Whisky Galore on Islay

Most people probably heard of this famous tale which happened on the Isle of Eriskay in 1941. The SS Politician sank off the coast of this Outer Hebridean Isle and carried 24,000 cases of whisky, and soon after its sinking the locals managed to 'recover' a great part of the cargo and were able to hide it before the excise man could find them. The events were the inspiration of a great movie called Whisky Galore. Later was told that the ship also carried almost 300,000 ten-shilling notes, which is the equivalent of several million pounds at today's prices.

But as always, this isn't the only incident where people managed to get their hands on some valuable cargo. Islay experienced a similar Whisky Galore. It was 22nd May in the year 1859 that a brig called the Mary Ann of Greenock was wrecked on Islay's rocks in a heavy gale, on the Kilchoman strand near Coull Farm. The brig was carrying a full cargo of wines and spirits. It is said there were disgraceful scenes of looting, and in a very short time two hundred cases of whisky had been consumed and everybody became very intoxicated. People flocked to the spot, especially the Portnahaven fisherman. Many could be seen lying on the rocks, unable to move, while others were fighting fiercely. Sergeant Kennedy and Corporal Chisolm arrived to try and ease the rowdiness but without success.

On the rocks lay the body of Donald McFayden from Portnahaven, better known as 'Domhnull Anna'. He was said to be the strongest man in Islay at that time, but the strength of the whisky proved stronger than poor 'Domhnull Anna'.

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