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2011 Recycling Past and Present

The company continued to have their statutory and acquired responsibilities. In essence this is the organization, administration, management and operation of the ongoing projects, the initiation of new projects and the running of the company. It should be noted that there are no paid positions for these responsibilities and they are undertaken through voluntary commitment. This does stifle the impetus of the group. During this year activity has mainly been aimed at maintaining profile and contact while longer term aims are identified. There has been significant progress and relevant achievements during that period as well as experiments with options and formats.


Future Plans


In June 2011 the Feasibility Study which was started in 2010 was completed. This provides a very useful strategic summary of the work done by this group to date and has generated a blueprint for future developments. Over the winter we had three very interesting Open Day events for discussing possibilities and ways ahead. These were very well attended by people of all ages from right across the five parishes in north west Sutherland and east Sutherland. Given the distances that involves travelling on winter roads that alone has been a great boost to our momentum and thinking.


Gateway stones


Four new Caithness slab standing stones 2x4x8 have been commissioned and were erected at Kylestome Kinloch, Kinbrace and the Caithness Sutherland border. We’d like to thank Comunn na Gàidhlig for a grant and Edward Mackay of Brora for a donation to help replace the missing border markers or stone signs with Gaelic and English greetings. These signs were back in action for new 2011 season.


Family MacBough


The 2011 Summer Season was a very busy one. We provided a range of activities based around The Bough Tent at Durness Games, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, Skerray Harvest Home Festival and International Sheep Dog Trials at Tain. The theme was recycling and the key activity was learning to do metal punch work in order to make copper pendants – see photos. This was hugely popular and along with a new range of merchandise it generated income at the events. These activities were supported by funding from the Highland Council and Make A Splash.


At Bella we worked in partnership with the Young Scot stand. This is a national youth project and all of the youngsters at the Young Scot stand visited The Bough Tent for copperwork and stories. We were paid per head for this. For The Grand Raffle at Bella we were supported by Bruachladdich Distilleries; Ben Loyal Hotel; The Ceilidh Place; Meg Telfer artist and Iain Copeland, musician with great prizes. Bough Tent music at our Bella pitch was provided by Rhona Sutherland and Catriona Macleod – so lovely to have live music at the door like that. The team worked incredibly hard to deliver a very fine set of activities and merch sales.


The Sheep Dog Trails presence also resulted in large numbers of school children attending for activities for which the schools paid a small fee. The general public at the event showed great interest in our project work too and it was an honour to represent the north in this way. It was cold and blustery few days and the stove was particularly popular!




In spring 2011 we designed 3 new t-shirts and bumper stickers which continue to sell well. It would be a good idea to arrange local outlets for these goods.


Taking Stock: The Claim of Crofting Jan 2011 – March 2012

Mackay Country archive pictures were used in publications and events for this Scottish level multi-agency project. Essie and Arthur featured in the key performances at Sabhal Mor Ostaig and put on a fine show on behalf of our area.


Heritage Applications

Two applications have been submitted to LEADER and Heritage Lottery

If successful the project will focus on the 3 themes. Emphasis will be given to features which can be advanced to give an understanding to the establishment of our culture for present and future generations to experience and enjoy. The outcomes will give a more detailed understanding of the integrated complexity of Mackay Country and help people learn about their own and other peoples heritage.


  1. 1. Hostel Experiences For over forty years the people of NW Sutherland had been struggling with bureaucracy to have their children’s education completed in the vicinity where they live. Latterly the children were returned home at weekends but for many years had been away from home all term then monthly visits home for the weekend. The idea was proposed by the young people who were the last age group to be educated at secondary school level via the Hostel system. It is a topic which has interest and relevance for everyone from 30 years old and over in the area. This aspect looks at educational history in the 20th Century

  2. 2. The Story of Side School Side schools will identify many historical aspects of the era. Side Schools were used when there were a number of children in a remote part. The Side Schools were conducted by a competent (but sometimes unqualified) teacher under the overall supervision of the nearby formal school establishment. These were usually wooden and corrugated iron huts. There have been side schools at numerous locations throughout Mackay Country. Schools foundations of the old single-roomed Side school remain visible in some areas. Side schools were in operation during the 19th and 20th Century

  3. 3. Moving Times A celebratory look at inward migration past & present, – Much has been written and many studies continue about the Highland Clearances (Scottish Gaelic: Fuadach nan Gàidheal, the expulsion of the Gael) were forced displacements of the population of the Scottish Highlands during the 18th and 19th centuries. We wish to explore the reverse of this and look at the immigrants and newcomers to the area reasons & effects. The history of the area is a history of movement. As an investigate topic migration is uniquely inclusive. Everyone either has family who emigrated out of Mackay Country or family who immigrated into Mackay Country. Some families have both. This makes it an ideal topic for a community based exploration and heritage project. This part of the project will look at a period form the 19th Century to present day.


We plan to explore and compare how maintenance of social relationships was preserved and communities lived and developed ways to survive. We wish to evaluate the effects on the people and communities and the way the communities involved interacted with each other then and how this effects us now.

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