Wednesday, 2 February 2011


Update 3.02.11: I WON!!!

January 2011 has seen a flurry of press articles on the continued awards I have won on behalf of my People and Songs of the Sea project (my multimedia celebratiion of the fishing community's culture and heritage). Many friends have contacted me to ask - "Have you seen that article?" "Do you have a copy I could look at?" Therefore, it seemed a good idea to gather together a flavour of the recent press so interested folks can read it as they wish. Also, this gives me the opportunity to say thanks to all who have contacted me, to mention how lovely it's been to share the excitement of these awards with friends and the special people who have encouraged me in my work. Of course, as ever I'd like to take the opportunity to express my thanks to the fisher folk who have let me photograph them and share their stories through my exhibitions in Scotland and on line around the world. In truth, it is a sad fact that there is little to celebrate in our fishing industry just now as it faces these hardest of economic times. Nevertheless, I feel relieved to have done the best I can to at least document this changing culture for future generations to learn about through the album, my photos and writing. As ever, my thanks to the fishing community. It's an honour to document and respectfully share people's photos and I am proud to have opened 2010 by winning the album award and now, the latest project recognition.

Decade Award won and presented to me in 2011

So, 2011? Well, January has been an eventful month! On Radio Liveireland, the year began with their best of the Decade programme on which it was announced my People and Songs of the Sea had won their creative project of the Decade award. The broadcast featured music by award winners in 15 categories - to hear the LIVEIRELAND DECADE SHOW please click the link (People and Songs of the Sea begins at the 35 minute mark but ALL the music is VERY well worth listening to so do sit back and give it a play!).

10.01.11 At the Irish Consulate, Shona McMillan presented with
an award certificate from Susan Conlon, Consul General of Scotland

As the story broke, the first paper to run a feature on it was the Berwickshire News and East Lothian Herald, a paper covering the news from East Lothian, through the Scottish Borders to the north of England. To access the story on their website you can click through to the BERWICKSHIRE NEWS their article talking about my project but also highlighting the current difficulties in the local Eyemouth fishing industry and the sad depletion of Scotland's fishing fleet.

Berwickshire News - click to enlarge photo

In East Lothian, the story ran in the EAST LOTHIAN COURIER with comments from locals including retired fisherman Archie Johnston. (And, from my earlier Blog SCOTTISH FISHING IN CRISIS you can play my video about the fishing boat "the Beulah", one of many, having to be sold off and its very sad final departure from Port Seton).

The Courier's photo (taken by their photographer on an incredibly windy day) shows me at Port Seton, East Lothian. Here, so many of my photos have been taken - the fishermen now well used to me turning up with my camera and photographing them at all hours of the day and in all seasons. Photographing them as they work along the harbour or in the net shed mending their nets and getting the boats ready for sea or, on their return, when the boats come home and land their catch.  Getting to know these hardworking people so well I can now read their expressions, the concern for their livelihood which can be apparent behind their welcoming smiles when the boats return after a very long night's hard work with a catch that is miserably poor in light of the high fuel costs they have, harbour dues, quotas and discarding legislation that they must adhere to... Sadly tho,' the socio-ecomic consequences of what I am photographing is not a story to get covered by all newspapers and it saddens me that some completely fail to even touch on the problems faced by the industry.

The story of what is happening in Scotland is also a story being similarly played out in Ireland. Indeed, many Irish fishermen have read my online postings and share their stories with me. Boats in Ireland also unable to sustain a living. Fishermen face the inevitable decision to continue or sell-up. Yet, stories also come back to me of boats up for sale but not being bought because of the numbers leaving the fishing at this time). The Irish aspect of People and Songs of the Sea touched on by the IRISH POST below.

In addition to award stories, Press interest in my work has been an opportunity to try and gather more information about the specific old family photo used for the People and Songs of the Sea album cover.

Newspapers the Musselburgh News and the East Lothian News both covered the personal story behind my project. The album cover shows a photograph my mum left me. Dressed in her Fisherrow fisher lassie's costume my mum, with family and friends, is collecting for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (the photo taken around 1936 in front of Fisherrow Harbour). The photo shows my mum, second from the right, her sister Wilma, far right and holding the boat. Second from the left is my Aunt Chris who passed away, Christmas 2010 (the sad news coming to me on the same day as the anniversary of my mum's passing in 2006). Accordingly, now that my own family members in the picture are gone, it will only be if someone else connected to the photo comes forward that I will learn the names of these unknown fisher faces.  Now in their eighties or nineties, time is running out for me to track down these women but I am sure that "out there" someone in the fishing community will know. Through my project, so many things have happened I could never have imagined eg: relations scattered around the world coming across my postings and getting in touch. And, a song my great grandfather recorded in 1928 making its way back to me from an American archive, crossing the miles and the years to come home. In these ongoing cultural connections, who can tell what this post may one day bring forth out of the online sea of opportunity that is today's truly remarkable world wide web.

As papers, such as the Fishing News above, other press and media continue to support and carry news of my project - the decline in the fishing industry won't be reversed but at least the cultural value of the fishing community will not just fade away in silence. Our nation's cultural heritage has helped make us who we are today. Therefore, it is essentila that we preserve our cultural heritage for future generations so that they too can look back (as I have) to know from where it was that their family's roots began.

You can keep up to date with my People and Songs of the Sea project through my online "Shona McMillan Celtic Reflections" sites and People and Songs of the Sea postings through my: FACEBOOK PAGE YOUTUBE CHANNEL, my BLOG and PEOPLE OF THE SEA GROUP.
In addition, for those who wish to purchase from me a copy of PEOPLE AND SONGS OF THE SEA  you can contact me directly through this blog, my website or buy the CD from  GREENTRAX RECORDINGS
Album Award won and presented to me in 2010

Thanks for visiting: SHONA MCMILLAN CELTIC REFLECTIONS and please feel free to rate my Blog or post any comments you have in the box below. Also, if you think others may find this of interest, please suggest to them that they visit my site. You can also directly invite your friends to join my Blog through Facebook or by sending them the link 
Kind regards, Shona McMillan.


  1. Brilliant!! Best wishes for the nomination!

  2. Well done Shona, a really excellent blog. X