Struthan Cottages – Isle of Tiree, Scotland

Letter to An Tirisdeach

A letter of mine was published in last month’s edition of An Tirisdeach, the local Tiree newsletter. Here it is in full:

My name is Paul Veverka, (38) from Blantyre, south of Glasgow. This is now my 31st year coming to Tiree on holidays or business and I’m proud to have witnessed a strong community bond grow over these years. It’s been noticeably encouraging and I felt compelled today to let local residents have a “visitors perspective” for a change.

It occurred to me that if I added up all the time I’ve set foot on Tiree, I’ve now spent over 2 and a half years of my life there! I had to laugh during May when the girls in the Co-Op asked me “Have you moved here now?”

Many islanders will probably know my family. My mother, Janet and her big white dog, and my sisters Lorna and Joanne and my brother Ivan who still runs the heating business my father Joe started. Loads of people on the island used to have their heating commissioned when my dad came to Tiree each Summer.

Some of my fondest childhood and teenage memories were on Tiree. Taking part in the regatta days, walking to the post office and shop in Balemartine each morning, making friends on the beach with other children whom I’m still friends with today! I remember jumping for joy in Scarinish as I heard about passing my exam results at school, falling in love for the first time in Balinoe, picking whelks with friends and then drinking the profits out of sight of my parents. So many happy memories. Over the years I’ve introduced all my friends to Tiree and more recently my wife too.

My family and I have a strong bond with Tiree, dare I say perhaps more than most tourists. It grows each year, with my little house in Kilmoluaig, with my sister getting married in An Talla next July, with the good friends and colleagues I’ve met and worked with on the island in recent years and of course due to my father who sadly passed away suddenly in 2007 and is now buried in Soroby cemetery, an area of the island he was very fond of. It really is the most beautiful, peaceful resting place on the planet.

I am of course still an “outsider” and maybe I’ll retire to Tiree one day.   I’m really writing on two counts. Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you (with as much warmth as I can muster) to all the islanders over 3 decades who have shown kindness, generosity and friendship to my family and I. Too many people to mention, but Cathie, Fiona, Donald Archie, Nancy, Mark B, Scott McC, Alisdair, Tish and Angus, Iain, Flora and Mary get a special mention. (Sorry if I missed anybody out).

My second point was simply to say progression in the community is important and it’s fabulous to see such commitment in taking the community forward with plans for wind farms, buildings, commerce and agricultural opportunities. However to the outsider like me, the lowly visiting tourist…..it’s not the wonderful beaches, plans or tranquillity that we see first. It’s the warmth of the Tiree people who make it such a fantastic place. Tiree has retained a friendliness, an inviting timeless charm that other islands seem to have lost. You don’t need a tourist to tell you that and whether I’m on or off the island, if I can help the community in any way, you’ll only have to call.