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The Holy Isle, Lamlash

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The Holy Isle is one of a number of islands in the United Kingdom which go under the name "Holy Island". It is located in the Firth of Clyde off the west coast of central Scotland, inside Lamlash Bay on the larger island of Arran. The island is around 3km long and around 1km wide. Its highest point is the hill Mullach Mòr.HistoryThe island has a long history as a sacred site, with a spring or holy well held to have healing properties, the hermit cave of 6th century monk St Molaise, and evidence of a 13th-century monastery. An old Gaelic name for the island was Eilean MoLaise, Molaise's Island; this is the origin (via Elmolaise and Limolas) of "Lamlash", the name of the village on Arran that faces Holy Island.Some runic writing is to be found on the roof of St Molaise's cave and a Viking fleet sheltered between Arran and Holy Isle before the Battle of Largs.In 1549, Dean Monro wrote of the "little ile callit the yle of Molass, quherin there was foundit by Johne, Lord of the iles, ane monastry of friars, which is decayit."Present dayThe island is now owned by the Samyé Ling Buddhist Community, who belong to the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The settlements on the island include the Centre for World Peace and Health, founded by Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, on the north of the island. This is an environmentally designed residential centre for courses and retreats which extends the former farm house. It has solar water heating and a reed-bed sewage treatment system. The approach from the ferry jetty is decorated with Tibetan flags and stupas. On the southern end of the island lives a community of nuns who are undertaking three year retreats.
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  • Wonderful trip by small boat to a peaceful island with beautiful walks and lots of wildlife. An oasis of quiet. Well worth a visit.  more »
  • Took the ferry out to the Isle where there are a couple of Buddhist retreats. On getting to the island I was disappointed to find that the retreats were closed to outside visitors. The only building o...  more »
  • Visited the local community garden. Walked the around island route. Easily followed and spectacular views from the summit. Good 2 hour walk for a family.  more »