Panoramic photograph of the Finlaggan site in spring

Latest News



Our apologies to our friends, supporters and visitors that the website has been inaccessible for so long. The 2014 season is now drawing to a close, but the Information Centre is still open through October on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10.30 till 4.00pm, and on Sundays from 1.30 to 4.00pm. As always, the island is accessible at any time.





A very successful Venison Supper was held on Saturday 23 February, when some 60 friends and supporters sat down to a sumptuous 4-course meal, followed by entertainment and dancing.  Once again, our grateful thanks to all the organisations and individuals who provided ingredients, dishes and help, and of course to all the entertainers and our Fear-an-Taighe for the evening, Andy McCowan. 





It was with a sense of excited anticipation that Gina McAuslan opened the Finlaggan Information Centre on the second last day of the 2011 season. Half an hour later she was welcoming Jack Baldwin from Glasgow with the news that he was the Centre’s 5,000 th visitor of the year. She presented a surprised and delighted Mr Baldwin with a Finlaggan engraved whisky glass to mark the first time visitor numbers to the Centre had topped 5,000 in any one year.    


Gina said, “Since we opened the extension to the building in 2009, numbers have risen year on year and when on Tuesday we closed at 4,997 we knew we were in sight of the 5,000 target. When Mr Baldwin’s party arrived I counted them in and he was number 3”.


The final figure when the Centre closed for the winter on Sunday 30 October was 5012. In addition the Finlaggan Trust welcomed 100 people between the launch of the Turner project and the talk by Thomas Ardill of Tate Britain and, at a conservative estimate from donations left, at least 600 people visited the island outside of the Centre opening times.








Port Ellen Primary School classes 5 and 6 pupils came to Finlaggan to help with their project about the Lords of the Isles. Despite very cold, blustery weather they spent time on Eilean Mòr before coming to the Information Centre where Gina McAuslan talked to them about the medieval lords, and Donald Bell showed them the 'footstep stone'. Girls and boys alike were keen to see if, like the MacDonald Lords, their foot fitted the imprint.

Not too disappointed at finding they still have some
growing to do the youngsters were then free to study the Centre's artefacts, and some 
discovered another era of Finlaggan history in the Turner exhibition






From 1 October the Information Centre will be open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10.30am till 4.00pm and on Sundays from 1.30pm till 4.00pm.

The Turner exhibition will continue right through October. As always, the island is open to visitors at any time.




In 1831 JMW Turner visited Islay!  And this summer, until the end of September, the sketches which he made during that visit and during his voyage here are on display in the Information Centre.  The exhibition, which has been arranged under licence from the Tate Gallery, was opened on 17th July by Patricia Halsall, and a week later an informative talk about the sketches was given to an enthusiastic audience by Thomas Ardill of Tate Britain. 




The exhibition has captured the interest of young and old.  Below, the Richardson family from Falkirk enjoy the images, and work done by pupils from Keills School after walking in Turner's footsteps from Port Askaig is displayed.



Did Turner come to Islay especially to see Finlaggan?  We do not know, but we do know that this is a magnificent opportunity to see work by one of Britain's most famous artists depicting parts of our island as it was nearly 200 years ago.


The exhibition runs until the end of September, during normal Centre opening times and at the usual Centre admission rates.






The Information Centre opened for the new season on Monday April 4th,  and thanks to funding from Comunn na Ghàidhlig and the skills of our sign-writer, Andy Fisher, we have a new sign which we hope will attract lots of new visitors. 





             And thanks to the hard work of Donald Mackenzie with tools and strimmer, much of the undergrowth is being cleared around some of the post-Lordship remains on the island, making everything easier to see.






Nearly 80 people sat down to the annual Venison Supper at Ballygrant Hall on Saturday 26 February and enjoyed a magnificent four-course meal, followed by great entertainment from local musicians and singers.  None of this could happen of course without the generosity of the individuals and businesses who provide the food and drink, the team who work so hard in the kitchen, the waitresses who put it on the table, and of course the entertainers.  Gu robh math agaibh uile!









Like the rest of Scotland Islay has had a snowy December and Finlaggan, being inland, had more snow than most. For days on end no human footprint marked the pristine white track from the farm gate to the Information Centre carpark. But out of the blue, and often cloudless, sky feathered visitors came, hundreds of barnacle geese, searching for the elusive blades of grass below the snow


The Information Centre is now closed to the public for the winter, re-opening April 2011. Winter visits can be arranged by phoning Gina McAuslan, chairman, 01496 850558. 

Wedding at Finlaggan on 10-10-10 

Today, 10 October 2010, is expected to be the busiest day of the year for weddings, and Finlaggan can surely claim to hosting the first. Just a few minutes past midnight in the shelter of candle lit Macgillespie’s house on Eilean Mor, Rolf Hess and Pirkko Batleiger made their vows.

Rolf’s wish to wed on Islay on 10/10/10, a combination believed to bring luck, and to have the union blest in Gaelic, seemed doomed. Gaelic speaking registrar, Sharon McHarrie, was booked to leave on the morning ferry to head for the National Mod. But Sharon had a solution, and as the 9th became the 10th, over 30 family and guests from Germany and Islay gathered to see Pirrko’s father lead her to her wedding.

Following the ceremony friends of Rolf held flaming torches to guide the newly weds along the path to the bridge connecting the island to Finlaggan farm, and from there the entire company walked back under a starry sky to the Information Centre.

In the warmth of the Centre Rolf and Pirkko were presented  with a bottle of Finlaggan whisky and the company served wine and shortbread before they left to continue celebrations in Port Ellen. A truly memorable night for the wedding party and Finlaggan.


Launch of MV Finlaggan



Picture shows Mary Macrae and Alison Bell 2nd and 3rd left with companions Mary Scott and Mark Wison.  To see a video of the launch and still pictures click on

 Successful beginning to 2010 season

Visitor numbers have soared since the Centre opened for the 2010 season. We’ve recorded 1,426 visitors to the Centre in April and May, a significant rise on last year.  Outwith opening hours many more have been to Eilean Mor, as donations in the ‘honesty box’ testify. It is always a pleasure to meet our visitors, many having travelled far to visit us. In May mature students from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver enjoyed a guided tour and talk by Finlaggan Trust committee member Rona MacKenzie, and we also had a group from the first visiting cruise ship of the year.

The Finlaggan Information Centre Shop

We’ve added hand made Crail pottery to the items on sale this year – mugs, cream jugs, teapot stands and marmalade jars, all exclusive to Finlaggan. There’s a new quill pen, too, as well as Finlaggan crosses, and other established favourites

The Inside Story

Visitors to the Finlaggan website have remarked that we’ve never shown pictures of the changed inside of the building, and in response we’re  putting that right.  Below we introduce you to Mackay of the Rinns, signing a Charter granted by the Lords of the Isles, the only extant Gaelic Charter. 


And a view of the island through the glazed gable end of the extension

Tea and coffee on the way

We are grateful to whisky firm Diageo for a handsome donation for the purchase of a coffee machine.  Another much appreciated gift was from a Canadian friend, and member, Janet Kendrick.  Together these two donations will enable us to provide a tea and coffee service for visitors in the near future.


Another Successful Supper

Chairperson Gina Mcauslan described the entertainment at the 22nd annual Candlelight Venison supper as 'exceptional'.  She said, 'In addition to our loyal local artistes we had friends of Finlaggan from the mainland, and a surprise item from a duo Scott and Becky who played on trombone and trumpet with verve and enthusiasm. Well done Donald Bell, who chaired the evening, to have gathered such a wealth of talent, and thank you Janie Torrance, Eoin Brown, Libbly Morris, Norma Munro, Neil Oliver, Paul Hathaway, Iain Macpherson, Scott MacDiarmid and Becky Williamson, Janette and Russell Hannah for giving us so much pleasure.
Gina said, "So many things haven't changed in 22 years - the camaraderie of the Committee members, the support of local people, having visitors from the mainland, the quality of the artistes, the food and the friendly service by local volunteers".
The event raised £638.88 for Finlaggan Trust funds. The Trust committee thank Diageo for the welcome dram, Islay Ales for their donation of Finlaggan Ale, Islay Estates for the venison, prepared by Billy Macfarlane butchers and cooked by Donald Bell  Angus Ferguson for fresh vegetables, Catriona MacGilvray for home made oatcakes, committee and friends for soup and trifles. Many thanks to Sarah MacArthur who ran the bar, and Jennifer Mather, Jackie Cameron, Lesley Thomson and Sheena Campbell for providing efficient service, and, not least, for helping with the washing up.  For the first time in years the committee members finished in the kitchen in time to enjoy all the entertainment.




Finlaggan Trust Committee was delighted to find the Extended Information Centre and Opening Day had been nominated in the Best Community Initiative section of the 2009 forargyll Awards (


In the final voting Finlaggan came ‘a close second’ to the Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop.  The committee would like to thank everyone who nominated or voted for the project.


Congratulations to Islay Energy Trust, winners of the Best Environmental Initiative section, Jura Passenger Ferry, Best Tourism Initiative and the Ileach which came second to the Oban Times in the Best Community newspaper section.


Diary date: Saturday, 27 February 2010 – Venison Supper, Ballygrant Hall



Nollaig Chridheul agus Bliadhna Mhah Ur

gu na h-uile duine

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 

to everyone visiting the Finlaggan site


Congratulations to Mrs M Macrae, Port Wemyss and Alison Bell, Inverness (and Islay) the lucky winners of the trip to the launch of the new Islay ferry in Gdansk in summer 2009. 




The  name for the new ferry under construction for the Islay route will be Finlaggan – Fionnlagan.


Welcoming the St Andrew’s Day announcement by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd the chairman of Finlaggan Trust Committee Gina McAuslan said,

“At  Finlaggan we are excited and delighted that, due to all the people who voted for Finlaggan – Fionnlagan as the name for Islay’s new ferry, it came top of the poll. Thank you all, wherever you may be, for responding in such a positive way that your votes have enabled Finlaggan - Fionnlagan to be the chosen name for the new ship.  It is such a fitting tribute to the Lords of the Isles.

What a wonderful year it has been for Finlaggan - the opening of the new Visitor Centre at the site, flocks of interested visitors, and now the thrill of knowing that the new ferry will carry this historic name.  Many, many thanks for your support.”


Almost 900 votes were received in the four-week public vote with the winning name FINLAGGAN - Fionnlagan receiving more than 70 percent of the vote. The naming ceremony for the ferry will be held in June 2010 and it will come into service on the Islay route in 2011. For more information go to and click on News.




The Finlaggan Trust Committee held their Annual General Meeting in the Information Centre on Tuesday 17 November 2009. 

Three committee members stood down by rotation, two new members, Alan Cameron and Andy McCowan, were elected, and there remains one vacancy which can be filled by co-option.

Following the AGM a committee meeting was held to elect office bearers. The committee for 2010 is Chairman – Gina McAuslan, Vice-chairman – Donald Bell, Secretary –Rona Mackenzie, members – Alan Cameron, Bronwen Currie, Andy McCowan, Donald MacFadyen, Donald Mackenzie, Donald James McPhee, David Roberts, Colin Roy, Nan and Alastair Shaw. 

The Centre is now closed for the winter. Plans are in hand for the 2010 season with new IT equipment first on the list, followed by plans for the re-arrangement of the display. In the first week of the New Year the committee meets to finalise the organisation of the 2010 Venison Supper which takes place on 27 February.

The building committee met the architect, Iain Campbell, of CP architects, and builder Billy Muir, on Thursday, 19 November, after the architect had carried out the snagging inspection of the new extension





Farewell to Linda

It was sad to say farewell to Linda, our invaluable Secretary and Project Officer on leaving us after sixteen years, but the Cheese and Wine party at which she was presented  with flowers and our parting gift, was a lively and happy occasion. Everyone enjoyed the food and drink, the reminiscences and lively conversation in the company of good friends.  Linda has promised to be on call to help members of the Committee now taking over her many tasks.  Very many thanks, Linda.


July – August


Two more weddings took place recently, both very happy occasions. Susan and Garrie were married on Eilean Mor on a sunny but very windy day which led the wedding party to hurry back to the Centre for the photographs. It was too wet for Gilian's wedding to go ahead on Eilean Mor. It took place in the Centre, with views down to the loch and islands as a splendid background. Both couples came from Scotland, but our next booking is by a German couple, and we are also looking forward to a Swiss friend of Finlaggan coming to celebrate his birthday in October and bringing all his guests with him.



Water, water everywhere.

August proved the wettest month for many, many, years and the Finlaggan Burn overflowed its banks, and flooded the access path to the walkway for several days. Happily, this did not stop all visits to Eilean Mor, as some hardy souls removed shoes and socks, rolled up trouser legs, and waded across, while others borrowed Finlaggan's stock of wellington boots.


Visitor numbers

Happily, the poor weather did not deter visitors coming to the Information Centre - indeed it may have brought some who might otherwise have spent their time on the beaches.  We have been very pleased with the numbers arriving, and their response to the new extension and exhibits.



Jazz Concert – 11 September

Finlaggan was chosen for the opening event in this year's Islay Jazz Festival - an event which attracts Jazz enthusiasts from many parts of the world. We offered a tour of Eilean Mor prior to the performance. With Donald MacFadyen as guide about 50 people were shown round the island.


On a beautiful evening over 90 people gathered on the island to hear Fiona MacDonald from Scotland and Trygve Seim and Frode Haiti from Norway making it a Homecoming Concert not only for Scots, but also for the descendants of the Vikings who held Islay over a thousand years ago.

Special music had been composed for the occasion, and, including the midgies, everyone had a wonderful, memorable, time.



By end September we had over 4,000 visitors to the Centre, with many more visiting the island when the Centre was closed, so we can count the year as being really successful.

Gina McAuslan  30 September 2009




Busy time since official re-opening of extended Information Centre

Since our re-opening publicity we have had a gratifying number of visitors. Many mention that seeing the BBC Scotland news item about the event prompted them to come. We welcome 30 to 50 visitors daily, with more children during this school holiday time. They come from all over the world, leaving exciting place names in the visitors’ book and favourable comments about the new Information Centre, and well kept historic site on Eilean Mor. We enjoy meeting everyone, whether new or returning year after year.


Recent visitors were intrigued by the arrival of New Zealand sheep shearers who are also regular visitors, but to Finlaggan Farm, not the Information Centre.


Weddings on Eilean Mor

We’ve had two weddings at Finlaggan this summer, the most recent on 17 July brought a gathering of family and friends to Eilean Mor. In contrast we had a very private ceremony in June, just the couple, the Registrar and two members of the Finlaggan Trust Committee as witnesses.

We put on a surprise ‘reception’ for them in the Centre on their return from their island wedding.

We wish both couples much happiness in the future.

For information about wedding ceremonies at Finlaggan contact us on


Losing Linda

Sadly we have to report that, after 15 years loyal service, our project officer, Linda McArthur, will be leaving at the end of July. She has been a tower of strength to me, the current chairman, always helpful and willing. However, her workload has grown and grown, she had other commitments, too, and in the end she had to make a choice. Happily she will still be in touch with us. Correspondence will continue to be addressed to the Information Centre, and for the present I will be dealing with emails which should go to

Gina McAuslan, chairman

Official Opening of the extended Finlaggan Information Centre

on Saturday 16th May

The sun shone, the wind was chill but spectators had wrapped up warmly and enjoyed a happy afternoon of music, Highland dancing, history and neighbourly chat.  In the evening a packed hall of ceilidh goers enjoyed a feast of singing from James Graham, Kirsteen MacDonald, Andy McCowan, Janie Torrance, Eoin Brown and Libby Morris and clarsach music from Jennifer Port, Lynsey MacRitchie and Judy Morrison.  They danced to the ever young Islay Fiddle and Accordion Band.  The day's events were supported by a grant from Awards for All, complimentary welcome drinks were sponsored by Ardbeg Distillery and the Vintage Malt Whisky Company.  The Finlaggan Trust Committee would like to thank the many people who helped to make the event a success, both on the day and in the weeks leading up to it.

Video of Opening Day click on












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