Kilbrandon


Kilbrandon
   KILBRANDON, with Kilchattan, a parish, in the district of Lorn, county of Argyll, 14 miles (S. by W.) from Oban; containing 2602 inhabitants. There were in ancient times four churches or chapels within the boundaries of this parish, dedicated respectively to saints called Brenan or Brandon, Cattan, Bride or Bridget, and Coan. The two first names have been retained, and are now, with the common prefix Kil, the proper designation of the parish, though the natives usually adopt the term Cuan, on account of the proximity of the church to the sound of Cuan, a small channel so called, perhaps, from the Gaelic Cumhan, signifying "narrow." The parish is situated in that part of the county styled Nether Lorn, and consists of a portion of the main land, and of a group of islands, of which those of Seil, Luing, Easdale, Torsay, and Shuna are inhabited. The whole measures between ten and eleven miles in length, from north to south; and the extreme breadth, from east to west, is six miles, including the sound of Kilbrandon. The main land portion is four miles long and two broad, and is washed on its south-eastern boundary by Loch Melfort, and on the west by the sound of Kilbrandon, at the northern extremity of which is the spacious bay of Ardmaddy, formed by the recession of the shore. The island of Seil, also four miles long and two broad, is separated from the parish of Kilninver and Kilmelfort, on the north-east, by the sound of Clachan, a shallow and very narrow channel, in some places nearly dry at low water, and over which a bridge was built at the end of the last century. South of Seil, and divided from it only by the sound of Cuan, is the island of Luing, extending six miles from north to south, and two from east to west; and on the east of Luing is the island of Shuna, measuring two miles and a half by one and a half, and separated by a narrow strait of its own name. Each of the other islands is less than a square mile in extent: Torsay lies on the east of the northern division of Luing, and Easdale, celebrated for its fine slate-quarries, a little to the west of Seil. The sound of Jura runs on the south and south-west of the parish, and the sound of Mull on the north-west, exposing it to the impetuosity of the Atlantic. The coast on the east side of the islands of Seil and Luing, which constitute the chief portion of the parish, is low, and marked by numerous bays, affording a secure retreat and good anchorage in stormy weather: those of Blackmill, Toberonchy in Luing, and Balvicar in Seil, are the most considerable. On the west, however, are bold and lofty rocks, especially in the direction of Easdale; they form a striking feature, and supply an important barrier against the fury of the ocean.
   The surface of the main land is chiefly hilly, and covered with pasture; some of the ridges rise from 600 to 800 feet above the level of the sea. The island of Luing is mostly level; but Seil consists, to a great extent, of a series of undulations, interspersed with fertile slopes and pleasant valleys. The soil in both the isles is tolerably good, and suited to all kinds of crops, which, however, are frequently spoiled through the moisture and variableness of the climate. The agricultural character of the parish has been much improved within the last few years, by draining, the reclaiming of waste land, and the introduction of a superior method of cultivation. The rotation system is in operation; the six-shift course is preferred for the larger farms, a five-shift for farms of moderate extent, and a four-shift for crofts. The Marquess of Breadalbane, to whom about three-fourths of the parish belong, has adopted regulations for the protection, comfort, and independence of the cottars, and affords his patronage to an agricultural society established on his property about the year 1838. Premiums are awarded for the best black-cattle and sheep, to the rearing of which considerable attention is paid; the former are of the West Highland breed, and in general of excellent quality, and the latter, the native black-faced, but not so fine as the cattle. Prizes are also given to the most expert ploughmen, and for the best-kept horses and harness, as well as to those cottars who manage their gardens in a superior manner; and the cultivation of turnips, especially, has been much improved under the same auspices. The strata of the parish are chiefly of the schistose formation; and the fine durable slate quarried here for nearly two centuries, has conferred great and well-deserved celebrity on the district. Though this material is procured at Balvicar, in Seil, and at two places in Luing, yet the principal seat of operations is Easdale, where one of the quarries is 120 feet below the level of the sea; the number of men employed at the different works averages 200, and they raise between four and five millions of slates yearly. Indications of lead-ore and zinc have been observed in Luing and Seil; and there is a marble-quarry near Ardmaddy, which was formerly worked. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4928.
   Ardmaddy Castle, the chief mansion, and the property and occasional residence of the Marquess of Breadalbane, is situated on the main land, at the head of the bay of the same name, and commands extensive prospects of sea and land. It is an ancient structure, and was once the residence of a branch of the Mc Dougalls. In the reign of Charles II., and of his successor, James, it was occupied by Lord Niel Campbell, brother of the Earl of Argyll, who made additions to the edifice, and whose initials, with those of his lady, may be seen, cut in stone, with the date 1676. The only other mansion, situated at Ardincaple, was built at the close of the last century. The parish contains five villages, namely, Easdale, which is the largest; Balvicar, in Seil; and Toberonchy, Millbay, and Colipool, in Luing; all built in the neighbourhood of slate-quarries. The village of Easdale, standing on each side of the sound of that name, contains several hundred persons; most of the houses are neatly constructed, one story high, and covered with slate. A few persons in the parish are engaged in the herring-fishery: in May and June, considerable numbers are caught with the fly, and usually fetch a high price. Attempts have been recently made, under the patronage of the principal proprietor, to introduce cod and ling fishing. Easdale contains a postoffice, which communicates daily with Oban. The steam-vessels plying between Glasgow and the ports in the north pass along the sound of Easdale, and touch at its harbour; and the coal used by the quarrymen is obtained from the former place, but the farmers mostly burn peat. The means of communication with the interior are also easy, on account of the number of ferries and roads, of which latter that from Oban enters the parish from the north-east, at Clachan bridge, and passes through the centre of Seil and Luing.
   The parish is in the presbytery of Lorn and synod of Argyll, and in the alternate patronage of the Duke of Argyll and the Marquess of Breadalbane. The stipend is £173, of which £14 are annually paid out of the exchequer; there is a manse, with a glebe valued at £15 per annum. The church, which is more than a hundred years old, was repaired and enlarged in 1816, and accommodates about 600 persons; it is situated at the south end of the island of Seil, which renders it necessary for all the parishioners who attend, except those dwelling in the island, to cross one or more ferries on their journey. The members of the Free Church and the Reformed Presbyterians have places of worship. A parochial school is established at Kilbrandon, and another at Luing; the ordinary branches of education are taught, with Latin, mathematics, and navigation, if required. The master of the Kilbrandon school, who resides at Seil, receives the maximum salary, with a house and garden, and £26 fees; and the other master, £25 per annum, with the same amount in fees, and a garden. A school is supported at Easdale by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the master receiving a salary of £15; and there are several schools, partially supported by the proprietors of estates in the respective localities, and others entirely dependent on fees. The scholars of all are eligible to join in a public competition held annually, at which prizes are awarded by the liberality of the Marquess of Breadalbane.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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