Inch Kenneth

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Inchkenneth, a grassy island of Kilfinichen and Kilvickeon parish, Argyllshire, at the entrance of Loch-na-Keal, on the W side of Mull, 1 ½ mile S by E of the E end of Ulva. Measuring 1 1/8 mile in length, and 3 furlongs in extreme breadth, it is low and fertile, and took its name from Kenneth, a missionary of Iona, who became the head of Achabo Abbey in Ireland, and died there in 600. Down to the Reformation it was held by the monks of Iona; and it possesses tolerably entire ruins of a First Pointed church, built on the site of the Columban cell, and measuring 60 feet by 30, whither Boswell retired at midnight to say his prayers, but speedily returned, being frightened by a ghost. Around the ruins is a graveyard, containing the tombstones of the Macleans of Brolas. In Oct. 1773, at the time of Dr Johnson's pilgrimage to the Hebrides, Inchkenneth belonged to Sir Allan Maclean, Bart., who resided on it in what is described by Scott as a wretched and exposed hut. Yet the Doctor, with Boswell, spent two days under Sir Allan's roof, and by him and his two daughters was entertained with such 'kindness of hospitality and refinement of courtesy,' that he looked on his sojourn with them as 'a proper prelude to Iona,' and commemorated it in a Latin poem, which Professor Sir Daniel Sandford of Glasgow translated as follows :-

'Scarce spied amid the west sea foam,
Yet once Religion's chosen home,
Appears the isle whose savage race
By Kenneth's voice was won to grace.
O'er glassy tides I thither flew,
The wonders of the spot to view.
In lowly cottage great Maclean
Held there his high ancestral reign,
With daughters fair whom love might deem
Te Naiads of the ocean stream:
yet not in chilly cavern rude
Were they, like Danube's lawless brood;
But all that charms a pollsh'd age,
The tuneful lyre, the learned page,
Combined to beautify and bless
That life of ease and lonelinees.
Now dawn'd the day whose holy light
Puts human hopes and cares to flight;
Nor 'mid the hoarse waves' circling swell
Did worship here forget to dwell.
What though beneath a. woman's hand
The sacred volume's leaves expand;
No need of priestly sanction there -
The sinless heart makes holy Pray!
Then wherefore further seek to rove,
While here is all our hearts approve-
Repose, security, and love?'

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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