Hugh Smith’s letter from Islay
Distilleries’ path commended
MEMBERS of the Islay Community Access Group have a spring in their step after being awarded the Transport Scotland highly commended accolade marking the innovation and success of the Three Distilleries’ Path which links Port Ellen with Ardbeg Distillery.
The award-winning path provides a traffic-free and well- surfaced walking and cycling provision between the villages and borders some of the most scenically pleasing areas on the island’s east coast.
The presentation, hosted by comedian and broadcaster Fred MacAulay, was held in Glasgow and attended by Garry MacLean and Pat McGrann, current chairman of the access group. The chairman said that he was delighted to receive the award and was highly encouraged by the increasing use of the facility by both pedestrians and cyclists. He also praised the group members who had punched well above their weight to secure this provision and gave fulsome credit to planner and surveyor Iain Henderson for his professional assistance.
WE WERE all saddened to learn of the death on June 21 of Bowmore resident Cath Crawford who was well known in Gaelic singing circles and where Highland choral voices were raised in unison. She was 86 years of age and died at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley following major surgery from which she appeared to be making a good recovery.
Cath was born in August 1929 and brought up in Clydebank to Islay parents whose roots were firmly embedded in the Conespie district of the Rhinns. As a teenager, she joined the Clydebank Gaelic Choir which was then under the direction of conductor Tom Crawford, a young schoolteacher who also had a strong Argyll background through his family connections with Dunoon.
Among the octaves, amore blossomed and Cath and Tom were married in 1953. A year later they moved to Islay when Tom became headmaster of the then Bowmore junior secondary school.
The musical and choral activities continued following their move to the island, with Tom taking over the baton for the Bowmore senior Gaelic choir and Cath assisting with the junior choristers.
The Crawfords’ joy was complete when daughter Elizabeth, their only child, arrived on the scene in 1964.
Cath was involved in a number of local and national charities. She was school secretary for a number of years and was active in the Girl Guides, eventually being appointed as the organisation’s district commissioner. She and Tom, a fine lyric tenor, were also the moving force behind the local Mòd for a number of years in the 1960s.
Sadly, Tom died in 1978 and Cath continued to live on her own in her home at the Glebe in Bowmore. There she continued to train and tutor both junior and senior competitors for both the local and national Mòds, events at which she was a regular attender and supporter. She certainly kept her pupils’ noses to the grindstone and would take no prisoners. And all this was done as a labour of love and she looked for no personal gain but delighted in her pupils’ successes.
Despite advancing years and increasing frailty, she remained feisty and determined, enjoyed lunching with friends, was a regular presence on the local ceilidh scene and was still driving before her final illness struck.
Her funeral service, attended by close on 200 mourners, was held at the Round Church on July 1 and she was interred alongside Tom in the Bowmore cemetery.
She leaves daughter Elizabeth, son-in-law Malcolm and her beloved grand- daughters Alison and Clare. On July 8 Alison married fiancé Jamie O’Neill at Dumfries and we can be assured that Cath was there in spirit.
Condolences go to all who mourn Cath’s passing and especially to those who knew her best and love her most.
Cath Crawford was the moving force behind the local Mòd.