There are some places that manages to leave an impression long before you have even been there, or maybe even before you have a clear idea what or where it is. Iona had such an almost mythical place in my mind, I think the song below is partly responsible for this. Not only is it beautiful, the lyrics are also wonderfully descriptive, and manages to convey the image an image of Iona wrapped in mystery and beauty. There really is something special about this place, and you understand intuitively why it has been a place of worship for so long. (I could only find one version of this song on youtube, there is no video. I suggest you listen to it as a soundtrack to the pictures that follow…)
I had the chance to go to Iona as part of a three island trip with my family when we were in Oban and the surroundings a few years ago. The other islands on the trip was Mull and Staffa, both worth a story in themselves and I will return to them later. All the pictures are taken with my old point and shoot camera so the quality is a little lower than the newer pictures, but still it’s Iona…
I think I fell in love with the name of this island the first time I read it, probably in a book about the Book of Kells that my parents brought back with them from Dublin. (I have since been to see it myself, amazing work of art! If you are in Dublin please please go and see it!) The book was probably started in the monastery on Iona, before it ended up in Ireland, my ancestors might have had something to do with it ending up elsewhere, oops.
We had just about every weather imaginable on this short trip, on Iona it was mainly dry and sometimes sunny. I love Scottish weather, it makes it so much more fun to take photos as the light is constantly changing!
You can just see the ferry to Mull in the distance here, I am standing on the shore on Iona looking towards Mull. Funny how the colour of the water here was almost Mediterranean, so much more turquoise than any other place I have been in Scotland.
Blue skies! You can just see the abbey in the back there.
Boats… I spent most of my childhood summers at an island in the south of Norway where boats were the preferred means of transportation (as opposed to Iona however there was a bridge…), I understand the necessity of a boat when you live like this. I also find myself drawn to boats, but give me a smaller on any time! I never liked the big cruise ships or your general “I’ve got more money than is good for me” type of boats. They have no personality…
I loved the combination of the dry flower in the front and the ruin of the nunnery in the back…
Looks like some of the famous Iona mists have invaded this picture…
I made a black and white version of this picture just for fun and showed it to my boyfriend. He said that it looked like an album cover for a West Highland folk band like the Peatbog Faeries. I know nothing about their music, but apparently they are great fiddlers, but with a name like that who cares? They are clearly brilliant, and of course I had to post that version of the picture too… (I still prefer the other one though, it has a very Scottish type of moodiness to it…)
I think I liked the ruin of the old nunnery more than the reconstructed abbey, but the latter is in use and a part of the community on Iona so my aesthetic preferences aren’t really the most practical I guess.
A gate into the church yard with the abbey in the background.
I present to you the postcard picture! I have also artfully managed to conceal the scaffolding on the tower, score! Gotta love the quintessential Scottish skies behind…
This is actually a replica of the old cross, the original is in the museum in the grounds. There are two huge crosses in front of the abbey and they have a really striking presence.
I am not quite sure what this is a ruin of, but the placement of it made it appear both beautiful and somewhat lonely to me…
If you have read this post, you should be able to make out one word on this pole… No I don’t know what it means, it was written in English elsewhere on it, but I have forgotten and did not take a picture. Amateur mistake, I know, I know…
The colours here was just jaw dropping, not Scottish at all somehow. They seemed to be more akin to a place where the sun is considerably more straight overhead.
Safe within these shores
I feel no conflict here
I feel my spirit soar
Within this sanctuary
There are no ghosts to haunt me
There is no blood upon this land
No power to make me fear
No hour of darkness here
All bathed in emerald
Out of the mist arise
I see the stones appear
A cross before my eyes
Iona, Iona, Iona