33 – John Holliday – Tiree

This episode takes our first foray away from Mull, Iona, Ulva and Gometra and takes us over to Tiree where I talk with John Holliday.
John was the doctor on the island for 30 years and is often known as ‘Doc’.

Originally from the England, John lived in Australia before settling on Tiree. We talk about his work in Australia with the Pintupi people, the choice of coming to live and work on Tiree, the nature of rural locations, his engagement with local Gaelic culture, the place names of the island and the remarkable Ringing Stone, a feature of the island which has had 6 thousand years of continuous human use.
There’s also a section in Gaelic, in which we talk about characters of the island, which then leads us into place names.

Throughout the episode you’ll hear a tune that John wrote for his son, called Michael John’s Reel. The tune was recorded in 2018 at the Tiree Fèis Tutor’s Ceilidh. It features the wonderful Màrtainn Skene on the box, Dr John Holliday on flute, Kenny Rankin on guitar and Anna Garvin on keys.

I was across on Tiree to work with feis-thiriodh.com/ Check them out, they do really great work!

Thanks for listening!

Episode Links:


Pintupi Homelands Health Service
Interesting article about health care for indigenous Australians

Traditional Medicine in Australia

Humpy shelters

Dunbar Number / Groups

Donald Meek’s book The Secret Island has a brilliant work on the Gaelic dialects of Coll and Tiree.  It’s well worth seeking out for a fascinating series of perspectives on the island.

Tiree Place Names

Longships on the Sand –  John’s book about the Norse place names of Tiree.  A new version is coming soon.

Dun Mor Vaul

Ringing Stone
More info on the ringing stone

Fionn MacCumhaill

Scottish Rock Art Project

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