12th December 1974
Current / Last Route
25th February 1975
One of the Small Isles south of Skye
James Lamont & Co Ltd., Port Glasgow
Re-engined at Timbacraft, Shandon
now fitted with 2 x Scania D9 93M35 turbocharged 6 cylinder diesels
Hoist & Lifts:
Toilets, Passenger lounge
1975: Portree - Raasay
1976 - 1995: Oban - Lismore
1996 - 1998: Tobermory - Kilchoan
1999 - 2013: Oban - Lismore
2013 - 2018: Spare vessel
Mallaig - Small Isles / Largs - Cumbrae Slip / Lochaline - Fishnish / various special charters
Eigg was launched some time after the previous Island Class ship; Coll. The fifth of this type of ferry entered service in 1975 having run trials on the Clyde and been accepted into the fleet.
Her first duty was to assume control of the Portree – Raasay service, previously carried out by the Loch Arkaig when not on Small Isles duties. The crossing was a fairly long one for a slow ship such as the Eigg and it was clear that Portree would not remain the Skye terminal. Although Eigg brought vehicle-carrying capability to the route, at first there was no slipway on Raasay and she had to berth at the main pier. Once the slipway was constructed adjacent to the pier, vehicles could be brought over six at a time, although on occasion it was known for the Eigg and indeed the other five of the larger batch of Island Class ships to squeeze eight cars onto their little car decks.
Eigg served the people of Raasay for just under a year until January 1976 when she was replaced by the seventh sister; Canna. Upon displacement from Raasay the Eigg was transferred to Oban where the Morvern and then the Bruernish had been keeping a new route open for her. January 1976 saw the beginnings of a long association between the Eigg and the island of Lismore in Loch Linnhe. The 50 minute sailing saw the Eigg leaving from the slipway at Oban, adjacent to the linkspan, passing round the northern end of Kerrera and north to Achnacroish on the small island.
For over 20 years the Eigg would remain on the Lismore crossing, providing anywhere between 2 and 4 or 5 return sailings depending on the time of year and day of the week. As Lismore was not a tourist island like Mull or Iona, the capacity of 6 cars and up to 164 passengers was rarely achieved. The Eigg made her association to the island known to all when the top of her wheelhouse was adorned with a sign denoting that she was indeed the ‘Lismore Ferry’. Apart from annual overhauls when she would be relieved by one of the spare sisters such as Rhum or Coll, the Eigg remained the dedicated ferry for Lismore and seldom deviated from the route, although she did see occasional relief service on the nearby Lochaline - Fishnish crossing as well as brief spells on the Largs - Cumbrae and Claonaig - Lochranza routes. She also saw some more unusual destinations as a result of various charters over the years, for example Glenuig on Moidart, Bonawe on Loch Etive and even Eilean Musdile, better known as the rocky outcrop on top of which sits Lismore lighthouse.
Things did not change until the mid 1990s when a switch was made. The Eigg was moved in 1996 from Oban to Tobermory where she became the dedicated Kilchoan ferry on the 35 minute crossing from Mull. The previous vessel Coll took her place initially at Oban. During the high season Eigg would be assisted by her older sister Bruernish and a two-ship service was provided at peak periods due to the increasing popularity on the scenic but isolated route.
Eigg spent the next three summers employed on the Tobermory – Kilchoan crossing but she also saw service to and from Mallaig and the Small Isles. She was equipped with the necessary equipment to grant her a IIA passenger certificate and so when required, Eigg would leave Tobermory for the journey round Ardnamurchan and up to Mallaig. Her main duties at Mallaig would be livestock runs to and from the Small Isles. Her place at Tobermory would be taken by Bruernish or Coll.
1998 was the Eigg ’s last season at her Tobermory base. She was once again transferred to Oban for the 1999 season, and had survived the latest round of Island Class redundancies (the unlucky ones being Coll and Rhum). Her ‘new’ role was actually a return to the old days and she once again became the dedicated Lismore vessel. Her wheelhouse had been raised so as to enable her skipper to see over the wagons that would previously have obstructed his view. With this 'genetic modification' in height, Eigg became by far the most easily identifiably Island Class ship. Her colour scheme was also altered in the same overhaul, and her hull was now black, the paint having been brought up to the height of her bulwarks. This was the new livery for these little ferries and it brought them into line with the rest of the fleet (with the exception being Isle of Cumbrae) in that the company name was now white on black.
Eigg remained the main ferry for Lismore from 1999, although retained her Class IIA certificate and so could be seen from time to time providing extra petrol tanker sailings to Craignure as required - particularly on Wednesdays, sandwiched between her Lismore runs. She was relieved usually in the early part of the spring by the now-spare Raasay, and usually made for Corpach.
In 2006 there was a lot of speculation that the Lismore route would be receiving a Loch Class ferry the following year, once the new Cumbrae ferry was in service. It was widely assumed that this would be the Loch Riddon, however the rumours proved to be unfounded on both counts - it was the Barra - Eriskay route that received the redundant Cumbrae ferry, which turned out to be Loch Alainn and not Loch Riddon. Eigg was in fact to remain on the Lismore run until 2013 when she was eventually replaced by the Loch Striven, following the arrival of Hallaig into the fleet. She was kept as a backup and did continue to see active service whenever technical woes struck Loch Striven.
Throughout 2014 there was increasingly little use for the faithful Eigg and although she was put through her annual overhaul each year, the little ferry spent her life lying idle, first at Oban, then the James Watt Dock marina and finally Sandbank. In December 2017 she was put up for sale and in the following spring she was prepared for a new life. A trip up to Corpach in March 2018 saw her stripped of her CalMac branding and she returned to Sandbank with her hull plain back and a plain red funnel. She was handed back to CMAL and was sold to the owners of smaller sister Kilbrannan, now named Clew Bay Queen, for service to Clare Island off the west coast of Ireland. Eigg left the Clyde for the last time on 3rd May and reached Clare Island on 30th June after a leisurely delivery voyage. She now sports an attractive blue paint scheme similar to that of her sister and new (old) fleetmate. She has spent a lot of time in and around Westport delivering supplies to nearby islands rather than in passenger service.