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How an Island Lost Its People

Improvement, Clearance and Resettlement on Lismore 1830–1914

by Robert Hay


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ISBN: 9781839830204
Published: 06 Apr 2023
Format: Paperback
Extent: 272
Publisher: Birlinn Ltd
Imprint: Origin
Local history
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About the Book

In 1830, the little Hebridean island of Lismore was one of the granaries of the West Highlands, with every possible scrap of land producing bere barley or oats. The population had reached its peak of 1500, but by 1910, numbers had dwindled to 400 and were still falling. The agricultural economy had been almost completely transformed to support sheep and cattle, with ploughland replaced by the now familiar green grassy landscape.

With reference to documentary sources, including Poor Law reports, the report of the Napier Commission into the condition crofters in the Highlands and Islands, as well as local documents and letters, this book documents a century of emigration, migration and clearance and paints an intimate portrait of the island community during a period of profound change. At the same time, it also celebrates the achievements of the many tenants who grasped the opportunities involved in agricultural improvement.

The Author

Robert Hay

Robert Hay spent his professional life as a professional agricultural and environmental scientist. After academic posts at Edinburgh, Lancaster and the Scottish Agricultural College, he was director of the Scottish Agricultural Science Agency. He has lived full time on Lismore since 2006, where he is the archivist of the Historical Society.

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