Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Greenock: Hamish MacCunn

Hamish MacCunn ( 1868-1916) was a romantic composer, pianist and conductor who lived in Thornhill, Ardgowan Street, Greenock. He was the second son of a merchant and shipbuilder and went to the old Greenock Academy. He has been described as the "most Scottish of Scottish composers", wrote many orchestral and choral works and was quite famous in his day. Probably his best known work is the magnificent, "Land of the Mountain and the Flood" overture which was used in the 1970s as the theme tune to the television series, "Sutherland's Law". This was an amazing achievement as it was completed when MacCunn was only eighteen! It can be heard here.

Below, Thornhill in Ardgowan Street which I photographed when I was in Greenock:

The Wikipedia entry about his life can be found here

and there is another page at the Greenock Town website here

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Greenock Esplanade 4

Another batch of photos of taken on The Esplanade which remains one of my favourites places in the whole area! These haven't been enhanced - the blue sky and water are completely natural.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Greenock: Well Park

I've been meaning to add a blog about this delightful and interesting little park for some time. I've only been there once (as far as I can remember) but it's well worth a visit. It was presented to the town in 1851 by Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart (1826–1903)

The main gates, looking straight towards the War Memorial

Children's play area

The Victoria Tower as seen from the park, part of the impressive Town Hall (which was built in 1886 at a cost of over £100,000) and which must surely be one of the finest municipal buildings in Scotland

Below: Some of the views over Greenock from the park, many looking towards the Clyde and the mountains of Argyll

Below: The War Memorial

Above: The well which gave the park its name, placed there by by the local laird John Shaw. There is a faded inscription, '1629', with his initials and those of his wife (Helen Housten). It was the original well for the residence of the Shaw family who were very influential on the
development of the town; their mansion house was at the bottom of Lynedoch Street but demolished in 1886 owing to railway tunnelling.

T.G. Snoddy wrote in his book, 'Round About Greenock' in 1937, "It is curious how both the retrospect and prospect of Greenock's life seem to take centre in the green open level which we call the Well-park. This spot after all was the cradle of local history. Here stood the old castle stead and the later mansion. From here the Galbraiths, the Shaws, and the Shaw Stewarts looked over the village or the growing town and guided the community's development."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Loch Loskin

This small and attractive 6 acre loch is in the hills a mile above Dunoon (beside the A885 Sandbank road) and seems to be used mostly for freshwater fishing these days, although it's also nice just to sit on the banks!

I very recently found out that my favourite pipe tune, 'Lochanside', which I've loved for many years, was named after this loch! It was written by Pipe Major John McLellan remembering his time spent along the attractive and secluded shores.
McLellan (born 1875), a multi-talented man by all accounts, was from Dunoon.

Lochanside is played on You Tube here.

There is another interesting arrangement here - this time a song by Jim Malcolm, the Scottish folk music artist and songwriter,
set to the same tune and sung by Tich Frier (words below).

Come the winter, cold and dreary
Brings the hawk down from the high scree
to the whins where snowy hares hide
All around the Lochanside
Come the spring the land lies weary
Till the sun shines out so cheery
Brings the bloom, for all of June's pride
All around the Lochanside
If you'd been you¹d have seen the scatter
O the peezies o'er the machair
When above the tawny owl glides
All around the Lochanside
And the heron he comes a-creeping
Through the rashes so green and dreeping
to the pool where wily trout slide
All around the Lochanside

Aye if you ever have a reason
To be here in any season
Come and try the barley bree in
Round the fire on Lochanside
Summer time the fish are louping
Dippers in the burnies couping
Swallows fly from dawn til evens-tide
All around the Lochanside
By the autumn the pinks are winging
Blaeberries o'er the moors are hanging
Salmon through the surging spate fight
All around the Lochanside

If ye'd been ye'd have seen the scatter
O the peezies o'er the machair
When above the tawny owl glides
All around the Lochanside
Aye if you ever have a reason
To be here in any season
Come and try the barley bree in
Round the fire on Lochanside
Aye if you ever have a notion
To be welcomed with devotion
Travel home o'er any ocean
To be here on Lochanside

However, the words I know best were written and sung (to the same tune) by Andy Stewart many years ago and can be heard here.

By The Lochside

In the spring when the world was young, then,
And the sweet songs of youth were sung, then
By the lochside I met a maiden,
And my heart longed to call her mine.

She was fairer than words can say, man,
And her smile made the world gay, man,
But like springtime, she would not stay, man,
Though my heart longed to call her mine.

But I would wait a thousand years, now,
I would shed a thousand tears, now,
No more sadness and no more fears, now,
If the lass lets me call her mine.

Summer came with her million flowers,
Summer time that was made for lovers,
Hand-in-hand, strolling through her bowers,
But my love would not walk with me.

Warm the day when the sun is shining,
Warm the love when in love reclining,
Cold the heart that for love is pining,
Cold the love that can never be.

But I would wait a thousand years, now,
I would shed a thousand tears, now,
No more sadness and no more fears, now
If the lass lets me call her mine.

Summer's gone and the Winter's cold, now,
With his grey hand has laid his hold now,
And the story of love is told, now,
But the story can never end.

By the lochside a bird is singing,
Sad the song from his heart is ringing,
Now he leaves and is swiftly winging,
Leaving me waiting here alone.

But I would wait a thousand years, now,
I would shed a thousand tears, now,
No more sadness and no more fears, now
If the lass lets me call her mine.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Loch Tarsan

Loch Tarsan is a 273 acre Hydro Electric loch, formed by the flooding of part of Glen Lean. It is located beside the B838 about eight miles north-west of Dunoon; there is a dam on the west side and it is stocked with brown trout for fishing. From here the road drops steeply down towards Loch Striven. A breathtakingly beautiful area, I love it!

Loch Striven

Loch Striven is a beautiful sea loch not far north of the Isle of Bute and about 8 miles long, extending north into the Cowal. It is very unfortunately being used as an anchorage for unused large vessels owing to the fall in world trade. (Loch Striven was also used to park ships during the oil crisis in the 1970s) There has been quite a local outcry, all to no avail of course - see "Anger at Striven ships" in the on-line Dunoon Observer. Click on "News Archives" for 3rd July 2009 - it's impossible to make a link here to this page but you can go to the main website here.

Two of the moored ships in the loch

There are so many pheasants around the whole area. If you drive up the road alongside the loch they will often run in front of the car as in the video below:

Looking back down this lovely loch from its most northerly point on a brighter day:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Toward: Rhanna

Just around the corner from Toward Lighthouse on Cowal in Argyll, stands Rhanna - the house where the popular novelist, Christine Marion Fraser (1938-2002) lived. Her books (22 in 18 years) outsold even Catherine Cookson's and were translated into many languages at the height of her success. Although she grew up in Govan, Glasgow, she moved to Toward with her husband, naming the house after her successful Rhanna series of novels. She suffered from ill health all her life, being confined to a wheelchair for most of the time.

I enjoyed reading the two volumes of her autobiography ('Blue Above the Chimneys' and 'Roses Round the Door') a few years ago, and it was quite a moving experience to see this lovely house where Christine lived so happily.


The attractive gates at the front

The road immediately outside Rhanna

Looking straight across the field to the Clyde

Flag in the sky!

There's an obituary here

Toward Lighthouse

This attractive lighthouse was finished in 1812 on Toward Point, about seven miles south of Dunoon on Cowal, and is one of 18 Scottish lighthouses which were built by Robert Stevenson (1772 - 1850). It still works with a white light which flashes every ten seconds.

Ferries seen from beside the lighthouse, travelling between Wemyss Bay and Rothesay

Toward Lighthouse seen from one of the ferries

The adjacent Foghorn Building - built in the late 1880s to look like a small chapel! The foghorn itself is situated on the top of the tower but the horn is no longer used

The photos were taken on a drizzly day unfortunately but the visibility wasn't too bad. A lovely area and there are beautiful walks from Toward Point in either direction