Report on Pre-Parliament Tour to Mull and Iona (19-21 July 2023)

The Abbey at Iona © Al McLeod 2023

Mull and Iona Pre-Parliament Tour Report July 2023

by Kevin John Tolmie

Following the success of the Pre-Parliament Tour to Lewis and Harris in 2018, a similar trip was planned before Parliament 2023. Unfortunately due to the uncertainties of overseas travel post COVID, only twelve intrepid travellers made the trip. This included organisers yours truly and my wife Wilma.

As far as I know this was the first time Clan MacLeod had visited Mull and Iona together as a Clan. Most of us met up in the ferry queue at Oban port prior to boarding our ferry to Craignure on Mull. Our first stop after disembarkation was Duart Castle for a fraternal call on the MacLeans. After lunch MacLeods were warmly welcomed and shown around the Castle by Chief Sir Lachlan MacLean.

Accommodation for Clansfolk was in the Isle of Mull Hotel. This included taking two dinners together there during our two-night, three-day sojourn on Mull and neighbouring Iona.

Day two was the main event, our day on Iona. Another, this time short, ferry ride took us from Fionnphort on Mull to Iona. MacLeod history highlights there were the grave slab of Chief Malcolm IX of the Lewes and the house and legacy of the late Lord George MacLeod of Fuinary [see CMM #136]. A fine lunch was taken together at the St Columba Hotel. Afterwards, Clansfolk explored the island in smaller groups according to their interests. We gathered together again in the late afternoon for the return ferry and bus back to our hotel.

On our third and last day, we visited Ardalanish Weavers. There we saw a loom demonstration and were shown the dyeing process. The loom required us to wear ear defenders. This was not like the small hand and foot loom of the Outer Hebrides and Harris Tweed fame. This was an antique mechanical loom. VERY NOISY! The dyeing was fascinating as we were shown how local plants are used to create the dyes that make the beautiful subtle colours of the tweeds produced.

After a packed lunch and a short Land Rover excursion undertaken by some, it was on the road again to our last stop in Mull’s capital, Tobermory. Tobermory is a pretty town, famous for its distillery and for the colourful houses around the harbour. Perhaps better known to some as the fictional Balamory of children’s TV fame.

Finally, it was back to Craignure ferry port and farewell to Mull for most although some stayed on for a later departure and alternative route via Tobermory and Mallaig to Skye and Parliament.

The Family Home of Rev Lord George MacLeod of Fuinary on Iona © Al McLeod 2023