May 7, 2024

Texa, Dunyvaig and Kildalton

Another day, another adventure following in the footsteps of the Lords of the Isles. This morning it was time to view things from the water.  We  motored to a wee island off the coast of Port Ellen called Texa where there was a medieval chapel.  The island has a jetty close to the chapel site and there is a renovated cottage not far from there where a woman lives alone with her cat. Evidence has been found of an agricultural settlement, and the island could support a population due to its own water supply, Tobar Moireig (Mary’s well). It is a most beautiful spot and climbing up the hill above the chapel, through surprisingly boggy terrain, provided a stunning view of Islay and the small rocky islands around it.  

Our boat was provided by Angus Newman, proprietor of Islay Sea Adventures and we couldn’t have asked for a better experience!  Gus was born and raised on Islay, is a commercial diver, member of the Coast Guard and fisherman.  His knowledge of the waters is exceptional.  ( I also learned that Gus can take me to Oronsay so that will be part of another trip for sure.) We motored by Dunyvaig Castle ruins and in and around the rocky islands where seals and deer were spotted.  The castle was once a naval base of the Lords of the Isles chiefs of Clan Donald, Somerled’s descendants, specifically, Angus Mor Macdonald and his sons, Alexander Og and Angus Og. They used Lagavulin Bay as an anchorage for their fleet of galleys.  Seeing things from the water  provided a unique perspective and made it easy to understand how important the sea was to these ancient chiefs. While it has been a bit expensive to charter these boats for just the two of us it has been well worth it as most people will not experience this view.

Our afternoon took us to Kildalton and the famous Kildalton Cross.  I had visited this church before but this time paid closer attention to the grave slabs since I know have a better understanding about them.  There was a particularly intriguing one set in the wall in the Kildalton church and I can only wonder who it represented. The cross itself is a marvel and to think it has stood for 13 centuries is difficult to comprehend when standing in front of it.  

All in all a very successful day – again blessed with terrific weather.  More adventures tire follows tomorrow when we return to Finlaggan and meet with a trustee of the Finlaggan Trust.