Louise Boulanger


coll magazine, 1983

Location: Coll
farming and crofting, clearances and resistance, gaelic language and placenames

Cheese making at Breachacha

Low lying Coll is reputed to have the most hours of sunshine of all the Scottish Islands.

Certainly, its machair land at the edge of the sea is a swathe of riotous wild flowers that flanks every shore. It has given its name to the place name Breachacha, Breacachadh meaning the variegated field in Gaelic. The machair has always provided some of the best and richest grazings and Coll used to be known for producing a significant number of cattle for export.

Raising cattle for export switched to cheese-making as the island economy transformed from crofting to farming in the 19th century following Coll’s massive clearances of 1841. Breachacha thus became one of the centres of the Coll cheese-making industry before World War I at the peak of the industry in 1900.

Coll had an output of about 60 tons of cheese a year which gradually declined but in the 1930’s there were still seven dairy farms with stocks of Ayrshire cows involved in producing cheddar and stilton.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.