Shillay, Monach Islands

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This article is about the Monach Island (Heisgeir). For the island north of Pabbay, see Shillay.
Shillay is located in Outer Hebrides
Shillay shown within the Outer Hebrides
OS grid reference NF593628
Gaelic name Siolaigh/Seilaigh
Norse name Selrey
Meaning of name

Seal Island

or "Herring island", from Norse
Area and summit
Area 7.4 ha
Highest elevation 10 m (33 ft)
Population 0
Island group Monach Islands
Local Authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Flag of Scotland.svg Lymphad3.svg
References [1][2][3][4]

Shillay (Scottish Gaelic: Siolaigh or Seilaigh from the Norse selrey, meaning Seal island) is the westernmost of the Monach Islands (Heisgeir), off North Uist in the Outer Hebrides.

Geology and geography[edit]

A ruined cottage, now replaced with a Portakabin, used until recently as a fisherman's shelter

Like most of the other Monach Islands, Shillay has a thin, sandy soil, which has been much troubled by erosion, and which was badly eroded by a huge wave in the 16th century.

Despite Ceann Iar's name, meaning "western headland", Shillay is the westernmost island of the group.

There are several small islets around Shillay, including Eilean Siorraidh, Odarum (to the north) and Raisgeir.


The old lighthouse became redundant in 1942; the newer light was installed in 1997.

Shillay is most notable for being the location of a disused lighthouse. This was originally a fire, which was maintained by the monks who lived at Clach na Bleide on Ceann Ear. The red brick lighthouse was built in 1864 by David & Thomas Stevenson, and was in use until 1942.[5] A newer light was installed in 1997.[6]

A stone from the lighthouse has been removed into the church wall at Paible; a keeper had carved into it "Eternity Oh Eternity".[2] Interestingly, just to the south of Shillay, there is an Eilean Siorraidh ("Island of Eternity"; formerly Eilean Siorruidh) - whether this carving is a reference to this or the solitude of the island is unrecorded.

According to a BBC documentary [7] the old lighthouse has been refitted with modern equipment after the new light was found to be too low.


  1. ^ 2001 UK Census per List of islands of Scotland
  2. ^ a b Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7. 
  3. ^ Ordnance Survey
  4. ^ Iain Mac an Tailleir. "Placenames" (PDF). Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  5. ^ Keay, J. & Keay, J. (1994) Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland. London. HarperCollins.
  6. ^ "Monach Light". Northern Lighthouse Board. Retrieved 2007-12-08. 
  7. ^

Coordinates: 57°31′39″N 7°41′34″W / 57.52750°N 7.69278°W / 57.52750; -7.69278