Lismore, Scotland

Lismore Island (Lios Mòr in Gaelic) is an island of the Inner Hebrides in Loch Linnhe, in Argyll, on the west coast of Scotland. Lismore, like other Hebridian islands has suffered from depopulation since the nineteenth century. In 1845 there were 1430 people living on the island, though by 1971 there were only 180. In 2001 Lismore had a population of 146.

Saint Moluag

Lismore is associated with Saint Moluag (Old Irish Mo-Luóc) (d. 592), who founded a monastery on the island. It was a major centre of Celtic Christianity, and the seat of the later medieval bishopric of Argyll or the Isles. To modern eyes it seems an isolated location for such a centre, but in an era when the fastest and most reliable transport was by water, Lismore was ideally situated. Of the cathedral only the choir survives, in greatly altered form, the nave and western tower having been reduced to their foundations. The building is in use as the parish church of Lismore.


Other major antiquities on Lismore include the impressive broch of Tirefour on the south coast, and two ruinous thirteenth century castles, Coeffin Castle and Achanduin Castle, the latter the seat of the Bishop until the early sixteenth century.


Lismore is linked to the mainland by two ferries. A vehicle ferry makes the crossing to Oban, while a foot ferry makes the shorter crossing from the northern tip of the island.

Livingstones of Bachuil

Lismore is the home of the highland Clan MacLea, whose chief, Alastair Livingstone of Bachuil, Baron of the Bachuil is Coarb of Saint Moluag and, as such, the hereditary keeper of the saints crozier or pastoral staff (an early church relic known as the Bachull Mòr).

The Great Garden or Enclosure

The Gaelic name, lios mòr, means "great garden" or "enclosure", reflecting either the fertility of a relatively low-lying island amidst mountainous surroundings, or the presence of a defined sacred area round the early monastery. In the 2001 census, the population was 146, over 45% of whom were over 60 years old, thus making it the Scottish island with the oldest population.



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