The largest settlement on the island of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, Tobermory (St Mary's Well) lies on the north side of Tobermory Bay and inlet of the Sound of Mull on the northeast coast of the island. Largely designed as a planned village, it was laid out in 1788 by the British Fisheries Society to provide housing for fishermen employed in the herring trade. A pier was built by Thomas Telford and in the 1820s Tobermory was linked by steamer service to Glasgow. It developed in the 19th century in association with fishing, tourism and the distilling of whisky. While its population declined in the 20th century, Tobermory remained a service centre for the surrounding community as well as a centre for tourism and pleasure yachting. It has folk museum, golf club, yacht club and lifeboat service. The externally-understated Roman Catholic church of Our Lady Star of the Sea dates from 1973 but is noted for its fine stained glass.
In 1588 a ship of the Spanish Armada sank in Tobermory Bay. During World War II, the Royal Navy set up HMS Western Isles at Tobermory, under the forceful Vice Admiral Sir Gilbert Stephenson, known as 'The Terror of Tobermory', to train escorts of the North Atlantic convoys in anti-submarine tactics. This training school was depicted in Nicholas Monsarrat's novel The Cruel Sea (1951).
A car ferry links the village with Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, a summer seaplane service connects Glasgow with Tobermory harbour, and there is an airstrip (Glenforsa Airfield) to the southeast near Salen. The brightly coloured houses of Tobermory are the backdrop to the hit BBC Children's television programme 'Balamory', while the village also provided a location for the film When Eight Bells Toll (1971) based on Alistair Maclean's novel.