Lismore and Appin


Lismore and Appin
   LISMORE and APPIN, a parish, in the district of Lorn, county of Argyll; containing, with the late quoad sacra parish of Duror, 4193 inhabitants, of whom 1399 are in Lismore, and 1102 in Appin, the former 7 miles (N. N. W.), and the latter 10 (N. by E.), from Oban. The name of the first of these two place, in Gaelic Lios-Mor, "a great garden," is generally considered as having been applied to the locality on account of the unusual richness of the soil, it being situated in the midst of a tract of country of comparative sterility. The etymology of Appin is altogether uncertain; but many think it probable that it has been corrupted from the appellation Abb-fhon, "Abbot's-land," as the upper parts of the district anciently belonged to the parish of Elean-Munde, so called from St. Munde, who was an Abbot in Argyll in the 10th century. Some are of opinion, however, that the name of Appin is derived from the word Appenine, as descriptive of the mountainous features of the surface. Lismore and Appin were formerly called the parish of Kil-Muluag, or Kil-Maluag, from a saint who lived in the 7th, or as some imagine in the 12th, century, and whose remains were brought to Lismore for interment. The spot, indeed, where the debarkation took place is still shown, named Port-Maluag Lismore was once the seat of the bishopric of the Isles, and afterwards formed part of that of Argyll, this county being erected into a separate see upon a petition presented to the pope by John the Englishman, Bishop of Dunkeld, on which occasion the new bishop fixed his residence at Lismore, where the ruins of his castle are yet to be seen.
   This Highland parish is in the district of Upper Lorn, and is of prodigious extent. It consists of the island of Lismore, one of the Hebrides, situated in the arm of the sea generally designated Loch Linnhe, but sometimes Linnhe-Sheilich; the tract of Kingerloch, belonging to the old parish of Lismore, and on the western side of the loch; and the extensive tract called Appin, stretching from the coast of Loch Linnhe, on the west, to Perthshire on the north-east, and having Loch Leven upon the north, by which it is separated from Inverness-shire. Loch Creran forms the south- eastern boundary; the Lynn of Lorn, an arm of the sea three leagues wide, runs on the south; and on the south-west is the sound of Mull. Lismore is ten miles long, and one mile and a half in average breadth, comprising 9600 acres; while Kingerloch is sixteen miles long and four broad, and includes 40,960 acres. The length of Appin, from south-west to north-east, is about forty-eight miles, and the medium breadth ten miles and the number of acres is computed at 307,200, making the aggregate number in the parish 357,760, of which 4000 are cultivated, the same number under wood, and the remainder pasture and waste. The parish comprehends, in the most attractive combinations, every description of Highland scenery, consisting of lofty hills and mountains; romantic glens and valleys, enlivened and ornamented with picturesque waters and cascades; and several fine fertile plains. The sea-coast embraces altogether a line of about eighty miles. That of Appin measures forty-six miles from the extremity of Loch Creran, on the east, to the head of Loch Leven on the north, and is in general sandy, often bold and exceedingly irregular, and marked with many curvatures and indentations forming convenient bays and harbours. From the port and village of Appin the line is tolerably straight to Keill, or Cuil where however it makes a sudden flexure to the west, constituting a fine expansive bay; it then winds, with considerable irregularity, round towards the north of the district, and assumes a pretty uniform appearance at Loch Leven. To the south of the village of Appin, the indentations and harbours are very numerous. At the mouth of Loch Creran is safe anchorage for small craft; westward is the well-sheltered bay of Airds, where shoals of herrings are sometimes taken; and a few miles to the north is the sound of Shuna, formed by the island of that name and the main land of Appin, and affording ample security for shipping in the most stormy weather. The bay of Cuil, already referred to, is bounded by a semicircular line measuring a mile between its extremities, and has a fine sandy beach: large draughts of herrings that visit the bay are often brought to shore. To the north of this is the bay of Kentailen, a small creek well defended by the adjacent heights, which are crowned with wood.
   The Lismore coast, twenty-four miles in extent, is also bold, and the water deep even at the shore, except towards the north-east, where the island is low and sandy. At the northern extremity of the isle, on the west coast, is Port-Ramsa, a spacious harbour with good anchorage, protected by several small islands; and a little to the south-west of this is Loch Oscar, or Oscar's bay, so called, it is said, from the circumstance of a party of Fingalians, who came hither to enjoy the pleasures of the chase, having anchored their vessel in the bay. The landing-place is still called Portnamurlach, or Port-na-mor-laoch, "the landing-place of the great heroes;" and in the vicinity is an eminence, whence the female part of the company beheld the sport, and which is yet designated Druim-nam-Ban-Fionn, or "the ridge of the Fingalian ladies." The bay affords a secure retreat for large vessels, protected by several islands, among which the chief is Elein-Loch-Oscair, or "island of Oscar's bay;" but it is of dangerous entrance on the north. Several smaller harbours, comprehending principally Salen, Killchiaran, and Achnacroish, are only fit for boats. The navigation in some parts is highly hazardous, especially at the rock of Carraig, between the southern end of Lismore and the island of Mull: here, also, is a most violent current; but a light-house erected about 1833, on the little island of Musdale, has proved of great service in preventing accidents. The Kingerloch district embraces a coast sixteen miles in length, which is sandy, often bold and rocky, and contains a harbour called Gerloch, or Loch Chorey, the most spacious in the whole parish, being a mile long and half a mile broad; it has good anchorage for vessels at all seasons. Most kinds of the fish common to the county are caught off this parish, including cod, ling, haddock, whiting, lythe, mackerel, and flounders, with considerable quantities of salmon and herrings; they are all taken mostly for domestic use, except the salmon, many of which are sent to the south. Oysters are found in Loch Creran, and the usual sorts of shell-fish on every part of the coast.
   The most lofty elevations in the interior of the parish are the mountains of Glencoe, celebrated by Ossian, and in the neighbourhood of which the country is wild in the extreme, and uninhabited, consisting principally of hill, moss, moor, and glen. These sublime and commanding masses, piled in immense bodies one upon another, reach in some places 3000 feet above the level of the sea, and are accessible only among their lower portions, where tolerable pasture is afforded for sheep. The summits, the resort of eagles, have never been explored by any human being. The heights rise almost perpendicularly, and with surpassing grandeur, on each side of the glen, the deep narrow gorge and solitary recesses of which are seldom warmed by the rays even of the summer's sun. The hills of Ballichulish, a beautiful range covered nearly to their summits with rich verdure, attain an elevation of about 2000 feet above the sea, and, by a few scattered trees still remaining, exhibit relics, and mark out the western boundary, of the ancient Caledonian forest. The Kingerloch coast is marked by hills of less height, but much more abrupt and rocky, and broken by many ravines opening into pleasing valleys, and by some caves of inferior extent. Several recesses, also, of this description occur on the Lismore coast. The chief rivers are the Coe and Creran: the former traverses Glencoe and joins Loch Leven at Invercoe; and the latter, having passed through Glencreran, and received the Ure and other tributaries, empties itself into Loch Creran at its head. Kingerloch contains the smaller stream of Coinich; and there are also those of Duror, Laroch, and Leven in the parish, all of which produce salmon and good trout. Lismore abounds in springs of beautiful water, which find excellent reservoirs in the numerous fissures and caverns penetrating the great bed of limestone rock whereof the island consists. There are also several lochs in Lismore, of moderate dimensions; some contain fine trout, and one is stocked with eels.
   The climate of the parish is exceedingly moist, the sleet and rain that fall here being considerable; but the mildness of its temperature, together with the genial nature of the soil in some parts, especially in Lismore which is considered to a great extent a grain country favours the operations of husbandry; and the crops, though not large, are in general excellent. Appin, comprehending the districts of Airds, Strath of Appin Duror, Glencreran, and Glencoe, is almost entirely a pastoral district; but there are some flat grounds adjacent to the sea-shore, on which the soil is generally light and gravelly, producing good crops of potatoes, barley, and oats. The farms and houses here, which have a very interesting and picturesque appearance, are, however, soon succeeded by grazing tracts, stretching far into the more hilly country, where the soil is frequently clayey and mossy. The sheep are mostly the native black-faced; but the Cheviots have been lately introduced, some of which are crossed with Leicesters. A large number are always in pasture, the average being about 25,000; and, like the cattle, which are chiefly the Highland breed, they are of very good quality Many fine horses are kept, and Lismore is celebrated for its beautiful grey and dappled breed of that animal, Several improvements have been introduced on the estates of the chief proprietors within these few years, embracing principally draining, inclosing, and the reclaiming of waste lands; and the rotation system of crops is practised to a limited extent. The arable land in Appin and Kingerloch is always let with large uncultivated tracts, at one given rate per acre; in Lismore, some farms, to which there is no hill pasture, pay about £1. 10. per acre. The rateable annual value of the parish is £15,708.
   The substrata in Lismore are entirely limestone: in Appin, among the varieties of rock, slate is prominent, and is extensively wrought on the farm of Laroch, near Ballichulish, at the foot of Glencoe. At the works there, which have been in operation for about fifty years, a fine compact and durable material is raised, suited in every respect for roofing, of a deep blue colour, and having pyrites wrought completely into their texture, and called "diamonds" by the quarrymen. The number of people employed, with the carpenters, blacksmiths, and others, is about 300; they mostly live on the estate, in neat well-built tenements with a portion of ground attached, and are in comfortable circumstances. From five to seven millions of slates are raised yearly, and sent to numerous sea-ports in Scotland and Northumberland, from a harbour almost close at hand, where there is a large wharf, to which the cargoes are conveyed by tram-roads on an inclined plane from the quarries. There is also lead in several places; but the attempt to work it has proved unsuccessful. The wood in Lismore consists chiefly of the hard species; for, though once, it is said, covered by a large deer-forest, little else is now to be seen but plane and beech trees, with some ash. These usually grow in clusters, and, being interspersed about the island, supply an agreeable relief to the uniformity of its scenery arising from the continuity of its verdant and arable tracts. The wood in Appin is partly natural and partly planted: among the former are oak, ash, birch, and hazel; and the latter comprises plane, beech, ash, elm, and several kinds of fir, the whole sprinkled with beautiful hollies of rich green hue. The sea-shore of Appin, and the lands immediately stretching from it, are favourite localities for gentlemen's seats. Elegant and pleasing mansions, embosomed in well-wooded valleys, and enlivened by neighbouring rivulets and cascades, rise in various directions, backed by lofty mountains and commanding in front fine sea views. The chief are, Kinlochlaich, Appin House, Airds, Achnacone, Ardsheal, Ballichulish, Fasnacloich, and Minefield, mostly modern.
   The villages in the island are Clachan and Port-Ramsa, the latter of which, a fishing-village, has a good harbour; those in Appin are, Laroch, Port-Appin, Tayribbi, and Portnacroish. The whole are small, with the exception of Laroch, where the population, consisting to a great extent of people engaged in the slate-mines, amounts to about 500, and is gradually increasing. A post-office is established at Appin, communicating daily with Inverary; and a sub-office at Lismore communicates twice a week with Appin. A sub-office, also, at Kingerloch communicates twice a week with Strontian. The Kingerloch district is destitute of roads; those in Lismore are in tolerable order, though far inferior to the roads in Appin. Much traffic is carried on in pigs, poultry, and eggs, which were formerly sold at the market-town of Oban, distant ten miles by land from Appin, and seven by sea from Lismore. This produce, however, is now chiefly sent to Glasgow by the steam-vessels, which pass in their way to Inverness, and touch here twice in each week in summer, and once in winter. The sheep and cattle are disposed of principally to drovers: a fair is held at Duror, in Appin, in April, and another in October; and cattle-markets are held, for receiving the stock from the various districts, at the periods when the drovers are passing through to the south-country markets. A fair of minor importance, and only for local purposes, is held at Lismore in October.
   The parish is ecclesiastically in the presbytery of Lorn and synod of Argyll, and in the patronage of the Duke of Argyll. The minister's stipend is £213, with a manse, and a glebe of ten acres, valued at £17. 10. per annum. There are two parochial churches. The one at Lismore, situated on the Appin side of the island, is the chancel of the cathedral formerly maintained there; it was newly roofed in 1749, and accommodates 540 persons with sittings, all free. The Appin church, containing 350 sittings, also free, was built in 1749, and enlarged in 1814, and is conveniently situated in the district of Strath, in the midst of the incumbent's charge. There is also a church at Duror, about nine miles from the parish church of Appin, and to which are attached the districts of Duror and Glencoe. Two missionaries, supported by the royal bounty, officiate in Kingerloch, Glencoe, and Glencreran; but these places are only the parts of their charge belonging to this parish, their services being shared with other parishes adjacent. An episcopal chapel is maintained in Glencoe, and another at Portnacroish, in Strath of Appin; they were till lately served by the same clergyman, who officiated alternately. A Roman Catholic chapel is situated near the slate-quarry at Ballichulish; and there was formerly a Roman Catholic seminary in Lismore, instituted in 1801, but removed from the island in 1831. There are six parochial schools, of which two are in Lismore, and four in Appin; three of the latter, situated respectively at Glencreran, Glencoe, and Duror, sprang from the fourth. In all the schools, Gaelic and English reading are taught, with the usual elementary branches, comprehending Latin and mathematics in some of the schools if required. The master of the principal school in Lismore has a salary of £17, a sum of £10 from Queen Anne's mortification, and about £10 fees; the master of the second school receives £19 per annum, and £12 fees. The master of the chief school in Appin has a salary of £20, with £10 from Queen Anne's mortification, and about £10 fees; and the three other masters respectively, £6, with £5 fees; £18, with £8 fees; and £8, with £6 fees. The relics of antiquity comprise the remains of numerous castles, the chief of which is that of Elein-an-Stalcaire, or "the island of the falconer," built by Duncan Stewart, of Appin, who was constituted its hereditary keeper, for the accommodation of King James IV. when hunting. It is situated in the sound separating Lismore from Appin, on a rock; and was new-roofed and floored in 1631. Castle-Coeffin, also a very ancient structure, covered with ivy, and situated in Lismore, is said to have been erected by a Danish prince after whom the castle is named. Nearly opposite, on the Kingerloch coast, is Castle-Mearnaig, sometimes called the Castle of Glensanda, standing on a rock, and celebrated for its fine echo. There are also the Castle of Shuna, and those of Tirefoor and Achinduin in Lismore, at the last of which the bishop of Argyll occasionally resided: the other antiquities consist of obelisks, cairns, tumuli, and the remains of religious houses, none of them of much note.
   See Glencoe, Ballichulish, and Duror.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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