The first-ever official flag for the Isle of Skye was raised in Portree today following a 15-month process which attracted 369 entries and more than 7,000 public votes.
The winning design was created by nine-year-old Calum Alasdair Munro from Kilmuir on Skye, who raised the flag at an official and socially-distant unfurling ceremony at the Nicolson memorial.
Winning designer Calum was told of his success last week but had been sworn to secrecy until the official launch.
He said: “I was feeling very happy, but I haven’t told any of my friends in school. I have just told Granny. She was very happy.”
Calum has a passion for collecting flags and drew his inspiration from the island’s history and heritage.
“First, I thought of the Birlinn (Wooden boat used in the Hebrides in the middle ages) and I was thinking about the MacLeod’s and MacDonald’s and the MacKinnon’s – the first clans on Skye,” he said.
“I thought about the Celtic heritage, the Viking heritage, and the history of Flora MacDonald. In my flag, in the Birlinn there are five oars representing Trotternish, Waternish, Duirinish, Minginish, and Sleat. I thought about yellow for the MacLeod’s and blue for the MacDonald’s or the MacKinnon’s.”
Free Press editor, Keith MacKenzie was the organiser of the Skye flag competition. He said he was delighted with the result and the fact that the search for a flag has had such a high level of local engagement.
“It is a tremendous design but the other thing that struck people is what it meant. It pulls together so many elements of Skye.
“There are notes to Christianity, there are notes to our Celtic heritage, to our Nordic heritage, to the clans. And also, the colours themselves reflect Skye as a jewel of Scotland.”
“We thought it was important, right from the outset, to engage as many people locally as we could.”
He added: “The people who came up with the idea and launched the competition were from Skye, the vast majority of the entries came from Skye, the voting was from people on Skye or associated with Skye and we have a local winner as well.
“People may like or dislike the flag but I don’t think anyone can argue against the process of finding the design.”
The Free Press has already started producing flags, which businesses will be encouraged to fly.
Proceeds from the sale of Skye flags by the Free Press will go to Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers.
The search for a flag for Skye began in May 2019 when the West Highland Free Press joined forces with Highland Council and destination management organisation, SkyeConnect to petition the court of the Lord Lyon – the body responsible for recording and protecting all heraldry, flags and national symbols in Scotland.
The competition launched last autumn, prompted a terrific response, with 369 designs submitted – over 200 of them from local children – while other designs came in from across the globe.
A panel of community representatives then had the very difficult task of drawing up a shortlist of six flags, which they felt best symbolised the island, and the six were then put to a public vote – conducted through the pages of the WHFP and its website whfp.com.
For more on the Skye flag pick up your copy of this week’s Free Press – out on Thursday. Or go paper-free and subscribe by clicking on our logo below.