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Eriskay


(Eirisgeigh, Eiriosgaigh)

Situated in the Outer Hebrides between South Uist and Barra, the island of Eriskay (Gael: Eirisgeigh or Eiriosgaigh) is perhaps best known for the songs it has inspired, including the 'Eriskay Love Lilt', and its association with Bonnie Prince Charlie, who first set foot on Scottish soil here on 23rd July 1745 when he was put ashore from the French ship 'Du Teillay' onto what is still called Prince's Beach. Sir Compton MacKenzie's book 'Whisky Galore', which was later filmed on the neighbouring island of Barra, was inspired by the sinking of the 12,000-ton steamship 'SS Politician' in the Sound of Eriskay on 5th February 1941 en route to New York from Liverpool. Its cargo of 264,000 bottles of whisky was "rescued" by the islanders, some of whom were later arrested and imprisoned in Inverness. A barren island of rocky moorland, Eriskay has an area of 703 ha (1737 acres) and rises to a height of 185m (607 feet) at Ben Scrien. The land is part of the South Uist Estate, which was subject to a £4.5 million buy-out by the community in 2006. The population of Eriskay is in slow decline; 231 (1961), 219 (1971), 201 (1981), 179 (1991) to 133 (2001), but stabilising at 143 in 2011. Haunn, the chief settlement, lies at the head of a shallow bay on the north coast which is the terminal for the car ferry link with South Uist. The distinctive Eriskay pony which stands at only 12 or 13 hands high was used to carry peat and seaweed. The people of Eriskay fish for prawn and lobsters and produce shawls and jerseys with local patterns. 80% of the population are of the Roman Catholic faith, a higher proportion than any of the other islands.

A £9.4 million causeway, linking Eriskay with South Uist, was opened in 2002.


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