Monday 30 November 2020

MULL Photos

Before our trip to Iona we spent some time on Mull near Tobermory. One morning on our drive south on the east coast there was perfect light. Yes photos ARE all about the right light: when the light is flat it impossible. The weather October was one that shed many rainbows and ever changing skies can be perfect too for that drama. On the boat over there was misty dream over Duart castle the home of clan McLean.

Duart castle


The Saltire – St Andrews flag

Dates back to 832 AD as Europe oldest flag. The saltire is not a martial symbol of the crowned portcullis of Westminster but rather promotes the saltire as a welcoming symbol for all Scots - whether by birth, choice or family roots. 


The Battle of Athalstaneford, an army of Picts under Angus mac Fergus, King of Alba and aided by the King of Dalraida, Eochaidh, fought a large force of Angle Saxons led by Athelstane. King Angus led prayers and was rewarded by a dramatic appearance of a white saltire on a blue sky.


Since the war there has been renewed interest in Scots history, culture, and symbolism. Our past stories. 

On the AUOB marches thousands of saltires stream along our city streets. For me my identity as Scot is not only about sense of place or past stories, but about democracy. 

Flags can have many meanings.The Union Jack in the 60s was a symbol of Carnaby street and 60s modernity. What matters is the values that underpin our saltire and shaped by the Scottish people – and not our neighbouring country’s think tank. 

The 55th anniversary of the Saltire Memorial 

in 1963 the minster of Athalstaneford had a contact from a Reginwald Livingston who was recently back from India where the Saltire was raised and lowered each day. He was surprised there was no memorial to commemorate the Scottish flag.


He suggested steps for a Saltire memorial. The minister contacted the Earl of Wemyss and donations came worldwide, in 1965 the memorial was completed and unveiled by Lt. General George C Gordon Lennox, Scottish command the Scots guard and the first regiment to carry a saltire into battle. Plus a saltire heritage centre in a restored doocot.


*SCOTTISH FLAG TRUST – is looking for donations for fundraising restore the monument.  Website 


Guy Fawkes

AND who was Guy Fawkes and why do we in Scotland celebrate a failed attempt on another country’s parliament?  Why on earth does Scotland celebrate with fireworks and a bonfire an English plot to blow up its House of Lords in 1605 – this is before the Union of the Two Parliaments. James Stewart VI of Scotland became James I of England at the Union of the Crowns in 1603.


Our new Scotland should instead celebrate our St Andrews on 30th November to remember all those great Scots who stood up for our nation. 


Sean Connery : Scots Hero


Sadly died. He was the best known Scot of recent times across the word as the most charismatic Bond.

He defined the role.


He was a true believer in Scottish independence and helped to campaign for the Scottish devolution vote in 1997.

For the restoration of our Scottish parliament he was the voice of the Pro-independence broadcasts. His involvement was a big boost for the SNP’s indy campaign.

Following Salmond’s election as party leader in 1990, Connery was the biggest force driving momentum. There was a Connery day when he scheduled a photo call with Gordon Brown on a boat flying a saltire in the Firth of Forth and headlined a cross party rally in the Old Royal High school – when he said – 


“The issue of self government went beyond any political party.” With 100 hours remaining he cautioned, “We don’t have much time.”


George Kerevan wrote, “Connery’s own time came to an end last Saturday but not before he made a lasting difference for Scotland.”

Perfect Light IONA

There is a stillness and purity of light, as if time has stood still here. We stood calmly in the suns bright midday rays – chatting and watching as the ferry to take us over the short crossing from Mull, come into view and gently dock at the pier. The gulls call overhead and the calm waters sparkle. We wait with expectant talk, and a woman tells us she has seen dolphins jumping around a boat.


We walk on sandy shores and sit a while to have lunch and watch and listen. Yes there are no overhead planes or cars. The colours are soft blues, turquoise and pale greens that blend perfectly together. We are glad we chose a sunny Sunday for our trip.


First we visit a well preserved Augustan nunnery that offered a calm sanctuary to abused women – estranged wives, illegitimate daughters, abused children.


Then we walk along the shores to the Iona abbey where early kings of Scotland are buried.

On Iona there is the ancient burial ground of early kings of Scotland and Norway. Iona abbey is the best preserved medieval Christian building from the middle ages.

St Colombia arrived from Ireland with 12 companions and brought Christianity here.


We pass a plaque that tells us about the visionary reformer who believed that belief is grounded in action. In the 1930s great depression the Reverend George MacLeod, saw the despair,  poverty and hopelessness around him in Glasgow and offered these men some hope and they came to help rebuild the ancient monastery and gave them a sense of self-worth and purpose. 




I sit on the grass to bask in the moment, to listen to my soul cry, to watch the sparkling waters, to hear the voices from the past tell their stories. Many Scots kings are buried on Iona, and also Labour leader John Smith. 


So much history here – Oaths were sworn on the black stone of Iona and is considered specially binding

When King James VI was working to suppress the powers of the clans, he held a great meeting of clan chiefs, when one agreement was that the Scottish chiefs sent their sons to be educated in England.

Maybe he thought he was uniting the country - which came at a great cost of many lives. 


The Iona community remains committed to issues of poverty, peace and social justice.


There are places that lift us up and renew us, if we allow the light to shine on. 

Many are pausing a while to reflect on their own shadow. 

We feel the centuries hold us a while, all the lost souls, forgotten hearts, searching travellers.


Hallowed ground. Purity of light – offering body and soul if we can only hear it. 


Some places offer magic light. 



Alexander Pope, ‘An honest man is the noble work of god.’