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Gigha & Cara

"Gigha, an island and a parish of Argyllshire. The island lies 1¾ mile W of the nearest point of Kintyre, and 2⅞ miles NW of Moniemore, near Tayinloan, by ferry to Ardminish. It has a post office under Greenock, and communicates by boat from its northern extremity with the steamers on the passage between Tarbert and Port Ellen or Port Askaig in Islay. It measures 6 miles in length from NNE to SSW; varies in width between 1½ furlong and 1⅞ mile; and, with the neighbouring island of Cara, has an area of 3913⅓ acres, of which 266⅓ are foreshore. Its coast is so jagged as to measure 25 miles in extent; and, bold and rocky on the W side, has there two caverns, the Great and the Pigeons' Caves, the latter of which is coated with calcareous spar, and much frequented by wild pigeons. At the south-western extremity it is pierced by a natural tunnel 133 feet long, with two vertical apertures, and so invaded by surging billows in a storm as to emit dense vapour and loud noises. Much, too, of the E coast, although not high, is bold and rocky enough; and here are various sandy bays, very suitable for sea-bathing, whilst those of Ardminish, Druimyeon, and East Tarbert afford good anchorage. The harbour, on the N side of the islet of Gigulum, is much frequented by coasting vessels, and is considered safe in all sorts of weather. The interior westward attains 225 feet beyond the church, 260 at Meall a Chlamaidh, and 153 at Cnoc Loisgte. The rocks are mica slate, felspar slate, chlorite slate, and hornblende slate, with veins of quartz and a few transverse dykes of basalt. The soil, except on the hills, is a rich loam, with a mixture here and there of sand, clay, or moss. About three-fifths of the land are in tillage, but barely 7 acres are under wood. Springs of good water are plentiful, and two of them afford water-power to a corn-mill. Some ten boats are employed during three or four months of the year in cod and ling fishing on banks 2 or 3 miles distant. Dunchifie or Keefe's Hill, towards the middle of the island, appears to have been anciently crowned with a strong fortification; and a hill, now used as a steamer signal-post, at the northern end of the island, is crowned by a cairn, called 'Watch Cairn,' and seems to have formerly served as a beacon station for giving alarm in case of invasion. Achamore House, 7 furlongs SSW of the church, is the Scottish seat of the proprietor, Capt. William James Scarlett (b. 1839; suc. 1880).-The parish comprises also the brownie-haunted island of Cara, 1 mile to the S of Gigha, and 185 feet high at the Mull of Cara, with the uninhabited islet of Gigulum in the sound between them, and bears the name of Gigha and Cara. It is in the presbytery of Kintyre and synod of Argyll; the living is worth £298. The church, which stands at the head of Ardminish Bay, was built about 1780, and contains 260 sittings. An ancient chapel, ½ mile SSW, is now represented by ruined walls and a burying-ground. A public school, with accommodation for 83 children, had (1881) an average attendance of 39, and a grant of £44, 2s. 6d. Valuation (1882) £2466, 7s. 10d. Pop. (1801) 556, (l831) 534, (186l) 467, (1871) 390, (1881) 382, of whom 4 belonged to Cara.—Ord. Sur.., sh. 20, 1876. See Captain Thomas P. White's Archaeological Sketches in Kintyre and Gigha (2 vols., Edinb., 1873-75)."

Extract from Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4)

Description and Travel

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Historical Geography

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Year Population
1801 556
1831 534
1861 467
1871 390
1881 382
1891 401
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