Jessie makes it back to Holy Isle after 75 year wait

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Jessie returns to Holy Isle after 75 year wait

Jessie Taylor was born in Hamilton Terrace and has lived her whole life in Lamlash looking out at Holy Isle but she hadn’t been there since the early 1940s.

Little did she know that all that would change at the sprightly age of 94 – and in a way she could never have imagined. Three of her neighbours are members of the Arran Coastal Rowing Club (ACRC) and she often enjoyed watching them practicing on the bay and asked about how their training was going.

One day Caroline McGinlay asked her if she would like to go out in the skiff and be rowed over to Holy Isle. Jessie quickly replied that said she would love that and so a plan was hatched to get her out on the waves.

Five rowers said they’d be delighted to take Jessie out and the club already had a specially adapted seat which could be strapped down safely and provide a non-rower with a comfortable place to sit. So it was just a case of waiting for the right weather. A date was set but the wind was too wild so the outing had to be put off a week to the following Friday.

And as the day approached it became clear that the conditions would be ideal and Jessie could go out on the water. Wrapped up warm and cosy she was picked up at 2pm and her wooden carriage awaited her on the slipway. It was brought alongside the pier so as to make it as easy as possible to help her into her seat in the bow. Jessie, looking the part in her life jacket and with a warm blanket over her knees, was really excited as the boat was gently rolled down the slipway and launched.

The crew then boarded, shipped their oars and off they were, out onto the calm waters of the bay. Apart from the cox and three rowers, one club member sat next to Jessie throughout the journey, discussing all of the new experiences and old memories of Lamlash Bay as it was in the early 40s, full of ships and activity.

As the skiff went further out, a panoramic view of the village opened out, topped by the majestic Three Beinns Horseshoe and after a gentle half hour’s paddling the intrepid Jessie approached the shore of Holy Isle for the first time in nearly 80 years. ‘It hasn’t changed much.’ she said and told of wonderful memories of picnics there with her family when she was a girl.

Photos were taken to commemorate the occasion and a beaming Jessie was then brought gently back to dry land. ‘That was absolutely wonderful,’ she said, ‘and something I never thought I’d do again.’ And in typical Jessie fashion she still had the energy for a concert that evening, all the while waxing lyrical about her memorable day out.

Many thanks to all of the ACRC members who made the trip for Jessie possible.

                                                                                                                             Stuart Turner


Jessie sets of for Holy Isle in the skiff. Photo Siobhan McGinlay. NO_B42 jessie02

Jessie lands at Holy Isle for the first time in more than 75 years. Photo David Ingham NO_B42jessie03

Jessie and Stuart at the bow of the skiff. Photo Siobhan McGinlay NO_B42jessie04