Isle of Albion
Britain's smallest cathedral on a quiet little island.
Photographed: Wednesday 8th October 2014
Other Names: The Cathedral Church of Lismore, Lismore Cathedral
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St. Moluag's Cathedral is a parish church located on the Isle of Lismore. At one time, it was the seat of the Bishopric of Argyll and the Isles, and for this reason it still goes by the name of "cathedral" rather than "church" - which is incongruous, considering its small size.

It is believed that it was St. Moulag who originally founded a monastery here sometime before his death in 592AD. Nothing remains of the original structure, with today's church dating back to the 13th Century. The surviving structure is essentially a cut down medieval chancel, with the original nave and western tower surviving only as foundations.

In 1749AD, the building was roofless and derelict. At this time, it was brought back into service as a parish church, and extensive restoration and alteration work was carried out. A further major refurbishment was conducted around 1900AD.

Despite these changes, many medieval features can still be seen. On the outside, these include a number of buttresses surviving from that period. On the south wall, two carved heads can be seen flanking the rounded arch of a bricked up doorway. On the north wall, there can be found an "aumbry" - a recess originally used for storing chalices when the church extended further in this direction.

Inside the church, surviving features include three round-headed seats which would have been used by clergy officiating at mass and a small basin used for washing communion vessels A number of carved heads are also visible.

The significance of St Moluag's Cathedral is easily overlooked when visiting the Isle of Lismore, Its unassuming size and appearance suggest little more than a small medieval church. I was really pleased to discover the depth of history and detail to be found within. Its a curious little site to explore, and its location on such a quiet and picturesque island adds an extra layer of atmosphere. This is a very tranquil setting, and despite its proximity to Oban on the mainland, the Isle of Lismore still feels very remote and cut off from the rest of the world.