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Lismore is an enchanting island, indeed in Gaelic Lios Mor means 'the great garden'. No pub since 1881, no hotel, no mainline restaurant. Instead peace and quiet, farming on remarkably fertile soil (the limestone), wild flowers, and not much of the holiday home problem (I think 11 houses in 2014). People on Lismore live there, about 200 of them (in the 19th century there were about 1500, far too many for the island to support).
Apparently St Columba thought Lismore was far too fertile for a monastic settlement (although he was beaten to it by his brother monk St Moluag). So he went off to Morvern to found the church at Kiel, reached from Loch Aline, a much tougher environment and so more suitable for monkish activities while St Moluag took over Lismore.
A good half-day circular walk, starting at any of the northern anchorages, takes you to most of the interesting things to see: the church at Clachan, Castle Coeffin, Tirefour Broch, limekilns at Port Ramsay, and the Heritage Museum (with the only café on the island). For example, from Achnacroish walk along the coast to the Tirefour Broch, then along very small roads to Port Ramsay, round the bay and over the hill past Port na Moralachd to Castle Coeffin, to the centre of the island again and the church at Clachan, tea and buns at the café, then back along the road to Achnacroish.
Lismore does not seem to be much visited by boaties, or by others even though it is very close to Oban by ferry and just a stone's throw from Appin, also by ferry but not for cars. Once there you can hire bikes from an outfit that will deliver them to wherever you are on the island, but best to book ahead (ph 01631 760 213). So it is all quiet and peaceful. But there is one blot on the landscape, the granite quarry at Glensanda over on Morvern, the only coastal quarry in the UK. You can see it from almost everywhere on the west coast of the island.
If you want to know more read Robert Hay's 'Lismore, the Great Garden', Birlinn, 2009.
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The iconic Lismore lighthouse on Eilean Musdile. Engineer: Robert Stevenson, established 1833, automated 1965.
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