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Muck, Scotland facts for kids

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Gaelic name Eilean nam Muc
Meaning of name "sea pig", from Gaelic muc, "pig", a short form of muc-mhara, "whale".
Port Mòr, from the harbour
Port Mòr, from the harbour
OS grid reference NM408794
Coordinates 56°50′N 6°15′W / 56.83°N 6.25°W / 56.83; -6.25
Physical geography
Island group Small Isles
Area 559 ha (2.16 sq mi)
Area rank 70 
Highest elevation Beinn Airein, 137 m (449 ft)
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country Scotland
Council area Highland
Population 27
Population density 4.8/km2 (12/sq mi)
Largest settlement Port Mòr

Muck ( Scottish Gaelic: Eilean nam Muc) is the smallest of four main islands in the Small Isles, part of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Today, much of the island is used for grazing. Residents use wool to make rugs and clothing. There are several ancient monuments and some facilities for visitors. The few residents are served by a single school, Muck Primary School & Nursery. The island is owned by the MacEwen family.


A causeway and slipway were built at Port Mòr in 2005. This allows vehicles to be driven on and off the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, MV Lochnevis, which links Muck and the neighbouring Small Isles of Canna, Rùm and Eigg, with the mainland port of Mallaig (2½ hours away). However, visitors are not normally permitted to bring vehicles to the Small Isles. During the summer months the islands are also served by Arisaig Marine's ferry MV Sheerwater from Arisaig, 10 miles (16 km) south of Mallaig.

The island's main hill is Beinn Airein (137 metres (449 ft)). Muck is also known for its seal population, and for the porpoises in the surrounding waters. The name may derive from the Gaelic word for porpoise. An earlier owner, who disliked the name, attempted to persuade Samuel Johnson and James Boswell that the authentic name was "Isle of Monk".

The island's population was 27 as recorded by the 2011 census four fewer that the 31 usual residents in 2001. During the same period Scottish island populations as a whole grew by 4% to 103,702. The island has no church, shop or post office, and, uniquely among Scottish islands with a population of this size, it has no post box. There is a hotel, Gallanach Lodge, and a range of other holiday accommodation. It is featured in the on-line newspaper West Word.


The name of the island, according to James Boswell in 1785, derives from Mouach, signifying the Sows' Island. He relates that the island was formerly "churchland belonging to Icolmkill" and was inhabited by a hermit.

In 1549, Dean Monro wrote:

Be ane haffe myle of sea to this ile, lyes ane ile of twa myle lang, callit in Erische Ellannaneche, that is the Swynes ile, and very fertill and fruitful of cornes and grassing for all store, and verey guid for fishing, inhabit and manurit, a good falcon nest in it. It perteynis to the Bishope of the iles, with ane guid heighland haven in it, the entrey quherof is at the west cheik.

He also stated of the offshore islet of Eilean nan Each that it was "in Englishe the Horse ile, guid for horse and uther store, perteining to the Bishope of the iles."

In 1773 Samuel Johnson and James Boswell undertook a journey in Scotland which Johnson narrated in his book A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. He gives an insight into the prosperity on Muck and the philanthropy of its Laird at the time:

This little Island, however it be named, is of considerable value. It is two English miles long, and three quarters of a mile broad, and consequently contains only nine hundred and sixty English acres. It is chiefly arable. Half of this little dominion the Laird retains in his own hand, and on the other half, live one hundred and sixty persons, who pay their rent by exported corn. What rent they pay, we were not told, and could not decently inquire. The proportion of the people to the land is such, as the most fertile countries do not commonly maintain.

The Laird having all his people under his immediate view, seems to be very attentive to their happiness. The devastation of the small-pox, when it visits places where it comes seldom, is well known. He has disarmed it of its terrour at Muack, by inoculating eighty of his people. The expence was two shillings and sixpence a head. Many trades they cannot have among them, but upon occasion, he fetches a smith from the Isle of Egg, and has a tailor from the main land, six times a year. This island well deserved to be seen, but the Laird's absence left us no opportunity.

Muck's main landowners are Lawrence and Ewen MacEwen, whose family have owned the island since 1896.

  • Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
  • Mac an Tàilleir, Iain (2003) Ainmean-àite/Placenames. (pdf) Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 26 August 2012.

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