The Island of Tirey, or as it is sometimes written Tire-iy or Teree, is the Ethican Insula of Adamnanus. It lies out in the Ocean, at a great Distance from the main Land, and very much detached from the other Islands. It is situated at about the distance of Ten Leagues to the Northwest of Icolumbkil; and extends in Length nearly from North East, to South West, in the same Direction with its neighbouring Island of Coll.
These two Islands, with the smaller ones that ly in the Sound between them are stretched in a streight Line, of above 30 measured Miles in Length, which varies but two or three points from the general Direction of the main Land of Scotland, though they are distant from it near 20 Leagues.
The flatness of the Country and the Shelving nature of its Shores, is attended with one Inconvenience, the Want of a Harbour. There is not a Creek round all the Island, where a Vessel of any Size can be safe, if the Weather is rough. The only Place of approaching to it, is at the Bay of Gott, which is about the middle of the Island on the East Side. It is called by Adamnanus the Portus Campiluna, being an open Sandy Bay, in the Form of a Crescent. Here our Vessel lay two Days, about half a Mile from the Shore, in four Fathom Water; but the Place is quite Shelterless either from the Winds or the Ocean; and can be visited in Safety only in the Summer Time, and in very easy weather.
It is remarked by D’Arfville in his Account of the Voyage of King James the 5th through the Hebrides, that along the Coasts of Coll and Tirey, it is high Water, when the Moon is at S. one fourth S.E. But by the Information of the Inhabitants, eastern and western Moons make full Sea at Tirey. The Tide ebbs and flows regularly Six Hours. The Tide of Flood comes upon the Island from the South West, from between Barrahead and Ireland. And throughout the whole year, the predominant Wind is from the South West.
The Fishery might be turned to great Account in Tirey. There is not a Net nor long Line in all the Island. There are frequently very favourable Opportunities here, for the Herring Fishing in Summer. But every year, the Herrings constantly abound in great Shoals all about Tirey, from the beginning of October to the end of December which gives the Inhabitants an Opportunity of enriching themselves by the late Fishery. This however they have always neglected, not ever take any Herrings, though during that Season they are thrown up in vast Quantities upon the Shores, by every violent Gale of Wind.
They are equally negligent with Respect to the Cod and Ling, which are to be found all round the Island in great Plenty and Perfection. Were they furnished with long Lines and Salt a very profitable Trade might here be carried on in drying these Fish, for which the Season and the Shores of the Island are extremely well adapted.
Extract from Tirey in The Rev. Dr. John Walker’s Report on the Hebrides of 1764 and 1771 edited by Margaret M. MacKay and reproduced with kind permission of John Donald Publishers.