‘EVERYTHING good that has happened on Eigg since the community buyout has happened because of the buyout,” says Stuart Paul McCarthy, the man behind the Eigg Brewery, Scotland’s first co-operative brewery. I’m back on the island – just weeks after Eigg celebrated 25 years of community ownership – to explore a Hebridean success story born out of the community gaining more control of its lives.

Arriving on Eigg is always a joy as the distinctive pitchstone lava hulk of An Sgurr beckons and the island reveals itself – a real life Treasure Island. Given all the recent CalMac disruptions – I gave up trying to book with the Mallaig office after an hour stuck in a telephone loop – and instead sailed with Arisaig Marine (arisaig.co.uk). It proved a wise choice as they run a slick, friendly operation, with the skipper diverting off course if he spots dolphins or even a whale.

I’m greeted by the cheery face of Lucy Conway, a director of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. I tuck into a bowl of local mussels as we chat overlooking the water – I spot a pod of dolphins and a heron – in the lovely reborn Galmisdale Bay Cafe & Bar. It’s part of the impressive new

An Laimhrig community hub which is taking shape, designed by WT Architecture. It includes a more spacious shop and community space. Eigg Adventures (eiggadventures.co.uk) – which has just started hiring out 100% green energy e-bikes, a world first for an island – is here too.

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Eigg is seriously green. In 2008 it became the first island in the world to generate all of its own electricity from wind, solar and hydro power. Recycling is paramount here, upcycling too. And it’s not just all eco-warrior hot air. It’s everywhere, in the little things. Like the toilet that makes you think about water use, or the green electricity showers that you have to swipe contactless at £2 for six minutes.

Conway talks of the importance of community: “Community really means something on Eigg and we welcome people to become ‘temporary locals’ not just tourists: interacting, working with and learning from the islanders. The new community hub is a symbol of this as it doesn’t have separate spaces for locals – you eat, shop and even do your laundry with the islanders.”

Things have not always been so rosy for Eigg. Pushing along an old track under crags, where golden eagles swirl on the thermals, I find the old crofting community at Grulin. More than 100 people lived in this part of the island until the 1850s. They were brutally cleared, most of them forced off to Nova Scotia, never to cast their eyes on Eigg again.

Twenty minutes further on I come to a much more complete village, where sadness descends with the mists as I walk among the skeletons of croft houses with their deadened hearths.

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My mood brightens meeting Charlie. It’s impossible not to be cheered by a taxi driver, tour guide and personality who offers a wee pre-tour dram before he spirits us across Eigg in his minibus. We discover the wide sands of Laig Bay – peering over to Rum – then stop off at his house where coffee and cakes made by his artist wife Libby Galli (Eigg has a rich arts scene) are part of the £15 per adult tour – children go free. As are petting sessions with their collie, Bob.

A SALTIRE and a Nova Scotian flag flutter outside. Charlie talks passionately about the past, present and future: “It’s great to see Eigg thriving and working together as a community. Everyone knows everyone and we all look out for

each other. And there is so much going on with the island’s Fèis Eige festival just last week and the Howlin’ Fling too from Eigg resident [and musician] The Pictish Trail.”

Charlie drops us off back where we’re staying at the community-owned camping pods. Lucy Conway explained to me over lunch the pods are part of the new SCOTO (scoto.co.uk) initiative that is linking community tourism enterprises throughout the Scottish mainland and isles. Community is a word I hear again and again on Eigg and the idea of the island working with other communities around Scotland is an exciting one.

I’m keen to learn more about Eigg’s community, and this summer at Eigg’s Church of Scotland a temporary exhibition on the walls and lining the pews delves into the build up to the community buyout in June 1997, then moves on in detail to how it has worked out. It has been curated by Camille Dressler, the island historian. Her encyclopaedic knowledge is so impressive that she has also curated Eigg tales for the new COAST storytelling initiative too (coast.scot).

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Back at Eigg Brewery with McCarthy we sweep through how this democratic, inclusive brewery is a perfect fit for Eigg. Like everyone I meet on Eigg, he is passionate about the success of the buyout and hopeful lessons learned here can be put to use elsewhere.

“Who wouldn’t want to run their own community?”, he asks rhetorically. I ask if this extends to the country around him. He smiles. Sometimes over a beer things don’t even need to be said. Especially over an Eigg beer.