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