Skye unveils official flag for island

A new official flag for Skye has been unveiled for the first time.

The new flag for the Isle of Skye has been unveiled. PIC: Contributed.

The flag was revealed at a ceremony at the Nicolson Memorial in Portree today, where it was unfurled before a small selection of guests.

Raising the flag was Calum Alasdair Munro from Kilmuir, 9, whose design will represent the island after it won more than 7,000 votes in a competition organised by West Highland Free Press.

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The boy’s design beat more than 360 entries, some which came in from around the world, and has received official approval from the Court of the Lord Lyon, which regulates heraldry in Scotland.

Calum Alasdair Munro, 9, beat almost 370 entries to have his flag represent the island. His design drawns on Skye's Viking and Celtic history and represents the island's main clans. PIC: Contributed.

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The flag brings together elements of the island’s Viking and Celtic heritage and depicts a birlinn boat with five oars – one for every area of the island.

Calum was sworn to secrecy about his winning design with the great reveal delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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.”

On his design, he added: “First, I thought of the Birlinn boat and I was thinking about the MacLeods and MacDonalds and the MacKinnons – the first Clans on Skye.

" 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 MacDonalds or the MacKinnons.”

Island leaders hope the design will become instantly recognisable with the design used to sell merchandise on Skye and promote its unique identity. It follows on from similar projects to design flags for Barra and the Uists.

The process to design a flag for Skye has been overseen by Philip Tibbets, the Honorary Vexillologist Court of the Lord Lyon.

He said: “This Skye flag is a testament to engaging the creativity of the community itself.

"The design not only meets heraldic best practice but puts a unique and new spin on a traditional style - and in so doing combines the Scottish, Gàidhlig and Norse heritage of Skye.”

Keith Mackenzie, the editor of the West Highland Free Press, said he delighted with the result and they way islanders got on board with the search for a flag.

Mr Mackenzie said: “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 reflects Skye as a jewel of Scotland.”

“We thought it was important, right from the outset, to engage as many people locally as we could. 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 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, Skye Connect to petition the court of the Lord Lyon.

The competition launched last Autumn with 369 designs submitted – over 200 of them from local children - while other designs came in from across the globe.

A short list of six flags, which best symbolised the island, was drawn up by community representatives with a public vote organised by the newspaper, with more than 7,000 people taking part.

Alistair Danter is the Project Manager for SkyeConnect, which promotes business and tourism on the island said: “The West Highland Free Press have already started producing flags, which businesses will be encouraged to fly. We will be producing T-shirts and other merchandise incorporating the design.”

Proceeds from the sale of Skye Flags by the WHFP will go to Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers.