Abandoned Townships and Population Clearances

Walk anywhere in Islay and you will come across the ruins of abandoned townships that once rang out with the excited voices of children playing in the nearby fields where their fathers and mothers, and theirs before them, eked out a meagre living on this poor and unforgiving land.  In the early 19th century the population on Islay was approximately 15,000 hardy souls, by the middle of that century it had dropped to about 6,000 as a result of famine, enforced clearances and the social changes taking place in Scotland at that time.  Take a walk with me to visit some of these once idyllic habitations with their ruined kilns, chapels and croft-houses, and wonder for yourself at the hardiness of Islay's forbears living in these remote but beautiful lost townships.