Pabbay, Barra Isles

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Gaelic namePabaigh
Pronunciation[ˈpʰapaj] (About this soundlisten)
Norse namePapey
Meaning of nameIsland of the papar
Pabbay is located in Outer Hebrides
Pabbay shown within the Outer Hebrides
OS grid referenceNL605880
Coordinates56°51′N 7°34′W / 56.85°N 07.57°W / 56.85; -07.57
Physical geography
Island groupOuter Hebrides
Area250 ha (0.97 sq mi)
Area rank96= [1]
Highest elevation171 m (561 ft)
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Council areaOuter Hebrides
Pabbay can be made out in the distance

Pabbay (Scottish Gaelic: Pabaigh) is one of the Barra Isles at the southern tip of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The name comes from Papey, which is Norse for "island of the papar" (i.e. monks). At only 250 hectares (0.97 sq mi), it never had a large population, and, after all the able-bodied men were killed in a fierce storm while out on a fishing trip on 1 May 1897, it was abandoned in the early twentieth century.

The National Trust for Scotland has owned the island since 2000. With only two sheep left on the island in July 2007 and few, if any, other permanent mammalian residents, Pabbay is consequently home in summer to many ground-nesting birds due to the absence of predators.

The island was the site of a Celtic hermitage, and a Pictish carved stone dates from that period. Remains of an Iron Age settlement can also been seen on Pabbay.

The name of Pabbay is used for one of the three houses of Castlebay Secondary School; the other two are Mingulay and Sandray.

Areas of Interest[edit]

Looking towards Bàgh Ban from Rosinish

Bàgh Bàn is the name applied to a large bay situated on the SE coast of the island. It's the principal bay on the coast of the island and is well sheltered from the North and West - this made it the ideal area for historical settlers.[5][6]

Rosinish (or Rubha Phabach) is a small peninsular headland situated on the East coast of the island. It lies in a South-Easterly direction and is only attached to the mainland of the island by a small natural arch.[7]

Steir is the narrow rock which joins Rosinish to the mainland.[8]

Rock Climbing[edit]

Composed of Lewisian gneiss, is "one of the finest climbing venues in the UK";[9] this includes the climbing route The Great Arch, which is graded E8 6c.[10]


  1. ^ Area and population ranks: there are c. 300 islands over 20 ha in extent and 93 permanently inhabited islands were listed in the 2011 census.
  2. ^ National Records of Scotland (15 August 2013) (pdf) Statistical Bulletin: 2011 Census: First Results on Population and Household Estimates for Scotland - Release 1C (Part Two). "Appendix 2: Population and households on Scotland’s inhabited islands". Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  3. ^ Ordnance Survey. OS Maps Online (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure.
  4. ^ Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Pabbay May 2008 – the official meet report!". LMC. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  10. ^ "Pabbay". Retrieved 12 September 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°51′32″N 7°34′21″W / 56.85880°N 7.57260°W / 56.85880; -7.57260