August Festival
(click on photos to enlarge)

Lismore’s first August Three Day Festival took us back to the Hunter Gatherer times before farming eventually created settled communities and the way of life we still have on Lismore. It was an imaginative and ambitious programme organised by members of the Comann Eachdraidh and opened with a hunter gatherer barbeque at Port Ramsay where Lismore produce – meat, fish, and salad – was prepared and served by Beth Campbell and her Lismore café helpers. There was music from Murray Willis on accordion and Ewan McDonald on keyboard and Beth even got an outdoor strip the willow going.

On Day two, writer Margaret Elphinstone, author of “The Gathering Night”, told a very interested audience in the hall about the difficulties of writing a novel set 8000 years ago in Mesolithic Argyll.  Despite what she called the “deafening silence” surrounding this period, she did a great amount of meticulous research, and found ways to imagine the physical, emotional and spiritual lives of Mesolithic people while telling the story of their daily lives and convincingly conjuring up everything including the speech rhythms of the language they may have spoken. Waterstones were in attendance selling this and other books to a large audience from Lismore and beyond, many having been transported from the ferry in the Community Bus driven by Ian MacKinnon.

In the afternoon The Walking Theatre Company and education officers from Kilmartin House Museum brought the past back to present day Port Ramsay, taking the children – and young at heart – through a typical hunter gatherer day. In a clay oven in the ground, they cooked fish, brambles, and oat cakes. They made and served fruit salad from gathered berries sweetened with honey, and washed it down with nettle tea. They learnt about tool making, twisting nettles into twine, and identifying herbs, nuts and the cornucopia of edible plants that kept Stone Age Liosachs alive and thriving.    

The festival ended on day three with a memorable trip to Eileen na Cloiche in pursuit of possible mesolithic remains in a cave.  Dr Sharon Webb from Kilmartin House Museum was the guide and gave us the history of what is so far known about previous inhabitants of the island. It was a great adventure but ultimately, it seems, there is as yet no evidence of the mesolithic but, as they say in archaelogical circles, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” and there is still work to be done. Even though the island is close to Lismore, many of us had not previously been there and this trip was made possible through the generosity of Roger and Gilly Dixon-Spain who carried everyone from Achnacroich in their boat “Merlin” assisted by the tenders of Ian Mackinnon and Bob Hay.   



The August Festival was organised and run by Jennifer Baker, Margaret Black, Freda Drysdale, David Gloag,  Bob Hay, Ian MacKinnon and John Raymond, and and made possible with support from the Scottish Book Trust,  MacQueen Bros Charitable Trust, and Argyll and Bute Council. For forthcoming events in the museum’s programme watch the website for details.  

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