WHAT TO DO (OVER THE CAUSEWAY) IN ERISKAY
Its name comes from the Old Norse language meaning ‘Erik’s Isle’. A causeway now
connects Eriskay to South Uist making it that much easier to visit. Eriskay is probably best
known as the location of the sinking of the SS Politician in 1941. Its cargo was 250,000
bottles of whiskey. There followed a series of illegal salvage operations under the cover of
darkness, all completed just before the customs and excise officials arrived. The ration
system that was in place during world war II had meant that the whiskey supply on the
island had dried up so the Politician’s bounty was a welcome relief. The tale became the
basis of the book by Compton MacKenzie and later the Ealing Studios film Whiskey Galore.
Those visiting the Am Politician bar & restaurant can see an original bottle of whiskey from the SS Politician in pride of place behind the bar.
Eriskay has a stunning white beach, The Princes Strand (Coilleag a’Phrionnsa); where
Bonnie Prince Charlie first landed in Scotland in 1745 to lead the Jacobite Rebellion. There
is a cairn to commemorate his landing and a flower that grows on the strand each year is
said to be from the seeds that he scattered there.
The tallest hill on the island is Beinn Scritheann at approximately 600 feet. An energetic
walk will take you to the top where you can take in the spectacular views. Or if you prefer to
relax there is a popular beach just behind the Am Politician.
Wild Eriskay Ponies roam the island. They are an ancient hardy Hebridean rare breed and
number only 400 worldwide. The islanders very much depended upon them. Now
endangered the breed is being preserved by the Comman Each nan Eilean.
In the summer months there are often evening ceilidh’s held in the Community Hall, next to
the shop. It is also used as a café and is the venue for kid’s holiday clubs.
The famed traditional Eriskay Jersey comes from the island. The jerseys were originally
knitted by the women of Eriskay for their fishermen husbands. The jerseys are seamless
and of a fine knit to keep in the warmth and to keep out the damp. Each woman used her
own intricate individual pattern and it is said that this was to simplify identification if a
fisherman was lost at sea. Only a small number of women still produce these jerseys today
and their work is sold in the Community Shop.
Built in 1903, the church of St. Michael’s sits on a hill overlooking the main village. Its’ alter
forms the bow of a boat, a reminder of Eriskay’s fishing heritage. A statue of the Virgin Mary
sits in a memorial garden, overlooking the Sound of Barra, to mark the site of the old
If you’d like to rest a while, travelling from Uist; just at the end of the causeway on the right,
is a bench with views over the sea. It has proven to be a great place from which to watch otters,
seals and other wildlife. Even golden eagles have been known to put in an appearance.
Find out more about the islands: