Home ] Up ] [ Race to Lismore ] Successors ] Irish Annals ]

The Official Home of the Clan McLea - the Highland Livingstones







Although scarcely historical, the story of how Moluag got away from Ireland when he determined to set out on his missionary voyage. must he told. Apparently, when he reached the shore and was preparing to embark, he was obstructed by some enemies. Standing on a rock, with the sea lapping all round, he considered his predicament, but only for a moment. He quickly came to a decision and giving a command to the rock under his feet, he straightway sailed away on it and in due course arrived at his destination in Scotland.

 But where did he first land? In answer it is possible to present several different places. It is held by Dr. A. B. Scott that he first came to Kintyre, where he founded two Churches. The evidence consists of two places called Kilmoluag in that district. In Killean Parish there is the burial ground of Kilmaluag. At Loch Killsport, Knapdale, there is a spot called Port-cill-Moluaig, sheltered by Rudha Cill Moluaig. The name appears again in Ayrshire opposite.

But Moluag was a Pict and Kintyre was occupied by Scots, who at the time were still licking their wounds after the drubbing King Brude of the Picts had given them. It is not, therefore, surprising that he moved on. Knight on the other hand asserts that Moluag first landed in Galloway on a visit to the southern Picts. Place names there, such as Knockmilauk, may be founded on his name. Moving north he would pass through the Glasgow region and may even have signalized his presence for all time by giving Crossmyloof its name. Inverarary might be his next stop. In any case in the old name for the Parish-Kilmilieu-there is a suspicion that Moluag passed that way.

Now there is no end to this kind of thing, which may simply mean that the Lismore saint was ubiquitous. On the other hand the names may have had their origins at a much later date than Moluag's arrival in Scotland. Those in Argyll might very well, in some instances, have arisen after the bishopric of Argyll was set up and the see established at Kilmoluag, Lismore. They might even be dedications to the memory of the saint by disciples trained in his monastery at Lismore.

Nevertheless, whatever the actual route was by which he came, Moluag finally arrived at Lismore, and local tradition on the circum- stances connected with that arrival cannot be ignored. 

The story is that Moluag was sailing along the cast coast of Lismore in his curragh searching for a suitable place to land when suddenly there shot out from the Eilean Dubh (Black Isle) another curragh, also obviously intent on making a landing in Lismore. Moluag immediately recognised the owner of this boat as Columba and, realizing that the masterful saint of Iona seemed determined to reach the shore first, he ordered his oarsmen to give of their best: and the race was on. Both appear to have selected the same small bay as their goal. The scene can be well imagined as the two curraghs sped towards the shore, the men at the oars straining every muscle, while in the prow of each stood a tonsured saint urging them on. As they approached the shore it was obvious that Columba's boat would win. But Moluag was not to be beaten. He picked up an axe at his feet and placing his little finger on the gunwale he severed it from his hand, threw it high up on the shingle and cried: "My flesh and blood have first possession of this island, and I bless it in the name of the Lord."

Tradition declares that St. Columba took his beating badly and actually cursed Moluag, saying-"May you have the alder for your firewood." The other answered gently-"The Lord will make the alder burn pleasantly." St. Columba attacked again-"May you have the jagged ridges for your pathway," he said. Still Moluag was not riled, but replied quickly "The Lord will smooth them to the feet."


Home ] Up ] Links ] Contents ]

Send mail to webmaster@ClanLivingstone.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2001 - 2003 Clan Livingstone Society
Last modified: September 02, 2004