Achuaran—Creagan Breac—Triangulation Pillar —Balimackillichan—Clachan Loop
Important reminder: All dogs must be on leads, and remember to keep clear of all livestock, especially sheep and sheep with lambs
31 July 2020
Biked to Achuaran then through Stronacraoibh on foot to Baile Geamhraidh where the wildflowers were blooming and the cattle were interested but we were careful not to disturb them and their beautiful bull. Down to Laggan where Duncan Livingstone was busy on his tractor topping (removing the rushes) which is a common Lismore sight at this time of year. The variety of colour in the fields was myriad and the hills of the mainland were purple, navy, grey, green and many other shades. The origins of tartans.
A bit further on a gate leads to Creagan Breac where several houses lie together in ruins, their stones long plundered. This is a quiet place now, not visited a lot, but the remains of dwellings still hold the echoes of lost souls and voices and the spirits of those who placed theses stones so carefully and skilfully. Sheep own the dwellings now and certainly enjoy the shelter. It’s a gentle climb to the triangulation point, one of two on Lismore (the other on the Bàrr Mòr).
This north Triangulation pillar (Lismore – NM814388) is concrete and not natural stone, as they can be, and I presume it has been there since some time after the retriangulation of Britain began in 1936. The view sweeps the surrounding hills which encircle Lismore and give it a setting which is wonderful in every season and is greatly responsible for the island’s extreme beauty. Few places offer a vista only of fields. This point is not high compared to that on the Bàrr Mòr but, on this low-lying island, it offers a lot and is accessible to many. Castle Coeffin lies to the south and is also visible from many places.
Prominent Castle Coeffin, built by the Clan MacDougall, dates from the first half of the thirteen century although it was an important site long before that.
From the triangulation pillar, we descend south, across country to Balimackillichan, where we met up with tame and interesting fowl outside Mogwaii Studio. Sarah Campbell has been running Mogwaii, her textile business, since 2003 and has done so on Lismore since arriving to settle with her family in 2006. She is enterprising and extremely talented and in my blog I will tell you more about her.
After the path through Clachan we are back on the road north again passing the medieval grave slabs in their oak shelter alongside the church. These were lifted from the ancient graveyard and have been displayed here since 2015. Interpretation boards explain them and their relationship to the church/cathedral. They are part of a long term programme of investigation of the whole medieval church area by the Lismore Historical Society, in partnership with the Parish Church.
The lockdown church, a remnant of the Cathedral Church of the Bishopric of Argyll, was built in 1249 and is on the site of the monastic community established by St Moluag who came to the island in AD 526. The community has had many Ministers in the last few decades and the latest one has just left so we are now minister- less.
Opposite the church, in a field, is the Sanctuary Stone, a refuge for fugitives fleeing from the Hill of Justice some miles away. If they reached the stone and encircled it they were given sanctuary.
Further on we are back in Achuaran where Archie MacGillivray has been farming man and boy. On the right lies the well-built but now ruined house, which Archie tells me was here when his family arrived from Mull at the end of the nineteenth century. It is not a ruin but, intriguingly, a house which was never finished or occupied, although I once saw the bull snoozing in it. Other theories about its origin exist.
Next door is the Independent Chapel at Cachiladrishaig, now a farm building. It dates from 1844 and the time of evangelical renewal in Scotland, and was said to be built by volunteer dissenters led by John MacDougall, a weaver in Ballimakillichan who established a meeting of Congregationalists. A cotter, John MacDougall, born in 1803 in Ballimakillichan was said to have started a Sabbath School for island children.
More information about Achuran is in the Story of the North end Pt 2