Colmcille Logo White

6.6 Cholmcille’s Chapel & Cave, Ellary

This peaceful location on the shores of Loch Caolisport is said to be where Colmcille stopped for a few days on his journey north from Ireland in 563.

He was seeking a meeting with the local king, Conall mac Comgall, whose chief fort was about 15 miles from here at Dunadd. According to tradition Conall agreed at this meeting to let Colmcille use the island of Iona to create his monastic settlement.

The chapel and cave are only a few metres from the sea loch. The chapel is ruined and overgrown. The cave is almost hidden from view behind the chapel. Follow the path through the grass to the back of the chapel to find the cave.

Colmcille’s cave is 5 metres wide and 18 metres deep, large enough to accommodate a group of people.

On the east side there is a shelf supporting an altar. Above the altar there is a cross carved into the wall. An oval basin has been formed in the rock which would have held holy water.

You may find that visitors to the cave have left offerings on the altar. This is one of the few sites in the area that is used by pilgrims in this way.

more detail…

Archaeologists have made finds in this cave dating back to the Mesolithic period (10,000- 4,500BC) – the Middle Stone Age. A stone coffin and two shallow graves have also been discovered here.

You can see some of the finds made here at Kilmartin Museum.

A stone basin from the cave is now used as the font in South Knapdale Parish Church in nearby Achahoish.

The ruins of Colmcille’s Chapel date back to the 13th century but this site was used for worship for centuries before that.

The local parish church in Achahoish organises an annual service at the chapel and cave.

© Alan Sproull

 

  • 6.1 Dunadd

    In the 6th century Dunadd was the power base and main fort of the local rulers - the Dál Riata. This rocky outcrop stands high on the Moine Mhor Great Moss with the River Add weaving around its base. Colmcille is thought to have visited the king of the Dál Riata at...

  • 6.2 Kilmartin House Museum

    Kilmartin House Museum is housed in the former manse of Kilmartin Church at the centre of Kilmartin village. Kilmartin Glen has an extraordinarily rich collection of 350 ancient monuments, all found within a six-mile radius of the museum. The area has a strong early Christian history and is closely connected to the...

  • 6.3 Kilmartin Church

    Kilmartin Glen is the site of more than 350 ancient monuments. These sites - which include 150 prehistoric monuments - lie within a six-mile radius of Kilmartin village. Yet this area has also played an important role in Scotland’s early Christian heritage. Just 5 miles south of here at Dunadd, the...

  • 6.4 Keills Chapel & Graveyard, Keillmore

    Keills Chapel sits up on a peninsular stretching out along the west side of Loch Sween. It dates from the 13th century but it is thought that people began worshipping here in the 8th century. As with Kilmory Knap Chapel across Loch Sween, this chapel does not have a direct link to...

  • 6.5 Kilmory Knap Chapel

    The chapel of St Mary at Kilmory Knap is on the east side of Loch Sween. Kilmory means 'the Church of (St) Mary'. From here there are clear views across to the island of Islay and Jura. It was built in the first half of the 13th century and now houses...

  • 6.6 Cholmcille’s Chapel & Cave, Ellary

    This peaceful location on the shores of Loch Caolisport is said to be where Colmcille stopped for a few days on his journey north from Ireland in 563. He was seeking a meeting with the local king, Conall mac Comgall, whose chief fort was about 15 miles from here at Dunadd....

  • 6.7 Southend

    Southend is said to be Colmcille’s first landing place in Scotland. He left Derry on the north coast of Ireland in 563 with 12 companions and landed here before heading up the Argyll coast to meet the king of the Dál Riata. On a small mound to the west of...


FnaG
BnaG
Nhún na nGall
Derry City
Oideas Gael
Museum Nan Eilean
Comunn Eachdraidh Nis
Argyll Bute
colmcille
colmcille 1500

Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Great Glen House
Leachkin Road
Inverness
Scotland, IV3 8NW

(+44) 01463 225454
colmcille@gaidhlig.scot

Colmcille

Foras na Gaeilge, 2-6 Queen Street
Belfast
Northern Ireland
BT1 6ED

(+44) 028 9089 0970
colmcille@forasnagaeilge.ie

Colmcille

Foras na Gaeilge, An Chrannóg
Na Doirí Beaga
Gaoth Dobhair
Donegal, Ireland. F92 EYT3

(+353) 074 9560113
colmcille@forasnagaeilge.ie