Ailsa Craig

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Ailsa Craig
Location
Ailsa Craig is located in South Ayrshire
Ailsa Craig
Ailsa Craig shown within South Ayrshire
OS grid referenceNX019997
Names
Gaelic nameCreag Ealasaid
Meaning of nameElizabeth's rock or Fairy rock
Area and summit
Area0.38 sq.mi. (0.99 km²)
Area rank150=
Highest elevation1,110 ft (338 m)
(a Marilyn)
Population
Population0
Groupings
Island groupFirth of Clyde
Local AuthoritySouth Ayrshire
Flag of Scotland.svg Lymphad3.svg
References[1][2][3][4]
Area and population ranks are for all Scottish islands and all inhabited Scottish islands respectively. Population data is from 2001 census.
 
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Ailsa Craig
Location
Ailsa Craig is located in South Ayrshire
Ailsa Craig
Ailsa Craig shown within South Ayrshire
OS grid referenceNX019997
Names
Gaelic nameCreag Ealasaid
Meaning of nameElizabeth's rock or Fairy rock
Area and summit
Area0.38 sq.mi. (0.99 km²)
Area rank150=
Highest elevation1,110 ft (338 m)
(a Marilyn)
Population
Population0
Groupings
Island groupFirth of Clyde
Local AuthoritySouth Ayrshire
Flag of Scotland.svg Lymphad3.svg
References[1][2][3][4]
Area and population ranks are for all Scottish islands and all inhabited Scottish islands respectively. Population data is from 2001 census.

Ailsa Craig (English pronunciation: /ˈeɪlsə/; Scottish Gaelic: Creag Ealasaid) is an island of 219.69 acres in the outer Firth of Clyde, Scotland where blue hone granite was quarried to make curling stones. The now uninhabited island is formed from the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano.

The island was a haven for Catholics during the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century, but is today a bird sanctuary, providing a home for huge numbers of gannets and an increasing number of puffins.

The island is currently owned by 8th Marquess of Ailsa, 19th Earl of Cassillis but is up for sale for £1,500,000.[5][6]

Contents

Geography

Map of Ailsa Craig

The island is located approximately 10 miles (16 km) west of Girvan. Two miles (3 km) in circumference and rising to 1,110 feet (340 m), the island consists entirely of the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano that might have been active about 500 million years ago.[7]

It is part of the administrative district of South Ayrshire, in the ancient parish of Dailly.

The lighthouse on its east coast faces the Scottish mainland, and a ruined keep, built by the Hamilton Family to protect from the threat of invasion from King Philip II of Spain, is perched on the hillside above.[5]

History

Ailsa Craig photographed from HMS Campbeltown
Ailsa Craig in the 1840s
Ailsa Craig in the background with Dunure in 1840

In 1590 the shipping of the Clyde was disrupted by pirates who were said to be Highlanders, quha lyis about Ailsay.[8]

The castle which stands on the eastern side of the island was built in the late 1500s by the Hamilton Family to protect the island from Philip II of Spain.[5]

Ailsa Craig was a haven for Roman Catholics during the Scottish Reformation. In 1597 the Catholic supporter Hugh Barclay of Ladyland took possession of Ailsa Craig, which he was intent on using as a provisioning and stopping off point for a Spanish invasion which would re-establish the Catholic faith in Scotland. He was discovered by the Protestant minister Andrew Knox and thereafter either tried to escape or deliberately drowned himself in the sea off Ailsa Craig.[9]

The island was used as a prison during the 18th-19th century.

In 1831, the Twelfth Earl of Cassilis became first Marquess of Ailsa, taking the title from the Craig, which was his property.

From the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, the island was quarried for its rare type of micro-granite with riebeckite (known as "Ailsite") which is used to make curling stones. As of 2004, 60 to 70% of all curling stones in use were made from granite from the island.[10] The floor of the Chapel of the Thistle in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh is also made of this rock.

The Lighthouse was built between 1883 and 1886 by Thomas Stevenson; it is owned by Northern Lighthouse Board.[5]

The lighthouse was automated in 1990 and converted to solar electric power in 2001; the island has been uninhabited since automation in 1990.[5][11] Ailsa Craig and its lighthouse feature extensively in Peter Hill's book Stargazing: Memoirs of a Young Lighthouse Keeper. Though quarry blasting is no longer allowed, loose granite rock from the island has been recently used for manufacture into curling stones by the Kays of Scotland company.[12] The island is now a bird sanctuary, leased by the RSPB until 2050.[13] Huge numbers of gannets nest here and following a pioneering technique to eradicate the island's imported population of rats a growing number of puffins are choosing to return to the Craig from nearby Glunimore and Sheep Islands.

The island has no water, electricity, gas, sewage or telephone connections.[5] The island currently belongs to the 8th Marquess of Ailsa, 19th Earl of Cassillis. In May 2011 it was announced the island was for sale; the current asking price is £1,500,000.[6][14]

Etymology

An early reference to the rock is made by Sir Donald Monro, Archdeacon of the Isles who referred to the rock as "Elsay" in the 16th century.[15] The modern name of the island is an anglicisation of the Gaelic, Aillse Creag meaning "fairy rock".[2] An alternative Gaelic name is Creag Ealasaid meaning "Elizabeth's rock".[2][4] The first element, Aillse may represent Allt Shasann, "cliff of the English", mentioned in the Book of Leinster as Aldasain.[16][17]

The island is sometimes known as "Paddy's Milestone",[4][18] being approximately the halfway point of the sea journey from Belfast to Glasgow, a traditional route of emigration for many Irish labourers coming to Scotland to seek work.

As a result of being the most conspicuous landmark in the channel between Ireland and Scotland, the island is known by a number of different names;

The Bass Rock is sometimes nicknamed "the Ailsa Craig of the East",[19] although its prominence in the Firth of Forth is not as great as that of Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde.

In the arts

In April 2009, Northern Irish singer/songwriter, Foy Vance, released the EP 'Portraits Of The Artist', which contained a song titled 'Portraits of Ailsa Craig'.[20]

Gallery

Notes

  1. ^ 2001 UK Census per List of islands of Scotland
  2. ^ a b c d e Haswell-Smith (2004) p.2
  3. ^ "Ordnance Survey". Ordnance Survey. 2012-07-03. http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mac an Tàilleir (2003) p. 3
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Ailsa Criag". Media.primelocation.com. http://media.primelocation.com/KFGR/KFED/KFED999000362/BROCH_01.PDF. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  6. ^ a b "UK property for sale". Primelocation.co.uk. http://www.primelocation.com/uk-property-for-sale/details/id/KFED999000362/. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  7. ^ Ailsa Craig Retrieved on 2007-10-17
  8. ^ Paterson, Page 14
  9. ^ Robertson, George (1823), A Genealogical Account of the Principal Families in Ayrshire, more particularly in Cunninghame. Vol.1. Pub. Irvine: Cunninghmae press. pp. 72 -73.
  10. ^ National Geographic Retrieved on 2009-07-19
  11. ^ Northern Lighthouse Board - Automation of lighthouse Retrieved on 2008-01-28
  12. ^ Kays of Scotland website Retrieved on 2009-07-19
  13. ^ "RSPB stress importance of Ailsa Craig, but are not in negotiations to purchase iconic landmark". RSPB. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  14. ^ "Ailsa Craig island in Firth of Clyde put up for sale". BBC News. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  15. ^ Monro (1549) no. 2
  16. ^ Clancy (2008) pp. 33–34
  17. ^ Watson (1926) p. 173
  18. ^ PADDY'S MILESTONE 1947 Film. ssa.nls.uk.
  19. ^ "The Bass Rock". History of Leith. http://www.leithhistory.co.uk/2007/11/29/the-bass-rock/. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  20. ^ "Portraits of the Artist" foyvance.com. Retrieved 19 Feb 2011.

References

External links

Coordinates: 55°15′7″N 5°6′59″W / 55.25194°N 5.11639°W / 55.25194; -5.11639