Township: Cornaigbeg

Map Reference: Cornaigbeg 300

Name Type: Township

Meaning: See Cornaig in Longships on the Sand.

Other Forms: Kornaig beg - The map MVLA INSVLA in the Atlas of Scotland, Atlas Novus, by Joan Blaeu, 1654. These maps were largely based on work by Timothy Pont who mapped Scotland between 1583 and 1596. NLS, 123.

Cornaigbeg - 9 July 1679, ICA Bundle 472/194.

Corneachbeg - 1681, ICA Bundles 132.

Cornaig Beg - Tiree Rental 1747.

Cornaigbeg - The Turnbull Map of Tiree 1768 and accompanying survey text.

Cornaigbeg - List of Inhabitants of Tiree 1776

However, in the nineteenth century 'Cornaig-veg' was recorded in the 1878 death certificate of John Lamont

Related Places:

Information:The township name is sometimes written today as Còrnaig Bheag, but our oldest map from 1654 has Kornaig beg and all the records in the 18th century have the same form. The fact that there are now a ‘big’ and a ‘small’ Cornaig implies that they were once joined under the same farm, named after ‘Corn Bay’ in front of the school.
The houses of the old township were on the roadside in front of Ardbeg house, an area now called Am Baile, the town, or Na Tobhtaichean, the ruins. In the 1790s Cornaigbeg was the fifth richest farm on Tiree producing 20 tons of kelp from its rocky shoreline. In 1804 the tack expired and it was divided into 20 crofts. However, as in Mannal, the estate later came to the conclusion that small crofters were inefficient. In 1878 the Duke amalgamated the better land by the shore into Whitehouse Farm, where Donald MacLean, Dòmhnall an Tuairneir, became the tenant; Ardbeg, where another Donald MacLean, Dòmhnall ‘ic Eòghainn, had the land; and three crofts given to Malcolm MacDougall, Calum Dhùghaill, who was moved there from Heanish because of his reputation as a crofter.
Several of the families in Cornaigbeg have been there for many generations. Eric Cregeen was a researcher who interviewed a number of islanders in the 1970s. He recorded how, “in May 1974 John MacLean, a crofter in Cornaigbeg usually known as Iain Alasdair [Alec MacLean’s father] gave me his genealogy, which included nine generations: thus Iain (himself) – Alasdair – Iain Dòmhnall – Iain Òg – Iain – Iain Òg – Ailean Diùrach – Teàrlach – Ailean Dubh”, taking matters back to the 17th century.
The coastline is dominated by two features - An Àirde Bheag, Ardbeg or the small promontory, and An Àirde Mhòr, the big promontory. By the shore is an old manse with its surrounding Glebe, the home of the Rev Archibald Farquharson who came to Tiree from Perthshire in 1832 as a minister of the independent Congregationalist Church. His ministry on the island lasted 46 years, starting at Taigh an t-Searmoin, the house of the sermon on the Cornaigmore/Heylipol/Kilmoluaig boundary and moving to the now roofless church in Cornaigmore and the chapel in Ruaig. Attached to the manse was the home of Catherine MacKinnon, who was born on the battlefield of Waterloo. Near here, too, was the site of a ‘Viking grave’ which was excavated in the 19th century.
Just south of the manse is Whitehouse, which is said to have been built on the plan of Balephetrish House. It became a school with records showing: 1868 Cornaig Female School, Mary Mitchell, teacher, salary - £3 10s - paid by the Duchess of Argyll as was flannel for the girls at the school - £43 – and desks - £13. In 1872 it was superseded by the new Cornaigmore Public School. Just south of Whitehouse is a strip of land called Iomaire a’ Bhuntàta, the strip of the potatoes. This was a common arrangement where a crofter or farmer would let landless cottars grow crops in return for their labour.
To the west of the house Toròsa (named after an offshore rock) is the site of the old Cornaig mill (like Milton having a horizontal wheel) which was fed by the waters of An Lèanag Mhòr, the big meadow, opposite. In 1774 the estate built the bigger Cornaigmore mill with a vertical wheel which replaced it.
There were three smithies in the township. James MacCallum, Seumas Iain ‘ic Alasdair, had one, Ceàrdach MhicChaluim, in front of Hugh MacLeod’s house; Ceàrdach Nèill Bhàin, the smithy of Fair Neil, was down by the shore (he later moved to Caolas); and Ceàrdach MhicEachairn was at A’ Chreag Mhòr. The MacEacherns had come from Mull and were well-known pipers as well as blacksmiths at this site for four generations.
There were four township gates. The one at Cnoc a’ Mhurain, the hillock of the murran grass where sheaves for thatching were collected, was called Cachaileith Grace Eachainn after Grace Campbell, the great aunt of Hector Campbell. Inland there are some fascinating names. Cnoc Garra’ Mhoirein is in Alec MacLean’s croft with Cnoc Moidhir-Mheall, possibly a name with the same root, opposite. On this hillock are some large stones, Spiligean an Fhuamhaire, the chips of the giant, which are said to have been thrown after an enemy by a giant who lived in the caves of Kenavara.
Croft no. 10 is Croit an Dotair Mhòir the croft of the Big Doctor. In 1850 it was reported that, Two surgeons, John Gilchrist, 45, who was living in Cornaigbeg, and Donald MacLean had been settled on the island for five years and the island was well covered. Only in cases of midwifery, partly no doubt from their prurity, were local women called in preference to the doctors.
Opposite Corrairigh is Croit Phàraig, Peter’s croft. Tragically Peter Lamont’s daughter drowned in a ditch or well. In grief, the family emigrated to Bruce County, Ontario in 1855. And deep on the sliabh is a ruin called Corunna after the old man who lived there who fought at this battle in 1809. Finally, overlooking the township from the south is Cnoc Fhòirneagal, where they celebrated the end of the Second World War with a bonfire and party – John MacLean played the pipes and Rob Mòr MacMaster the melodeon.

There are 21 crofts in Cornaigbeg - Hector J Campbell, Cornaigbeg, 3/1994.

The north part of the township is called Am Baile. The crofts were made about 1800 - SA 1971/99/A18.

Local Form:

Languages : Norse, Gaelic