Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Iona, Inner Hebrides

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After a busy month due to one reason and another, I have managed to get something published here albeit not the next post in the series but the following one. Remembering the season of Christmas and not having the opportunity of my camera seeing anything seasonal this month, I opted for the place that had more meaning. It is often thought that the Island of Iona where Saint Columba built the monastery in 563 AD was when and where Christianity came to the UK, however there is evidence to suggest from Roman Britain history that this not the case. My recent visit to see the Lindisfarne Gospels revealed that there were two sides to the story with rival interests.

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Coach chasing along single track roads.
A journey to Iona from the travellers point of view can be perceived by many travellers as a challenge or to others as a pilgrimage. The journey is torturous and basically takes all day involving two return ferry trips and a very long bus tour across the length of Mull from Oban. It is probably only achievable for those who base themselves in the town of Oban for a least a few days. To give you an indication of what I'm talking about here, this was only the second time that I did this trip.

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Ben More, highest mountain, Isle of Mull

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Although Fionnphort has a granite quarry and a shellfish industry, it is maybe surprising to know that it has nearby (Island of Erraid) connections with the novel Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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The village is mainly known as a port for onward journeys to Iona & Staffa.

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Staffa Boat

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Whether it's the colour of the sea, the restful atmosphere of the place or just being pure hungry after a long bus trip ….

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It was time to sit on this beach in front of the … errr … village promenade !!

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… and enjoy this view for 30 mins 

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Post Office and postbox

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Christianity in Scotland became focused on Iona when Columba landed on Iona from Ireland with his 12 colleagues and founded a monastery in 563 AD.

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It developed to a place of important significance as Kings were crowned and buried here. Two viking raids and martyrdom in the next 500 years caused the monks to disperse and spread the message with the Abbey eventually being burned.

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Once the Island had been recaptured from the King of Norway by Somerled, his son Ranald, allowed the Benedictine monks to build a new Abbey in 1203 and subsequently expanded 200 years later only to be dismantled during the reformation period.

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The Duke of Argyll gave the site to The Church of Scotland in the late 19th century who lovingly restored and rebuilt the Abbey back to it's former glory.

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One of the ministers, George McLeod, had inspiration to found the Iona Community which looked beyond the borders of The Church of Scotland into the roots of Celtic Christianity thus embracing other denominations. They later re-constructed some of the external buildings in the 20th century, all of which are still in use at present.

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One of the unfortunate points about a day trip to Iona is that the tours that the Abbey staff do usually don't coincide with the small time available on the shore, given there's just enough time for lunch and a good look around.

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As I said earlier, I wanted to post something seasonal as it's Christmas Eve but life has been that busy that I haven't had the chance with a whole range of commitments (sorry for my absence).

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No snow at the moment, It's just been extremely cold and windy.
It was 1992 when I made my only other trip here, I wanted to return this year for some digital images, I wonder if there will be a next time.

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Farewell to the Iona ferry "Loch Buidhe"
As a postscript, angels are always part of the Christmas Nativity and here's an alternative one that I have to look at a lot ... taken earlier in the year …

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Happy Christmas
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