Local News for Monday 17th July 2017

Columbus on his travels again
Columbus the celebrity cat from the Leverburgh pier feral colony has been on his travels once again, this time on a fishing trip to the Monach Isles. Columbus hit headlines last summer when he stowed away at Leverburgh on a visiting yacht and was put ashore at Oban, needing combined efforts from Argyll Animal Aid and island visitors to repatriate him to his Isle of Harris home. This time he joined the fishing vessel Valhalla and spent a few days with them off the shore of North Uist and the Monach Islands, returning with the crew when they landed back at Harris. He’s been described by locals as ‘the Steve McQueen of the feline world’ and is an important part of the Leverburgh fishing community – keeping rats and mice down around the pier area – but he obviously also has a taste for fresh fish.

Pick up HebCelt tickets early
There’s been another plea for islanders to collect their tickets for Hebridean Celtic Festival today, as the influx of visitors coming to attend the festival starts to build. HebCelt’s shop on Cromwell Street will become increasingly busy through the week, and there could be long waits to get tickets. Several concerts are now sold out, with no tickets available to see Tidelines at Breasclete or Na h-Oganaich at An Lanntair on Saturday available, and late night festival clubs at An Lanntair also sold out. The shop opens at 10am each day this week, with late opening from Wednesday and also stocks merchandise including sweatshirts and hoodies. Copies of the full festival programme can be picked up there.

Late running ferry
The MV Isle of Lewis was affected by a technical issue on Saturday, which led to cancelled crossings between Oban and Castlebay, and a knock-on effect on yesterday’s sailings. CalMac has also advised that advance booking for foot passengers on sailings between Stornoway and Ullapool is advisable from tomorrow onwards, due to the increase in traffic for HebCelt. Bookings for crossings over the weekend of July 22nd to 24th are essential, they say, and additional sailings have been put onto the route for Sunday July 23rd.

CalMac wants community board members
CalMac is looking for members of a new Community Board from all the communities covered by the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) contract. Setting up the board was condition of CalMac's bid to operate west coast ferry services for the next eight years, and 12 members will be appointed, together with an independent, paid, chair. It will be separate from the CalMac Board and CalMac will not be represented on the Board. A spokesman for the company said: “We see it as a great opportunity to bring together a group of people who are knowledgeable and well-informed about the network as a whole and not just their own area or route." The Board will meet twice a year with the first meeting in early October.

Weather hits weekend events
The weather once again played havoc with weekend events, Saturday’s Tesco and Co-op combined Funday postponed due to torrential rain and the opening of the new cycle shop at Glen House scaled back. Sport fixtures which went ahead included Friday night’s league football matches between Westside and Aths, where Westside’s decisive 4-nil win have them back their position at the top of the league, but now by just one point over strongly-challenging Carloway. Point are third-placed in the league and drew 3-all with Back on Friday, and Lochs beat United 1-nil at Creagan Dubh. Carloway are through to the semi-final of the Co-Op cup after beatings Eriskay 5-2 on Saturday. They’ll play the winner of Wednesday’s quarter-final between Point and Westside. Tonight there are Eilean an Fhraoich semi-final 2nd leg matches between Carloway and Point at Garrabost, and Back and Ness at Fivepenny. Kick-offs 7pm.

Shinty
Lewis Camanachd held visitors Strathspey to a draw on Saturday at Shawbost, setting them up well for next Saturday’s Hebridean Celtic Festival Cup, which will be played at Bayhead against Uist Camanachd on Saturday. It’s Shinty coaching week for 8-14 year-olds at the Stornoway all-weather this week as part of the summer Motiv8 programme. For more information contact Lewis Sports Centre.

Cruise visits
And there’s a busy week ahead for cruise ships in Stornoway harbour, with Variety Voyager, Corinthian and the Saga Pearl among visitors expected from tomorrow onwards.