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Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Section VIII. The Western Isles and Cantyre
C. Islands of Islay and Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay

East Tarbert; Isthmus of Tarbert; West Loch Tarbert, 1.—Sound of Islay; Port Askaig, 2.—General Description of Islay; Fertility; Productions; Cattle; Fish; Lead and Silver Mines; Whisky; Inhabitants, their Circumstances and Character; Villages; Coasts of Islay, 3.—Historical Sketch of the Kings or Lords of the Isles, 4.— Macdonalds of Islay, 5.—Antiquities; Castles and Forts; Macdonald's Guards; Destruction of the last gang of them; Dunes, or Burghs; Hiding-Places; Chapels and Crosses; Tombstones; Monumental Stones and Cairns; Pingwald; Relics, 6.—Hostile Descents on Islay, 7.—Port Askaig to Bridgend; Islay House, 8. —Sunderland House and Portnahaven, 9—N. W. Coast; Cave of Saneg More; Wreck of the Exmouth; Princess Polignae's Birthplace; Loch Gruinart, 10.Bowmore, 11.—Promontory and Bay of Lagean; Mull of Oe; Cave of Sloc M'haol Doraidh; Port Ellinor; Laggavoulin; Ardmore; 12.—Jura; General Description; Animals; Antiquities, 13.—Corryvreckan,14.—Colonsay and Oronsay; Monastery, and Cross, 15.

1. A REGULAR steam-boat communication is now established from West Loch Tarbert to Isla and Jura. The Glasgow and Islay steamer calls twice a-week at Port Askaig. The new steamer " Islay" arrives at Islay from Glasgow, doubling the Mull of Cantyre, every Thursday, and sails from Port Askaig in Islay, on Friday, to West Tarbert, returning to Bowmore the capital of Islay, the same evening. Generally, too, this boat makes a second voyage to Port Askaig and Tarbert on Saturday. She leaves for Glasgow, round the Mull of Cantyre, on Monday afternoon. On landing at East Tarbert, supposing the traveller proceeding from Loch Fyne, two comfortable inns will be found, situated in a picturesque, small, crowded, village, built almost entirely on a naked or barren rock, and manifestly depending more on fishing and other marine resources than on any agricultural capabilities. In the neighbourhood, to the eastward, is presented prominently to the stranger's eye, the interesting ruin of the Castle of Tarbert, the walls of which are still pretty entire, although large portions have fallen within the last three or four years; nor will he, on inquiry, be at a loss to have traditions respecting it rehearsed to him. The traveller bound for Islay leaves East Tarbert, and proceeds to West Tarbert, a distance of scarcely two miles, lying across the low isthmus connecting the peninsula of Cantyre with Knapdale, and which is said to have been formerly protected by two other castles similar to that at East Tarbert, one in the centre and another at the western extremity. Magnus Barefoot, of Norway, is reported to have had, in 1093, a formal cession made to him of the Western Isles, then already under his sway, by the Scottish monarch; and he is said, on that occasion, to have caused a galley to be transported with great pomp across the isthmus, that Cantyre might be brought within the letter of his treaty. At West Tarbert there is no village, but a pier or quay has been built for the accommodation of passengers, and the shipping of goods for the steam-packet. The sail down West Loch Tarbert, which is about ten miles in length, and bears all the appearance of a peaceful fresh-water lake, is a highly delightful one. Hills of moderate elevation slope gently from its waters, rich with woods and cultivated lands, and ornamented with numerous farmhouses and cottages, and handsome country seats and villas, presenting scenery peculiarly lively, picturesque, and diversified. The principal residences are Dippen Cottage, Stonefield House, Grassfield, Kilhammaig, and Kintarbet, on the east, and Escairt House, Dunmore, and Ardpatrick on the opposite side, almost all of which belong to families of the name of Campbell. About midway, on the west, near Stonefield, is the village of Laggavoulin and Whitehouse Inn, and towards the lower extremity the Clachan or Kirkton and church of Kilcalmonell, and a little beyond, the hill of Dunscaith, on which are the traces of a vitrified fort. The sail across to Port Askaig, in Islay, is about twenty-three miles, On passing Ardpatrick Point, the appearance of the bleak, sombre, heathy hills of Cantyre and Argyle is quite uninteresting, and the passenger will feel no reluctance in being carried away from the coast. In the views in front, the lofty conical mountains, called the Paps of Jura, form conspicuous objects, picturesque in the distance, but loosing their interest on a nearer approach. Jura, as the vessel draws nigh, continues, for the distance of some miles, in seaman's phrase, to be "kept on board" off the starboard bow and quarter.


2. The sound of Islay is in the centre about a mile in width, and is lined by abrupt but not very high cliffs. It is remarkable for the close correspondence of the opposing shores, and the great rapidity of its tides; and the navigation is rather dangerous. On entering the Sound, a strong current is perceptible, which, in a spring tide, if it happens to be adverse, with any considerable strength of wind also a-head, will impede very considerably even the power of steam, while the cross and short sea raised by the current, may even create alarm to an indifferent sailor. The island of Islay now becoming "tangible to sight," presents no very interesting or promising appearance. The coast seems bleak and bluff, without rising into the dignity of real hill or mountain, and presenting little else than the stunted and heathy vegetation of Alpine scenery. Here the eye is more relieved by the scene presented in the offing of the Sound, which seems studded with a lively group of islands, being Colonsay, with its smaller tributaries. The landing-place of Port Askaig is soon made, where there is a secure haven and a good pier; and a tolerably comfortable and commodious inn greets the passenger's arrival. After the dreariness which threatened the stranger's approach, he is surprised, on landing at Port Askaig, to find himself at once nestled securely among well-grown trees and, planting; the face of the hill above the inn, and some of the adjoining grounds, which rise abruptly from the sea, being well clad with wood.

3. Islay is about thirty miles long by twenty-four in extreme breadth. On the south it is deeply indented by an arm of the sca, called Loch-in-Daal, extending about twelve miles in length, and terminated by the Point of Rinns on the west, and on the east by the Moille of Keannouth, or Mull of Oe. This opening has no great depth of water, but is much resorted to by shipping. About midway, on the east side, Loch-in-Daal widens out greatly towards the Mull of Oe, which is opposite the Point of Rinns, forming a capacious bay called Laggan. Port Askaig is situated about the centre of a high tract of micaceous schist. From either extremity of this tract, a broad ridge of hills of quartz rocks extends southward; on the east, to the Mull of Oe, and on the west, to Loch Groinart, not reaching much further than the head of Loch-in-Daal. The northern central portion is composed of fine limestone rock, disposed in rocky eminences or irregular undulations. An ample and fertile alluvial plain encompasses the upper portion of Loch-in-Daal from Laggan Bay, with the exception of a stripe of clay-slate, bordering the west side of the loch and this level ground, which, where not cultivated, is covered with peat, extends in a broad belt, along the termination of the western hilly range, to that side of the island. The rest of the adjoining peninsula declines from the ridge of low hills which skirts the western coast, in fine arable slopes to the shores of Loch-in-Daal. The northern and western hills are of moderate height and easy inclination, and are covered with heath, pasture, and fern. Those on the east are more elevated and rocky. There is a great variety of soil throughout the island, but it is generally fertile and well cultivated. Islay, of all the Hebrides, is, beyond comparison, the richest in natural capabilities, and the most productive. Perhaps more than one half of its whole surface might be advantageously reduced to regular tillage and cropping. The facilities for improvement are great ; and in no portion, probably, of Scotland, have these advantages of late years been more successfully cultivated; and a steady pursuit of the course of improvement is still in progress in Islay. This island is celebrated for its breed and numbers of cattle and horses. It belonged chiefly to Mr. Campbell of Islay and Shawfield, but is now under the management of trustees, and the estate is in the market, bond-holders and personal creditors having claims upon it to the amount of upwards of 700,000. The coast, especially about Portnahaven, abounds with fish. To the north-west of Port-Askaig, lead-mines were at one time wrought, and with success. The ore is said to have been unusually fine, and the late proprietor of Islay could use the rare boast of having a proportion of his family plate manufactured from silver found on his own domains. But the mines here have partaken of the fatality that seems incident to all mining speculations on the north and west coast of Scotland, and they have, accordingly, been abandoned for many years. Whisky is a great staple commodity of this island. Its distillation has for some years been carried on to a very large extent, and there has, of late, been a yearly revenue of fully 30,000 realised to government from distilleries in this island alone. More than the half of the grain producing this suin in duties is imported.

Islay is much exposed to winds, having little or no wood, except young plantations, and the climate is moist. The proprietors are generally alive to the importance of extending among the population the benefits of education. The Gaelic language is universally spoken throughout the island ; but, as is now the case in less open parts of the Highlands and islands, it seems rapidly giving way to the introduction of English. The habits of the population, with respect to industry and sobriety, are of late years materially improved. The nefarious and morally destructive trade of illicit distillation used to be carried on among them to a very great extent; but the introduction of legal distilleries, and the steady discountenance which this traffic has received from the present proprietors, have well-nigh put an end to it, and with it to many of its injurious consequences.

The population amounts to about 13,000, and the island comprehends three parishes, Killarrow, Kilchoman, and Kildalton. To these there have been superadded, by the late Parliamentary grant, three government churches. Three new and substantial places of worship have also been erected by the Free Church party, since the Disruption, in 1843. A branch of the National Bank of Scotland has been established at Bridgend, near Islay House, the princely mansion of the late proprietor. Islay contains a respectable small town, Bowmore, situated on the east side, and towards the head of Loch-in-Daal, and distant about three miles from Islay House, and eleven from Port-Askaig ; and also two or three villages; as Portnahaven, at the Point of Rinns, the western extremity of the loch, distant seventeen miles from Islay House; and Port-Ellinor and Lagganmhoiullin or Laggavoulin, on the east coast, about thirteen and fifteen miles from Bowmore; and Port-Charlotte on the north-west side of Loch-in-Daal.

The coasts of Islay consist chiefly of low rocks and sandy beach. On the west there is hardly any anchorage, except in Loch Gruinart, an arm of the sea, stretching into the alluvial deposit which extends across from the head of Loch-in-Deal. There are several small bays on the east, but they are dangerous of approach, from sunken rocks. The coasts in general are nowise particularly interesting, except about Saneg, on the west, where there are several large caves, one especially, with a labyrinth of passages; and the Mull of Oe, where the cliffs rise to a great height, and in -which there is another large cave, that of Sloe Mhaol Doraidh, on the farm of Grastle.

4. Islay is not a little interesting from the historical associations connected with the remains of antiquity which it presents, in the ruins of its old castles, forts, and chapels. It was a chief place of residence of the celebrated Lords, or rather Kings, of the Isles, and afterwards of a near and powerful branch of the family of the great Macdonald. The original seat of the Scottish monarchy was Cantyre, and the capital is supposed to have been in the immediate vicinity of the site of Campbelltown. In the ninth century it was removed to Forteviot, near the east end of Strathearn, in Perthshire. Shortly afterwards, the Western Isles and coasts, which had then become more exposed to the hostile incursions of the Scandinavian Vikingr, were completely reduced under the sway of Harold IIarfager, of Denmark. Harold established a viceroy in the Isle of Man. In the beginning of the twelfth century, Somerled, a powerful chieftain of Cantyre, married Effrica, a daughter of Olaus or Olave, the swarthy viceroy or King of Man, a descendant of Harold Harfager, and assumed the independent sovereignty of Cantyre; to which he added, by conquest, Argyle and Lorn, with several islands contiguous thereto and to Cantyre. Somerled was slain in 1164, in an engagement with Malcolm IV. in Renfrewshire. His possessions on the mainland, excepting Cantyre, were bestowed on his younger son Dugal, from whom sprung the Macdougals of Lorn, who are to this day lineally represented by the family of Dunolly; while the islands and Cantyre descended to Reginald, his elder son. For more than three centuries Somerled's descendants held these possessions, at times as independent princes, and at others as tributaries of Norway, Scotland, and even of England. In the sixteenth century they continued still troublesome, but not so formidable to the royal authority. After the battle of the Largs in 1263, in which IIaco of Norway was defeated, the pretensions of that kingdom were resigned to the Scottish monarchs, for payment of a subsidy of 100 merks. Angus Og, fifth in descent from Somerled, entertained Robert Bruce in his flight to Ireland in his castle of Dunaverty, near the Mull of Cantyre, and afterwards at Dunnavinhaig, in Isla, and fought under his banner at Bannockburn. Bruce conferred on the Macdonalds the distinction of holding the post of honour on the right in battle—the withholding of which at Culloden occasioned a degree of disaffection on their part, in that dying struggle of the Stuart dynasty. This Angus's son, John, called by the Dean of the Isles, "the good John of Isla," had by Amy, great granddaughter of Roderick, son of Reginald, king of Man, three sons, John, Ronald, and Godfrey; and by subsequent marriage with Margaret, daughter of Robert Stuart, afterwards Robert II. of Scotland, other three sons, Donald of the Isles, John Mor the Tainnister, and Alexander Carrach. It is subject of dispute whether the first family were lawful issue or illegitimate ; or had merely been set aside, for they were not called to the chief succession, as a stipulation of the connexion with the royal family, to whom the others were particularly obnoxious ; or, as has been conjectured, from the relationship of the parents being thought too much within the forbidden degrees. The power of John seems to have been singularly great. By successive grants of Robert Bruce to his father, and of David II., BaIiol and Robert II., to himself, he appears to have been in possession or superior of almost the whole western coasts and islands. Ronald is said to have had the chief rule intrusted to him during his father's Iifetime; but on his death he delivered the sceptre to Donald, thereupon called Macdonald, and Donald of the Isles, contrary, it is said, to the opinion of the men of the Isles. From Ronald, who inherited large possessions on the mainland of Inverness-shire and in the Long Island through the death of Ronald Rorison his mother's brother, are descended Macdonald of Clanranald, by Allan of Moidart, and Macdonell of Glengarry (by another Donald), rival competitors with Lord Macdonald of Sleat, descendant of Donald, son of John, for the chieftainship of the clan Coila. The Macdonalds of Keppoch are sprung from Alexander Carrach. Donald of the Isles seems to have taken up his residence in the Sound of Mull, while Islay, holding of him, fell to the share of his brother, John Mor, progenitor of the Antrim family. By marriage with the sister of Alexander Leslie, he became entitled to the estates and earldom of Ross, her niece having taken the veil. Donald, resolved to vindicate his claim, proceeded with a great force in 1411 to Aberdeenshire, defeating on his way the Mackays at Dingwall, and burning the town of Inverness. He was encountered at Harlaw by the Earl of Mar. After a bloody and doubtful contest, both parties retreated.

The inordinate power of these island princes was gradually broken down by the Scottish monarchs in the course of the fifteenth and early part of the sixteenth century. On the death of John, Lord of the Isles and Earl of Ross, grandson of Donald, Hugh of Sleat, John's nearest brother and his descendants became rightful representatives of the family, and so continue. Claim to the title of Lord of the Isles was made by Donald, great-grandson of Hugh of Sleat; but James V. refused to restore the title, deeming its suppression advisable for the peace of the country.

5. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, fierce feuds broke out between the Macdonalds of Islay and the Macleans of Mull. Sir Laughlan Maclean, in 1598, invaded Islay with 1400 men; but he was successfully opposed, at the head of Loch Gruinart, lying to the west of the head of Loch-in-Daal, by Sir James Macdonald, the young chief, his nephew, who had an inferior force of 1000 men; and Maclean was slain, with a number of his followers. Hereupon the inheritance of the Macdonals of Islay and Cantyre was gifted to the Earl of Argyle and the Campbells. Violent struggles ensued between these parties, especially in 1614, 1615, and 1616, when the Macdonalds were finally overpowered, and Sir James obliged to take refuge in Spain; but he was afterwards received into favour. The power of the Macdonalds in Islay, having thus passed into the hands of the Campbells, has never since been recovered, and their sway in Argyleshire has wholly disappeared.

6. The remains of the strongholds of the Macdonalds, in Islay are the following. In Loch Finlagan, a lake about three miles in circumference, three miles from Port Askaig, and a mile off the road to Loch-in-Daal, on the right hand, on an islet, are the ruins of their principal castle or palace and chapel ; and on an adjoining island the Macdonald council held their meetings. There are traces of a pier, and of the habitations of the guards on the shore. A large stone was, till no very distant period, to be seen, on which Macdonald stood, when crowned by the Bishop of Argyle King of the Isles. On an island, in a similar lake, Loch Guirm, to the west of Loch-in-Deal, are the remains of a strong square fort, with round corner towers; and towards the heap: of Loch-in-Deal, on the same side, are vestiges of another dwelling and pier.

Where are thy pristine glories Finlagan!
The voice of mirth has ceased to ring thy walls,
There Celtic lords and their fair ladies sang
Their songs of joy in Great Macdonald's halls.
And where true knights, the flower of chivalry,
Oft met their chiefs in scenes of revelry—
All, all are gone and left thee to repose,
Since a new race and measures new arose.

The Macdonalds had a body guard of 500 men, of whose quarters there are marks still to be seen on the banks of the loch. For their personal services they had lands, the produce of which fed and clothed them. They were formed into two divisions. The first was called Ceatharnaich, and composed of the very tallest and strongest of the islanders. Of these, sixteen, called Buannachan, constantly attended their lord wheresoever he went, even in his rural walks, and one of them denominated "Gille 'shiabadh dealt" headed the party. This piece of honourable distinction was conferred upon him on account of his feet being of such size and form as, in his progress, to cover the greatest extent of ground, and to shake the dew from the grass preparatory to its being trodden by his master. These Buannachan enjoyed certain privileges, which rendered them particularly obnoxious to their countrymen. The last gang of them was destroyed in the following manner by one Macphail in the Rings:—Seeing Macdonald and his men coming, he set about splitting the trunk of a tree, in which he had partly succeeded by the time they had reached. He requested the visitors to lend a hand. So, eight on each side, they took hold of the partially severed splits; on doing which Macphu . removed the wedges which had kept open the slit, which now cloyed on their fingers, holding them hard and fast in the rustic man-trap. Macphail and his three sons equipped themselves from the armour of their captives, compelled them to eat a lusty dinner, and then beheaded them, leaving their master to return in safety. Macphail and his sons took shelter in Ireland. The other division of these 500 were called Gillean-glasa, and their post was within the outer walls of their fastnesses. These forms were so constructed that the Gillean-glasa might fight in the outer breach, whilst their lords, together with their guests, were enjoying themselves in security within the walls and especially within the impenetrable fortifications of Finlagan. [Descriptive and Historical Sketches of Islay, by William Macdonald, A.M., M.D.]

On French Isle, in the Sound, are the ruins of Claig Castle, a square tower, defended by a deep ditch, which at once served as a prison and a protection to the passage. At Laggavoulin Bay, an inlet on the east coast, and on the opposite side to the village, on a large peninsular rock, stands part of the walls of a round substantial stone burgh or tower, protected on the land side by a thick earthen mound. It is called Dun Naomhaig, or Dunnivaig (such is Gaelic orthography). There are ruins of several houses beyond the mound, separated from the main building by a strong wall. This may have been a Danish structure, subsequently used by the Macdonalds, and it was one of their strongest naval stations. There are remains of several such strongholds in the same quarter. The ruins of one are to be seen on an inland hill, Dun Borreraig, with walls twelve feet thick, and fifty-two feet in diameter inside, and having a stone seat two feet high round the area. As usual, there is a gallery in the midst of the wall. Another had occupied the summit of Dun Aidh, a large, high, and almost inaccessible rock near the Mull. Between Loch Guirm and Saneg, and south of Loch Gruinart, at Dun Bheolain (Vollan), there are a series of rocks, projecting one behind another into the sea, with precipitous seaward fronts, and defended on the land side by cross dykes; and in the neighbourhood numerous small pits in the earth, of a size to admit of a single person seated. These are covered by fiat stones, which were concealed by sods.

There are also several ruins of chapels and places of worship in Islay, as in many other islands. The names of fourteen founded by the Lords of the Isles might be enumerated. Indeed, most of the names, especially of parishes of the west coast, have some old ecclesiastical allusion. In the ancient burying-ground of Kildalton, a few miles south-west of the entrance of the Sound, are two large, but clumsily sculptured stone crosses. In this quarter, near the Bay of Knock, distinguished by a high Sugarloaf-shaped hill, are two large upright flag-stones, called the two stones of Islay, reputed to mark the burying-place of Yula, a Danish princess, who gives the island its name. In the churchyard of Killarrow, near Bowmore, there was a prostrate column, rudely sculptured; and, among others, two gravestones, one with the figure of a warrior, habited in a sort of tunic reaching to the knees, and a conical head-dress. His hand holds a sword, and by his side is a dirk. The decoration of the other is a large sword, surrounded by a wreath of leaves ; and at one end the figures of three animals. This column has been removed from its resting-place and set up in the centre of a battery erected near Islay House some years ago. Monumental stones, as well as cairns and barrows, occur elsewhere; and there is said to be a specimen of a circular mound with successive terraces, resembling the tynewalds, or judgment-seats, of the Isle of Man, and almost unique in the Western Islands. Stone and brass hatchet-shaped weapons or celts, elf-shots or flint arrow-heads, and brass fibulae, have been frequently dug up.

7. In later days, Islay was distinguished by a visit from the French squadron under Admiral Thurot, in 1760, which put in in distress for provisions, for which, however, the Admiral honourably paid. Again, in the autumn of 1778, the notorious Paul Jones made a descent here. In the Sound he captured the West Tarbert and Islay packet. Among the passengers was a Major Campbell, a native of the island, just returned from India where he had realised an independence, the bulk of which he had with him in gold and valuables, and the luckless officer was reduced in a moment from affluence to comparative penury. Of much more recent occurrence was the appearance in Loch-in-Daal on 4th October 1813, of an American privateer of twenty-six guns, with a crew of 260 men. "The True Blooded Yankee," by which a crowd of merchant vessels which, happeriod to be lying in Port Charlotte was rifled, and then set on fire, occasioning a loss estimated at some hundred thousand pounds. It is some satisfaction to know that this piratically named craft was subsequently made prize of and condemned.

The genuine Islaymen, are to this day remarkable for size and goodliness of person, and the body of clansmen who accompanied Islay to welcome her Majesty at Inverary in 1847 attracted peculiar notice.

8. We proceed now to conduct the reader through the island. Leaving the inn of Port Askaig, the road winds up a ravine or gully, for nearly a mile, exciting hopes that the wayfarer has really been conducted to fairy-land. These, however, soon cease; for, on making the summit of this ravine, the country again becomes bare and exposed, but presenting an appearance of abundant and rich vegetation, with marks of successful culture around. After traversing four or five miles, the country assumes a still improved appearance. The government church and manse of Kilmenny are passed on the left, and after about four miles more travelling, we reach the inn of Bridgend. Previous to this, however, the sea is seen on the opposite coast of Islay, flowing into the spacious Bay of Lochin-Daal, which forms a very interesting and lively object, running straight inward from the Irish Channel, a distance, from the Point of the Rinns to Islay House, of at least twelve or fourteen miles. Before arriving at Bridgend, the appearance of the country, particularly to the left, strikes a stranger as rich, beautiful, and interesting, varied in surface, and forming principally a strath or glen, watered by a considerable stream, interspersed with thriving plantations of larch and other trees. From Bridgend, a pretty good view is had of Islay House, or, as it is here called by the natives, The White JIouse. This mansion is surrounded, especially in front, by a very extensive and level lawn, with the ground gently rising, and well wooded behind. The house is on a large and princely scale, the pleasure-grounds and gardens extensive and embellished. Towards Bridgend, to the left of Islay House, stood formerly the village of Killarrow.

From Bridgend the touirst may easily make a short and interesting excursion to .Loch Finlagan, which lies north-east from Islay House about five miles, and on an island in which are to be seen the ruins, as already mentioned, of a principal residence of the Kings or Lords of the Isles. Between it and Islay House lies the place Eallabus, until lately the residence of the factor of Islay; an interesting and beautiful locality, and the native spot of John Crawfurd, Esq., the author of a "History of the Indian Archipelago," the "Embassy to Ava," &c.

9. If it be the object of the tourist to have a full local acquaintance with the fertile and interesting Island of Islay, certainly the queen of the Hebrides, we would recommend his taking, first, the road along the north side of Loch-in-Daal to the Rinns, or the Point of Islay stretching to the south-west. After passing along rather a bleak tract for two or three miles, he arrives at the Bay of Sunderland, bending gently inwards from the direct course of Loch-in-Daal; and passing along the beach for upwards of a mile, be may turn to the right, and, after a gentle ascent, will come unexpectedly in view of the mansion-house and grounds of Sunderland, (Mac Ewen, Esq.); and, if interested in rural and agricultural pursuits, he will reflect with pleasure that the beautiful scene now before him was, not many years ago, a bleak, uninteresting, and unpromising expanse of dry moss and heather, with scarcely even a spot of green sward on which to rest the eye. Returning again to the road, the traveller still proceeds close to the sea-shore, and along a fertile and tolerably cultivated stretch of country, passes the new and thriving village of Port Charlotte, and, some five or six miles onward, the road cuts across the extreme promontory of this part of the island, conveying him to the village of Portnahaven, a celebrated cod-fishing station, on the property of Mr. Mac Ewen of Sunderland, and containing about sixty slated houses, very picturesquely situated on a rocky nook of a wild bay, which is protected by an island in the offing from the stern blasts of the west. On this island a lighthouse has been built ; and, perhaps no station on the whole coast of Scotland, if we except Cape Wrath, more loudly demanded this preservative measure to the shipping interests and to human life.

10. Leaving Portnahaven, the traveller can by a good road proceed along the north-west coast of the island, where be will find a fertile country, well cultivated, till he come to the church of Kilchuman; and, leaving it on the right, he had better still adhere to the line of the coast. Approaching Kilchuman, and afterwards, for the distance of two or three miles, the soil becomes sandy and arid; but, removed from the immediate sea coast, it is mingled with a good fertile loam, which has been improved, on the best principles of husbandry, by the proprietor of Sunderland, whose lands stretch downwards in this direction. Following the coast from Kilchuman, its appearance is striking and grand: perpendicular rugged rocks rising from the ocean, and rent by numerous chasms, among which are a series of curious caverns, arrest the attention.

Within the cave of Saneymore, the access to which is somewhat difficult, there is an inner cave, opening into successive passages, and narrow galleries with intermediate chambers, amidst which the reverberation of a gun-shot is quite overpowering, and the cadence of the notes of the bagpipe, varies from the faintest murmur to deafening loudness. It was near Sancymore that the tragical shipwreck of the emigrant brig Exmouth, from Londonderry for Quebec, occurred, on 27th April 1847, when all the passengers, 240 in number, with all the crew excepting three, found a watery grave. The appearance of the shore after the storm, strewed with fragments of wreck and dead bodies, and mangled limbs, is described to have been appalling and heart-rending beyond conception.

The reader may be interested to know that Ardnave, a handsome residence beyond Saneg, is the birthplace, we believe, at least the paternal residence, of Miss Campbell, Lady of Polignac, sometime prime minister of France.

Loch Gruinart, an arm of the sea, which the traveller will meet in his progress, is celebrated by Dean 11lonro, in his account of the Hebrides, for the number of seals which were caught or slain on the sand-banks which the recess of the tide here leaves exposed ; but the sport of seal-catching here has long ago been forgotten.

The sands of Gruinart are celebrated in the traditional lore of the islanders, for the bloody conflict already mentioned, fought in 1598, between the Macdonalds and Macleans. The east side of Loch Gruinart presents merely a low sandy expanse of coast, after which it rises gradually into higher and bleaker hills towards the Sound of Islay and Port Askaig. From the head of the loch, a walk of four or five miles across the country conducts to Bridgend. The route here described, from Bridgend till returning there, might be accomplished easily in a long summer or autumn day, with the help of a good Islay pony, and an equally hardy and active guide.

11. After resting at Bridgend, proceed we now to the metropolis of Is]ay, the village of Bowmore, lying about three miles south-west from Bridgend, and on the shore of Loch-inDaal ; a continuation of tile-roofed cottages extending partially along the shore from Bridgend. Bowmore is of considerable size, containing a population of from 900 to 1200 inhabitants. It was commenced in 1768, and is judiciously and r agularly planned ; but the plan has been but indifferently observed, houses being permitted to be erected of any size, shape, or material, suited to the means and views of the builder. A principal street, ascending a pretty steep hill, is terminated at the west by the school-house. From the hill behind, an extensive and beautiful view is obtained of Loch-in-Daal in all its expanse, of Islay House and the adjacent grounds in the distance, of the Rinns, and the district of Islay already described. Another wide and also ascending street crosses this at right angles, beginning at the quay, which is a substantial edifice, admitting common coasting vessels to load and unload, and terminates at the summit by the village and parish church; a respectable building, of a circular form, surmounted by a neat spire. A third street runs parallel to the one first described, along which the houses present so poor an appearance as to leave the popular designation it has received in the village, of the "Beggar Row," far from being a misnomer.

12. Leaving Bowmore, the traveller proceeds southward, passing the church on his left, and continues to ascend by a gentle acclivity for about a mile. The road now slopes gently downwards, and inclines towards the wide expansive Bay of Laggan. But at the summit mentioned, a good view is had of the bleak promontory—a dead and dull mass—dividing Loch-in-Daal from the Bay of Laggan, tapering to the west, and terminating in a rocky point. On descending along the road to the Bay of Laggan, the traveller is struck with the appearance of its ample and spacious waters, bounded partly by rocks of rugged aspect and moderate height, and skirted all along its basis by a broad belt of beautiful sand. In this hay many shipwrecks have occurred, by seamen mistaking it, and bearing up for it, instead of Loch-in-Daal. Leaving the level of the bay, a gentle acclivity is ascended, and the scene becomes less interesting, though still a pleasing variety of pasture and tillage is seen scattered around. On his right, the traveller has a considerable portion of the island cut off. This is the bluff Point of Keannouth, or, as it is more frequently called, the Oe. If interested in antiquarian pursuits, it may repay his labours here to turn off, obtaining a guide to bring him to the old castle or fort of Dun Aidh, built upon the extreme summit of the rock forming the western extremity of the Point of Oe. The scene is impressive and grand. The castle or fort is quite a ruin, but may be seen to have been a place of very singular strength in its day. The cave of Stoc Mhaol Doraidh, on the farm of Grastle near the Oe, is only accessible by boat, and with favourable weather. A huge pillar of rock guards the outer entrance, which is an archway in a wall of rock. From the space within, a low opening, only admitting a small boat, ushers into a spacious apartment with two recesses, all watered by the sea. Our road soon now attains the sea-shore, at a spacious bay, forming a safe and good anchorage, with a much better outlet than Loch-in-Daal, and well sheltered, especially from the north and west. Here a new village has been in progress for a few years back, named Port Ellinor, in compliment to Lady Ellinor Campbell of Islay.

A mile or two farther on, the road arrives at the small village of Laggavoulin, near which is the parish church of Kildalton, and the clergyman's residence, very picturesquely situated beside a rocky inlet of the sea coast, opposite to the remains of the round tower or burgh Dunnivaig. From Port Ellinor to Laggavoulin, the country presents a well cultivated and fertile aspect, and a surface obviously susceptible of great and advantageous agricultural improvements. Leaving the village just mentioned, the road keeps along the shore for two or three miles farther, when the country assumes rather a pastoral than an agricultural appearance, and is partially studded with birch, hazel, and other copsewood. Turning down into a small beautifully wooded promontory, forming one side of a still, peaceful inlet of the sea, is seen an elegant and spacious cottage, built by Mr. Campbell of Islay. Onwards a mile or two is the farm and house of Ardmore. From this quarter of the island, a good view is presented of the opposite coast of Cantyre—towards Campbelltown, and the Mull of Cantyre. In clear weather also, the Irish coast is discernible to the naked eye. From Ardmore, round the coast to Port Askaig, there is scarcely any object of interest to reward the toil of exploring it. But if it suits the tourist's time and purpose better than returning by Bowmore and Bridgend to Port Askaig, he can easily make the latter place, from Laggavoulin or Ardmore, in the course of one day, though at the expense of some bodily fatigue.


13. This island is about thirty miles long, and tapers from the south, where it is seven or eight miles wide, till at the northern extremity it becomes only about two miles broad. It is, with the exception of a narrow border on the east side, a rugged and barren region. A series of steep and lofty mountains of quartz rock extend northwards from the Sound, shooting into four conical peaks, three of which, more elevated than the others, are, from their peculiar shape, called the Paps of Jura; the highest being about 2500 feet. These are, on their lower sides, covered with dusky heath, and higher up with broken fragments of stone and masses of rock; and with the exception of the embedding moss around these, they are there almost bare of vegetation. The west side is altogether wild and rugged, unfit for cultivation, and uninhabited. On the cast the shore is low, and succeeded by gentle slopes, extending to the base of the hills. This coast is indented by several bays, and shoots out various points of land; thus presenting a somewhat pleasing appearance. It is intersected by numerous rapid streams, and the soil by the shore is poor and stony—on the declivity more or less clayey and spouty. There are two fine harbours on the east side, the southernmost protected by several small islands at the mouth: the entrance of the other is between two projecting points of land. Loch Tarbert, a long arm of the sea, at the middle of the west side, almost intersects the island. This inlet abounds with a variety of shell-fish. On the same coast there are quantities of fine sand, used in the manufacture of glass. The population does not exceed 800. The breeds of cattle and horses are hardy, but more diminutive than those of Islay. Though the name of the island is significant of the abundance of deer on it—Jura, from Dhuira, or Dera—yet these animals are now not numerous, eagles and goats being the chief tenants of its rocky solitudes.

Several tumuli, remains of Danish burghs, and similar antiquities, are to be met with ; and in one or two places there are traces along the declivities of a wall that had been about 41 feet high, with, at its lower termination, a deep pit about 12 feet in diameter, supposed to have been a contrivance for the capture of the wild boar, which, being driven along the wall, would be forced into the pit. At the north end of the Bay of Small Isles there are remains of a considerable encampment, which has consisted of three ellipses of some depth, hollowed out and embanked, and protected on one side by a triple line of defence with deep ditches, and by regular bastions on another, and having a mount of some size at the east end.

14. Corryvreckan, the strait between the northern extremity of Jura and the mountainous island of Scarba, possesses a wide-spread notoriety. It will be found described p. 76.


15. These islands are distinguished, next to Iona, by the most extensive remains of religious edifices of any of the Western Islands. They lie about north-west of the Sound of Islay; are separated by a narrow strait, dry at low water, and extend together to a length of about twelve miles; Oronsay, the most southerly, being much the smaller of the two. The Islands are named after St. Columba, and his companion St. Oran. The hills are rugged, but not high, and the pasture on the low grounds, particularly to the south, is remarkably rich. Rabbits abound in these islands. The population may amount to about 600. A Culdee establishment was founded in Colonsay, called after St. Oran Killouran. There exist on Oronsay the ruins, still pretty entire of a priory or a monastery of either Cistertian or St. Augustine monks, of which the abbey stood in Colonsay, but it has been completely destroyed. Both were founded by the Lords of the Isles about the middle of the fourteenth century. The priory measures sixty by eighteen feet. Adjoining it is a cloister of a peculiar form. It forms a square of forty feet externally, and twenty eight within. On each of two opposite sides are seven low arches, composed of two thin stones for columns, with two others forming, an acute angle, and resting on two flat stones placed on the top of the upright ones. The only remaining side has five small round arches. In a side chapel is the figured tomb of an abbot, Macdufie, anno 1539, and also a stone with a stag, dogs, and a ship sculptured upon it. A large and very elegant stone cross stands beside these buildings, and within the priory are various tombstones of warriors and others. Several tumuli exist in Oronsay; and on Colonsay are the ruins of several chapels, and within the memory of man those of St. Oran's cell were discernible, and there are also some monumental stones.

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