This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of John Lorne Campbell – an excuse to celebrate his life and his legacy rather than his passing. Birlinn is reissuing The Man Who Gave Away His Island – a third edition with a new chapter – and Pitlochry’s Winter Words festival will be the first of what I hope will be a series of celebrations. Continue reading
Another stormy summer solstice stirs memories. Nine years ago John Lorne Campbell’s body was returned to the Island of Canna for burial in the woodland he had planted near Canna House. That much was planned well in advance but like many island stories it had taken unexpected twists and turns on a long journey home from Italy. Continue reading
I have been passing Muck on the ferry for more than 30 years, but never managed to set foot on it until recently. It is such a lovely island and such a vibrant community, I wish I had landed years ago.
Muck is half the size of Canna, but has managed to maintain its population at around 40 for fifty years – whereas Canna’s has halved in that time. The flexible attitude of the MacEwan family who own it, is a large part of the reason. If someone wants to do something – build a house, keep stock, start a business – the answer is generally ‘yes,’ with no demand for extra rent. Continue reading
How delighted John Lorne Campbell would have been to find – nearly 20 years after his death and more than 30 after first publication – that his book Canna, The Story of a Hebridean Island, is still in print. Continue reading
This year brings the tenth anniversary of the death of Margaret Fay Shaw, surely one of the most remarkable women of the 20th century, and a life – and a life’s work – worth celebrating. Continue reading
I was born in Islington – a very different place in 1947 than it is now – but I had never been particularly proud of the fact until I heard Alistair Moffat at the Lennoxlove Book Festival, talking about his new book Britain’s Last Frontier, A Journey Along the Highland Line. The London borough, he told us, played a big part in the success of the whisky industry. Continue reading
It was very fitting that A Little Bird Blown Off Course, the musical tribute to Margaret Fay Shaw devised and performed by Fiona Mackenzie, should have premiered on South Uist, the island where she started her work and her lifelong love of the Hebrides, and finished its first run on Canna, the island which was her home for 70 years. Continue reading
Great news that A Little Bird Blown off Course, a new piece of music–theatre by Gaelic singer Fiona Mackenzie celebrating the life and Gaelic song collection of Margaret Fay Shaw, is to be performed in the islands and Highlands as part of the Blas Festival next month.
Thanks for highlighting Canna. Some of my best moments in the Trust.
Canna House garden weaves a spell over everyone who visits it but it is not always obvious how much devoted work goes on behind the scenes. I am delighted to publish this tribute to the Thistle Camps, the dedicated volunteers of the National Trust for Scotland who have played such an important part in restoring the garden. Now over to Jan Haenraets, landscape architect and former NTS Head of Gardens. Continue reading
As a historian in an age when history was still dominated by studies of ‘Great Men’ and battles, John was ahead of his time in paying attention to the lives of ordinary people recounted in their own words. Continue reading