Ailsa Craig Island.
What is Ailsa Craig? Ailsa Craig is a well known landmark in Scotland and is a renowned bird sanctuary. The island is home to one of the largest gannet colonies in the world, with more than 70,000 birds, and is designated as a European Special Protection Area.
Ailsa Craig, in the Firth of Clyde, is an island that rises steeply from the sea to a height of 1,110 feet. It is a volcanic plug that is found in the Clyde estuary, being active about 500 million years ago.
Who owns Ailsa Craig? Ailsa Craig is owned by the Kennedy family, whose title was taken from Marques de Ailsa. Ailsa Craig had been part of the lands of Crossraguel Abbey; the dispute over the ownership of these lands had formed the background of the notorious “Asado del Abad” in the 16th century. The Kennedy family also owned Culzean Castle, which is now owned by the National Trust.
Where is Ailsa Craig? The distinctive dome-shaped rock island is located approximately 8 miles from Girvan and approximately 12 miles from Maidens on the South Ayrshire coast. It rises steeply from the Firth of Clyde to a height of 340 m (1,114 ft). Its position is: Latitude 55 ° 15.1’N, Longitude 5 ° 06.4’W
It has a conical top and is very steep except on the northeast side where it slopes more gently and is accessible. It can be seen from Girvan for miles in any direction along the Ayrshire coast. The shape seems to change as you move along the shoreline, viewing it from different angles.
Ailsa Craig’s background. Ailsa Craig comes from the Gaelic for ‘Fairy Rock’, it is 1200 m (1,300 yards) long and 800 m (900 yards) wide, with an area of 100 Ha (245 acres). It is also known as Paddy’s Milestone due to its position as a landmark on the road from Ireland.
What is Ailsa Craig made of? The island was the heart of an ancient volcano, its rock exhibiting a fine columnar structure and was recognized as the source of a superior microgranite used to make curly stones.
In fact, most of the curling stones still in use today were made from Ailsa Craig granite. It was here that the curling stones used by Scotland’s women’s curling team, winner of the 2002 Winter Olympic gold medal, were made.
The living history of Ailsa Craig. At the end of the 19th century the island had a population of 29 people, working in the quarries or the lighthouse. In 1881, the Northern Lighthouse Commissioners received requests from Lloyds and the Scottish Shipmasters Association requesting the construction of two fog signals and a lighthouse at Ailsa Craig. The Board of Trade and Trinity House agreed to the proposal and work began the following year. Construction was supervised in 1883-6 by Thomas and his nephew David Stevenson, board engineers. (Thomas was the father of Robert Louis Stevenson). The light was first displayed on the night of June 15, 1886, an oil lamp that remained in use until January 24, 1911, when it became incandescent.
Siren fog signals were installed on the north and south ends of Ailsa Craig and were powered by gas engines until 1911, when they were replaced by oil engines.
These fog signals were permanently discontinued in November 1966 and were replaced by a Tyfon fog signal, which had a character of 3 bursts, each lasting three seconds every 45 seconds. It was sounded from a position near the southeast of the lighthouse tower and not at any of the previous siren signal sites.
This fog signal was discontinued in 1987. Until wireless telephone communications were established at Ailsa Craig in 1935, the lighting managers and employees of Ailsa Craig Granites Ltd used to rely on pigeons for message transmission.
A dovecote was established on Girvan Green, where the city council established a parking place for cars and buses in 1935.
The improved lighthouse at Ailsa Craig. The lighthouse was automated in 1990 and is now monitored remotely from the Northern Lighthouse Board offices in Edinburgh. In 2001, as part of the redevelopment and degassing program, Alisa Craig’s lighthouse was converted to solar electric power.
Local sayings. “When Ailsa Craig is wearing her coat, the weather will be very hot, (hoat). When Ailsa Craig is wearing her hat, you can be sure it will be wet, (wat). When Ailsa Craig is wearing her tie, that’s look a sign that it’s going to be dry “ The ‘coat’, the ‘hat’ and the ‘tie’ are the clouds or fog often seen in Ailsa Craig.
There is only one port for Ailsa Craig. It is suitable for landing, but only fair. The water here deepens very quickly.
At one point, you were not encouraged to land on Ailsa Craig, but now the freedom of the field side act allows you full access, as long as you act responsibly.