The islands of Mull and Iona


Great Britain
Day 13 - Tuesday, 20 May 1997

Ferry to Mull

The ferry boat took us from Oban to Mull, then a bus took us across the island of Mull where we caught another ferry over to Iona. John, our bus driver, was from Ireland. His accent and the noise of the bus made him difficult to understand at times as he described the wondrous terrain, vegetation and animal life of Mull. He had a marvelous way of drawing out the name "Iona." He repeated it so many times that we still say it to each other. "Iii -ooown-aaa."

There were fuchsias growing wild everywhere. The long sequence of wars has destroyed almost all the natural forests that once covered these islands. Some of the trees were used for shipbuilding, some for homes and furniture, some were just destroyed to try to conquer the population. In any case, it is sad to see. Trees that are all alike, all the same age, and planted in straight lines do not at all look like forests.


Iona was the jewel of the day. The ruins of the abbey (above), convent, church, the old cemetery (MacBeth is allegedly buried here) kept our attention. The wild desolation of the island is a perfect setting for solitude and study. This is one of those places that started humbly, attracted others, ended up with wealth and became a target for Viking pirates. The abbey was destroyed several times before they finally built it with stone. That didn't stop the pirates. Eventually the monks stopped re-building.

The first disciple to come here was St. Columba. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Scotland. He fled from the heresy that was growing up in Ireland, seeking solitude, truth and intimacy with God.

I noticed a young woman who crossed from Iona to Mull and back to Iona as we were going in the opposite direction, who looked very much like my oldest daughter, Beth. Hair and skin color, as well as size and shape of mouth were amazingly like Beth. Also, she was about her same size - 5 feet tall, and petite.

We observed an odd phenomena here that we've seen nowhere else. People take their dogs with them on these trips! There were five dogs on the ferry and on our bus over to Iona and back. An English woman who sat near me was very disapproving of the whole idea that dogs should ride on buses.

I don't think it ever got dark while we were there, the sun set about 9 or 10 and rose about 2 or 3 a.m., and in between it was just twilight. I woke more than once in the night, and marveled at the lightness when I should have expected darkness.