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Gaelic: Ìosaigh


Isay, Mingay and Clett, Loch Dunvegan, Isle of Skye.jpg
Isay from the coral beaches on Skye
Location: 57°31’12"N, 6°39’0"W
Grid reference: NG218570
Area: 150 acres
Highest point: 92 ft
Population: 0

Isay is an uninhabited island in Loch Dunvegan off the north-west coast of Skye in Inverness-shire. Two smaller isles of Mingay and Clett lie nearby. The name originated from the Old Norse ise-øy meaning "porpoise island". The island of Lampay is due south. The area of Isay is approximately 150 acres.[1]

An October sunset over Isay, with the Outer Hebrides in the distance.


The first recorded owner of Isay and its surrounding islets was Olaf the Black, the 13th-century ruler of the Kingdom of the Isles.[2]

In the 16th century the main house on the island was inhabited by the MacLeods of Lewis, and it was here that Roderick Macleod of Lewis ('Nimheach' - the venomous) implemented his plan to ensure that his grandson would inherit Raasay and the lands of Gairloch. He convened the two powerful families (names do not appear to have been recorded) of the time at Isay house for a banquet which he suggested was to inform them of good news. During the feast he invited each person present to accompany him outside of the banquet hall in order to inform them of this news. Upon leaving the hall the victim was promptly stabbed to death. In this way both families were wiped out.[2][3][4]

The island was home to a small fishing community in around the 1830s, which included a general store and fishing station, and by 1841 supported 15 families "in considerable comfort". However, like many other small islands, the population of around ninety were removed during the Highland clearances to make way for sheep. The remains of the 18 or more cottages can be clearly seen from the Waternish peninsula, which overlooks the three islands.

The island was briefly owned by the singer Donovan in the 1960s.


("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Isay)
  1. "Rick Livingstone’s Tables of the Islands of Scotland" (pdf) Argyll Yacht Charters. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. pp. 166-68. ISBN 1841954543. 
  4. CANMORE (RCAHMS) record of Isay