Lismore (Eilean Musdile)
Eilean Musdile (Mansedale) is an islet, and lighthouse to the south west of Lismore in the Inner Hebrides. This is separated from Lismore island by a Sound ¼ miles broad.
The island lies in the entrance to Loch Linnhe, separated from Lismore by a sound ¼ miles across. It is a low-lying rock, ten acres (4 ha) in size, with some grass on it. On 13 January 1830 the Commissioners purchased, from Charles Campbell Esq of Combie, the small island of Mansedale, lying off the south west point of Lismore, for the sum of £500. CalMac ferries pass close to the island on their way from Oban to Mull.
The lighthouse was built by Robert Stevenson in 1833. James Smith of Inverness was the contractor responsible for building Lismore at the price of £4,260. Initially showed the Light a fixed white light. In 1910 most of the Northern Lighthouse Board's lights were changed to dioptric or Fresnel lenses but Lismore and Fidra, in the Firth of Forth, were left as the only remaining purely catoptric lights in the service.
A Standing Stone once stood on the highest point of the island (NM779351). The 2.7 metre monolith appears to have recorded the midwinter sunset and is thought to have been removed during construction of the lighthouse.
The light was first exhibited in October 1833. The report at the time stated the light will doubtless be of great service to numerous vessels which frequent the sounds of Islay, Luing and Mull. It also opened up the firth of Lorne and Loch Linnhe for the western entrance to the Caledonian Canal.
Mr Robert Selkirk, a lineal descendant of Alexander Selkirk, was the first Principal Lightkeeper at Lismore and had been in the service since 1808. Lismore was a Rock Station relieved fortnightly so that the men (4 in all) had 6 weeks on the rock followed by two weeks ashore with their families. The provisions and other light stores were brought by a boatman permanently attached to the Station who also did reliefs.There is nice film on the web about how the lighthouse used to be supplied when it was still manned.
The war years provided extra work for the lightkeepers. In 1940 two lightkeepers at Lismore, under most difficult conditions, rescued two airmen clinging to a piece of wreckage in the sea.
June 1965 saw the biggest change at Lismore when it was converted to Automatic operation at an estimated cost of £10,000. Upwards of eleven tons of building material had to be transport from Oban by the MV FINGAL. The lightkeepers were then withdrawn. The light is now looked after by Oban Depot personnel.
Not an official anchorage but that doesn't mean one can't anchor in quiet weather off either the east or west slipway depending on the wind direction, for a short while to have an explore. And well worthwhile it is, to stand on the terrace looking out over the swirling tide and the boats going to and from the Sound of Mull. As ever the lighthouse, the two cottages and associated buildings and slipways, are all beautifully proportioned and constructed, particularly the curving wall bounding the path through the garden where once the lighthouse keepers grew their vegetables. Of course it is yet another Stevenson, built in 1833 and automated in 1965.
What the two very large walled fields were for I don’t know, surely too large for a vegetable garden but OK for a cow or two (there are some ruined byres to support this idea). The arched bridge connecting one island with the other has no obvious purpose now, it was built to transport materials to build the lighthouse from the original landing opposite Lismore itself.
The cottages, and indeed all of Eilean Musdile, are now privately owned but I have never seen anyone around during my many, many trips past the lighthouse. But one sunny spring day I did stumble on the owners busy painting their cottages white, and very friendly they were too. They don't mind you wandering around their island paradise.
It should be noted that at some sites the Northern Lighthouse Board have sold some redundant buildings within the lighthouse complex and are not responsible for the maintenance of these building.
Character: Fl W 10s 31m 17M
(fl. 0.2s - ec. 9.8s)<
|Engineer||Robert Stevenson (1772-1850)|
|Lat, Lon||56°27.333' N, 05°36.449' W|
|Character||Flashing White every 10 secs.|
|Range||31.4 km / 17 NM|
|Elevation||31 meters above sea level|
|Authority||Northern Lighthouse Board|
|Remarks||Candle power 71.000 cd|
|Cat.A listed - nr: 12360 - 20/07/1971|
|Video Lismore Supply||- National Library of Scotland|