came to Gigha around about 563AD with the missionary monk, St Columba,
who was travelling up the coast of Argyll from Ireland to Iona.
One of his contemporaries, a monk called Catan, subsequently built
a cell at the site of a holy well, and this became Kilchattan church
and graveyard serving the south of the island. There was another
chapel to serve the north of Gigha, founded by a monk called Fionnlagan,
also with a graveyard. The remains can still be seen in the field
opposite Tarbert farm. There is a stone cross amongst a pile of
stones. These large stones were burial markers which were cleared
to the centre of the field in order to increase the area of agricultural
land. There is also a chapel on the island of Cara, founded by a
monk called Finla.
St Columba and his contemporaries belonged to the Celtic church,
which was based on monasteries and missionary monks. By the 13 th
century the church was ruled from Rome and with a parish system
of bishops and priests. It was at this time that the Kilchattan
church was built. It became a part of the protestant church Church
of Scotland at the time of the Reformation in the 16 th century
and was used until the 18 th century, by which time it had become
a ruin. In 1712 a new church was built on the site which is now
the hotel car park and when that fell into disrepair another church
was built in 1780 on the same site, a portion of the wall of that
church being all that now remains.
By the early 20 th century a new church building was needed and
fortunately the minister at the time, Rev Donald MacFarlane, had
been an architect. He therefore designed the present building, which
was relocated on “Cnocan a' Chiuil” (the hill of music), and constructed
from the black whinstone of the previous church. It was completed
in 1923, but sadly Donald MacFarlane also died in that year. The
St Columba window at the front left of the church is dedicated to
When the church was built there was only one stained glass window,
dedicated to those who gave their lives in the 1914-18 war. It depicts
the cross, with the words of Jesus on the night before he died,
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life
for his friends.” (John 15:13). Below the cross is the empty tomb
reminding us that Jesus is alive today and that through faith in
him we have the hope of eternal life.
Over the years the other windows have been added: the war memorial
depicting St Columba overcoming evil, those dedicated to previous
ministers - Donald MacFarlane and Kenneth MacLeod, our former laird
- Sir James Horlick, and members of the McNeill and Galbraith families,
the two main clans on the island in past days.
The baptismal font came from Kilchattan church, where it used to
sit below the lancet window. At communion we still use the tokens
dating from 1795.
We hope that you will find the peace of Christ here
in our church.
Services are held at 11am every Sunday and visitors
are always welcome.
Anne McIvor, The Manse, Isle of Gigha
Tel 01583 505245