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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 16th June 2001
Issue No 236

Exiles Dislike Tourist Tag

People lured to the Highlands in search of family links think of themselves not as tourists but pilgrims, a conference heard recently.

The second annual meeting of the Highland Heritage Association in Nairn heard of the almost spiritual quest of thousands of people who flock to the region seeking their ancestral roots. The conference, attended by scores of local interest groups from across the region, also heard of the establishment of a website, contacts directory and newsletter aimed at strengthening the provision of genealogy services in the area. Paul Basu, who leads a project called "Highland Homecomings" based at Kingussie, gave the 120 delegates an insight into how travellers perceive themselves when they make trips, often from the other side of the world, to the Highlands in search of their heritage. "I was intrigued by the relationship of the Scottish diaspora, people of Scottish descent dispersed throughout the world, and the ancestral homeland," he said. "I was trying to understand why people make these journeys and what goes on during these journeys." A post graduate anthropologist, he said the sort of questions he asked seemed to have been overlooked in what is known as "touristic genealogy". During his research, which saw him spend long periods with people tracing their roots, he discovered that way they set about uncovering material important to them. In addition to the hard graft of searching through records, the Internet is also emerging as a vital tool, he revealed. "So, are these genealogical tourist really tourists? It may seem a strange question, when these visitors fly here, hire cars, stay in bed and breakfasts and hotel, they visit heritage sites - of course they are tourists," he told delegates. "But most root tourists don't consider themselves to be tourists at all. They can at times be quite upset at being labelled as such." He quoted a woman from Texas: "A grass-roots Scot returning to the ancestral land is more of a traveller or pilgrim. He or she is not necessarily going to the major tourist centres, or popular destinations in Scotland. Usually, there is a quest involved here, the quest for ancestors or the lands where the family originated, a quest for lost memories and traditions; a hunger for identity and belonging; a reaching for connections with something severed long ago." A man from New Mexico wrote: "Being disenfranchised, unattached to my heritage, going to Scotland was becoming connected to an origin that had never before existed. Whether the Scots themselves or anyone else acknowledge it or not, it is my connection. It is sacred to me because it is something of my soul, that part we don't share with anyone, can't share with anyone." He continued: "I have changed since that pilgrimage. I now know my ancestors came from somewhere, and I have been there. I have breathed the same air, touched the same ground as they did." Mr Basu said: "I am not suggesting that everyone who visits Scotland feels this way, but certainly the majority of people I have spoken to describe their visits in these profound terms and they also said that this kind of journey couldn't be and shouldn't be described just as tourism." Words like quest, pilgrimage and homecoming were more appropriate, they felt. Among positive decisions taken at the meeting were the establishment of a contacts directory, a newsletter and a dedicated website with links out to other organisations and sources.


Common Language

A new initiative aimed at developing a much closer relationship between Scotland and Nova Scotia was launched recently. The Highlands and Islands in particular has always had a strong link with the Canadian province and it is hoped the project will have added benefits for the north. Iomairt Alba Nuadha/Nova Scotia Initiative was launched by Alisdair Morrison, Minister for Gaelic. Mr Morrison said: "Exploiting opportunities for economic development must also include exploring our historical and cultural heritage and assessing how we can build on the past for a stable vibrant future. "Iomairt Alba/Nova Scotia Initiative seeks to build on the unique connection that exists between the Gaelic speaking areas of Scotland and Nova Scotia on the basis of: a common language; a common culture; family ties; emigration and the example of entrepreneurship led by people of Gaelic descent. "Past failure to put in place any of these linkages on a serious ongoing basis, has meant that there has been virtually no economic benefit for Scotland, or the UK generally, as a result of this unique relationship." Iomairt Alba/Nova Scotia Initiative aims to bring economic benefits to Scotland and the UK, and to widen cultural identity and relationships. Its aim is to develop international links and markets across the whole spectrum of Scottish and UK businesses by exploiting the very special relationship of common language and culture, which is shared with Nova Scotia. Scotland Office Minister George Foulkes said: "I am delighted to support this initiative which builds on the strong links between Scotland and Nova Scotia." Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Brian Wilson said that his Department would be involved in the Initiative through the High Commission in Ottawa, British Trade International and the British Council. Mr Wilson said: "This will be the first time that a concerted effort has been made at Government level to develop links between Scotland and Nova Scotia based on the shared Gaelic heritage. It is long overdue."

Great River Ness Raft Race

An Inverness children's charity is "harbouring" a raft and its volunteers are appealing for the owner of the vessel to come forward. Children 1st received a phone call from Inverness harbour master, Murdo MacLeod recently telling them a raft had been washed up which appeared to belong to them and asked if they could come and collect it. The charity organisation hold the Great River Ness Raft Race every summer to help raise funds, but they are puzzled as to how this make shift boat had set sail so early in the year. Katie Gibb, of Children 1st said: "We do not know where the raft came from or who it belongs too so we are appealing to the owner to come forward and claim it. "It has been suggested that the raft has been stored alongside the river since it last took part in the race, but that it has broken free with the recent high tides. "All participants in the race over the last couple of years are asked to check their moorings." She added: "The raft is in excellent condition and looks all ready to take part in this year's Great River Ness Raft Race which will, once again, be organised by Children 1st to raise funds for its centre at Killen on the Black Isle." Harbour master MacLeod said: "We found the raft in our yacht marina so we fished it out and took it to shore so it could be collected. "We hope someone does claim it because if it was built for the Children 1st race we would prefer it was used for that reason." The Great River Ness Raft Race will take place on Saturday August 18.

World Masters Piping Title

Internationally known bagpiper William McCallum from Cambeltown marched off recently with this year's World Masters of Piping title. He was up against stiff competition in the pipe major Donald MacLeod Memorial competition held in Stornoway. Mr McCallum was more concerned with the arrangement of musical notes rather than the paper kind he normally deals with in his job as an accountant with Strathclyde University. He is considered to be the most successful professional player on the piping circuit in Scotland. The second best overall performance came from Gordon Walker who won the March and Strathspey event in addition to the hornpipe and jig. He has recently left the army and is now an instructor in the Piping Centre in Glasgow. He is an esteemed classical light music player.Eight of the world's best pipers competed in the competition organised by the Lewis and Harris Piping Society. In its eighth year, the contest has the support of professional players and attracts a world wide audience. Society chairman Dr John Smith said: "It was a very successful event. "There was a higher standard of playing than in previous years. There were also more spectators attending this year's event." Born in Lewis in 1916, the late Donald MacLeod was an internationally known master of piping and the popular event takes place annually in his home town.

Honour for Animal Champion

A hard working animal lover took the spotlight recently when she opened a new Inverness superstore. Iona Henderson of Munlochy Animal Aid, won a Local Hero award for her efforts to help stray animals in the Highlands over the years. Ms Henderson's 20 year old niece Iona Ross, nominated her for the honour. Iona has looked after thousands of stray animals in her 22 years in charge of Munlochy Animal Aid. She has been surrogate mother to dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, horses, geese and rabbits during her time running the centre. Munlochy Animal Aid works to rehome dogs and cats handed in by wardens. More unusual strays like pigs and geese remain at the centre for the rest of their lives. Ms Henderson said: "We never know what will arrive at our door next. We currently have a pig which fell off the back of a lorry north of the Kessock Bridge. "It was wandering about the road and was lucky not to have been run over. "We named it Lucky because we felt it was lucky not to have become pork chops because it would have been heading to an abattoir down south when it fell out of the lorry." The centre costs about 20,000 a year to run and this is generated by a range of fundraising activities. Ms Henderson added: "The public give us a great deal of support and without their help we would not be able to provide this service. "We also get a lot of help from members of the public who take the dogs for walks and help us with the day to day running of the centre."

Pagan Relic for Tarbat Centre

An Easter Ross museum has added a fascinating ancient relic to its collection of local ancient artefacts. Tarbat Discovery Centre, in the seaside village of Portmahomack, near Tain, has finally reclaimed a 2,000 year old stone head found in the area. The head, carved in sandstone, was found on Portmahomack beach by holidaymakers, Mr and Mrs McColl in 1966. The McColls, visiting from the Edinburgh area, are believed to have taken the carving home with them and handed it to the National Museums of Scotland in the capital. Finding a suitable home for the piece in Portmahomack was a stumbling block to returning the carving to its home area. However, once the Tarbat Discovery Centre was opened by Prince Charles in September 1999, its governing body, Tarbat Historic Trust, got to work. Dr Isabel Henderson, a trustee of the centre, explained that the human head was the dominant symbol of pagan Celtic religion, and that helped date the Tarbat head, which has been on display in Edinburgh for the past 35 years. Dr Henderson, who is credited with putting the wheels in motion to retrieve the piece from the National Museums of Scotland said: "The superstitious belief in the protective power of the image of a human head has a long tradition, so it is difficult to be certain of the date of this personal talisman. "Nevertheless, the carving on a typically pearshaped pebble, achieves the authentic intense, but withdrawn, quality of the heads considered to be early." Trust chairman Caroline Shepherd-Barron said: "We had been thinking about getting the head back since the centre opened, due to its value as a very local piece. We're very pleased to have it, and it looks very good in out prehistoric section."

The Birth of Crumpet

A Croy family got more than they bargained for recently when their search for a donkey eventually paid off. For the mare they purchased as a companion for another donkey gave birth to a foal - much to the surprise of the new owners. "It came completely out of the blue," said Joanna McGregor. "We bought Cloudy as a companion for our other donkey, Crocus, who was pining after her soulmate, who died suddenly." Cloudy arrived at Rosevalley Farm near Croy and she and Crocus have become inseparable. However, unknown to the McGregors, the new arrival was in foal. "I suppose I should have suspected there was a possibility," said Joanna, "because she had been running with colts. She looked a bit pot bellied but she was showing no sign of milk and even when she gave birth we hadn't suspected she was pregnant." Joanna recalled how she and her husband Alastair got the shock of their lives when they discovered the addition to their donkey family. "We were going out to feed the cattle and our routine is to take some carrots with us for the donkeys. "We went to their stable but they weren't there - which was unusual because it was a cold foul morning. "We went into their field and saw Crocus and cloudy sheltering behind a wall and there was little Crumpet (the name they have chosen for their foal) at their feet." Joanna said both mother and foal were hardly able to stand. "They were shaking and wet and thoroughly miserable." The McGregors got the donkeys back into the shelter of their stable to warm them up. "Cloudy began producing a little milk and Crumpet began to suckle. She's been getting stronger and is now just a bundle of fun and mischief." "They are very attached to each other," said Joanna. "But with three mares, thankfully there is no prospect of the patter of more tiny hooves."

Charity Event

An Inverness pub darts team were bang on target when they organised a dartathon to raise funds for disabled children. The Clachnaharry team played for five hours and raised around 1,000 for the Highland branch of the Charities Pilgrimage Trust.

Political Roundup

MSPs Issued With Email Guidelines

MSPs and parliamentary staff have been issued with guidelines to encourage them to be politically correct when sending emails. They have been warned against composing and sending a message in anger and using innuendo, rumour and gossip. The guidelines, which have been emailed to all MSPs and parliamentary staff have also appeared on notices in the corridors of the Scottish Parliament.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
A few showers, brightening from the N. Winds light/mod. Temperature 11c to 12c.
Saturday Night
Dull but dry in W, showers in E. Winds light/mod. Temperature 4c to 6c.
Sunday
Staying cool with early showers dying out, followed by bright periods. Winds light/mod N-NE'ly.
Monday
Mainly dry and bright to start but cloud and rain developing and moving W. Mod/fresh winds.


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Caledonia



This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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