Rain can­not dampen en­thu­si­asm for is­land’s first show in 78 years

The Oban Times - - Farming - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­times.co.uk

LIS­MORE’S first agri­cul­tural show in 78 years was hailed a suc­cess on Satur­day, and or­gan­is­ers prom­ise a sec­ond one next year.

Farm­ers on the Isle of Lis­more, which means ‘great gar­den’ in Gaelic, held their last show in 1938 when, de­pend­ing on who you ask, it was ended by the Sec­ond World War or by an ar­gu­ment. ‘There was a fight last time,’ ex­plained Anne Mor­ton, a visi­tor to the is­land since child­hood. ‘That’s why they stopped it – or that’s the story any­way.’

‘I think it was over clootie dumplings or horses,’ added Mary Walker of Achan­duin. ‘Even the women were pulling the buns out of each other’s hair, ap­par­ently.’

Three gen­er­a­tions later, the best be­hav­iour was on show, thanks partly to the UN peace-keep­ing hat worn by Anne’s hus­band Harry, who was handed a mega­phone that morn­ing and told to be MC.

Spo­radic show­ers on Satur­day failed to dampen the spir­its of 200 folk who gath­ered on the same field at Craiganich, still owned by the Carmichael clan.

The ef­fort was ev­i­dent. In one tent, oys­ters grown by Lis­more Shell­fish at Port Ram­say slipped down gul­lets oiled by in­jec­tions of te­quila or Coin­treau.

Nearby, Lis­more Pri­mary School teacher Laura Cook in­fused gin with rose petals from her granny’s gar­den, ty­ing bot­tles pret­tily with binder twine.

Other stalls in­cluded Lis­more loaves made by the Her­itage Cen­tre’s baker Ju­lia Fayn­gruen, and an ‘in­ter-is­land en­ter­prise’ started by Katie Cook, 12, of Lis­more, helped by 11-year- old Rowen Carr of Coll, who col­lected stones from St Moluag’s Bay for neck­laces and keyrings, to give peo­ple ‘a piece of Lis­more’ to take home.

Man­han­dling the farm­yard an­i­mals into pens in the morn­ing took ‘a lot of curs­ing’, John Carmichael said. His son Neil, a chef in Glas­gow, had been or­gan­is­ing the show long- dis­tance since Jan­uary.

‘It’s been chal­leng­ing,’ he said. ‘There were a lot of late nights. I thought Lis­more needed it. With the turnout to­day, it shows there’s a need. Ex­cept for the weather, ev­ery­one’s en­joyed it, and helped out.’

With per­fect tim­ing, a hooded is­lan­der gave a thumbs-up in the rain. ‘It’s a grand show. Well done.’

Neil thanked his 81-year- old grand­mother Cathy, who owns the land. ‘I didn’t think there would be as many,’ she told The Oban Times. ‘It’s so nice see­ing peo­ple I haven’t seen for years.’

Others, in­clud­ing Anne Mor­ton, were just as com­pli­men­tary. ‘Neil has done a won­der­ful job,’ she said. ‘The amount of work, get­ting ev­ery­one or­gan­ised, each per­son al­lo­cated a job – he’s done all this. And he’s done it with great pas­sion and he’s still smil­ing. The farm­ers are smil­ing too – that’s good.’

Some farm­ers, how­ever, looked very se­ri­ous when Drew Brown was judg­ing their sheep and cat­tle, be­fore full­blown mer­ri­ment took over as Archie MacColl of Bal­nagown pre­sented the prizes.

A solo fe­male farmer on Lis­more, Tam­sin McVean, won a cup for her tup and her pet lamb. The 46-yearold acupunc­tur­ist, who moved from Sus­sex 12 years ago, was proud of her and sheep­dog Maude’s achieve­ment.

‘All these guys have fam­i­lies to help them – I haven’t had this. It’s been re­ally tough as a woman with­out backup, and it’s im­por­tant to show another gen­tler way of han­dling of live­stock.’

James MacCormick’s heifer calf won over­all show cham­pion, with re­serve go­ing to John Carmichael’s black­face ewe, which also won over­all sheep cham­pion. ‘I wasn’t ex­pect­ing that at all,’ James said. ‘I’m highly de­lighted to win the first of the new shows. It was an as­tound­ing show: both the cat­tle and sheep did Argyll proud.’

So, no dis­putes. Will there be another Lis­more show next year? ‘Def­i­nitely,’ Neil said.

The drinks tent of­fered respite from the rain as well as re­fresh­ments.

An im­pres­sive dis­play of tro­phies.

Tam­sin McVean won a cup for her tup and her pet lamb. John and Neil Carmichael, with the black­face cham­pion.

Ju­lia Fayn­gruen and Iris Piers with Han­nah.

Rev­ellers en­joyed the va­ri­ety of drinks avail­able, in­clud­ing fi zz.

Neil Carmichael with his grand­mother Cathy.

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