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Publication Account

Date 1985

Event ID 1018835

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Publication Account


Although now much altered, the parish church of Lismore occupies the choir of the 14th century cathedral of the medieval diocese of Argyll dedicated to St Moluag and is thus one of the earliest churches still used for worship. The cathedral nave to the west barely survives and the tower which was at the west end of the nave is visible only at foundation level. The medieval church was; however, roofless by 1679, and its present state is a result of rebuilding in 1749 at which time the walls were lowered by as much as 3m before it was re-roofed. The external buttresses on the south side are original features, but the round-headed windows appear to date to the 18th century restoration. The interior offers at first sight only the impression of a presbyterian church at the turn of the century, but on the south wall the piscina, sedilia (the seating for the more important clergy) as well as an original doorway still remain visible. The northern doorway is more elaborate with the arch moulding springing from the carved heads of a bishop and a cleric.

Several interesting medieval graveslabs are preserved in the church, and others are in the graveyard.

St Moluag was an Irish saint who founded a Christian community on Lismore traditionally between 561 and 564, and from here he travelled extesively in Pictlandi to him are attributed the foundations, among others, of churches at Rosemarkie, in Ross and Cromarty, and Mortlach, in Banffshire. Thus the present church bears testimony not only to the activities of one of the earliest missionaries to what is now Scotland and to the creation of the diocese of Argyll with its see on Lismore in the late 12th century, but also to the later rebuilding and to the subsequent sensitive restoration of the medieval features by Ian Lindsay in 1956.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).

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