By Katie Macleod
When it comes to Gaelic education, Lews Castle College UHI has a unique offering. “We are situated in what is the strongest Gaelic-speaking community in the world,” says lecturer Angela Weir. “Nowhere else are there as many Gaelic speakers as there are in the Western Isles.”
This location in the heart of the Gaidhealtachd gives Gaelic students at Lews Castle College various advantages, from access to a faculty of fluent Gaelic speakers and a wide range of courses, to the ability to use Gaelic in the community on an everyday basis – not to mention exposure to multiple island-based Gaelic organisations.
For those students with an interest in studying Gaelic, there’s something to suit every language level, with options ranging from Masters degrees to summer short courses. The Gaelic department at Lews Castle College offers four Higher Education options: BA Gaelic Language and Culture, BA Gaelic and Development, BA Gaelic Scotland, and MA Gaelic with Education, as well as a plethora of other classes.
By Elly Welch
On a quiet croft on the island of Grimsay, North Uist, there’s a purr of machinery spinning through the spring breeze. But this is no unwanted 21st century intrusion. This is the quiet song of century old pistons, brought out of retirement to hum new hope for a place that the wool industry forgot – but whose people never did.
As you travel the single track circling Grimsay you can’t miss the cheerful green roof of Uist Wool, a community-managed spinning mill and brand new visitor facility including a shop, viewing area, and workshop and training space.
And travel to it you must this summer, for this place, now open to the public for the first time, is exciting. It’s not just immensely creative, it’s practical too - like a good friend, which it looks set to be for the crofting, artistic and visitor communities of the Outer Hebrides.
The idea for a new woolen mill based in Uist emerged in 2008 when it became clear that native wool had little or no value. Fleeces were being burnt, or thrown away – no longer worth the cost of transport to mainland markets. Concerned locals began to investigate ways to bring the industry back and, soon, the idea for a new mill was formed. Among its hard working volunteers was Uist Wool’s current director, Dana MacPhee.
By Eilidh Whiteford
Celebrating 15 years of business this year, the Hebridean Soap Company has sumptuous new products on the shelves for visitors and islanders alike to treat themselves this summer.
Established in 2002 as the first commercial soap producing company in the Western Isles, owner Linda Sutherland delivers a world of all natural ingredients and fragrances when customers step into the company shop and workspace in Breasclete, Lewis.
“I'm amazed already this year how many people have been in so far,” Linda said in March. “And we're looking forward to welcoming many more with a busy summer ahead.”
A former IBM systems programmer, Linda was working in Germany and travelling to and from the UK every two weeks prior to embarking upon her 'new challenge in life'.
By Katie Macleod
More and more British footballers are moving 'across the pond' to play in the USA – and among them are two island players making a name for themselves in the American soccer world.
31-year-old Ally Mackay, from Lewis, and 25-year-old Robert MacGillivray, from Benbecula, both took the scholarship route to US football careers, one that saw them attend university in the States, play for their university teams, and move into the professional football industry after graduation.
Both Ally and Robert now live in Florida, working ‘behind the scenes’ in the ever-growing industry that is soccer in America. Ally works in Orlando as an agent for Global Premier Management, a role he took on when he returned to the US after getting his MSC in Sports Management from the University of Stirling.
By Eilidh Whiteford
As islanders, residents of the Outer Hebrides are used to the odd unusual object washing up on the shore – but an entire oil rig platform, which ran aground at Dalmore Beach in Carloway last year, was still something of a surprise!
The semi-submersible drilling rig, 'Transocean Winner', was being towed by tug from Norway to Malta in August 2016 when the tow-line snapped during a storm while on passage west of the Hebrides.
And Carloway residents woke up on the morning of Monday, August 8th, to discover an oil rig sitting on the rocks at Dalmore.