"Tarbert (sometimes designated East Tarbert), a village and small seaport in the parishes of Kilcalmonell and South Knapdale, Argyllshire, 35 miles NNE of Campbeltown and 13½ S of Lochgilphead. It stands at the E end of the isthmus between East Loch Tarbert and West Loch Tarbert, separating the peninsula of Kintyre from the district of Knapdale. That isthmus is only 1 mile across, and was anciently protected by three castles - one in the centre, one at the head of the West Loch, and one on the S side of the East Loch. The ruin of the last of these castles still exists, in grouping with the village, and is the subject of curious popular traditions. The village probably arose under protection of the castle - at all events it is a place of much antiquity; and it is so situated around the head of the East Loch, with command over its natural harbourage, as to have possessed from the earliest time as much commerce as the circumstances of the surrounding district could give it. The loch, projecting west- ward from Loch Fyne, is of small size - only 7 furlongs long, and nowhere more than ½ mile broad. It is a curious and singularly safe and landlocked natural harbour, but is entered by so narrow and circling a passage between low ridges of naked rock, that a steamer in sailing through it appears to a stranger to be irretrievably rushing upon the crag. On its S side near the head is a steamboat quay, and both here and all over the inner space of the loch may be seen in the fishing season a very numerous fleet of herring-boats. The steamers from Glasgow to Ardrishaig and lnveraray call daily at the port, and a coach runs daily to Campbeltown and back. The village is inhabited principally by fishermen, and is the resort, during the herring fishery season, of several hundreds of fishermen from other parts. It is, however, a favourite seaside resort in summer, and a number of neat cottages have been erected. The quoad sacra church was erected in 1886, and the Free church in 1894. It has a post office, with money order, savings bank, and telegraph departments, four inns, a branch of the Union Bank, a public school, a Good Templar hall, and fairs for horses, etc., on the Wednesday or March and the Tuesdays of June and November before Lochgilphead, and on the last Thursday of July. Pop. of village (1861) 1254, (1871) 1434, (1881) 1629, (1891) 1775, of whom 877 were females, and 573 were in South Knapdale parish; of q. s. parish (1871) 1866, (1881) 2017, (1891) 2204, of whom 1899 were in Kilcalmonell and 805 in South Knapdale.—Ord. Sur.., sh. 29, 1873."
Extract from Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1896