Chairman's Report to AGM 2009

Category: Publications

Chairman's Report to AGM 2008 - February 16, 2009

Welcome to the AGM and thanks to the committee for their work throughout the year. Thanks also to all Society members and friends for their continued support.

Comann Eachdraidh Committee Meetings

We had fewer minuted meetings this past year than in previous years, but we had a very large number of working group meetings in an effort to finalise the research into the genealogy of Tolsta, work that had first started in the 1980s. Most of the genealogy was recorded in Brother's Keeper during 2007/2008 in preparation for Hebridean Connections, but when funding for HebCon dried up I was particularly anxious to make these records available to the public. Bill and Chrissie Lawson expressed an interest in producing a Croft History book on Tolsta and the offer was accepted gladly. This was a win–win situation. With Bill and Chrissie's expertise these records are now in book form. Tolsta Croft History is in two volumes and both volumes were published before Christmas as promised. Grateful thanks to Bill and Chrissie and to all who gave of their time so willingly.

These reference books are selling well and are available from the Comann Eachdraidh, Bill Lawson Publications and from various book shops in Stornoway. The books cost £20 each and the Comann Eachdraidh gets £5 for every book we sell.

Social Evenings

Genealogy also dominated the social evenings in the past year. Launch of Croft History Volume 1 and a talk by Bill Lawson on Genealogy took place on 20th October 2008.

Launch of Croft History Volume 2 and an illustrated talk by Bill and Chrissie Lawson on Emigration to the Eastern Townships of Quebec took place on 8 th December 2008.


The Machair Walk on Saturday 17th July was very enjoyable though we could not get access to An Geodha Thogalach.
Ard Walk More signs have been placed at Camach Park to help walkers and more direction signs are available from W.I. Country Access Programme, which will be put in place before the summer.

Material Supplied by Comann Eachdraidh this Year

a. We gave BBC Alba pictures for their Iolaire website. CE received £100

b. We gave John Macleod some material and photos for his Iolaire book. CE  received donation of £50 from him.

c. We gave Mary Smith a few photos and permission to use poems from our bardachd collection for her book of songs relating to the sea.

d. Anna made approximately 70 prints of wedding photos from our collection for display on the evening of the Community Council Banais Taighe.

e. We supplied Sarah Egan with photographs for possible use in a Calendar Project.

f. We supplied material to the Islands Book Trust for their conference in Shawbost last summer. Cathie Mary attended the Conference.

Meetings Outwith Village

a. Hebridean Connections Meetings

Cathie Mary and Angus attended these meetings. Meetings indicated that financial pressure was mounting and public funding was not forth coming so that project appears to be at a standstill at the moment. One possible source of funding, the EU Leader Programme, is not yet on stream.

b. An Caidreachas

I attended meetings at the Caidreachas throughout the year. Our CE has 390 members and we received our per capita grant of £350.
(New website on behalf of Bòrd na Gaidhlig is:-

c. CNES Genealogy Member Working Group

I attended one of these meetings. The chair is Cllr Kenneth Maciver and the aim (I think) is to consider the development of the Genealogy Service for the year of Homecoming 2009. Homecoming Scotland

Comann Eachdraidh Tholastaidh will probably have some input into events in Stornoway in early August e.g. The Tatoo, but we'll get more information nearer the time. Website for Homecoming events is:-

CE Tholastaidh has been invited to take part in a Homecoming Scotland Event on September 14-21, when a group from Quebec will be visiting Lewis with Dr Margaret Bennett. We continue to receive numerous enquiries from members by email, by letter and in person by visitors to the CE room, which is very encouraging. At present the CE is encouraging our overseas members to visit Scotland this year.


Once again I wish to note that we depend on the sale of Seanchas and on private donations for our running costs. We print 430 copies every quarter and we have 110 subscribers. Seanchas sells well but again I appeal for articles that will be of interest to our readers and I thank all those who support us financially.

Other Items

a. Anna, Rhoda and Innes had a website training session with Taylor Edgar in May 2008.

b. Anna and Rhoda updated the inventory.

c. Ewan Cameron produced a DVD of the Clann Nighean Tholastaidh Social Evening and Ruairidh Moir produced a DVD showing snippets of the various evenings and activities we’ve been involved with over the years. These are for our own records.

d. Garry Bridge – Some discussion took place about a plaque at Garry Bridge to reflect the importance of its local historical interest. The bridge was given listed status (Category B) in 1992 by Historic Scotland.

e. Comann Eachdraidh Lease – The C.E. has a 25 year lease on part of the Schoolhouse and adjacent ground. This is a legal document and was recorded in the General Register Sasines on 24th May 2002. The feu of the schoolhouse and garden area, obtained in 1967 from the Stornoway Trust, now belongs to CNES , but is not part of the school playground and the access through the playground security gates was to be used for emergency purposes only. A new legal document would have to be drawn up if changes were to take place.

Personally I found the lack of consultation, before and during the development in the schoolhouse grounds last year, discourteous and unacceptable and I hope if further changes occur there will be consultation in writing with all parties involved.

Village Population

The village population is still over 500 although it is slightly down on last year. Tolsta Primary School has a roll of 52 at present and, with over 30 preschool children in the village, it looks as though it will remain at that level for the foreseeable future.    

AGM 2009   AGM 2008   AGM 2007   AGM 2006   AGM 2005   AGM 2004
Pre school children 31 33 28 32 30 32
School age children 76 75 70 70 64 65
Age: 16-18 8 6 9 11 11 7
Age: 18-59 237 250 243 243 244 242
Over 60s 167 165 158 147 140 140
Total 519 529 508 503 489 486
Births (in 12 month period) 4 6 0 7 4 7
Deaths (in 12 month period) 6 6 2 1 7 11
Holiday homes 13 12 15 14 16 13
Unoccupied houses 8 4 7 6 5 5

Thanks again to all those who contributed to another successful year at the Comann Eachdraidh.

Donald Murray, chairman.