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Bowmore Round Church – Killarow Parish Church

The Bowmore Round Church is situated at the end of Bowmore’s Mainstreet directly opposite the harbour. The church is also a wonderful landmark and offers wonderful views over Bowmore and Loch Indaal from it’s doorstep. Building started in 1767 and was initiated by Daniel Campbell the Younger. Construction took only three years, finished in 1769 and is the oldest church building on Islay where public worship takes place on a weekly basis.

The round shape of the church was created to prevent the devil from hiding in a corner. If that was the real reason or not, Bowmore Round church is a unique building on Islay, and probably Scotland, is open daily and definitely worth a visit.

A year after the building of the church commenced, the construction of the village of Bowmore started being a “planned village” with wide streets on a “grid-iron” pattern. In 1779, ten years later, Bowmore Distillery started their operation at the current location.

The church has its own attractive website and can be visited here.

Somerled – Rì Innse Gall or King of the Isles

Towards the end of the Reign of David I of Scotland in the middle of the 12th century, Godred Crovan’s Celtic-Norse grandson, Somerled, married Ragnhild, daughter of Olaf of Man. The unpopular Godfred, Godred Crovan’s other grandson en son of Olaf, was deposed by some of the islands chiefs, led by his brother-in-law Somerled. After a sea battle off Islay in 1156, Somerled defeated Godred’s forces and forced a division of the Norse Kingdom of Man and the Isles. The kingdom stretched from the Isle of Man to Lewis. He became Rì Innse Gall – king or ruler of the Isles of the strangers and ruled over a wide-ranging lordship of islands and the western seaboard. While David I became occupied with English affairs, Somerled became a kind of regional governor for the Scots king.

They created a stronghold, Dunyvaig Castle, on the eastern side of Lagavulin Bay on a coastal promontory to control the coasts of Kintyre and Antrim. The site for the stronghold was on top of remains from a fortification which dates back to earlier times. By 1153 Somerled’s relation with the king of Scots became worse and in 1164 Somerled invaded the mainland and sailed up the Clyde with 160 galleys, but met his end at Renfrew. Somerled’s lands were divided amongst his three sons, Ranald, Angus and Dougall. Ranald ruled in Islay and Kintyre, adopted the title “of Islay” and called himself king of the isles and lord of Argyll. The land of Angus was later given to Donald, the son of Ranald, and to Dougall. Thus Somerled was the progenitor of both Clan Donald and Clan Dougall. Where the MacDougalls co-operated with the Scots Crown, the MacDonalds didn’t and even joined King Haakon’s 1263 expedition against Scotland. Later in 1266 the isles were held by Alexander III, King of Scots whereas the former vassals of the king of Norway were left in possession of the isles. The MacDougalls however were in favour and later kept on supporting the king of Scots whereas the MacDonalds were on the English Edward I side. But in 1306 during the civil war, the MacDougalls sided with the English in opposing Bruce which however turned out to be the loosing side and thus the Clan Donald, by supporting Bruce, came out stronger than before. Later Robert I destroyed the MacDougalls and granted much of their territory to the MacDonalds which gave them a strong position in the years to come.

The descendants of Somerled’s grandson Donald, the Clan Donald or the MacDonalds, remained in power and Islay continued to be the main seat of power in the west and became known as the home of the Lords of the Isles.

Source for this story is the book "Biography of an Island" by Margaret Storrie. This book is for sale at Amazon in association with Islayinfo.

Changes on the Islayinfo Website

Some of you might think that the blog has been a bit quiet, and yes it was the last few days. I needed all my time for a major update on the Islayinfo Website. Due to the recent addition of many pages I had to create some sort of menu system because there was no more space on the page itself for additional links. I personally think it is a big improvement and hope you feel the same way.

So I am proud to present the results of my hard work and you are welcome to have a look at the new and improved

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