A little bit of Eriskay history...

The Isle of Eriskay is only 3 x 2 miles and lies between Barra and South Uist.  In 2001 Eriskay was connected to South Uist by a causeway and Ceann a Gharraidh in Eriskay became the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal to Ardmore Barra.

Eriskay has many claims to fame ….

Eriskay Ponies are the last surviving remnants of the original native ponies of the Outer Hebrides.  Every crofter had a pony which was used to undertake tasks such as carrying seaweed from the shore for fertilising potato crops, taking home the peat……

Over the centuries, the Eriskay Ponies evolved into the hardy, versatile, people friendly animals that are recognised today.  As Eriskay is so remote and due to difficulties with access, other breeds were not introduced, leaving stock of pure bred ponies which had declined to around 20 animals by the early 1970s.  As the numbers became so desperately low, a group of people including a priest, a vet, a doctor, scientist and most importantly a crofter got together and decided to save the ponies.  Numbers have risen steadily and now there are over 400 ponies in the world.  At the moment we are one of 6 owners of ponies on Eriskay with 16 ponies between us. www.eriskaypony.org.uk/

Bonnie Prince CharlieOne of our most popular beaches, Prince Charlie’s Bay gets it’s name from when Prince Charles Edward Stewart first landed on scottish soil on 23rd July 1945 during the Jacobite Rebellion.  Some seeds fell from his pocket on the beach and now the Convolvulus flower grows from the seeds where they dropped and doesn’t grow anywhere else on the island.

St Michael’s Church – sits on one of the highest spots on the island looking over the main village.  It celebrated it’s centenary in 2003 having been built in 1903 after the fishermen on the island donated the money paid for their days catch to help build the church. 

Fr Allan MacDonald – is also remembered for his work collecting Gaelic folklore, including his poem about Eriskay “Eilean na H-oige” (Isle of Youth)collecting his great collection of. He was thought very fondly of by the islanders on both Eriskay and South Uist.  He died aged 46 in October 1905 after a cold became pneumonia.

Weavers Castle – Eriskay is also associated with pirates and it was claimed that the weaver’s castle on the Stack Islands was where a pirate lived at one time.  The castle was built using the power of the Eriskay Pony and folklore states that when the final stone was carried by the horse to the castle that it fell to it’s death.

The Eriskay Jersey – One of the rarest pieces of craft work in Scotland.  Originally made by the wives for their husbands who were fishermen, it’s produced entirely in one colour (navy blue)  but now also available in cream. The jersey is knitted on fine needle and is seamless making the jersey warmer and a hardier guensey (a fisherman’s sweater) when worn. The women incorporated many decorative patterns relating to the sea, fishing and family life on the island on to the jersey.  These patterns vary from the harbour steps/ladder, the tree of life, a starfish, the cable/rope, an anchor and a diamond which symbolises married life!

SS PoliticianOne of the most well known events of recent history was the sinking of the 8000 tonne cargo ship “SS Politician” which went off course and ran aground off Eriskay on 5th February 1941.  The reason it is so well know in that the cargo the ship was carrying was Jamaican dollars, clothing etc and most importantly  50,000 cases of whisky which was very scarce on the island at the time due to rations during the war. A series of local salvage operations took place at night along with quite a few ceilidhs!!  The wreck of the SS Politician still lies off the coast of Eriskay but is no longer visible above the surface however on a clear day with low tides you may be able to see it below the surface.  In April 2013 two of the salvaged bottles from the wreck sold at auction for £12,050 and if you missed out, there are seemingly others to be auctioned soon!  

What a beautiful island! The Outer Hebrides are a truly amazing group of islands that you just have to visit. Ben Scrien Cottage is a traditional stone croft house which has been lovingly converted to provide an ideal base to explore the islands