by Paul Gallagher Published 01/12/2009
"The emigration of 1846-1855 was far the greatest ever known from Great Britain and Ireland. According to British Government figures, which are generally inaccurate and generally under-estimate, 2,740,000 people emigrated in those ten years. Only 430,000 altogether went to Australia, New Zealand and the Cape, and more than 2,300,000 to America.....To colonise Australia the government selected only the young and fit, and carried them out free in statechartered ships. The North American emigration on the other hand was spontaneous, disorganised, and private." Passage to America, Terry Coleman
Those of you who know Paul Gallagher will have realised that he has boundless enthusiasm for his craft. Get him talking about the Outer Hebrides, though, and things go right off scale - he really starts to fizz! We asked him to trace a journey through the Hebrides, assembled from images, anecdotes and experiences from his many trips to this string of islands, which sit about 25 miles off the coast of Scotland and play host to some of the most glorious open landscapes and skies that the photographer can imagine. At the present time it is a journey well worth taking. Caledonian MacBrayne provide the ferry services for the islands and in an effort to stimulate tourism in these cash-troubled times you can get hold of a Hopscotch ticket for £118 (Hopscotch 8 - Barra, Uists, Harris & Lewis). They have a really good website at www.calmac.co.uk.
Gneiss, Uig Bay
The Outer Hebrides lies in a roughly north-south string about 25 miles off the north west coast of Scotland. They share their name 'The Western Isles' with the Inner Hebridean Islands - primarily Skye, Rhum, Mull, Coll, Tiree, Mull, Jura and Islay. However the Outer Hebrides are dissimilar to their varied and geologically-flamboyant inboard neighbours. The Lewissian Gneiss is the oldest rock in the world and bubbled to the surface about 3,000 million years ago. After a journey from the equator, down to the South Pole and then back up to where they are now, the rocks of the Outer Hebrides have been scoured clean by glacial action over numerous ice ages. In the meantime the Scottish mainland and the Inner Hebrides collected the fused rocks from four continents, forged, weathered and folded to make one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. The Outer Hebridean landscape bears a closer resemblance to Canada and Greenland, from which it was split about 65 million years ago, as the Atlantic Ocean opened up and the sea inundated the void between.
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