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A Write Highland Hoolie!

Mallaig Book Festival 



We were thrilled to hold A Write Highland Hoolie, over the weekend of 12th-14th November last year. The Covid regulations still in place were rigidly adhered to, and everyone was kept safe during what we consider to be our most successful event yet. 


We had a superb line-up of authors providing something for all tastes, from the winner of the Polar Medal, 91-year-old Myrtle Simpson, to the best-selling crime writer Chris Brookmyre and cookery writer and whisky expert Ghillie Basan. Our unique opening event meant that tickets were in high demand and quickly sold out. The popular television presenter and filmmaker Paul Murton talked about his latest book, The Highlands, with revered musicians Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier, who played tunes appropriate to the places Paul discussed. This different format proved highly successful. We are keen to continue ensuring that we have many different facets to other book festivals, for this is what sets us apart. 


The blend of excellent writing and superb traditional music led to us starting a new arm of the festival – The Hoolie School of Music Sessions to help encourage excellence in traditional music in the younger generation. Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier held a workshop for senior music students in Mallaig High School, and during the session, the pupils composed and recorded their own tune. Music teacher, Lauren Moir, commented that this was a fabulous opportunity for her pupils, and it helped to give them confidence. Mallaig High School produces many acclaimed traditional musicians who go on to make successful professional music careers. We are keen to encourage this and where funding allows, continue to have music workshops annually. 


Other literary events included memoir from Leonie Charlton, nature from Polly Pullar and Tom Bowser, crime writing from E.S. Thomson, and an event on Scotland's Lighthouses from Donald S. Murray accompanied by Gaelic singing from Anne Martin of Skye. Donald also had a Gaelic session for High School pupils. Chris Brookmyre spoke to pupils as well while literary agent Jenny Brown and interviewer Lee Randall held a session for senior pupils regarding careers in aspects of writing and literature. Vivian French visited both the primary and High Schools and talked to senior art pupils about careers in illustration. 


Publisher and award-winning children's author Alan Windram held an event in Mallaig primary school. He also provided entertainment – music, song and dance, during our grand finale primary school tea party and prize giving. As 2021 was the Year of Coasts and Water, we chose the theme for both creative writing and art competitions 'Lighthouses'. 


While Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier played after dinner again on the Friday night, we were very fortunate to have acclaimed husband and wife musicians, Ingrid Henderson and Iain MacFarlane on Saturday night. 


The importance of involving all ages of the community remains crucial, and we want to continue our expansion into the schools this year. Plans are already well underway for A Write Highland Hoolie to be held over the weekend of 11th November. 


Feedback forms from last year had two comments of which we are particularly proud. They perfectly summarise all we set out to achieve: 


 'This is a fabulous event that cleverly manages to retain a West Highland atmosphere and charm, unique in today’s stressful world.’ 


‘The Hoolie is guaranteed to raise the lowest spirits and is inspirational, educational and leads to the forging of wonderful new friendships, I cannot wait to see what you have on the agenda when I return in 2022.'


A Write Highland Hoolie 2022

Friday November 11th- Sunday November 13th  

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