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Tiree

A flat, treeless but fertile island in the Inner Hebrides, Tiree represents the westernmost of the islands of Argyll & Bute, lying to the west of Mull and southwest of the island of Coll. Largely comprising a bedrock of gneiss, schist and limestone (Tiree marble), the island has extensive sandy beaches and machair with a dense cover of meadow flowers interspersed with numerous small lochans the largest of which are Loch a' Phuill and Loch Bhasapoll. The highest points on the island are Ben Hynish (141m / 465 feet) and Ben Hough (119m / 393 feet) and the flat centre of the island is known as The Reef. There are no peat bogs and rainfall is low, Tiree being both the sunniest place in Britain and the windiest, its constant wind making it a venue for the International Windsurfing Championships. Settled for at least 3,000 years, a monastery was founded at Sorby by Baitheine, a cousin of St. Columba. Tiree was later controlled by the Norse, the Kingdom of Man, the Lords of the Isles and the Dukes of Argyll, who still own much of the island. Tiree means 'land of corn' and for centuries the island became known as the bread-basket of the Inner Hebrides. In 1830 Tiree had a population of 4450. Fifty years later it had fallen by 2700 as a result of the potato famine and evictions. Its population continued to fall from 993 (1961) to 875 (1971) and then 757 (1981) before stabilising at 768 (1991) and 770 (2001). The population fell again in 2011, to only 653. Today, the island's people are largely crofters who graze sheep and cattle as well as engage in some hi-tech and horticultural enterprises. Access is by air to an airport on The Reef, a half-mile (1 km) north of Crossapoll, or by ferry from Oban to Scarinish. There is only one school; Tiree High School at Cornaigmore, which provides education for children from the ages of three to eighteen on one site.


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