesting graves, the medieval carved gravestones which are a subset of the 600 or so that have survived in the West Highlands. The unique feature of the Lismore stones is the occurrence on two stones of the “tau-headed staves” which are rare in the British Isles but familiar in the eastern Mediterranean. These stones, he said, represent a major artistic achievement and it is of great concern that so many have been lost, damaged, defaced, or merely neglected. A most enlightening afternoon.

 

Drop in Day

 

 Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

There was much to be seen at the Museum and Monday was "Drop-in Day" when, at their own pace, visitors and locals were invited to view the new museum displays (including emigrant letters and photographs; and the 100th anniversary of the Lismore Bard, Hugh Anderson); to take part in the opening of the Genealogy Centre; and to see the display of "Lismore Faces" a book of historic photographs and the release of the Emigrant Register in CD format.

 

 

Emigration Seminar
 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

 

Tuesday saw a packed hall for this seminar with locals as well as many visitors from, among other places, the Morvern Historical Society and Lorn Archaeological group. Dr Lucille Campey, a Canadian author of several books on emigration to Canada, started this interesting afternoon with a talk on  "The Exodus from the Highlands and Islands to Canada: push, pull and opportunity", giving the Canadian perspective and telling us how it differed from accounts written by Scottish historians. She pointed out that many of those who went to Canada paid their way and, along with those who were cleared from their land, often prospered but, as she said, we do not know about those who did not do well.  Freya McCracken, a Phd researcher from Aberdeen University, told us how she is piecing together the lives of those emigrants through their letters which, although a patchy history in places, was nevertheless very interesting as letters revealed ordinary daily lives, their joys and their sorrows. Freya is interested in hearing from anybody who may have letters from emigrants stashed away and asks that they contact the museum (01631 760 030) for her details. Robert Hay and Laura Gloag both spoke about how the Museum was gathering the stories of Liosachs through the ages which was a growing resource for all those seeking their roots. The afternoon finished with a moving song from The Cast – Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis – based on letters from home to those who are far away.

 

Ceilidh Dancing
 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

 

A full evening of Ceilidh dancing  started at 7.30 in preparation for the closing Ceilidh Dance on Friday night. Many people took advantage of the excellent instruction  on offer from Mairi Campbell and her trio. With patience and perseverance Mairi and Dave put many who were strangers to the dances, through their paces with the help of Ann Livingstone who teaches country dancing on the island.

 

 

Walk to Achanard
 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

 

Wednesday at one was the homecoming in reverse when a good sized party went from Kilcheran in persistent rain on an organised walk to the township of Achanard, the site of the first clearance of people on Lismore in the 1780s. Transport was provided from the Heritage Centre  and walkers were back in time for the very popular daily walking theatre performance. At the township which once housed many people, their story was told by Bob Hay and Catriona White, a moving poem “Hope” about the moment some villagers heard the news they were going to Canada, was read by its author Margaret Black, and piper Angus Nicolson evoked the many moods especially with the wistful “Mo Dhaghaidh” (my home).  You can read the full story of Achanard in the history section of this site.

 

 

Meet the Authors
 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland

 

As part of Literary Homecoming 2009 on Thursday morning readers gathered in the Museum Library to meet two of Lismore’s three authors - Donald Black and Robert Hay and to hear from Margaret Lobhan (who couldn’t make it) with Cathie Carmichael speaking for her. A most interesting discussion centred on their three very different books about Lismore, and ranged widely over the place of Gaelic culture and language in the past and the future. Meanwhile in the marquee, children and anyone else interested in the Granny Porage stories, were meeting Jean Marshall who read from her much loved books which are set in a “wee cottage all by itself on an island” where lived “a little old woman, who was known to everyone as Granny Porage.” Both events were very well attended and greatly enjoyed.

 

Storytelling
 

 

Thursday afternoon’s  storytelling in the homecoming marquee was a very popular event where an appreciative and large audience listened to Lismore tales from Lachlan MacDonald, a raconteur of great talent and humour, Malcolm McCorquodale giving us Port Ramsay tales of his grandparents and extended family, and with tales of Liosachs who took part in the first world war from Ailsa Clark and David Clark. There was also a special tale about Highlanders who went to work in the weaving of the famous paisley shawls etc, as the money was so good and their skill so valued.

 

Ceilidh Dance

 

Friday’s Ceilidh dance  was the last event and, like all the others, was very well attended. The evening was hosted by Agnes MacLean of North Connel who unfortunately had to get the late ferry so Raymond Bremner took over. The line up of visiting performers included the Mod gold medallist singer Raymond Bremner, and also on the bill were F Ann MacLean, Morag Smith, Charlie MacColl, Calum Smith, Jimmy Cameron, and piper Calum MacColl who opened the evening. Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis performed as The Cast and the  visitors were joined by local performers Duncan Livingstone, Mary MacDougall, Laura Cook, Katie Crossan, and  Murray Willis on the accordion. The evening ended with dancing to Robert Nairn’s Band.

 

Homecoming Lismore 2009 Sponsors

 

The organising committee of Homecoming Lismore 2009 would like to thank the many people who contributed time and energy to make the week so successful and they are indebted to the following sponsors: Argyll & Bute Council , LEADER funding, Mrs Yeoman, Calmac, William Lundie & Co, and the Oban Gaelic Choir who gave free performances.

 

Slideshow of photographs
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Homecoming Lismore 2009
thank you from the Organising Group

 

 Other Photographs taken during
the Homecoming Week
(If anyone has more photographs -
please send them in)

 
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland Homecoming Lismore 2009 Argyll Scotland
 
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