Hugh Smith’s let­ter from Is­lay

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

Singer’s grad­u­a­tion

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Port Ellen con­tralto Mar­ion Ram­say, who re­cently grad­u­ated with a para­le­gal de­gree from the law school at the Uni­ver­sity of Strath­clyde.

Mar­ion plans to con­tinue with her singing ca­reer and ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in choral so­ci­eties. She al­ready holds post-grad­u­ate diplo­mas in con­cert singing and opera stud­ies from the RSAMD, now the Royal Con­ser­va­toire of Scot­land.

She also took first place in the lieder singing com­pe­ti­tion at the Glas­gow Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in two suc­ces­sive years.

She was also the re­cip­i­ent of the diploma for western mu­sic from the Leeds Col­lege of Mu­sic and is a Bach­e­lor of Mu­sic (Hons) from Napier Uni­ver­sity.

She has made many con­cert ap­pear­ances through the UK and has re­ceived crit­i­cal ac­claim for her per­for­mance in the pre­mier of Carl Weltse’s Re­quiem.

Two weeks ago she was at the Eden Court Theatre tak­ing part in the In­ver­ness Choral So­ci­ety’s per­for­mance of Rossini’s Pe­tite Messe Sol­lenelle and will be back in the High­land cap­i­tal in April of next year to take part in Bach’s Mag­nif

icat and Haydn’s Pauken­messe. Mar­ion, whose par­ents Danka and Don­ald are well known Port Ellen res­i­dents, in­cludes Scots songs in her reper­toire and has sung at the Is­lay Gath­er­ing and at the lo­cal Smaull Singing School.

We all wish Mar­ion many fur­ther suc­cesses in both her singing and le­gal ca­reer. She can be con­tacted at www. mar­i­on­ram­,

War dead re­mem­bered

Those who lost their lives in the two world wars and sub­se­quent con­flicts were re­mem­bered at a series of spe­cial ser­vices held in churches through­out the is­land on Re­mem­brance Sun­day.

In at­ten­dance at these ser­vices were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from civil­ian and uni­formed or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­cluded crew mem­bers from the nu­clear sub­ma­rine HMS Van­guard, presently un­der­go­ing a ma­jor re­fit at the Portsmouth naval base,

Wreaths were laid at war memo­ri­als in the is­land parishes and at the war graves sec­tion of lo­cal ceme­ter­ies.

A spe­cial act of re­mem­brance, led by par­ish min­is­ter the Rev Valerie Wat­son, also took place on Ar­mistice Day at the mil­i­tary ceme­tery at Kil­choman. This ceme­tery was set up fol­low­ing the loss of HMS Otranto at Machir Bay in the clos­ing weeks of the First World War and over­looks the lo­ca­tion of the tragedy.

Bal­linaby Stone

Like many of its neigh­bour­ing is­lands, Is­lay has it fair share of stand­ing stones scat­tered around the var­i­ous parishes. Some stand proudly on their own, some form groups or cir­cles and, hap­pily, all are well doc­u­mented.

Among the most im­pres­sive of the Is­lay stones is the Bal­linaby mono­lith on the west coast and po­si­tioned north- east of Saligo Bay.

The Bal­linaby stone is the tallest of its kind on the is­land stand­ing at more than five me­tres. It is reck­oned to date back to 2000 BC, which places it in the early Bronze Age. The site con­tains an­other stone which is around two me­tres tall and is reck­oned to be all that re­mains of what would have been a much taller stone. Old records sug­gest that an­other sim­i­lar stone was po­si­tioned at the Bal­linaby lo­ca­tion but to­day no trace of it re­mains. It is most likely that it was de­mol­ished and used in the build­ing of the stone dyke which sur­rounds the site.

The orig­i­nal pur­pose of these stones is shrouded in mys­tery and re­mains a topic of de­bate among ar­chae­ol­o­gists and his­to­ri­ans. They may have been used as as­tro­nom­i­cal mark­ers, memo­ri­als to an­cient and for­got­ten bat­tles or as ob­jects of some re­li­gious sig­nif­i­cance.

What­ever their pur­pose, they con­tinue to fas­ci­nate and re­main a dom­i­nant if mys­te­ri­ous fea­ture of the lo­cal land­scape.

Mar­ion Ram­say.

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