As we were walking over the Machair we saw her in the distance.
Progressing south in the ‘Passage of Tiree’ was a ship.
She appeared to be making her way towards Gott Bay.
As she drew closer it was easier to identify her.
The vessel was the ‘Hebridean Princess’.
The operators of the ‘Hebridean Princess’ make a bold claim.
They claim she is ‘undoubtedly a ship that is one of a kind’.
The Princess is a luxury cruise sailing out of Oban.
She has been hired more than once by the Queen.
However, her origins were much more humble.
She was originally built in 1964 to serve as a Car Ferry on the Isle of Mull service.
Operated by David MacBrayne Ltd she sailed to many of the Hebridean Isles.
In 1974, on the withdrawal of the veteran “King George V”, she served
Coll and Tiree as well as Colonsay, Iona, Lochaline and Tobermory.
Back then she was known as “Columba”.
Columba is a name that has long been honoured in Scotland.
It was in 563 that Columba arrived as a missionary on Iona.
The latter is one of Scotland’s smallest inhabited islands,
lying less than a mile off the South West Coast of Mull
and can be seen from the Isle of Tiree.
Yet its historical significance is enormous.
It was here that Columba founded his monastery.
The book ‘Island of Two Harvests’ states,
“In the year 563 Saint* Columba sailed from Northern Ireland
and built his famous monastery on Iona,
soon followed by another on Tiree called Mag Luinge.
This is often thought to have been at the site of Soroby graveyard
where there used to be a church
as a nearby inlet is still called Port na Luinge,
meaning harbour of the boat.”
On the Isle of Tiree there is a local tradition that
Columba himself sailed to Tiree and landed on Gott Bay.”
The island was known even then for its fertility
and has been described as Iona’s granary.
Columba died on the 9th of June 597,
the same year that Augustine arrived in Canterbury
on his Roman mission to convert the English.
A Hebridean Princess and an Irish Saint linked by a ship.
A vessel that is often to be seen in Oban Bay.
Today, she once again in Gott Bay, Tiree.
Note some Christians regard ‘saints’ as an elite group.
However, the Bible in fact refers to all Christians as saints.
And just like Columba, the church today has an important mission.
The church is to spread the “God’s Good News concerning his Son Jesus.”
This is ‘Like on Tiree’.