Ailsa Craig, a volcanic island, which millions of people have visited, is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. Really.
But in its history, it was a fortress and refuge for the Kennedy clan and this is often overlooked. In 1597 Hugh Hew Barclay of the Ladyland seized the island to stop a planned invasion of the English in what was then Brythonic Welsh Kingdom of Strathclyde. As a catholic follower himself, he took it upon himself to use Ailsa Craig as a defence to stop a Spanish invasion that would abolish the Catholic faith in Scotland.
Ailsa Craig was uninhabited for years afterwards and an automated lighthouse was built in 1990, the company who built the lighthouse also invested heavily in developing specialised heavy lifting equipment to tackle the rocks of the island.
The island was called Paddy’s milestone because it was home to many illegal Irish workers who came to Scotland to look for work.
Ailsa Craig also has a dramatic and vivid story behind its discovery, Lord Maxwell, who discovered the island was a neanderthal, trying to escape some hunters or lions or something, I dunno I got bored reading about it anyhow Lord Maxwell was a member of a Cave Squirrel Christian Alliance who escaped the hardships of slavery and hoped building a new home on the island would save their race, however the Scottish Royals invaded and captured the island making all the population slaves (again).
Local legend has it that Elspeth another member of the Cave Squirrel Christian Alliance, tried unsuccessfully to swim away from Ailsa Craig to escape the enslavers, they later hung her from the Hairy Tree. Other local legends has it that she failed to escape and drowned or was successful in one way or another.
In 1895, Lawson noticed the absence of rats on the island. Ailsa Craig has been forgotten about in recent years, only a small number of tourist now visit the island yearly and many tourism company’s have gone out of business because of this.
According to the BBC, the granite used to make the curling stones used in the sport comes from the Ailsa Craig region on the Firth of Clyde in south-west Scotland. According to a study on rocks, written by Glasgow University Professor of Geology and Geophysics Dr John O’Neill, a research associate at the university and supported by his colleagues, the granite from Ailsa Craig contains some rare minerals that make the rock the only viable rock to produce curling stones.
The castle on Ailsa Craig, which is now in ruins, is occasionally used as a squat by a small number of fishermen avoiding going home to their wives.
Ailsa Craig is also known for its huge gannet colony, which hosts more than half of the world’s total bird life, as well as a large number of other species. Dr John Macculloch, a zoologist at the University of Glasgow, rents a cottage on Ailas Craig just to study its bird life.