THE BACKGROUND to the CHURCH in LAMLASH
From early times the island known as Eilean Molaise, the Gaelic for Molaise's Island, corrupted to Elmolaise, Limolas, and finally Lamlash, now applied to the village across the bay. Holy Isle is a recent name commemorating the original purpose of its use. by the late 13th or early 14th century a small monastery following the 'Rule of Molaise' had been established there and is said to be endowed by Lord John of the Isles. This is possibly Ian McDonald who was Lord of the Isles around the time of the Scottish wars of independence, and who, although semi independant was an ally of Robert Bruce who embarked in 1307 from Arran to Turnberry to recommence his fight for the Scottish throne. While in 1547 Dean Donald Munro, in his record of Western Isles, describes the monastery as 'decayit' the grounds continued to act as a burial ground of the neighbouring villages, until the mid 18th century when a funeral party was overwhelmed in a storm when crossing and many lives were lost. Thereafter all burials took place in the old kirkyard beside the golf course.
Little is known of the early churches on the main island of Arran. In 1357 Joun de Menteith gave the monks of Kilwinning the rights of all the churches in Arran, with, in all probability, the obligation to supply pastoral services. Only one parish existed but in about 1400 the Island was divided into two - the east from Lochranza to Kildonan being the Parish of Kilbride and the western side being the Parish of Kilmory centred on the Church there.
'Kilmory' is the Gaelic for 'Mary's Church'. While the ruined Church at the present graveyard past the golf course at Lamlash may, in part, date from the 14th century it probably followed an earlier place of worship in the vicinity. James lV worshipped there in 1498 paying 9 shillings (Scots) to hear Mass. The church continued in use after the reformation when it had become 'small and inconvenient.' Nothing but bare walls remain.
The removal of the church to the centre of the growing village was followed by a new schoolhouse built in 1805. Now known as Belhaven Cottage, education continued there until a new school, now the Council Offices, was built, following the appointment after 1850 of a School Board with power to levy rates.
During the 19th century Arran, originally a crofting and fishing community developed into a holiday resort due to steam navigation improving communications. The previous rather bare and austere Kirk became out of date and in the early 1880's offered to build the present church.
HISTORY of the present LAMLASH CHURCH
In January 1994, the church was listed as a Grade A building by Historic Scotland. Grade A concerns buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type.
Outside the present Church stands an ancient cross
and baptismal font which were unearthed in the present graveyard in 1892
and which almost certainly came at one time
from the old monastery buildings on the Holy Isle
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