|OS grid reference||NF712060|
|Meaning of name||"tidal island"|
|Area||38 hectares (94 acres)|
|Highest elevation||38 metres (125 ft)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Council area||Western Isles|
Orosay (Scottish Gaelic: Orasaigh) is a small tidal island in Traigh Mhòr on the north east coast of Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is about 30 hectares (74 acres) in extent and the highest point is 38 metres (125 ft).
Geography and etymology
Inland, the nearest settlement is Eoligarry, separated from the island by the strait of Caolas Orasaigh (English: "Sound of Orosay"). The smaller beach of Tràigh Cille-bharra ("the beach of the church of Barra") lies to the north. The islands of Fuday, Greanamul, Gighay and Hellisay lie further offshore in the Sound of Barra. The name "Orosay" is a variant of "Oronsay", from the Old Norse for "tidal" or "ebb island", found commonly in the Hebrides. For example, there are two other small Orosay/Orosaighs surrounding Barra alone. One is at grid reference NL665970 at the south eastern approaches to Castle Bay and the second at grid reference NL641971 in Caolas Bhatarsaigh east of the causeway.
Barra's airport uses Traigh Mhòr ("big beach"), also known as Cockle Strand, as a runway. Planes can only land and take off at low tide, and the timetable varies with the tides. Reputedly, this is the only airport in the world to have scheduled flights landing on a beach. The aircraft currently in operation on Barra is the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, flown by Loganair on services to Glasgow and Benbecula. Traigh Mhòr also provides commercial cockle harvesting.
In the 1970s concern was expressed about the progressive deepening of Caolas Orasaigh as a possible cause of increased ponding of water on the beach runway at low tide. The problem does not, however, appear to have been serious and apparently no action was taken.
Orosay in literature
Julian Barnes's short story "Marriage Lines" (collected in Pulse (2011)) is set entirely on Orosay.
- Watson, W.J. (2004) The History of the Celtic Place-names of Scotland. Reprinted with an introduction by Simon Taylor. Edinburgh. Birlinn. ISBN 1-84158-323-5
- Watson (2004) p. 505.
- Rick Livingstone’s Tables of the Islands of Scotland (pdf) Argyll Yacht Charters. Retrieved 12 Dec 2011.
- Ordnance Survey. Get-a-map (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure. Ordinance Survey. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- "Orosay, Sound of" Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
- Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
- "Cille Bharra". Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
- "Barra Airport". Highlands and Islands Airports Limited. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
- Ritchie, W. (1971) Commissioned Report No. 047: The beaches of Barra and the Uists. A survey of the beach, dune and machair areas of Barra, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist and Berneray. SNH/Countryside Commission for Scotland. Retrieved 17 August 2009. pp 71-72.