Aug 032014
Colourful Buildings of Tobermory

This was the day we were going to Tobermory, Isle of Mull and from there an excursion to Iona.

Again the weather was lovely (really! I am not sure who had the inside line to the weather gods but we had brilliant weather, just look at that sky). 

Tobermory was a pretty harbour with its coloured houses.

Church on the hill at Tobermory

Lots of trees here which was a stark contrast to the islands we have visited in the last few days.

As Rosemary and I had booked on the tour to Iona we went straight onto the coach so didn’t have time to meander around Tobermory. Those that did said it was lovely and there were great places to eat lovely seafood.

We had a nice guide (although she managed to confuse herself a bit with Australian history) 

Highland Cattle

Lachlan MacQuarie was born on the island of Ulva in 1762 just off the coast off Mull and is buried on Mull. He was the fifth Governor of the colony of New South Wales being appointed in 1809 and officially in residence ass Governor from 1 January 1810 to 1822. He died in 1824 not being as long-lived as his father who reportedly lived to be 103.

We did see Highland cattle although we did have to wonder if the guide had an arrangement with the farmer to have the cattle in a certain paddock as she no sooner started talking about them than we rounded the corner and there they were!

The drive to the ferry terminal for Iona was round two hours and then we and the other couple of coaches arrived. The ferry was also for the general public and the cargo transport to Iona which is just across the way but is a 25 minute ferry round trip. The ferry needed to transport a truck which had some sort of cargo which had a requirement for not many people to be on board so we had to wait a trip or so.

Weather vane

I saw this weather vane while I was waiting and thought it very cute. Looks like the dog got his dinner and the fellow misses out.

The sky and water was very blue and there were a number of people paddling on the beach both this side and the other.

Iona is about two kilometres off the coast of Mull and the main settlement, located at St. Ronan’s Bay on the eastern side of the island. A nice village with hotels, shops and the ruins of the Nunnery. I often wonder why the Nunnery is a distance from the church while the monastery is usually right near it. I know the monks went to Mass between midnight and dawn so I assume the nuns did too?

Ruins of the Nunnery

Anyway St Columba came ashore on Iona and Iona became established as a religious area. It is believed the Book of Kells was written (written is such an anemic word for the artistry of this book) here in the 800s. The Abbey was sacked by the Norse on a number of occasions.

It used to have around 25 Celtic crosses but now only a couple of original ones are left including the one below which is Crois Mhicilleathain (Maclean’s Cross).

Crois Mhicilleathain (Maclean’s Cross)

Then we came to the Parish Church where we spent some time wandering the cemetery (we are family historians! Of course we were going to wander the cemetery!)

Rosemary Kopittke at the Parish Church

And saw a number of very interesting headstones but I’ll save that for another post but also saw a number of headstones of unknown sailors generally merchant marine who had washed ashore during the Second World War. Sad when you think none of their families know where their sons,fathers,uncles lie in rest.


Then onto the Abbey.

The small building just behind the Celtic Cross is St Columba’s church. The Abbey has a long, long history and is what it is today due to being restored.

It is a peaceful church inside and worshippers still come and retreats are often held on the island.

Inside the church there were the ornamental tombs of George Douglas the Duke of Argyll and his wife.

George Douglas Duke of Argyll and his wife

We had to be back at the terminus so left in plenty of time to wander down. On the way we stopped for an ice-cream at the Low House. It had a sign warning people to duck their head as it was a very low doorway. Yes I fitted perfectly! Rosemary has a picture which I’ll have to get off her.

Back at the terminus there was  again a wait for the ferry and we didn’t get on the first or second one and there was some concern as we were running a bit later than planned.

Jackie Depelle who was one of the first speakers in the afternoon session had a paddle and we all enjoyed the sunshine as there was nothing we could do. The joys of 150 extra people arriving in an area on a beautiful summers day.

Bright blue sky and sea

We eventually got back over the straight and onto the coaches knowing we would be arriving back after the time we were told the Marco Polo would be sailing!

We knew they would not sail without us as we were on a ship organised excursion  but we were concerned as we knew Jackie Depelle was in the coach and we would be back after the start of her talk.

Marco Polo waiting for us

So we got back and there were some sighs of relief from others when they saw the ship.

Back onboard 20 minutes into the first session which meant I did not get to hear Geraldine O’Reilly’s talk on Portrait of a Parish: with a focus on place names. Jackie’s talk was postponed.

I sat down in the Captain’s Lounge, our hangout for this cruise (it had power points, comfortable chairs, friendly waitstaff who would bring coffees, what more could one ask (except internet but that is another story!) and started helping some people with some research queries. 

This meant I missed Sean Ó Dúill talking on Country cures from Irish folklore which was a session open to all the ship’s passengers and also Lesly Silvester talking on What were the Quarter Sessions?

Then time for the scheduled Research Help Zone before it was time for me to give my next presentation ‘Timelines as a research tool’. At the same time as mine was scheduled ‘Family History sources before 1837’ by Jackie Depelle and we had a number of unhappy people who had wanted to hear both presentations. this can be a difficulty sometimes when a dual program is being run. I was able to alleviate their distress by promising to do the timelines talk again a few days later which I did and had nearly the same number in the audience.

I even had Lisa Louise Cooke in the audience and I am very much looking forward to seeing her creative timelines. I am a good researcher and scientist  but don’t have a creative bone in my body so I really admire creative people!

I then started my next talk which was on ‘Understanding the context: why social history is important in your research’, showing examples of how knowing the cultural, political, social, environmental aspects of your ancestors lives can make such a difference to your research. 

This meant I missed Mike Murray’s  talk on ‘Highland Clearances: where did they go?’ which was a shame after seeing some of Scotland and seeing the conditions and understanding a little better (even though I have no research in these areas) about what occurred.

Then it was time for dinner. The ship has started during the early sessions on its way to Dublin our next stop.