Hugh Smith’s letter from ISLAY
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.