Islay Ferry Services and Winter Schedules

The ferry winter schedule is in operation from end of October 2018 until 28th of March 2019. This is the period that it's somewhat quieter on the ferries and also the period that the two regular Islay Ferries, the Finlaggan and Hebridean Isles, get their annual maintenance period. In the past this has caused disruptions around the start of the tourist season around Easter time as the return of one of the ferries was delayed. For 2019 the maintenance schedule looks more favourable as both ferries will have had their annual maintenance before the end of February. Islay will return to a two vessel service starting the 15th of February 2019, if all goes as planned. Fingers crossed here. If you're keen to know what and how many ferries are doing the Islay service this winter please check the table below. And as always, if you want to know if ferries are disrupted and what your rights as passenger are please read this article. Continue reading....

These Men are Worth your Tears - 2018 Edition

In January 2015 the first edition of These Men are Worth your Tears was published. A book written by Stuart Graham which covered the horrors of WW1 and tells the story of the many soldiers from Islay and Jura who went to war for their country, and of those who never returned from the battlefields on the continent, leaving local families behind grieving for their loved ones.

Today, Armistice Day 2018, 100 Years After the end of the Great War, I've read the second edition of Stuart Graham's book and was moved by the personal stories of events on Islay and elsewhere, as well as seeing the many photos and reading the sometimes intimate stories of local casualties. The names of the soldiers who paid the highest price possible can be found on the war memorials in the villages on Islay and Jura:

Well over 200 soldiers from Islay and Jura were killed in the Great War. The memorial in Bowmore has 37 names on it, Port Charlotte 37 as well, Portnahaven 13, Kilmeny 22, Port Ellen 78 and Jura 14.

Names on a memorial, well known for some, unknown for others, but very much respected by us all. In Stuarts book they become more than a name as you can read where they served in the war, which battles they fought, from which families on Islay and Jura they are from and where they lived. There are also many photos, giving these brave heroes a face. Continue reading...

Navigate the Blood - Opera on Islay

NOISE (New Opera in Scotland Events) presents: A new opera, Navigate the Blood, by indie folk-rock band Admiral Fallow and Gareth Williams. The opera is set in the world of whisky and gin manufacturing and will be touring distilleries throughout Scotland from 02 November until 24 November. Navigate the Blood follows the story of Bob and Lena, a husband and wife running a small independent distillery in rural Scotland. Their son Liam disappeared in mysterious circumstances three years ago. Living and working with them is a young Polish woman named Agata. She wants to modernise the distillery by making gin as well as whisky. Into this situation comes Elijah, a young man with a strange, otherworldly presence. Elijah looks and moves very like the lost boy…

The location for this event is Ballygrant Hall Islay and it will take place on Sunday 11 November at 3pm. For more info visit www.noiseopera.com. Tickets available via

WW100 Otranto Remembrance Service Islay

Islanders, and descendants of American soldiers and British crewmen who lost their lives when HMS Otranto sank off Islay, gathered to pay their respects on Saturday ( 6 October) at a commemoration on the island to mark the centenary WW1’s worst convoy.

HMS Otranto, a former luxuryliner that had been requisitioned by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of the war, was the flagship of a 13-vessel convoy bringing thousands of US troops to the conflict on the Western Front. But, caught in Force 11 gale and unsure of her position, the Otranto collided with another ship in her convoy, HMS Kashmir. While the Kashmir managed to limp to the Clyde, the powerless Otranto was driven by the storm towards the treacherous coast of Islay.

British destroyer, HMS Mounsey, commanded by Lieutenant Francis Craven, dashed to rescue 600 men from the Otranto, but nearly 500 men were still aboard when it struck a reef off Kilchoman Bay, on Islay’s west coast. Local shepherds and farmers rushed to the shore and pulled survivors from the pounding surf, but, of the men still on board the Otranto when it struck the reef, only 19 survived. The islanders tended the survivors and, although many of Islay’s able men had already been killed or were still at war, scoured the rugged coast to recover bodies and did all they could to identify them and bury them with honour. Continue reading....

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