The perfect position

Although St. Conan’s Kirk has already acquired a certain air of antiquity and a considerable reputation as one of the “show places” of Argyll, it is in fact quite modern, so modern that in its present form it was dedicated for worship as recently as 1930.

Up till the 1870s of the last century, although the road from Stirling to Oban passed along the north shores of Loch Awe, there were practically no human habitations between Dalmally and Taynuilt.

sundial

The north side of the kirk, which faces the visitor as they enter, is relatively simple, but the south side, that overlooking the loch, is extremely elaborate.

The view from the sundial terrace on the south side is one of the most beautiful in the West Highlands, and it was this which determined the site of the church. Immediately below are the waters of Loch Awe, which wind away out of sight for more than twenty miles to the south.

Away to the Northeast, beyond Kilchurn Castle rises Ben Lui, snow-capped for half the year, overlooking the three great glens of the Lochy, the Orchy and the Strae. Directly opposite is the long ridge which separates the basin of Loch Awe from Loch Fyne, and (on a clear day) just appearing over it, the peak of Ben Buie.

To the right on the far side of the loch is the thickly wooded promontory of Innistrynich, site of an ancient monastery. A little nearer, two dark islands, one of which was the stronghold of the MacNaughtons, and behind these Innishail, the Green Isle, which was for hundreds of years was the burial ground of the people of Loch Awe side. Further right again is another dark island close to the shore. This is Innischonain, the one-time home of the Campbells, the family with the vision and determination to build the amazing St Conan’s.