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UNENCOMPASSING

To sign up for the Atlantic Archipelagos Research Consortium / Archipelago event at Somerville College, Oxford, on Saturday 14 November 2015 please follow the link here: unencompassingthearchipelago.wordpress.com You can book for either the day’s events or the evening’s performances or both. We very much look forward to seeing you there.   1st October 2015

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Devolved Voices

Interview: Andrew McNeillie Andrew McNeillie was born in North Wales and read English at Magdalen College, Oxford. An editor and publisher, including a stint as literature editor at Oxford University Press, he has also held a… Read more… Listen to Andrew McNeillie interviewed as part of Devolved Voices, an exciting three-year research project based at Aberystwyth University. The project considers the development of English-language poetry from Wales since the vote for devolution, with a particular focus on those poets who have emerged since 1997.   28th July 2015

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No Passage to Landward

In large capitals on the lighthouse But caught too late for us to change course.   We sail towards catastrophe. Our epitaph-in-waiting: lost at sea.   Sure of this in all the world: The sea alone will keep its word.   If ever there was a timely moment to reflect on there being NO PASSAGE TO LANDWARD this is it. The lighthouse concerned stands off Penmon Point on Anglesey, beyond it Puffin Island. We’re delighted to say that Archipelago 10 is on course and might even put into harbour ahead of time. Contributors: Norman Ackroyd, Julian Bell, Mark Cocker, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Tim Dee, John Fanshawe, John Greening, John Jones, Angela Leighton, Stephen Pax Leonard, James Macdonald Lockhart, Robert Macfarlane, Bernard…

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Night & Day

A hardy reader of the magazine scuba diving off Slyne Head in the cold March seas has just tweeted the two images reproduced here, top and bottom. We are pleased to re-tweet and hope you will all follow suit. A free copy of Archipelago 10 to Gráinne Ni Cormac of Westport when the time comes. And for once we know not only the time but mirabile dictu also the place. Please enter this in your old-fashioned diaries or, if you think they have a future, your digital devices. In association with Somerville College, Oxford, and the Atlantic Archipelagos Research Consortium, we are holding a day of talks and an evening of readings and musical performances to mark our seamark tenth issue on Saturday 14 November 2015. ALL WELCOME. Archipelago…

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The Eighth Sea

Hilary Chandler I keep his compass on my desk That it might steer me home.   A gift his widow gave me with His hand-drawn charts of wrecks.   Hotspots to fish; and a mackerel line On a bleached wooden frame   With a lead-weight cone to plumb Memory’s sea-green currents   For shoals that once ran deep and wide Mere spectres now in the eighth sea.   Andrew McNeillie 23 November 2014

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Hope and Anchor

  We’ve been holed up proofing Issue 9 at our favourite hideaway quay in the wild west. The place is otherwise more or less unused other than by seabirds, hoodie crows, and the occasional lobster looking for a telephone. Unused, that is, except for nefarious ‘black-catch’ deals at the backdoor of the local gastro-pub THE HOPE AND ANCHOR. The proprietor is himself struggling to survive. As are the fish he pays through the nose for. Just as we are in these hard and uncertain times.   I took this picture of the good ship with my old box-brownie app. and a reel of Kodak Colour. I thought I must ‘share’ it with you, comme on dit. What’s with the French?…

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‘From the Wheelhouse . . .’

  Who goes to sea   knows heart’s care. Groves blossom   burghs grow fair meadows beautiful.   World quickens. All things urge   spirit to embark fare far   by flood-ways though melancholy call   of summer’s lord the cuckoo bode   bitter heart-sorrow.  from ‘In the Wake of the Seafarer’ Winter Moorings (2014)   Welcome to the wheelhouse! The big news: Archipelago has acquired a second fishing boat, a single rig prawn trawler we’re in the process of converting into a back-up floating editorial office: ARCHIPELAGO II. See the picture ‘Northwest Passage’ below: Skipper Macdonald Lockhart at the wheel, Katherine Rundell in charge of tightropes. Both images are by Andrew McNeillie. The blog that follows on from the ‘Northwest Passage’ image, about a visit to…

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‘The beautiful island . . .’

This is to mark the death of Iain Munro, crofter, boatman, and inspiration to all who had the privilege of meeting him. He drowned on the night of Friday 15 May, off the north coast of Ulva, making headway to Gometra, in a small RIB powered by a single outboard. His sole passenger, Andrew McNeillie, by some miracle made it ashore, at Port Bata na Luinge, round the point of Rubha nan Gall, and survived, managing eventually to raise the alarm at Gometra House at about 7.30 a.m. The two had spent the afternoon and evening together on Mull, erecting fencing against deer, and running errands on a dreich day with a mounting southerly wind. There will be a funeral…

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SOS: MV Naomh Éanna

from breakers’ yard to breaker’s yard . . .?   To all who knew the Aran Islands before the Celtic Tiger came and went, leaving such havoc in its wake, the ferry MV Naomh Éanna (1956-86) is an icon in the aesthetics of the voyage and of saner times. When I went out to live on Inis Mór in November 1968 she was not in service but in Dublin for a Board of Trade Survey. I had to go out in a three-hour crossing aboard a trawler from Ros a’ Mhil in Connemara, in a Storm 10.The Naomh Éanna would not have set out in such conditions. (She was top heavy at the best of times.) Once on the island…

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Agog to go to Gometra

  My great interest and excitement as this year opens up is to travel to Gometra, an island in the Staffa archipelago, just off Ulva, to the west of Mull. Owned and farmed by Roc Sandford it is one of those rare places off the beaten sea-roads and other tracks holding on to community as tenuously as once, not so long ago, the Erne, now commonly to be seen there, struggled but failed to survive human predation. I shall set out from Oban in late May with my journal and fishing gear, my basic food supplies, my survival kit, my bivvy bag, and all the rest. There is almost nothing on Gometra one could class as a modern convenience, I…

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