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Mingulay


(Miùghalaigh)

Terrain Map of Barra and associated islands
©2019 Gazetteer for Scotland

Terrain Map of Barra and associated islands

Once owned by the MacNeil's of Barra, the island of Mingulay (Gael: Miùghalaigh) is the largest of the small group of islands in the Outer Hebrides known as the Bishop's Isles. It measures 2½ miles (4 km) by 1½ (2.5 km), has an area of 640 ha (1581 acres) and takes its name from the Norse for a big island. Largely comprising gneiss rock, the island has impressive rock stacks and cliffs rising over 150m (492 feet) in height. At Gunamul on the southwest coast there is a huge natural arch. Mingulay has a long history of settlement with many archaeological sites in evidence, but its population rapidly declined from a total of 140 inhabitants in 1901 to two in the 1930s, the majority evacuated 1910-2. Two ruined buildings are still obvious: the Schoolhouse, which was built in the 1880s by the Free Church Ladies' Association and later used as a sheep farmer's bothy; and the Chapel House, a Catholic priest's house built in 1898. An important breeding ground for seabirds such as kittiwakes and guillemots, Mingulay is grazed by some 500 sheep throughout the year. The island's chief landing place and anchorage is on the east coast in Mingulay Bay. Composed in 1938 by Hugh Roberton (1874 - 1952) for his Glasgow Orpheus Choir, the haunting 'Mingulay Boat Song' was never sung by the island's inhabitants. The island was purchased by the National Trust for Scotland in 2000.


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