Preservation society promotes people power

The KKC board: Gordon Caskie, Calum Morrison, George Thomson and Murdo Macdonald. 

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By Joan Crooks

Killean and Kilchenzie Churches Preservation Association’s Calum Morrison, shows that small can be mighty, but more could be mightier.

Kintyre Antiquarian and Natural History Society president, Dr Sandy McMillan, welcomed speaker, Mr Calum Morrison to the groups’ monthly meeting in the Ardshiel Hotel on Wednesday evening February 21.

He also welcomed members and guests and expressed the committee’s delight at one of the society’s largest ever attendances.

Captivating the capacity crowd with a heartfelt, yet humorous talk, Mr Morrison outlined the history and national importance of the 12th century churches at Killean and Kilchenzie, recognised by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

He also related the origins and progress of the association’s work to preserve the ruined churches and explained that while some initial tasks had been undertaken by members, substantial funding was needed for skilled preservation work.

Using a visual presentation, Mr Morrison impressed with what the association had already achieved, but said: ‘Some funding applications have been rejected due to the small size of the association.’

He encouraged all present to become members for the small sum of £5 per annum and added: ‘If you are interested in history and would enjoy discussing finds and discoveries with funding providers and conservation specialists, then please join us on the board.

‘At present the board meets bi-monthly to discuss progress and arrange work parties.’

Mr Morrison thanked those who had supported the project financially and those who had already become members, adding: ‘The association has increased from five to 44 members, but more are needed to encourage potential funders to respond positively’.

In a humorous tone, Mr Morrison suggested that the Cara ‘broonie’, a benevolent sprite known to perform tasks of drudgery while people slept, should be offered honorary membership, so that: ‘some of the tasks we are working on will be miraculously completed.’

On a more serious note he asked: ‘Why do we bother? What is the point of preserving a pile of stones?

‘It is to learn from the past, to respect and admire the efforts of our forefathers, so that with this knowledge we can teach and inspire young people for a greater future.’

Mr Morrison, a former headmaster in Inverkip, is back to his Kintyre roots, enjoying retirement at Bellochantuy. His father came as a young bachelor, and like many others, chose a bride from the parish.

‘My father was ordained and inducted as the minister of Killean and Kilchenzie in 1944.’ he said.

‘That notable occasion was made even more special by the presence of non-other than the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Cosmo Lang, who regularly holidayed in the area, and had asked for permission to participate in the ordination ceremony.’

The parish had two church buildings, Bellochantuy and A’Chleit, and the Largieside Manse, Muasdale, was Calum’s first home.

He said: ‘The Bellochantuy church building was demolished in 1975 to accommodate the realignment of the road. It stood where the car park is today, just to the south of the hotel.’

Mr Morrison thanked the audience for their attendance and attentiveness and jokingly concluded: ‘I hope you are all feeling a bit more holy after listening to this oration about churches and do feel moved to polish your halos on the way home.’

Membership information can be obtained by e-mail from