Hugh Smith’s let­ter from IS­LAY

The Oban Times - - News - Hugh Smith, 4 Flora Street, Bow­more, Is­lay, PA43 7JX. Tele­phone 01496 810658.

Is­land wel­comes in 2016 with a bang

IS­LAY greeted the ar­rival of the New Year with spec­tac­u­lar fire­work dis­plays and fam­ily ceilidhs which at­tracted large crowds of supporters.

The Bow­more dis­play, held at the lo­cal har­bour, was the most im­pres­sive and imag­i­na­tive to date and greatly pleased the rev­ellers in at­ten­dance.

The ‘big bang’ was pre­ceded by piper Lin­say MacArthur, ac­com­pa­nied by her drum­mer sis­ter Rhona, mu­si­cally set­ting the cel­e­bra­tory tone as the bells of the Round Church chimed out to wel­come 2016.

The Bow­more dis­play was or­gan­ised and fi­nanced by a small group of com­mu­nity-minded friends and the £600 plus pro­ceeds from the night will be shared by the Fire Bri­gade Benev­o­lent and Is­lay and Jura Sick Chil­dren’s funds.

As the last rocket streaked across the night sky, ev­ery­one headed for the vil­lage hall where they danced the night away at a ceilidh.

Look­ing across Lochin­daal, it was ev­i­dent the py­rotech­nics at Port Char­lotte were equally spec­tac­u­lar and im­pres­sive and were gen­er­ally re­garded as ‘the best yet’ by the lo­cals and visi­tors who had gath­ered to share in the fes­tiv­i­ties.

It’s be­hind them

LO­CAL pri­mary school pupils were in full fes­tive mode in the lead-up to Christ­mas when they pre­sented their an­nual pan­tomimes to packed- out houses in their own catch­ment ar­eas.

The Port Char­lotte pupils were in top form with their hi­lar­i­ous ‘Splash’, a mad­cap ad­ven­ture on a CalMac ferry crewed by seag­ulls.

Un­like the ‘ Fin­lag­gan’, this ves­sel was plagued with crazy lem­mings and scurvy rats.

The au­di­ence was on the side of put-upon Mal­colm the Pen­guin, and en­joyed the pas­sen­gers’ party, or­gan­ised by hos­pitable par­rots, and fea­tur­ing jiv­ing mon­keys, groovy gi­raffes and terp­si­chorean ar­madil­los. This was a rum­bus­tious pro­duc­tion per­formed with great verve by the Rhinns chil­dren.

Keills Pri­mary School chose ‘Hansel and Gre­tel’ as their fes­tive offering and the per­form­ers gave it their all. The fur coat-seek­ing wicked step­mother was suit­ably hissed at and adding to the mer­ri­ment were danc­ing trees and the ‘Birdy Song’. Scenery and cos­tumes im­pressed and ev­ery­one acted, sang and danced their socks off, de­spite space lim­i­ta­tions.

King Arthur and Camelot fea­tured in Port Ellen school’s ‘What a Knight!’, a per­for­mance en­hanced by the sub­tle use of sound and spe­cial ef­fects. The au­di­ence re­sponded in all the right places and wizards and dragons, knights and hench­men, along with char­ac­ters im­ported from other pantos, kept up the pace and im­pe­tus.

‘The Snowflake Fac­tory, per­formed by Bow­more Pri­mary School pupils in the vil­lage hall, saw bags of snow- flakes be­ing il­lic­itly re­moved from stor­age, with the fin­ger of sus­pi­cion point­ing to the King of the North.

This caused prob­lems for the in­ves­ti­ga­tors who were as in­ef­fi­cient as they were com­i­cal. Aid­ing and abet­ting ev­ery­one were the lit­tle snow­men, wood­land an­i­mals and a ze­bra un­ac­cus­tomed to frozen wastes. The mystery was solved, fairy dust was lib­er­ally sprin­kled and all was right in the colour­ful panto world.

Ilich at Celtic Con­nec­tions

THERE will be a strong Is­lay pres­ence at this year’s Celtic Con­nec­tions fes­ti­val when the is­land’s ju­nior and se­nior Gaelic choirs, both un­der the ba­ton of Ar­lene MacKer­rell, ap­pear in con­cert in the Strath­clyde Suite of the Glas­gow Royal Con­cert Hall on Satur­day Jan­uary 16, at 8pm.

They will be shar­ing the stage with the fiddle/gui­tar duo Archie McAl­lis­ter and Ross Kennedy, singer/piper Alas­dair Cur­rie and the fiddle-led Si­mon Mo­ran Trio.

The con­cert will also pay trib­ute to Is­lay Ses­sions founder Fraser Shaw whose un­timely death last year sad­dened many.

A stel­lar cast of friends and col­leagues, in­clud­ing mem­bers of the Treach­er­ous Orchestra, Bre­abach, Dàimh and Shee, will per­form a se­lec­tion of Fraser’s com­po­si­tions.

CHEER: The bells of the Round Church brought in the new year at Bow­more.

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