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Tiree (Scottish Gaelic: Tiriodh) is the most westerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The low-lying island, southwest of Coll, has an area of 7,834 hectares (30.2 sq mi) and a population of around 650. The land is highly fertile, and crofting, alongside tourism, and fishing are the main sources of employment for the islanders.

Tiree enjoys a mild climate with relatively high total hours of sunshine during the late spring and early summer compared to the average for the United Kingdom. This is due to the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream.<ref>http://www.isleoftiree.com (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>


The name 'Tiree' means 'the low land of barley' or the 'land of corn'.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, The Hebrides, An Aerial View of A Cultural Landscape (Birlinn, 2010) 192</ref>


Evidence of early islanders is provided by the remains of a Broch, Dun Mor Vaul. Excavations have dated its construction to between AD60 and AD90.<ref>http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/21524/details/tiree+dun+mor+vaul (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref> In the sixth century St. Kenneth is said to have lived on the island and accompanied St. Columba on his mission to the Picts. A ruined chapel to the west of the island is associated with him, although this is thought to be a replacement for earlier buildings.

Writing in 1549, Donald Munro, High Dean of the Isles wrote of "Thiridh" that it was: "ane mane laich fertile fruitful cuntrie... All inhabite and manurit with twa paroche kirkis in it, ane fresh water loch with an auld castell. Na cuntrie may be mair fertile of corn and very gude for wild fowls and for fishe, with ane gude heavin for heiland galayis'. Until the mid-seventeenth century the island was associated with Clan Maclean, and owned by their ruling family based at Duart Castle. However the Macleans supported the Stuart monarchy during the Civil War of the 1640s and later with James IIV following his deposition in 1688.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref> As a consequence their opponents the Campbells gained both Coll and Tiree through military conquest. Today the island is still owned by the Dukes of Argyll.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref>

Following the Union of 1707 the Campbell chiefs need for ever increasing revenues to support their aristocratic lifestyle led them to introduce agricultural 'improvements' to the island.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref> They began to replace the old 'run rig' system of farming (with multiple tenants) with single-tenant farms which would be more productive of surplus and therefore of rent.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref> However the shortcomings of the leases offered discouraged enthusiastic engagement by tenants, while there were also too few resources.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref>

During the early nineteenth century the island was affected by two large scale economic disasters, in common with much of the Western Highlands. The Kelp Boom collapsed following the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the potato crop failed in the 1840s. The latter resulted in the island's population becoming virtually destitute.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref> The Campbell landowners responded by attempting to evict the poverty stricken population and replace them with a few farmers with large holdings.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref>

The Duke of Argyll did however make use of government relief schemes, which provided work at starvation wages and also financial assistance for those who wanted to emigrate. This apparent charity has been attributed to the Campbell's need to maintain their reputation in polite society.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref>

In 1847 the Harbour was built to encourage fishing.<ref>http://www.isleoftiree.com/places/milton-harbour (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>

Land ownership and management continued to be a running political issue. The Napier Commission investigated the area and reported in 1884.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 197</ref> Its findings led to the Crofters Act of 1886 which granted security of tenure and fair rents to crofters.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref> It did not however address the situation of landless individuals, and the Campbells remained landlords.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 197</ref> In 1886 there was a confrontation between the islanders and the eighth Duke of Argyll over land use following which the British Navy and Police were called in to restore 'order'.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 198</ref>The Duke never again set foot on the island.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 197</ref>

Landlord and tenant relations remained fraught during early twentieth century. The ninth Duke of Argyll finally allowed farms to be split up into crofts to accommodate ex-servicemen during the 1920s. This has been remarked upon as one of few instances in the Hebrides in which a landowner has given in to the demands of their tenants.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 197</ref>

In 1929 the first flight to Tiree took place. In June 1936 the first commercial flight to the island followed, using a DH 86 Dragon Rapide, a twin engine biplane which could carry eight passengers.<ref>http://www.isleoftiree.com/places/airport (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref> During World War II there was extensive RAF activity on the island.<ref>http://www.secretscotland.org.uk/index.php/Secrets/Tiree (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>


Balevullin Beach, Tiree

The island is ten miles long and five miles wide.<ref>http://www.isleoftiree.com (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref> The main village on Tiree is Scarinish. It is located on the south-east coast of the island.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref>The island's museum and archive is located here at An Iodhlann (the 'stackyard' or 'storehouse').<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref>

The island's other settlements include Hynish and Sandaig. The highest point on the island is Ben Hynish to the south of the island which rises to 141 metres (463 ft).<ref>http://www.isleoftiree.com/places/ben-hynish (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>A military radar station, colloquially known as the 'Golf Ball' was constructed in 1985 and here. It is a well-known island landmark.<ref>http://www.isleoftiree.com/places/ben-hynish (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>

The island's airport is located in the centre of Tiree and links the island to Glasgow.<ref>http://www.isleoftiree.com/places/airport (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>


Tiree has similar geology to the neighbouring island of Coll.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref> While Coll is mostly rocky and infertile, Tiree is principally covered with machair and protected from the sea by low-lying beaches.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref> The island is comprised of a low-lying strata of Lewisian gneiss.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref>

The island's current landscape is attributed to a pattern of agriculture which became established in the nineteenth century, and which itself was based on eighteenth century 'improvements'.<ref>Angus and Patricia MacDonald, Hebrides, 192</ref>


Tiree has a steeply declining but still considerable percentage of Gaelic speakers.<ref>Kurt C. Duwe (September 2006), "Muile, Tiriodh & Colla (Mull, Tiree & Coll)" (PDF), Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) Local Studies (2nd ed.) (Linguae Celticae) 20 (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>In 2001, 368 (47.8% of all residents) Gaelic-speakers lived on the island. By 2011 that figure was down to 240 (38.3% of all residents), a decline of nearly 35% in only a decade. That being said, 38.3% of Tiree residents spoke Gaelic in 2011 which is the highest level in the Inner Hebrides.


CalMac operate a ferry to Scarinish. The daily crossing from Oban on the mainland takes four hours.<ref>http://www.calmac.co.uk/timetables/summer-timetables.htm?id=summer-coll-and-tiree--oban-coll-tiree.png (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>A call is made at Arinagour on Coll and once a week the ferry crosses to Castlebay on Barra. More limited services operate in Winter.


Office facilities are provided at the island business centre.<ref> http://www.isleoftiree.com/useful-information (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref> Tiree's Rural Centre offers an internet hotspot which is accessible during opening hours from Monday to Saturday.<ref> http://www.isleoftiree.com/useful-information (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>There is a public library located at Tiree High School.<ref> http://www.isleoftiree.com/useful-information (accessed 2nd July 2014)</ref>