Disambiguation: "Ceann Iar" is a common Scottish placename meaning Western Headland
|OS grid reference||NF616623|
|Gaelic name||Ceann Iar|
|Meaning of name||Western Headland|
|Area and summit|
|Highest elevation||Cnoc Bharr 19 m|
|Island group||Monach Islands|
|Local Authority||Comhairle nan Eilean Siar|
Ceann Iar is the second largest of the Monach Islands. It is connected at low tide to Ceann Ear via Sibhinis. It is said that it was at one time possible to walk all the way to Baleshare, and on to North Uist, five miles away at low tide. In the 16th century, a large tidal wave was said to have washed this away. Despite Ceann Iar's name, Shillay is in fact the westernmost of the group.
Like the other islands of the group, it is a low lying, sandy island, subject to intense coastal erosion. Not unlike the Isles of Scilly it is possible that Ceann Iar, Sibhinis and Ceann Ear formed a single body of land within historic times, and that their land area has greatly decreased due to overgrazing, and wind erosion as well.
On the east side is Baile Beag (wee town), the settlement of the island, which is in turn on the slopes of Cnoc Bhàrr (top hill), which at 19 metres in height is a mere metre higher than neighbouring Ceann Ear's hillocks. In the north, there is also Cnoc Mòr (big hill), which is the other "height" on the island. The west is formed by Rubha Shulabhaig (a headland), and the north east by Hearnish. Just to the north is the island of S(t)ròmaigh (from Old Norse meaning "storm island")
A cairn on Ceann Iar marks the grave of Lieutenant RNR MacNeill of the HMA Laurentic. The ship hit a mine in 1917, during WWI, off Northern Ireland, and his body had drifted all the way to here. Strangely, this accords with the old Hebridean tradition that the sea carries the drowned home - the Monachs are Clan MacNeil territory.
The island had been settled intermittently for over a thousand years, although the main settlement was on Ceann Ear. It was resettled in the wake of the Highland Clearances, but finally abandoned in 1942.
- Area and population ranks: there are c. 300 islands >20ha in extent and 93 permanently inhabited islands were listed in the 2011 census.
- National Records of Scotland (15 August 2013) (pdf) Statistical Bulletin: 2011 Census: First Results on Population and Household Estimates for Scotland - Release 1C (Part Two). "Appendix 2: Population and households on Scotland’s inhabited islands". Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
- Ordnance Survey. Get-a-map (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure. http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/getamap/. Retrieved 21 August 2013.