I am a writer who walks. I opted to live on Lismore when my new husband told me he had a croft ‘on this island’. His very words. He was a master mariner with a croft! He and it became irresistible. At the time, when not on the ocean he lived in Oban, but his mother, a Liosach (a person from Lismore), had gifted him Craignich No 9. We had stumbled upon one another (almost literally) on a large container ship he was driving.
On my first visit I came off the ferry in the pouring October rain and announced: ‘this is the place I will write and walk.’ Quite portentously. Seriously, it rains a lot, so never be without wet weather gear regardless of forecasts and promising skies. Lismore is fertile. And green. That means rain.
It is said to have been called Lios Mòr by St Moluag, who landed at Port Moluag in the sixth century CE, to establish what was later to become the epicentre of the Christian church in Argyll. It is also said that Lios Mòr means the great garden. It certainly means the great something, enclosure maybe. Garden suits fine, as the fertility is rampant. Don’t carelessly discard a plant you don’t want; you will soon have it in triplicate.
Lismore is uniquely limestone and before it was grazed by sheep, it was one of the granaries of the West Highlands. It is rich in so many ways, but the greatest richness is the people. This community is energetic, creative, resourceful, imaginative and utterly astonishing. The spark of creativity jumps from person to person and we produce ways of improving ourselves and the island as though on fire. Enterprises spring up and have always done so. Not just gardens flourish. And we want you to experience it all.
To offer just one example: in 1994 four amazing Liosaich (people from Lismore) began to rescue the Gaelic language and culture and create the Comann Eachdraidh Lios Mòr. The result of their vision is a thriving heritage centre, Ionad Naomh Moluag, with a reconstructed cottar’s cottage, a museum, a library, a cafe and a shop. A must visit.
As you explore Lismore in your chosen way, remember Liosaich, from time immemorial, have created a unique place, latterly much of it on volunteer energy which is the fuel of this thriving community. Yet to be sustainable, we need visitors: you.
So don’t just walk Lismore, but eat Lismore, shop Lismore, bike Lismore, and explore the myriad treats visit Lismore will offer you.