Lismore is considered to be on one of the most fertile islands of Scotland as the island is entirely composed of Dalradian limestone with some injections of basalt. It is likely that due to it’s fertile soil that the island once supported a much larger population. The first reliable estimate is 1500 at the 1831 census. Previous estimates included the detached area in Kingairloch. The current population is between 180 and 200 people which menas that the population has actually risen from a low of around 100 in the 1970s.
Lismore is located north of Oban at the cross section of the Firth of Lorn to the south, the Sound of Mull to the west and stretching for several miles north into Loch Linnhe, exactly on the Great Glen Fault that is diving Scotland in two parts. East of Lismore is the Lynn of Lorn. The island is around 10 miles long and one mile wide. There are only two concentrations of houses on the island at Achnacroish and Port Ramsay. There are only scattered holdings and residential buildings elsewhere.
Lismore Lighthouse in the south of the island
The highest hill on Lismore is Barr Mor with 127 metres offering stunning views to the Ben Nevis in the north east, Port Appin and Loch Etive to the east, Oban, Kerrera and the Firth of Lorn to the south, Duart Castle and Mull to the south-west and the mountains of Morvern to the west.
The name Lismore comes from the Gaelic lios-mor which means great garden, and refers to the fertile island with it’s abundant wild flowers, shrubs and trees although there is only little natural woodland. The island has been inhabited since early times given the number of duns, forts and cairns. A good example is Tirfuir Broch which is one of the best preserved galleried Pictish brochs in the country. In 1974 a polished stone axe-head was found and was dated by the Edinburgh Museum to 3500 BC, it’s presently on exhibition at the Lismore Historical Society Heritage Centre. Another interesting item on display is the replica of the Lismore armlet, the original is in the National Museum. The original Lismore armlet was found in 1995 in a field on Lismore and dates back to 200 AD.
Aerial view of Lismore
Walking, and cycling, on this delighful island offers good opportunities to spot wildlife. Although Red Deer are not present on the island otters can be seen quite frequent in the coastal areas. The island has an impressive list of birds, around 130 species, and include birds of prey such as owls, hen harriers and buzzards. The impressive and long coastline are good habitats for gulls, shags, guillemots, terns and other sea birds and waders. There are several bed and breakfasts and self catering accommodations on the island for tourists, mainly in the centre and northern part of the island.
The island is served by two ferries, one vehicle ferry from Oban, operated by Caledonian MacBrayne, and a passenger only ferry operated by the Argyll and Bute council from Port Appin to Port Ramsay, a ten minute crossing. The Calmac vehicle ferry docks at Achnacroish which is the centre of the east coast, the general store can be found 3 miles further in the middle of the island.
Lismore Community & Local Websites. Tourist Information:
Lismore Pictures – A Gallery of Lismore Images
www.isleoflismore.com – Isle of Lismore community website
www.lismoregaelicheritagecentre.org – Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre
www.oban.org.uk – Oban tourist and accommodation information
www.visitscottishheartlands.com – Tourist Information for Argyll
Lismore Map – A detailed map of the island
Images of Lismore Copyright: Cottages port ramsay Tom Richardson, Lismore Lighthouse Rob Farrow, Lismore landscape Eileen Henderson and the aerial image steven branley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence