Gigha and Cara

   GIGHA and CARA, a parish, in the district of Cantyre, county of Argyll, 21½ miles (S. by W.) from Tarbert; containing 550 inhabitants. Some persons derive the name of the former of these two districts from the compound Gaelic term Eilean-Dhia, signifying "God's island;" others are of opinion that it may be traced to the word geodha, "a creek," applied on account of the numerous inlets and bays here. The word Cara is supposed to signify "a monastery." The parish consists of two islands, situated in the Atlantic Ocean, between the southern portion of the island of Islay and the peninsula of Cantyre, and separated from the latter by a channel 3½ miles across, in which the current is often extremely strong, especially at new and full moon. They are both but little elevated above the sea: the highest point in Gigha, called Creag-bhan, or "the white rock," rises only to the height of 400 feet; and Cara, situated a mile and a half south of the former island, has, in this respect, the same general appearance. Gigha measures in length, from north to south, almost seven miles, and is two and a half miles in extreme breadth; Cara is nearly a mile in length, and half a mile in breadth, and the two isles comprise together about 4000 acres, of which half are arable, ten under plantation, and the remainder pasture and waste. The coast of Gigha is computed at twenty-five miles in extent, being very circuitous in consequence of the great number of its creeks; on the west side it is bold and rocky, and contains, near the middle, a cave called the Great Cave, and another named the Pigeons' Cave, from the many wild-pigeons frequenting it. Though rugged, however, along the larger part of the western line, there are, at the two extremities, and on the eastern side, several bays well adapted for bathing, and containing a fine white sand, formerly exported in large quantities to Dumbarton, for the manufacture of glass. In about the centre of the eastern coast is the bay of Ardminish, ornamented at its head by the church and manse, and resorted to by vessels taking away produce, or bringing to the island coal, lime, and other commodities. A little north of this is the bay of Drimyeon, a spacious and secure retreat; and firm anchorage is also usually found in all the other bays in the island, especially in that of Tarbert, within a mile of its north-eastern extremity.
   Between Gigha and Cara is the small uninhabited islet of Gigulum; and between this and Gigha is a sound affording good anchorage for large shipping, and much used by government cutters, and by vessels trading with the northern Highlands, as well as by those from England and Ireland, which visit this and the adjacent parish of Killean for the purchase of seed-potatoes. The principal entrance to the sound is from the east, rocks lying on the opposite side. The most prominent headland in the parish, called Ardminish point, is on the north side of the bay of that name. At the south-west end of Gigha is Sloc-an-leim, or "the springing pit" a subterraneous passage 133 feet long, into which the sea rushes with considerable fury. The shore of the island of Cara is rocky and steep, except towards the north-east; and at its southern extremity is a precipitous rock, 117 feet high, called the Mull of Cara, thronged by sea-fowl, and the resort, too, of the hawk. Around this coast also, as well as that of the other islands, mackerel, sea-perch, lythe, rock-cod, and many other fish are found; and cod, ling, and large haddocks may be obtained on the banks, two or three miles distant. Some rocky portions of the surface of Gigha are covered with various species of lichen, of which those named parmelia, sticta-ramalina, and lecanora are much esteemed as valuable dyes; and the juniper, which is abundant and prolific upon the eastern coast, supplies in the summer and autumn quantities of berries, here used in order to flavour whisky. Many tracts are clothed with stunted heath; but the surface is in different places pleasingly diversified with knolls and hillocks, profusely ornamented with musk roses. On the coast is found the ulva-latissima, used as a pickle, as well as the different kinds of Carigean moss.
   The soil is a rich loam, containing in some parts an admixture of sand, clay, and moss; it is tolerably fertile, and produces good crops of bear, oats, potatoes, and turnips. The land is particularly adapted to the growth of the last, but, in consequence of the demand for seed-potatoes, especially for Ireland, more attention is paid to the cultivation of these than the turnips. A small part of the arable land is still under the old system of husbandry, the larger property only being subject to the rotation of crops; the farms are to some extent inclosed and subdivided, but the buildings require further improvement. There is a corn-mill, to which a new road was lately formed at a cost of £250; the mill itself has been repaired, and among other improvements that have been found of general advantage is the draining of the Mill-dam loch, affording an opportunity to the people to obtain from it turf for fuel. A few sheep are reared, of the Cheviot breed, and many from other places are wintered here; about 1000 hogs, also, are annually brought, at the close of autumn, from Jura and other contiguous parts, to be tended at the rate of 2s. 6d. each for five months. The rateable annual value of Gigha and Cara is £2091. The strata of the parish comprise mica-slate, felspar-slate, quartz, and hornblende, with chlorite-slate, crossed in many places at right angles by basaltic dykes; and boulders of hornblende are frequently seen both on, and a little below, the surface, measuring two and three feet in diameter. Traces of copper are observable in Gigha, and of iron-ore at the south end of Cara. The plantations, which are but few, consist of oak, ash, larch, plane, Scotch fir, and pineaster, the last being less affected by the sea air and storms than any of the other kinds.
   The population exhibit more of the maritime than of the agricultural character; the young men generally become sailors, and a large proportion of the rest are engaged in fishing for cod and ling for several months, beginning about Candlemas. Upwards of twenty boats, carrying four men each, are engaged in this pursuit; they proceed to the banks already referred to, north-west and south-west of the parish, and usually take as many fish as enable them, after a plentiful supply for their own families, to dispose of about fifty tons. These, when cured, are sold at Glasgow, Greenock, and Campbelltown, at from £10 to £14 per ton. Besides the fishing-boats and twenty of smaller size, a vessel of thirty tons and another of fourteen are employed in carrying agricultural produce to market; they convey annually, on the average, 800 tons of potatoes, 400 quarters of bear, and 150 quarters of oats, besides black-cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs, and a considerable portion of dairy produce. Coal, lime, and other articles are imported; and vessels of large burthen visit the parish from Ireland, England, and the Clyde, for potatoes, and sometimes for cod and ling. A steam-boat, running between Loch Tarbert and Islay, passes Gigha three times weekly in summer, and once in winter; there is also a ferry from each of the properties to Tayinloan, a hamlet on the Mainland, where is the receiving-house for letters. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the presbytery of Cantyre and synod of Argyll, and the patronage belongs to the Duke of Argyll; the minister's stipend is £266, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10 per annum. The church was built about the year 1780, and is in tolerable repair. The parochial school affords instruction in English and Gaelic, and Latin is also taught, with all the usual branches; the master has a salary of £25. 13., with a house, and about £14 fees. At the distance of a mile from the present church may be seen the walls of the former edifice, with a stone font, standing in the midst of the burial-ground. About the centre of Gigha is Dun-Chifie, formerly, as is traditionally reported, a strong fortification occupied by Keefie, the King of Lochlin's son, who, it is said, was killed here by Diarmid, one of the heroes of Fingal.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Gigha —  Ne doit pas être confondu avec Gighay. Gigha Giogha (gd) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cara Island — Infobox Scottish island | latitude=55.63 longitude= 5.75 GridReference=NR639440 celtic name= norse name= meaning of name= may be Kari s island or dearest area= 66 ha area rank=174= highest elevation= 56 m Population=0 population rank= main… …   Wikipedia

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  • Île Cara — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Cara. Île Cara Cara Island (en) …   Wikipédia en Français

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