God's Islanders Review

Gigha is a small, 7 miles long, ½ mile wide island off the west coast of Kintyre. It is much more than that, however. According to Catherine Czerkawska, it is a fortunate isle: the Gulf Stream gives it a mild climate, its land is fertile, and flowers cover its hills:

“There is an old saying, that when the gorse is in bloom, kissing’s in season, the reason being that there is some kind of gorse, or “whin” as it is called in Scotland, in bloom, just about all year long. Even midwinter sees a scattering of yellow flowers, but in spring, on the Isle of Gigha, a glittering of yellow dazzles your eyes to the point of pain.”

Ms Czerkawska describes Gigha’s history without getting tangled in genealogical complications, something rarely seen in books about the Hebrides. She has spent years in Gigha, and the book reflects her easy familiarity with the land and the people who live there. In fact, she is a fine writer, as well as a lover of this Isle, making the book a pleasure to read, even if you don’t intend to visit the place... although after reading it, I plan on going there for an extended visit!

“God’s Islanders” describes how and why the Gigha’s people bought their island in 2002. It had suffered from a series of (often) lackadaisical landowners, and a feudal way of life for much too long. One example: when one of the lairds suffered bankruptcy, Islanders were expropriated from their homes! Lairds could - and did - move Islanders from one house to another, without permission or discussion. It is no wonder that Gigha’s population had almost disappeared by the late 1990s. Since 2002, however, the Island is gaining energy and population, and a new lease on life that will take it into the future.

Gigha has a community website. It is attractive, easy to use, and includes a short history, nice pictures, a description of the famous Achamore Gardens, and even a listing of tombstone inscriptions. The "Latest News" section constantly changes, listing employment opportunities in the Hotel and at Achamore Gardens; and community events like the coming Music Weekend, and the 'Nearest Weather'. These Islanders are serious about making their venture successful.

Catherine Czerkowska maintains a blog at The Scottish Home. She is a busy and talented woman!

About a Knapdale Clearance

Mapping Knapdale
Arichonan Affray
The Hearth Tax of 1694
Argyll Militia Intro Page
Inverneill Estates
Castle Sween, a history and poetry
Celtic Knapdale
Rejecting Knapdale's Establishment: The Church
Donald McGilp Letters
Leaving Knapdale Section


My email address: heathermc (at) northwestel (dot) net