In his poem ‘To A Mouse’The Ayrshire poet Robert Burns observed that
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.
How true that almost was for the revealing of the Tiree Flag.
The historic ceremony was organised for 2:00pm at An Talla, Crossapol.
Everything had been carefully organised with nothing left to chance.
But at the appointed time there had to be a change of plans.
The morning flight had circled above Tiree Airport.
However due to poor visibility it was unable to land.
The plane had to return to Glasgow carrying the vital flags.
Importantly, also on board was Phillip Tibbets of the Flag institute.
The event was rescheduled for 4:00pm.
Thankfully the early afternoon flight landed.
Everything was now back on track for the ceremony.
What’s more there was now bright sunny weather.
And helpfully there was a mild breeze for the flag to fly
There was just one slight complication – The Tiree Ultra Marathon.
Registration for the 35 mile run was taking place at 4:00pm in the large hall.
At 4:00pm a good crowd assembled in the small hall.
Dr John Holliday told the exciting story of the origin of the Tiree flag.
He made reference to the custom of flying flags on the island.
This custom at first puzzled us when we moved to Tiree.
Then it was explained it centred around weddings.
Significantly 261 designs had been submitted for consideration.
Every flag must meet the criteria of Scottish Heraldry.
The entries were then whittled down to 4 designs.
And a public vote was conducted.
The winning design was announced.
It was based on Tiree as the land of the Barley.
It was submitted by Donald Cameron who grew up on Tiree.
He attended Cornaig School and now works in advertising in London.
Donald’s wife and young son Hector were present to witness the occasion.
Donald’s acceptance speech credited Hector with helping in the design.
Pipe Major David Buchan piped everyone outside.
Hector then raised the flag to much applause.
One observer said, “It did look very good.”
Back inside An Talla John Anderson,
the Church of Scotland Locum Preacher,
dedicated the flag and asked God’s blessing on it.
Phillip Tibbets of the Flag institute spoke about the process of selection.
He was most impressed by the way Tiree had gone about it all.
The ballot had been rigorously conducted.
Phillip Tibbets was also impressed by the 260 entries.
This was a record for number of entries per head of population.
He approved of the final choice as it spoke of Tiree’s history and heritage.
It expressed Tiree as the land of the Barley which is an ancient name for Tiree.
Phillip expressed how he had a lot to thank Tiree for.
He had recently been promoted to an official position in the Flag Institute.
He was certain that Tiree must have helped him gain this promotion.
Phillip was Lord Lyon’s representative.
The latter was unable to be present
but he had visited the island previously
to help in the selection of the four favourite entries.
As deputy Lord Lieutenant of Argyll and Bute
Pat Boyd gave Patrick Stuart’s apologies for absence.
His Northern Ireland roots had taught him
that flags could unite but also display divisions
and his desire for our new flag was
that it would be a uniting influence.
Donald Meek then read a poem about the flag
which the Flag Committee had asked him to compose.
He read it in Gaelic which had metre and rhyme,
and then gave an English translation.
The afternoon was rounded off
by the singing of the “Tiree National Anthem”.
Ishbel Campbell ably sang 3 verses
and the assembly joined in the choruses.
Pin badges of the flag were then given out.
There was a dram, or alternative.
Also on offer was shortbread and Tiree dumpling.
Life on Tree is indebted to Ian Gillies and John Bottomley.
They supplied reports and photographs of the event.