About Islay

The People

An Islay resident is known as an Ileach, the same name as the island newspaper that has been published since 1973. Scottish Gaelic is still spoken on the island, although more by the older generations. The language is still taught in Bowmore, at the Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle (the Columba Centre).

Around 3,000 people live on Islay, but at least 10 times this number visit the island each year, especially during the Islay whisky festival held in May.

The only major rivalry on Islay is a historical one: Portnahaven Church, which was built in the 1820s, has separate doors for residents of Portnahaven and nearby Port Wemyss, who would only sit on their own ‘side’. Thankfully, this animosity is a thing of the past, and visitors are welcome to the church.

  • Population (2011 census)

  • Ileachs who speak Gaelic as their native language

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