Iona Abbey, Scotland

Today, I have been preoccupied with non-touring activities. Therefore, I have decided to post information on the island of Iona which is located off Mull, itself an island off the West Coast of Scotland.

To travel to Iona entails a ferry trip from Oban to Craignure followed by a lengthy drive (maybe 1 hour) along a long and winding road followed by a short, 10 min, ferry crossing. Iona is very small, about 3 miles by 1 mile and because of space constraints, visitors are not usually allowed to take cars onto the island.

Iona is best known as one of the first Christian sites in Scotland, incepted about AD 563 when Saint Columba arrived from Ireland. Columba established a Monastery on Iona which,despite Viking attacks and ebbs and flows of religious trends and Scottish politics, continues to this day as the multi-denominational, Iona Community. In this context it should be remembered that the famous Book of Kells, now at Trinity College, Dublin was probably illuminated here before being taken to Ireland for safe keeping.

The historic Abbey, is under control of Historic Scotland, a heritage organisation, and is open to visitors.

Other aspects of Iona include:

  • Beaches: St Ronan’s, Martyr’s Bay, The Bay at the Back of the Ocean, Columba’s Bay,
  • Artists: Ever changing light conditions and colours attracts artists and photographers.
  • Accommodation: Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering cagter for a wide range of budgets and preferences.Booking ahead is essential.
  • Boat trips to Staffa which is a unique uninhabited island with geology linked to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and includes the famous Fingal’s Cave.
  • Crafts: Locally produced items include jewellery, knitwear, pottery, photography and much more.
  • Concerts: Hosted at the Abbey during the summer period.
  • Traditional dances or Ceilidhs are held in the village hall.
  • Eating: Eateries open during the summer include the Argyll Hotel and St. Columba Hotel.
  • Golfing: There is one course situated on the Machair, on the west coast of the island.
  • Iona Community: Founded 1938 by the Reverend George MacLeod as a ecumenical Christian community which continues to this day, based at the Abbey.
  • Historic royal burials: It is believed that that the graveyard near the Abbey contains the graves of many (48) early kings of Scotland plus other royal personages from Ireland, Norway and France.
  • Nunnery: Now a romantic ruin  which dates from 1203. Originally housed an Augustinian order of nuns. Became redundant around AD 1600. 


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