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Islay (Ìle)
Islay topographic map
Islay topographic map
Waters Atlantic Ocean
Archipelago Inner Hebrides
Geographical location 55 ° 47 ′  N , 6 ° 14 ′  W Coordinates: 55 ° 47 ′  N , 6 ° 14 ′  W
Location of Islay (Ìle)
length 40 km
width 32 km
surface 619.6 km²
Highest elevation Beinn Bheigeir
491  m
Residents 3228 (2011)
5.2 inhabitants / km²
main place Bowmore
Road map of Islay
Road map of Islay

Islay ([ ˈaɪlə ] English ? / I , Scottish Gaelic Ìle ? / I ) is the southernmost and most fertile island of the Inner Hebrides and belongs to the Council Area Argyll and Bute . Audio file / audio sample Audio file / audio sample


The island has a size of 619.6 km², is about 40 km long and has a maximum width of 32 km. The highest point is 491 m high. From the north and south the inlets of Loch Gruinart and Loch Indaal protrude deep into the interior of the island. The headland protruding southwest into the sea is called the Rhinns of Islay . The peninsula in the extreme south of the island is called The Oa and is a rocky region. The Sound of Islay separates them from the neighboring island of Jura .

Islay has 3228 inhabitants (as of 2011). The main town is Bowmore with 860 inhabitants (2004 estimate). Other localities include Port Ellen , Port Askaig and Port Charlotte .

Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the climate is quite mild.


Historical map of Islay ( ILA INSVLA )

The first settlers were hunters and gatherers who came to Islay during the Mesolithic . In 1993 a flint was found that had been used as a tool 12,000 years ago. Columban apparently came to Islay on his way from Ireland to Iona in the 5th century . The island was then part of the Dalriada Kingdom . From the 14th to the 16th centuries, the Lords of the Isles ruled the west coast of Scotland. They had their seat on Islay for a long time. In 1408 they signed the Gaelic Islay Charter . In 1726, Islay was acquired by Daniel Campbell. His family owned the island until 1853 before it was sold to James Morrison.

The population began to decline as early as the 1830s. As in many parts of Scotland, the reason was the Highland Clearances , which forced many residents to emigrate. During the Second World War, a military airfield was built on Islay, which has been used as Islay Airport for civil purposes since the end of the war . At the beginning of this millennium, a branch of the Gaelic-speaking college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was opened on Islay .

Flora and fauna

There are numerous species of birds on the island. These include the chough , hen harrier , sea ​​eagles , oystercatchers , cormorants and many species of wading birds . In February there are many barnacle geese on Islay. A red deer population of around 5,000 lives on Islay , while the former populations of wolves and brown bears are now extinct.


The Cultoon Stone Circle
The largest menhir on the island
Port Ellen

The Clyde Tombs of Cragabus on the peninsula The Oa , Cnoc an Altair, Frachdale and Nereabolls (Giant's Grave or Slochd Measach) the stone circle of Cultoon and the Achnacarranan Stones belong next to the medieval St. Ciaran's Chapel with its stone with cup-and-ring -Markings as well as points of interest such as the menhirs of Carragh Bhan and Ballinaby or the Hillfort of Dun Nosbridge and the Celtic crosses of Kildalton and Kilnave. Kilnave's heavily weathered early Christian cross from the 5th century stands on the north coast west of Gruinart Bay on the Ardnave peninsula in front of the ruins of the chapel of the same name . The cross and chapel are recorded in the national register of monuments.

The shipwreck of the Wyre Majestic can be seen near the Bunnahabhain distillery, which ran aground there in October 1974. In the northeast of the island, on an island in Loch Finlaggan, are the ruins of Finlaggan Castle , the former seat of the Lords of the Isles. A local museum is attached.

Economy and Transport


Whiskey distilleries on Islay

In addition to agriculture, an important source of income on the island is the production of whiskey and the associated tourism. Unlike the other islands in the Hebrides, Islay forms its own whiskey region and is not counted among the Islands or the Highlands.

Nine distilleries are currently active:

The plan to reopen the Port Charlotte distillery has been postponed for the time being. From 1825 to 1929 the distillery was called Lochindaal. This is what the distillery should be called after the reconstruction.

In October 2018, Ardnahoe started operations as the ninth distillery on the island. It is located between the Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain distilleries. Port Ellen , closed in 1983, is to reopen in 2020 according to Diageo's plans .

No longer in operation - next to Port Charlotte - are

  • Achenvoir (1816-1818)
  • Ardenistiel (1837–1868) on the Laphroaig site, also known as Kildalton (1849–1852) and Islay (1852–1866)
  • Ardmore (1817-1837), merged with Lagavulin
  • Bridgend (1818-1822)
  • Daill (1814-1834)
  • Freeport (-1847)
  • Glenavullen (1827-1832)
  • Killarow (–1766, 1821–1822)
  • Lossite (1821-1860), also known as Ballygrant (1821-1826)
  • Malt Mill (1908–1960) on the Lagavulin site
  • Mulindry (1826-1831)
  • Newton (1819-1837)
  • Octomore (1816-1852)
  • Octovulline (1816-1819)
  • Port Ellen (1825-1983)
  • Scarrabus (1817-1818)
  • Tallant (1821-1852)
  • Torrylin
  • Upper cragabus

Power generation

Wave power plant

1.3 kilometers north-west of Portnahaven on the west coast was the world's first wave power plant that feeds into the public grid. The Limpet 500 system was built in 2001 by the Scottish company Wavegen, a wholly owned subsidiary of the German Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation GmbH & Co. KG , and had a nominal output of 0.5 MW. The system is no longer in operation and has been gutted. Only the building is still standing.

There are plans for a tidal power plant in the Sound of Islay between Islay and Jura, south of Port Askaig.


There are around 30,000 sheep on Islay.


There are two ferry ports, Port Ellen in the southeast and Port Askaig in the northeast, which connect the island to Kennacraig on the Kintyre Peninsula . There is a short ferry connection to the island of Jura from Port Askaig. The A846 and A847 are the main roads on the island.

See also

Web links

Commons : Islay  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. 2011 census data
  2. General Register Office for Scotland: Mid-2004 Population Estimates for Settlements in Scotland ( Memento of November 14, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  3. GEO 360 ° “The Islay's Whiskey Secret”, arte November 21, 2010
  4. Giant's Grave
  5. Port Charlotte will not reopen in 2016
  6. Blog article about Bruichladdich
  7. Ardnahoe (English)
  8. Our Story
  9. Former whiskey distilleries (with pictures; Eng.)
  10. Misako Udo: The Scottish Whiskey Distilleries. The ultimate companion for the whiskey enthusiast. Black & White Publishing, Edinburgh 2006, ISBN 1-84502-130-4 .
  11. The Lost Distilleries of Scotland (with pictures; Eng.)
  12. Report on ( Memento from September 30, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  13. ^ Memorandum of understanding signed between Alstom and Scottish Power: renewables for tidal power devices. (English), accessed September 17, 2017
  14. ^ Tidal energy project., accessed September 17, 2017