In advance of his recent 100th birthday party, Lewisman Donald MacAskill was welcomed aboard a CalMac ferry and presented with a captain’s hat.
A resident in An Acarsaid care home in Broadford, Skye, ‘Dolan’ as he is known, was asked by staff what he wanted for his special birthday He was proud to wear his answer at Armadale Pier, where he was greeted on the MV Loch Nevis by master and fellow Lewisman Iain Mackenzie, who lives in Kyleakin.
As well as the cap, Dolan was also given a bag of CalMac goodies.
Born on 6th February 1922 at Flesherin, Point, Dolan worked with his dad making Harris Tweed before getting an apprenticeship with a bakery in Stornoway.
However, his ambition was always to join the Merchant Navy, which he did in 1939 in Glasgow.
Not long after, he joined the crew of the British-India ship SS Manela which sailed to South Africa during World War Two.
Dolan said: “I also went to America, Canada and Australia while at sea and could be away for up to two years at a time, but it was always great to get on the boat in Glasgow and head home to Lewis.
“I returned to Lewis for a time after the war and spent many happy years living with my sister Mary Ann down in Back. I loved going down to the pier and watching the ferries come and go when we went to town, many a journey I enjoyed with CalMac.
“I have a small picture of the ‘Sulivan’ in my room – the sea and boats have always given me so much joy.”
Master Mackenzie added: “It was a pleasure to help Dolan mark his special birthday, we were delighted to welcome him on board.
“He is a really interesting character who has travelled the world, and me and the crew were privileged to talk to him and listen to his wonderful stories.
“I am from Aird, a nearby village in Point, and it was my pleasure to present the hat and goodies to a fellow rubhach.”
Last Sunday (6th February), Dolan enjoyed his birthday party in An Acarsaid, surrounded by family and friends and delighted members of staff. The Lord Lieutenant of Ross and Cromarty, Joanie Whiteford, also visited as Dolan received his card from the Queen.
Care home manager Margaret Mackinnon told the Free Press it is a pleasure to have Dolan staying in An Acarsaid.
“He loves good banter and is keen on his music,” she added. “He plays the mouth organ and the piano and especially loves listening and dancing to ceilidh music. He also loves listening to the accordion.
“He is a huge character with us here at An Acarsaid and has a quiet, happy outlook on life.
“He enjoys his Golden Virginia smokes and a nice dram. Dolan participates in all our activities and remains a very competitive dominoes player. He loves to win and is loved by all.”
Article by MICHAEL RUSSELL