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Post details Post   (Contract pics)
weedavie
2007-10-04 13:20:55
Babel
P.D.Tempan in his fascinating article on hill names across the Celtic lands (http://mountainviews.ie/features/names/intnames2/TempanMtnNamesInter2.htm)asked for examples of Corran outside Ireland. I got confused because I thought he was just looking for hills and there aren't necessarily lots of mountains of the sickle (Carrauntoohil). But he's said he's happy with any geographical feature so let me throw in the Erse corran - primary meaning a sickle but further down comes a promontory - tends to get attached to a narrow tidal place but emphasises that the meaning is the jutting piece of land that causes the rip rather then the water flow itself. Also in the north-west it's the raised sand or gravel bar where a river deposits into a loch or the sea. Anyway place names such as Corran (the headland on the west where the ferry from Ardgour runs across Loch Linnhe) or Corran (a river mouth spit below Beinn Sgritheal) are cases in point.

What put me on to this was reading Iain Thomson's Isolation Shepherd. This is a memoir of shepherding at the end of Loch Monar in the late 50s. It's a desolate spot, now flooded by the creation of the Monar Dam in 1960. 5 of the hardest to get Munros (all highly attractive) lie round the loch end, so a lot of us have been privileged to look down on the site of the book. His home was connected to the road that eventually connected to civilisation by boat transport on the loch. The corran, the sand spit which was mostly underwater unless the loch was low is key to many tales, whether getting cattle across the head of the loch or running the boat across it with a blizzard blowing. Go on read it, it's a tale of a vanished lifestyle.

The Monar Dam which swept it all away was part of the Scottish Hydro-Electric project and could maybe give us pause for thought about the current windpower craze. While its social program was half-realised, it brought electricity to the highlands and islands, it didn't bring industry and after construction finished didn't supply employment. Scotland doesn't really have big enough river basins to support hydro power so it's mostly not dependable enough. Sure, it's now there and green enough in it's way but was it worth it? The jury's out. The wind-farm enthusiasm doesn't even have the undoubted social agenda that drove the hydro boys. It's more like factory forestry, a tax-break for a new century.
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