Kilmore and Kilbride

   KILMORE and KILBRIDE, a parish, in the district of Lorn, county of Argyll, 3½ miles (S. by E.) from Oban; containing, with the island of Kerera, and the late quoad sacra district of Oban, 2773 inhabitants. These two ancient parishes, which appear to have been united soon after the Reformation, are supposed to have derived their names, of Gaelic origin, from the dedication of their churches respectively to the Virgin Mary and St. Bridget. The early history of the place is involved in great obscurity, referring to a period of remote antiquity, of which few authentic records have been preserved. The castle of Dunstaffnage, of which neither the name of its founder nor the date of its erection is known, seems to have been either the seat of government, or the occasional residence, of the Pictish kings, till their subjugation by Kenneth Mc Alpine, who, about the year 834, finally established the Scottish monarchy. In this castle, which Kenneth for a time made his chief seat, was preserved the celebrated stone whereon the kings of Scotland were crowned, till its removal to the abbey of Scone by Mc Alpine, who, in 843, transferred the place of government to Forteviot, in the county of Perth, where he died. Alexander II., King of Scotland, having assembled a fleet in the bay of Oban, in order to exact from Angus, Lord of Argyll, that homage for his territories which the lords of Argyll had previously paid to the kings of Norway, was seized with a fever, of which he died in the island of Kerera in July, 1249. In 1305, Robert Bruce, having defeated the Mc Dougals at the pass of Loch Awe, laid waste the lands of Argyll, and besieged the castle of Dunstaffnage, which he reduced, and garrisoned with his own forces. In 1436, the castle, and the lands belonging to it, were granted by James II. to Dugald, son of Colin, Knight of Lochawe, in whose descendants, as "Captains of Dunstaffnage," they have remained till the present time. The castle was maintained as the principal stronghold of the Campbells, and, in the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, was garrisoned by the royal troops. The remains of this ancient palace are situated on a rock washed on the west by the Atlantic, and on the north skirted by Loch Etive, and consist chiefly of the walls, inclosing a quadrangle defended at three of the angles with circular towers. On three sides, the building is little more than a ruin; on the fourth, it is in tolerable preservation. A commodious tenement has recently been erected as a residence for the steward of the Duke of Argyll, who is hereditary keeper; and near it are the remains of a small roofless chapel, of elegant design, in which many of the kings of Scotland are interred, and of which the cemetery is still used as a burial-place by the inhabitants of Oban.
   The parish is bounded on the north by Loch Etive, on the south by Loch Feochan, and on the west by the sound of Mull; it is twelve miles in length and nearly nine in breadth, but the number of acres has not been ascertained. The surface is diversified with hills of moderate elevation, and with valleys which are fertile and in good cultivation. There are several lakes in the parish, exclusively of those which form its boundaries; the largest is Loch Nell, abounding with trout; and in the river issuing from it are found salmon. The coast is indented with numerous bays, of which those of Oban and Dunstaffnage are excellent harbours; and in the north of the sound of Kerera is the Horse-shoe bay, which also forms a good harbour. The island of Kerera, inclosing the bay of Oban on the west, is about three miles in length and nearly two in breadth. The soil is in general light and sandy, and there are some extensive tracts of moss, of which considerable portions might be reclaimed; the chief crops are barley, oats, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture has been much improved; and great attention is paid to the rearing of live stock, for which the hills afford good pasture. The cattle are of the West Highland breed, with the exception of some Ayrshire cows on the dairy-farms; the sheep are the black-faced, with some South-Downs on one of the farms. Freestone of superior quality, and slate, are found in abundance; and on the lands of Gallanach are quarries in operation. There are several fishing stations, chiefly for salmon and trout, and herrings are frequently taken in Loch Etive and Loch Feochan; shell-fish are found on the shores, and various kinds of white-fish off the coast. The rateable annual value of the parish is £8744.
   The castle of Dunolly, the ancient seat of the lords of Lorn, together with the lands, became forfeited to the crown on the rebellion of 1715; but the property was subsequently restored to Alexander, grandfather of the existing proprietor, Capt. John Mc Dougal, R.N. The present family mansion is situated beneath the romantic ruins of the old castle, on the border of Loch Etive, about a mile from Oban: the principal remains of the castle are the keep and some portions of other buildings, overgrown with ivy. In the grounds is an upright pillar, called the Dog's pillar, and said to have been used by Fingal for fastening his dog "Bran." In the house are preserved many ancient relics, among which is the brooch of Robert Bruce taken by Allaster Mc Dougal from the owner, whom he had defeated at the battle of Dalree, near Tyndrum, and which, after passing through various hands, was purchased by General Duncan Campbell, of Lochnell, who, in 1826, restored it to the proprietor of Dunolly. Fairs are held four times in the year in Kilmore, but are not well attended. Facility of communication is afforded by good roads, and by ferries at Oban, Dunstaffnage, in the island of Kerera, and other places, and by one to the island of Mull. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Lorn and synod of Argyll. The minister's stipend is £249. 8., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £40 per annum; patron, the Duke of Argyll. The church of Kilmore was erected about the year 1490, and contains 350 sittings; the church of Kilbride, of a later date, contains 300 sittings. Divine service is performed in each on alternate Sundays. A church has also been erected at Oban, where are likewise places of worship for Seceders. There are two parochial schools, one at Kilmore, and the other in the island of Kerera; the master of the former has a salary of £25, with fees averaging £10, and that of the latter a salary of £21, with fees averaging £6: both have houses and gardens. There are also three Sabbath schools. Some remains exist of Gylen Castle, one of the strongholds of the Mc Dougals, romantically situated on a rocky promontory in Kerera, and which, in 1647, was besieged and taken by the forces under General Leslie.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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