Shillay, Monach Islands

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A ruined cottage, now replaced with a Portakabin, used until recently as a fisherman's shelter
Gaelic name Siolaigh/Seilaigh
Norse name Selrey
Meaning of name Seal Island
or "Herring island", from Norse
Shillay is located in Outer Hebrides
Shillay shown within the Outer Hebrides
OS grid reference NF593628
Coordinates 57°32′N 7°41′W / 57.53°N 7.69°W / 57.53; -7.69
Physical geography
Island group Monach Islands
Area 7.4 ha
Highest elevation 10 m (33 ft)
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country Scotland
Council area Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Population 0
References [1][2][3][4]
Shillay Lighthouse
Monach Isles
The old lighthouse was not used between 1942 and 2008
Location Shillay Isle
Monach Islands
Outer Hebrides
United Kingdom
Coordinates 57°31′33″N 7°41′42″W / 57.525894°N 7.695055°W / 57.525894; -7.695055
Year first constructed 1864
Deactivated 1942-2008
Construction brick tower
Tower shape tapered cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern attached to a 2-storey keeper’s house
Markings / pattern unpainted tower
Tower height 41 metres (135 ft)
Focal height 47 metres (154 ft)
Range 18 nautical miles (33 km; 21 mi)
Characteristic Fl (2) W 15s.
Admiralty number A4020.5
NGA number 3955
ARLHS number SCO-137
Managing agent Northern Lighthouse Board [5][6]

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

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 lighthouse at Shillay has an uneven history. The red brick lighthouse was built in 1864 by David & Thomas Stevenson, and was in use until it was closed during the war in 1942 and not lit again in 1948 after hostilities ceased. After the Braer disaster in 1993 in the Shetlands, a new light was recommended to mark the deep water route west of the Hebrides. A new automated aluminium light was installed in 1997. However it proved inadequate and in 2005 it was decided that it was cheaper to reuse the original lighthouse than to increase the height of the new light. In 2008 the old lighthouse was refurbished and put back into use.[7][8][citation needed]

A stone from the lighthouse has been removed into the church wall at Paible; a keeper had carved into it "Eternity Oh Eternity".[2] 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.

See also


  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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 May 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
  5. ^ Shillay (Siolaigh, Monach Isles) The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 19 May 2016
  6. ^ Monach Northern Lighthouse Board. Retrieved 19 May 2016
  7. ^ "Monach Light". Northern Lighthouse Board. Retrieved 2015-06-21.
  8. ^[link expired]

External links

  • Northern Lighthouse Board

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

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