Holy Isle, Buteshire

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Holy Isle


Holy Isle from North.JPG
Holy Isle, from the Isle of Bute
Location: 55°31’48"N, 5°4’12"W
Grid reference: NS063297
Area: 1 square mile
Highest point: Mullach Mòr: 1,030 feet
Population: 13

Holy Isle is a small island of Buteshire inside Lamlash Bay on the larger Isle of Arran, all in the Firth of Clyde.

This island is one of a number of islands in the United Kingdom which go under the name "Holy Island".

The island

The island is around two miles long and barely over half a mile wide. Its highest point is the hill Mullach Mòr.

The island has a long history as a sacred site, with a spring or Holy well held to have healing properties, the hermit cave of 6th Century monk St Molaise, and evidence of a 13th Century monastery. An old Gaelic name for the island was Eilean MoLaise, Molaise's Island; this is the origin (by way of Elmolaise and Limolas) of "Lamlash", the name of the village on Arran that faces Holy Island.

Some runic writing is to be found on the roof of St. Molaise's cave.

The Viking fleet sheltered between Arran and Holy Isle before the Battle of Largs.

The rare Rock Whitebeam tree is found on the island, an essential link in the evolution of the Arran whitebeam species, Sorbus arranensis, Sorbus pseudofennica and Sorbus pseudomeinichii. These are indigenous and unique to Arran.

Mullach Mòr
Holy Isle and Mullach Mòr seen from Arran
Summit: 1,030 feet NS063297
55°31’21"N, 5°4’12"W

The island is now owned by the Samyé Ling Buddhist Community, who run a Centre for World Peace and Health in the north of the island. On the southern end of the island lives a female Buddhist community. The remainder of the island is treated as a nature reserve with wild Eriskay ponies, Saanen goats, Soay sheep and the replanting of native trees.

There is a regular ferry service from Lamlash, and the island is popular with holiday makers staying on Arran.

Picture gallery


Outside links