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Hebrides (United Kingdom)

Innse Gall

Last modified: 2021-07-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: hebrides | lewis | barra | gigha | scotland | cross: scandinavian | western isles | lymphad |
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Geography of the Hebrides

The Hebrides are grouped into the Outer Hebrides or the Western Isles (na h-Eileanan An-Iar) and the Inner Hebrides (na h-Eileanan A-staigh). The following islands make up the Outer Hebrides: Lewis (Leòdhas), Harris (Na Hearadh), North Uist (Uibhist a Tuath), Benbecula (Beinn na Bhadhla), South Uist (Uibhist a Deas), and Barra (Barraigh). The following islands make up the Inner Hebrides: Skye (an t-Eilean Sgitheanach), Rhum (Rùm), Eigg (Eige), Muck (Eilean nam Muc), Canna (Canaigh), Mull (Muile), Iona (I), Coll (Colla), Tiree (Tiriodh), Islay (Ile), Jura (Diùra) and Colonsay (Colbhasa).
Chris Pinette, 23 March 1998

Western Isles Council flag (Na h-Eileanan An-Iar)

[Western Isles Blue Ensign] by Pascal Gross

The western isles flag flown outside the council offices in Stornoway is yellow with three black lymphads one in each top corner and one in the bottom middle divided in the centre with a blue & white striped wavy band.
Neil MacDonald, 27 September 2001

Based on a shield on a Western Isles government web page I have drawn what might be the flag (based on the description above).
Pascal Gross
, 18 March 2003

I've just seen a news report which showed the Western Isles Council flag flying. The flag is almost identical to Pascal's reconstruction, except for the white oar-ports. It's definitely a banner of the arms, Or, a Fess Wavy Barry Azure and Argent, three Lymphads in action Sable.
Danny Farquhar, 14 January 2005

According photos from the last two editions of the Islands Games, the Western Isles use this flag with the pennant (on the ships) painted red.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 10 July 2007

A would-be flag for the Outer Hebrides as a whole is presented at It is clearly derived from the flag of Western Isles Council flag but displays only one large black lymphad, without the oars, on yellow field. Its origin is yet to be determined.
Tomislav Todorovic, 7 March 2019

Western Isles Blue Ensign

[Western Isles Blue Ensign] by Chris Pinette

This flag is only illustrated in Alfred Znamierowski, The World Encyclopedia of Flags. It is my understanding that the 'national flag' shown there is based on a misunderstanding of a badge grant to the Western Isles council. The badge with the lymphad was indeed granted by the Scottish heraldic authority. However, an ensign with a badge is a different matter and requires separate authorization.

The following item appeared in Flagscan No. 30, 1993, p. 20:

Roman Klimes in no. 12 of Flaggen, Wappen und Siegel, 1992, ascribes a flag to the Western Isles - the Hebrides. It is a British blue ensign with the badge ... of a sailing ship, black on white, in the fly. It was introduced Sept. 9, 1976. Klimes gives as his source The Lyon Register, No. 51.

Information given by R.M. Urquhart in his book Scottish Civic Heraldry, London: Heraldry Today, 1979, p. 78, makes it clear that 9 September 1979 is the date of the grant of arms and a badge to the Western Isles council. Urquhart quotes as source the same volume of Lyon's Register as mentioned in Flagscan. He remarks that the grant of a badge is unusual in that 'This is the first example of the granting of a badge to a Scottish Local Authority'. He does not mention the badge being placed on an ensign.
Jan Oskar Engene
, 18 and 21 December 1999

When I wrote to Jos Poels about this Blue Ensign two years ago he replied: "As far as I know there is no evidence for the fact that this flag was legally adopted. I remember that I discussed this with William Crampton. In the documentation of the Flag Institute there is no trace of the existence of such a flag."
David Prothero
, 21 December 1999

This flag is used by the Western Isles when they play at the Island Games, or is, at the very least, used by the International Island Games Association as a representation of the Western Islands [on their website]. The use of this flag can be seen at
Shane Markle, 14 July 2006

That's not really an example of the use of a flag, though, more of the use of a flag graphic to indicate an entity on a web site.
Colin Dobson, 15 July 2006

For whatever it is worth, a photo at a Shetland website shows the Orkney, Western Isles, and Shetland flags being carried at the Island Games, and it is the Western Isles Council flag, not the Blue Ensign being carried for the Western Isles. See and
Ned Smith, 15 July 2006

Great Bernera

A Great Bernera flag definitely exists and has the authorisation of the Lord Lyon through an application made by Le Compte Mirrlees, well loved laird of the island. To view this flag (a saltire on alternate blue and red with Manx legs and a birlinn) do a search for Bernera islands stamps. The flag appears on these stamps.
Angus Macdonald, 28 January 2006

See the smallish thing at the upper right of this image
António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 January 2006


[Flag of Gigha] by André Coutanche

Gigha (the middle 'g' is silent - "Ghee-a") is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, lying west of the Kintyre peninsula. On 15 March 2002 it was officially handed over to its inhabitants after a successful campaign by the Gigha Heritage Trust to buy the island. To celebrate the occasion a new flag was flown. It uses the logo of the Gigha Heritage Trust which was designed by Willie McSporran as the result of a competition held in November 2001. The logo was painted by Keith Helm. For more information, see
André Coutanche, 27 March 2002

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