Life can be precarious for a small, remote island such as Colonsay in these difficult economic times. With their already limited facilities, such communities face the ever-present threat of losing what little they have. In the case of Colonsay, the islanders were up against the distressing prospect of losing their only pub over the Christmas period, as the hotel it forms part of had decided to close for the winter, it not being viable to stay open. However, the islanders took matters into their own hands, and by clubbing together to pay a rent for the premises managed to keep the pub open. Experienced bar staff provided training for those who would perform bar and catering duties. Had this not happened, the nearest pub would have been two and a half hours away by ferry in Oban!
Colonsay and Oronsay are sometimes joined by a beach known as The Strand, and sometimes separated, depending on the tide. In spite of their small size, they manage to pack in a host of attractions for their visitors: empty white beaches such as that at Kiloran Bay for the walkers and surfers, seal colonies, wild goats, corncrakes and golden eagles for the wildlife watchers, standing stones for lovers of ancient history. Added to which, like Tiree, they enjoy high sunshine levels, which explains the presence of the palm trees and rhododendrons of Colonsay House Gardens. Even golfers are catered for, courtesy of the Colonsay Golf Club. Oronsay was one of the places visited by St Columba on his way to Iona, and there is a ruined 13th century priory on the island whose features include tombstones with the carved portraits of priests and warriors. Colonsay is reachable from the mainland by ferry or by air. Visitors arriving by ferry can visit the island's heritage centre right where they alight, as it is situated in the old waiting room of the ferry terminal at Scalasaig. For such a small community - barely more than 100 inhabitants - there is a surprising amount going on. For a list of events, see here.
Map of the area.
Kiloran Bay © 2009 C Michael Hogan, via Wikimedia Commons