Monday, 6 May 2013


If you live on the west coast of Scotland you know about MacBrayne's.  This is ferry boat operator who plies the water of, not just the Clyde, but all of the islands.  They are a monopoly and have been around for 106 years.

Portree, Skye, 2007

Everyone has stories about using these ferries: some good, some not. The fact remains they are simply part of the the landscape, or should that be seascape?... on the Scottish west coast.

To that end, I bought Iain a book of their history for his birthday this past week.

It is published by Birlinn and details are available on their website here. As they say in their blurb, the book "tells the story of David MacBrayne, his ships and his company, his predecessors, rivals and successors.  It explores the world of the early steamships, their successes and failures, as well as their contribution to the ever-changing social fabric of the Highlands and Islands.  Emigrants, tourists, ordinary travellers and crew members, from engineers to pursers, speak of the ships and their impact on their world. "

The title comes from a common ditty that describes them:

The earth belongs unto the Lord
And all that it contains
Except the Western Islands
And the Kingdom of MacBrayne's

Apparently it is a parody of the opening verse of Metrical Psalm 24. It seems this version a misquote but that 's the way I've always known it.

The Arran ferry at Ardrossan pier

Their official name is Caledonian MacBrayne but are always referred to as CalMac,. Their website is here.

CalMac ferry heading out of Ullapool to Stornoway, Lewis.  Photo taken from Jessie's front window on May 18, 2013 at 6 pm.

No comments: