Saints Journeys: Iona Abbey

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In 563 A.D., St. Columba (Columcille) and 12 companions founded the monastery of Iona. It became a renowned monastic school of learning and was mainly responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout much of Scotland and northern England. It was here, it is believed, that the Book of Kells, one of the most famous illuminated manuscripts and now residing at Trinity College in Dublin, was produced in whole or in part. After a series of Viking raids, the monastery was eventually abandoned in the 9th Century. In the early 12th Century, the present abbey and a nunnery were erected to house Benedictine monks and Augustinian nuns. They continued to flourish until the Reformation when the buildings fell into ruin. The abbey and many of the other monastic buildings, which may be visited today, were laregly renovated in the 20th Century. The nunnery has been left in its ruined stage.

The journey begins in Oban at the CalMac Ferry Terminal located at NGR PA 344DB. The ferry ride to Craignure on the isle of Mull takes approximately 50 minutes. The 35 mile bus ride from Craignure to Fionnphort is operated by West Coast Motors and takes approximately one hour and 15 minutes. Typically 26 buses run weekly. After arriving at Fionnphort, the passenger ferry takes about 15 minutes before arriving at the ferry jetty on Iona NGR NM275245.

As the initial visit to Iona from Oban requires two ferries and a long auto or transit journey on Mull, and as there is much to see on Iona, it is recommended that if at all possible one should spend at least two days on Iona.

Visited: August 11, 2004 and August 31-September 4, 2007 In addition to the the Abbey, the following sites are well worth a visit: Iona Nunnery, Martyr's Bay, St. Columba's Bay and Carn cul ri Eirinn, St. Oran's Chapel and Reilig Odhrain, and St. Ronan's Church.

Visitors Information

Information on Iona may be found at the Historic Scotland Iona Abbey and Nunnery and Iona Community Council websites. Additional information on Iona and information on Mull may be found on the Welcome to Mull and Iona website. Information on the Oban area may be found at the Visit Oban website. Ferry information may be found on the Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) Ferries website.


Please check local road conditions for possible changes prior to venturing forth on this journey. A helpful resource for changes and possible trip interruptions if you are travelling in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland is the AA-UK Route Planner. Another map source that this website uses and that may be useful to you on your journeys is Streetmap UK.

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