We at HEB Magazine do our best to let the world know exactly what our islands have to offer, and where exactly to find what you're interested in. HEB is printed once a year and thousands of copies are distributed across the Islands.
And the on-line edition - below! - is updated throughout the year with new reports, photographs and information from all across the Islands.
So, just click the download button, or go to our page-turning version, and enjoy learning about the beautiful Scottish Hebrides, and, if you aren’t here already, make sure to plan a visit sometime soon!
By Fred Silver
When Acair, the Stornoway publishers, brought out their book William MacGillivray, A Hebridean Naturalist’s Journal 1817-18, edited by Dr Robert Ralph, in 1996, it was revolutionary.
Why? After all, it was already more than 175 years old by then. Yet it was one of several recently published works to show how, despite the Islands being, as the saying goes, ‘full of history’ so much of it had been forgotten.
Two centuries after the young man who was to become a pioneer ornithologist of great international significance wrote this journal about a year in south Harris, Acair have republished it in a new edition, with an introduction by the newly established writer James Macdonald Lockhart whose own life and work, including the book Raptor, have been inspired by the Hebrides and by William MacGillivray.
James Macdonald Lockhart’s great-grandfather, Seton Gordon, was a renowned ornithologist, who studied and photographed golden eagles in the Highlands. But Raptor flies in another direction – toward William MacGillivray. James Macdonald Lockhart discovered the overlooked ornithological legend during long days of research in Oxford’s Alexander Library of Ornithology. “There was something about his voice I really warmed to. I felt kinship with him.” At the beginning of Raptor, readers encounter MacGillivray in 1819, aged 23, resembling the poet John Clare: complaining he has “no peace of mind” and about to embark on a walk from Aberdeen to London.
By Katie Macleod
On the Isle of Berneray, neither locals nor visitors will be able to miss the brand new, bright blue Berneray Shop and Bistro, located just a few minutes from the ferry terminal and the causeway linking the island to North Uist.
The newly redesigned and licensed bistro is open year-round for lunches, homemade cakes, and teas and coffees, as well as for evening meals from April to October, while the attached shop is also an off-licence that sells local produce and meats.
Formerly Ardmaree Stores and the Lobster Pot Tearoom, the business was bought over and rebranded at the end of 2017 by Lochmaddy-based Abigail Nicholson and her husband Ruairidh, who – as well as installing a commercial kitchen and new flooring – have transformed the space with a nautical-style design that complements its seafood-filled menu.
Evening bistro-style meals are available from 5.30pm-8.30pm during the high season of April to October, with seafood options like lobster and langoustines supplied by Ruairidh himself, who works as fisherman. “We’re also trying to use local suppliers as much as possible,” explains Abigail, referencing island businesses such as JA Macdonald for fruit and vegetables, Kallin Shellfish for crab meat, Munro Butchers for meat, and Stag and Macleans Bakeries.
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.
From Katie Macleod in New York
It’s not often I encounter a fellow Leodhasach (native of Lewis) in a New York City bar, let alone six of them at once – but that’s exactly the situation I found myself in March 2018 at Rockwood Music Hall, located in Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side.
The tiny bar of Stage 1 was buzzing under dim red lights, the densely-packed crowd dancing, cheering, and filming the performance on their phones. Leodhasaich and New Yorkers alike were there to listen to Colin Macleod, the singer-songwriter from Point on the Isle of Lewis who, with his first gig in the Big Apple, was winding up his mini-USA tour after a string of performances at SXSW festival in Texas.
With his band – younger brother Callum on bass, Gordon Skene from Fort William on piano, and fellow islanders Scott Macleod on guitar and Murdo Mackenzie on drums – Colin opened the show with Kicks In, his most recent single. The song is an ode to the gap between childhood and adulthood, and the upbeat sound perfectly captures the bittersweet feeling of possibility that teenagers can feel as their school days come to a close.
“Kicks In is about us growing up,” Colin tells me over coffee the next day. “We were all at the end of school, and we had this choice: are you staying on the island, or are you going to go?” Colin chose to stay, and pursue a music career, which left him wondering at the time when ‘real life’ would arrive while he was living at home, and his friends had moved to the mainland. “I don’t know if kids go through that now as much, but definitely for people my age it was a real conflict.”
By Fred Silver
Acair has a whole range of published books with a few copies still available – and one is the extraordinary softback volume `Muir is Tir` by George MacLeod.
Published in 2005, it contains more than 100 pages of Gaelic terms and bilingual descriptive notes along with drawings centred on traditional Lewis-based fishing in the late 19th/early 20th century.
The late George Macleod of Great Bernera, Lewis, brings together nautical terms, weather forecasts, sea and fishing lore and all matters relating to shipping along Island shores which are illustrated with delightfully intricate black-and-white drawings by the author himself. Featuring both Gaelic and English, the book creates a great archive of old Gaelic terms for fishing boats.
The late Rev Donald Macaulay, also of Great Bernera and a one-time convener of the Western Isles council, tells in the introduction how George Macleod came from a fishing family, being born in the 1890s, when fishing from the West Side of Lewis was already passed its height as trawlers were plundering the stocks that even generations of Islands long-line fishermen had failed to undermine.
Even if Gaelic is not your interest, the pages will give insights into the minds of fishermen in those days…for instance, a page of ways to refer to boats from ‘’bata easgaidh” – an active, lively, fast boat - to “Droch bhata” – a bad (or unsafe) boat.
Muir is Tir, George Macleod, £12