Additionally – do not mistake uninhabited for unuseable. The land may not have dwellings but every acre of Islay is used for something, whether it is arable -used for crops; grassland – grazing for cattle and sheep; moorland – grazed by sheep or shot over for grouse, deer etc or for forestry; or water – let for fishing.
Yes, the population has decreased, as have populations all over the highlands and islands. Small crofts are not economically viable and the larger farms, on the mainland as well as Islay and other islands, became mechanised and no longer require a large workforce. People’s expectations have changed and sons and daughters are no longer expected, nor do they necessarily wish, to stay at home following the family occupation whatever that may be.