Sailing Smacks display from 22nd October 2011

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Slideshow image

8 photographs

In an impressive new audio-visual display at the museum, curators Margaret Black and Robert Hay have brought together a wealth of material telling the story of the hey day of the Lismore trading smacks. These versatile cargo boats operated out of Port Ramsay and Salean between 1870 and the 1940s carrying lime, slate, potatoes, and much more, going as far afield as Dublin and Orkney. Along with an illuminating collection of photographs and documents, the curators have added a film, shot in today's Port Ramsay by Jim Millard, in which Mary MacDougal speaks in Gaelic and English to three modern-day ex-skippers, Duncan Black, Calum MacCorquodale and John MacFadyen, who all live in Port Ramsay and whose memories of the smacks take us back to a time when islanders did all the producing, carting and loading themselves. As Mary remarked, Lismore's greatest resource is its people and their memories and experience, and this exhibition shows this to great effect.

The display was officially opened on 22 October by Donald Meek, Professor of Scottish and Gaelic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, who shared his great knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject to a capacity audience. Professor Meek was brought up in Tiree in a boat building family and was familiar with the story of the MacFadyens, Master Mariners who moved to Lismore from Tiree in the 1870s. In his opening remarks he said it was a pleasure to see such a fine heritage centre and congratulated the island on creating this impressive resource. He then spoke of the skill of the skippers who sailed these versatile boats all of whom were Cape Horners?in square rigged ships who later brought their experience of the deep sea trade to the home trade, as Lismore skippers are doing to this day.

The screen and computer for the display, which can be seen when the museum reopens in March, were purchased using a generous grant from the MacDougall McCallum Heritage Foundation.

Provided by Pauline Dowling on 17th November 2011

Comments

Teenie Wilson sent the following comments on Fri, 18 Nov 2011 10:40:49 +0000

As a descendant of the Tiree MacFadyens, I have to say the sea is still in the blood – both my sons are now in the Merchant Navy, as is my brother, two cousins and a nephew about to join.

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