Why is Goat Island reputed to be Spanish Territory?

23 12 2008

The story goes back to the autumn of 1588, when the remnants of the Spanish Armada
were heading home the long way. Most of them went round the West Side
and got wrecked in Tolsta Chaolais, but the flagship Las Maracas Negras,
commanded by El Gran Admiral Carlos Menendez de Barli, lost its way and
was blown into Stornoway.

As the Spaniards dropped anchor just off Newton, the Admiral’s eye was
drawn to the Prawn Factory on Goat Island.

“Fleek’s sake, amigos”, ars esan “Gambas por todo el mundo!”. For the Spanish,
whose worldwide empire depended on a secure supply of paella and crustacean-based
tapas, this was a prize greater than all the treasures of Mexico and Peru. They
had gold coming out their ears, but as everyone knows, they hadn’t yet invented
temperature controlled seafood processing plants.

de Barli immediately put a boat ashore at Newton and inquired of the savages
where their chieftain might be found. He was directed to a nearby hut,
distinguished by an ornate totem pole or “lamp post” at the door. A deal was
rapidly concluded, whereby the native chief gifted the Prawn Factory and the
island beneath it to Spain in perpetuity, in return for a gift of coloured
glass beads. (Plus 10000000 used gold ducats, to be deposited in a numbered account
in a discreet Harris bank). A charter was quickly drawn up on the back of an
old Health Board expenses form and the chief affixed his mark, throwing in
the Town Hall, the Callanish Stones and the airport as a goodwill gesture.

de Barli planted a Spanish flag on Goat Island and sailed home,
confident that some good had come of the whole Aramada burach after all.
However, when he returned some months later to load up the first of his empty
prawn galleons, the manager of the Prawn factory denied all knowledge of the
arrangement and told him to fleek off.

Needless to say, the chief and the gold ducats were nowhere to be found, and
on closer inspection, the signature on the charter was found to read
“Domhnall an Tonnag”.

On hearing of the deception, an outraged Philip II of Spain declared war on Newton,
a conflict which has gone unresolved to this day. While the EU keeps a lid on
things these days, older readers may recall the heavily armed Guardia Civil
checkpoint that General Franco stationed at the end of the causeway for most of
the 1960s.

Poor de Barli, meanwhile, gave up all interest in the seafood business and went
off to Argentina to farm sheep and cattle. The rest is history.



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