Object of the month: October 2017

Lismore Post :

Before the introduction of the universal (prepaid) penny post in 1840, the nearest Post Office, in Appin, received mail from the south via Inveraray or Bonawe three times a week. It is not certain how people on Lismore received their mail as it had to be paid for by the recipient. Surviving letters to Coll Livingstone, Bachuil, as ground officer for Baleveolan Estate, show that it could take as little as 2-3 days for letters to travel from Edinburgh to Appin in the 1830s. 

In the Statistical Account of the parish for 1841, Revd. Gregor McGregor wrote:   

   “Now there is a daily post, contributing to the improvement of the parish;    and there is a penny-post at Lismore, to which there is a runner twice a    week from Appin……. So easy and expeditious is now the communication    with the south, that the newspaper that is published in Glasgow in the    morning is in Appin that night, and may be, and often is, in Lismore next    morning.” 

By the mid-19thC, the Lismore post was a family affair, dominated by McColls. Dugald McColl, farmer of 24 acres in Balimakillichan, and a leading member of the Agricultural Society (see Object for September 2015), was referred to in the records as “Post” in the1850s and 1860s. By 1871 there was a post office at


LISDD:2006.9 Certificate on the retirement of Catherine McCormick after more than 25 years of service at the Lismore Post Office, 1943


Portcharron on the island, with Anne McColl (42) identified as “postmistress”; in

1881, the office was specifically at Taylochan (Clachan) with Anne (55) and her mother Janet McColl (89) as postmistresses and John McColl postrunner in Portcharron. Valuation records in the 1880s show that the main post office had moved to Achnacroish, where the mail arrived daily on the “Iona” steamer; and John Shankland combined the roles of piermaster, postmaster and farmer. Anne McColl continued as sub-postmistress at Clachan, and John McColl (69), now called “postman”, was living in Killean by 1891. 

Catherine McCormick, born in 1888 to James and Jessie McCormick in Baligarve, was the sister of Duncan McCormick who was killed in Nyasaland in 1916 (see Object for May 2016); and the cousin of the McCormick sisters, who died of influenza in 1918 (see Object for July 2016). From the 1920s, Catherine was subpostmistress at Baligarve Farm (in an extension to the house called Bachuil Post Office); there was another “sub post office” at Point; and each was served by a postman. The main post office, operated by the Stewart family, was at Achnacroish but, by 1969, all post office services had been centralised at Lismore Stores (see Object for October 2015).



LISDD:2008.132 Post office stamp from Achnacroish. Handle length 8.9cm, stamp diameter 2.2cm


Lismore postmarks


Hay R. (2010). Improvement not clearance: A factor’s instructions to his ground officers on the isle of Lismore, 1831-46. Review of Scottish Culture 22: 99-119 

The full story of the Lismore Post can be found in the undated Postal Review of Lismore in the Lismore Archive. 

Tags: post office, penny post, postmaster, postmistress, postrunner, postman, stamp