The coast of the island of Gigha
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

The coast of the island of Gigha

A small island of the Inner Hebrides, Gigha (Gael: Giogha) lies to the west of the Kintyre peninsula from which it is separated by the Sound of Gigha. Ardminish on the east coast is linked by ferry to Tayinloan in Kintyre. Stretching 6 miles (10 km) from north to south and with an area of 1395 ha (3447 acres), Gigha largely comprises a ridge of volcanic and metamorphic rocks. The island was granted to the MacDonald Lords of the Isles in the 14th century, with the MacNeills gaining part of it in 1449, and complete control in 1493. Between 1554 and 1590, the island was again briefly the property of the MacDonalds before returning to the MacNeills. The Scarlett family bought Gigha in 1865 then, in 1944, it was purchased by Sir James Horlick who established a garden in the woodlands surrounding Achamore House with plants supplied by the National Trust for Scotland. The last private owner of the island was Derek Holt (1929 - 2010), a businessman who made his money developing Kip Marina. Holt sold the island to the community in 2002 for £4 million, the biggest community buy-out in the UK at the time. The island is now run by the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust. The population was in slow decline from 163 (1961) and 174 (1971), to 153 (1981), 143 (1991) and 110 (2001), but recovering to 163 in 2011. To the southwest of the main settlement at Ardminish stand the ruins of the 13th-century Kilchattan Chapel, with a community-owned four-turbine wind farm a half-mile (1 km) beyond, which provides an important contribution to the island's economy. As well as farming and tourism, there is an onshore fish farm at South Drumachro which successfully produces halibut, having failed to raise salmon and turbot. Despite the introduction of wind power to provide an income, new businesses and a renewal of housing stock, debt and division amongst the population have hampered development in the years since the community buy-out.

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