A small village on the road to Port Askaig, albeit with an interesting history. Between 1860 and 1882 Ballygrant was a buzzing village. Miners’s Row was built for incoming lead miners, many from Wales with names like Finnie, Edwards and Griffiths. Sixteen families occupied the houses which have now been renovated to become three family dwellings and two flats. The houses on the right of the villages going north, probably dating from the same period, were occupied by a baker, a post office a beer inn, and later Donald Bell, tailor. The remains of the mines are still visible at some places around the village.
Ballygrant is the longest established village on the island and situated next to Finlaggan – Home of the Lords of the Isles The name is an anglicised version of Baill a Ghrana, the town of the grain. Nowadays the village has no industry or distilleries. There is the local quarry operated by Dunlossit Estate and outside the village towards Port Askaig is the excellent Ballygrant Inn, a welcoming place for a meal, a room or a dram. They have the largest selection of whiskies on Islay!
Speaking of whisky…. Ballygrant is surrounded by good arable land where barley as well as oats would have been grown to supply the local (farm) distillery, now Lossit Kennels. It was a medium-sized farm-scale operation and in 1826-7 it produced 12,200 gallons (54,480 litres) of proof spirit. It was one of the longest surviving 19th century farm-scale distilleries on Islay.
The area around Ballygrant is very beautiful and a perfect place for really nice walks. There is for instance the walk from Ballygrant to Keills, a stunning walk over Dunlossit Estate.
The woodland area around Loch Ballygrant is also perfect for a sheltered walk. Loch Ballygrant and nearby loch Lossit and loch nan Cadhan are well known for trout fishing. The woodland is part of the Dunlossit Estate. Lossit Kennels, the house of the Dunlossit Headkeeper, can be found here and on the single track road just outside Ballygrant, The Glen Road, is the Dunlossit Estate Office.
Kilmeny is a wee settlement just before Ballygrant and named after Kilmeny Farm. Interesting features are Kilmeny Church, built in 1828 by Thomas Telford. On the farm track leading up to Kilmeny farm is a graveyard, frequently visited by genealogists in search for their ancestors. Kilmeny farmhouse also offers a high quality Guesthouse which comes highly recommended. Nearby the farm, to the south, are the remains of the hill fort Dun Guaidhre, also called the fort of Godfrey or Godred.