Pabay: An Island Odyssey

by Christopher A Whatley

Pabay: An Island Odyssey

A unique island history which mixes solid historical research with one family’s experience of island life

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SKU: 9781780275796 Categories: , ,



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‘An island history almost without comparison… one of the finest Highland books of the 21st Century … There has, to my knowledge, never before been one devoted entirely to the tiny Pabay in Broadford Bay. Nor has there been written quite so good a book, on this or any other Scottish subject’ – Roger Hutchinson, West Highland Free Press

‘Historically insightful and charmingly personal’ – Scottish Field

‘Beautifully written, and presents a richly detailed and fascinating historical narrative. Whatley delves into the island’s past and the people who have made Pabay their home. It’s as much a testimony to how people have shaped the island and how the island has shaped them’ – Dundee Courier

‘this Odyssey is replete with cases of the past and present colliding, of scandals and skirmishes, pilgrimages and political spats, and it creates a vivid depiction of the many trials, tribulations and joys of island life. If the island itself is a diamond, this work is a sparkling gem’ – Press & Journal

The tiny diamond-shaped island of Pabay lies in Skye’s Inner Sound, just two and a half miles from the bustling village of Broadford. One of five Hebridean islands of that name, it derives from the Norse papa-ey, meaning ‘island of the priest’. Many visitors since the first holy men built their chapel there have felt that Pabay is a deeply spiritual place, and one of wonder. These include the great 19th-century geologists Hugh Miller and Archibald Geikie, for whom the island’s rocks and fossil-laden shales revealed much about the nature of Creation itself.

Len and Margaret Whatley moved to Pabay from the Midlands and lived there from 1950 until 1970. Leaving a landlocked life in Birmingham for the emptiness of an uninhabited island was a brave and challenging move for which nothing could have prepared them. Christopher Whatley, their nephew, was a regular visitor to Pabay whilst they lived there. In this book, based on archival research, oral interviews, memory and personal experience, he explores the history of this tiny island jewel, and the people for whom it has been home, to create a vivid picture of the trials, tribulations and joys of island life.

Christopher Whatley, OBE, FRHistS, FRSE is Professor of Scottish History at the University of Dundee. His publications include the award-winning The Scots and the Union and, more recently, Immortal Memory: Burns and the Scottish People.


ISBN: 9781780275796

Format: Hardback

Publisher: Birlinn Ltd

Stock status: Published

Categories: Birlinn/Polygon , Skye , History