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, along with Colonsay, enjoys a relatively high total hours of sunshine during the late spring and early summer compared to the average for the United Kingdom.
Tiree is known for the 1st century AD Dùn Mòr broch, for the prehistoric carved Ringing Stone and for the birds of the Ceann a’ Mhara headland.
The Ringing Stone – a Cup and ring mark stone in 1892.
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”.
In 1770, half of the island was held by fourteen farmers who had drained land for hay and pasture. Instead of exporting live cattle (which were often exhausted by the long journey to market and so fetched low prices), they began to export salt beef in barrels to get better prices. The rest of the island was let to 45 groups of tenants on co-operative joint farms: agricultural organisations probably dating from clan times. Field strips were allocated by annual ballot. Sowing and harvesting dates were decided communally. It is reported that in 1774, Tiresians were ‘well-clothed and well-fed, having an abundance of corn and cattle’.
Its name derives from Tìr Iodh, ‘land of the corn’, from the days of the 6th century Celtic missionary and abbot St Columba (d. 597). Tiree provided the monastic community on the island of Iona, south-east of the island, with grain. A number of early monasteries once existed on Tiree itself, and several sites have stone cross-slabs from this period, e.g. St Patrick’s Chapel, Ceann a’ Mhara (NL 938 401) and Soroby (NL 984 416).
Skerryvore lighthouse, 12 miles (19 km) south west of Tiree, was built with some difficulty between 1838 and 1844 by Alan Stevenson.