Fly­ing the Flag

The Oban Times - - NEWS - AN­GUS MACPHAIL an­gus­macphail@ya­hoo.co.uk

Flags have never been a type of sym­bol that held any great sig­nif­i­cance or im­por­tance to me. What a par­tic­u­lar flag rep­re­sents can mean dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple, and un­der the um­brella of most can be a very wide range of con­nec­tions and rea­sons to iden­tify with and to sup­port the over­all en­tity be­ing sym­bol­ised.

In truth, I have never felt wholly con­nected enough to any of the flags com­mon to this part of the world to be com­fort­able in be­ing rep­re­sented by them. The Saltire, the Lion Ram­pant, the Union Jack, the flag of Europe and many oth­ers fa­mil­iar to us all have cer­tain as­pects about what they stand for, or have come to be as­so­ci­ated with, that I’m not wholly com­fort­able with.

There are, of course, many pos­i­tive mes­sages car­ried by these flags, and how they are per­ceived is very much in the eye of the be­holder, so I re­spect those who do feel that cer­tain flags are an ap­pro­pri­ate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of their be­liefs, views and iden­tity.

How­ever, my hith­erto aver­sion to flag-bear­ing may now be nearly cured as I am very pleased that a new flag has re­cently been de­signed and un­veiled to rep­re­sent the Isle of Tiree. Tiree has fol­lowed in the footsteps of other is­lands that have added a flag to their name in re­cent years. This is the end re­sult of a de­sign com­pe­ti­tion that at­tracted many hun­dreds of en­tries from across the globe.

The win­ner was Don­ald Cameron from Scarin­ish, Tiree, whose em­blem de­pict­ing 12 golden sheaves of corn placed as a sun-like clock face on a green back­ground is a very fit­ting rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a fer­tile is­land with fa­mously long hours of sun­shine, tra­di­tion­ally known as Tìr an Èorna (The Land of Bar­ley).

Don­ald’s an­ces­tors were the last fam­ily to live on Craig­nish to the west side of Ben Hough and were renowned for their skills as fish­er­men, boat builders and crafts­men. It is fit­ting that the de­sign Don­ald has crafted will now be an im­por­tant em­blem of his is­land. To mark the oc­ca­sion, Pro­fes­sor Don­ald Meek of Cao­las, Tiree, com­posed a poem en­ti­tled Brat­ach an Eilean Seo (The Flag of this Is­land). Space does not al­low me to in­clude the whole com­po­si­tion but the fol­low­ing stanza en­cap­su­lates an im­por­tant part of what I hope the flag will come to mean.

Brat­ach an eilein seo to­gaibh gu càird­eil, to­gaibh gu carthannach, to­gaibh gu bàid­heil.

The flag of this is­land, hoist it in friend­ship, hoist it with kind­ness, hoist it with em­pa­thy.

I hope the more mil­i­tant among our pop­u­la­tion will not now race to con­quer all our neigh­bour­ing is­lands, fla­g­less or not by jam­ming a Tiree flag­pole on their sum­mits – Gunna, Coll, The Tresh­nish Is­lands, Iona and even Mull are now vul­ner­a­ble to cru­sad­ing Tiris­dich out to build an em­pire.

To fin­ish on a se­ri­ous note, well done to all who brought this wor­thy project to fruition.

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