Our Tarbert - The Place Name
A number of settlements in Scotland have the place name “Tarbert” (or a similar sounding variant). The term indicates an isthmus or narrow neck of land between two bodies of water. For example, Tarbet on the isthmus between Loch Lomond and Loch Long or, in our case, Tarbert between East Loch Tarbert and West Loch Tarbert.
East Loch Tarbert is the small offshoot of Loch Fyne which forms our village’s sheltered harbour, used since earliest times to exploit the link between, on the one hand, the Firth of Clyde and, on the other, the West Coast and the Western Isles.
The proximity of the village to Loch Fyne, and the desire to avoid place name confusion, has traditionally led many people to refer to our Tarbert, not inaccurately, as "Tarbert Loch Fyne". In our case, the "Tarbert" part refers, as indicated above, to the somewhat less than one mile of land which separates East Loch Tarbert from West Loch Tarbert, and which is the only obstacle to the whole of the Kintyre Peninsula being an island.
History records that, on more than one occasion, boats have been sailed into East Loch Tarbert, hauled across the isthmus, and re-launched into West Loch Tarbert - or simply "the West Loch", as we call it - giving easy access to the islands whilst avoiding the hazardous passage around the Mull of Kintyre.
Today, Tarbert Castle is a visible reminder of the strategic nature of this important dry land link between distinct sea areas.