Lismore – A Rich History

Broch with Balnagowan small.JPG 1

 The island is rich in historical sites, from ancient to not so old, but all telling the story of the people who have lived here for thousands of years. This is a place where, to quote Donald Black, “Each ruin, each knoll, carries some tale some secret tradition unique to that spot”. There are sites marked and unmarked bearing testament to the people who have lived on the island for thousands of years. From the Oban Ferry, as it  approaches Achnacroich, you get your first sight of Tirfuir Castle the Pictish Broch dominating the approaches from the mainland. Castle Coeffin on the western side has Viking connections and at the south end of the island is Achinduin Castle, also known as the Bishops’ Palace, looking toward the sound of  Mull. As if that were not riches enough, there are Bronze Age cairns, carved grave slabs, deserted townships, lime kilns and watermills and  a Stevenson lighthouse.


One of the jewels in Lismore’s historical crown is Lismore Parish Church once part of a much larger Cathedral dating from the 13th century which was the seat of the Bishops of Argyll. What remains is part of the cathedral choir. In the neighbourhood of this building between 561 and 564 – at the time Columba came to Iona – St Moluag, from Ireland, founded the Christian community on Lismore from where he travelled far and wide establishing churches with three great teaching centres –  the Episcopal Sees of Lismore, Ross and Aberdeen. Three of Moluag’s relics still exist, his bell in the museum of Antiquaries, his pastoral staff in the hereditary custodianship of the Baron Livingstone of Bachuil, and a hollow in the rock where he is said to have sat in contemplation. And where many a visitor has since done the same.