Port Patrick

Lighthouses on the Southwest Coast of Scotland

In Salutem Omnium
For the Safety of All
Holy Isle near Arran
Flag of Scotland
© Compiled by:
Bob Schrage
page updated: 01-03-2021
Holy Island (Inner)
Holy Island (Outer)
Ailsa Craig
Cairn Point
Cloch Point
Lady Isle
Little Cumbrea
Little Ross
Mull of Galloway
Mull of Kintyre
Toward Point


Place of the lighthouse

The Holy Isle (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean MoLaise) is one of a number of islands in the United Kingdom which go under the name "Holy Island". It is located in the Firth of Clyde off the west coast of central Scotland, inside Lamlash Bay on the larger island of Arran. The island is around 3 km long and around 1 km wide. Its highest point is the hill Mullach Mòr.

The island has a long history as a sacred site, with a spring or holy well held to have healing properties, the hermit cave of 6th century monk St Molaise, and evidence of a 13th-century monastery. An old Gaelic name for the island was Eilean MoLaise, Molaise's Island; this is the origin (via Elmolaise and Limolas) of "Lamlash", the name of the village on Arran that faces Holy Island.Some runic writing is to be found on the roof of St Molaise's cave and a Viking fleet sheltered between Arran and Holy Isle before the Battle of Largs.

The island is now owned by the Samyé Ling Buddhist Community, who belong to the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. The settlements on the island include the Centre for World Peace and Health, founded by Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, on the north of the island. This is an environmentally designed residential centre for courses and retreats which extends the former farm house. It has solar water heating and a reed-bed sewage treatment system. The approach from the ferry jetty is decorated with Tibetan flags and stupas. On the southern end of the island lives a community of nuns who are undertaking three year retreats.

The remainder of the island is treated as a nature reserve with wild Eriskay ponies, Saanen goats, Soay sheep and the replanting of native trees. The rare Rock Whitebeam tree is found on the island, an essential link in the evolution of the Arran Whitebeam species, Sorbus arranensis, Sorbus pseudofennica and Sorbus pseudomeinichii. These are indigenous and unique to Arran. There is a regular ferry service from Lamlash.

Holy Island InnerHoly Isle, Inner lighthouse (left) The Inner lighthouse on Holy Isle faces the east coast of the Isle of Arran at the south entrance of Lamlash Bay. The lighthouse was built in 1877, engineered by David and Thomas Stevenson. It is locally known as "Wee Donald", though the current lighthouse keepers don't know why anymore. With automation at the beginning of the 20th century, one lightkeeper was made redundant.

At the same time, an oil tank was set up on the pier at Holy Isle. The oil was then pumped to the light house by air pressure where before, oil barrels had to be landed and then rolled to the oil cellar and pumped by hand into the cisterns. In 1977, the Holy Island lighthouses were electrified, fully automated and classified as unattended at the same time. Holy Isle Inner lighthouse is 23 m high and white. In 1894, the lighthouse keepers saved the captain and crew of the "Ossian". The light is obscured from east of 147° and north of 282°.

Holy Island Outer

Holy Isle, Outer or Pillar Rock lighthouse (right) Pillar Rock lighthouse is the youngest of the three lighthouses around the Isle of Arran and was built in 1905 on the southwestern shore of Holy Isle to the east of Arran in Lamlash Bay. It was the Northern Lighthouse Board's first square lighthouse. Together with Holy Isle’s Inner lighthouse, Pillar Rock was electrified in 1977 and operates fully automatic since.

The outer lighthouse, or Pillar Rock, was built in 1905 on the east shore, by David and Charles Stevenson, is also known as Pillar Rock. It had a fog horn and a revolving light that was lit by paraffin. Pillar Rock lighthouse was the first lighthouse built with a square tower and has several rooms inside for the men who worked there. Lighthouse cottages were built to house four families of the lighthouse keepers and a walled garden was made. The lighthouses became automated in 1977, and are now serviced every two weeks by local people living on Arran.

A4332 (Inner)

Character: Fl G 3s 17m 6M
(fl. 0.6s - ec. 2.4s)

Engineers: David Lillie Stevenson (1815-1886)
: Thomas Stevenson (1818-1887)

Lat, Lon: 55°30.736' N, 05°04.211' W

Established: 1877
Character: Flashing Green every 3 secs.
Range: 11.1 km / 6 nM
Elevation: 17 meters above sealevel
Tower: 14 meters
Init. Costs: £ ?.
Econ. Costs*: £ ?.
*) According to: MeasuringWorth.com

Automated: 1977
Last Keepers: ? - PLK
: ? - ALK
: ? - ALK
Fog horn...

Status: Operationel
Authority: Northern Lighthouse Board
Remarks: Solar power

A4330 (Outer)

Character: Fl(2)W 20s 38m 18M
(fl. 0.5s - ec. 2.0s)

Engineers: David Alan Stevenson (1854-1938)
: Charles Stevenson (1855-1950)

Lat, Lon: 55°31.042' N, 05°03.653' W

Established: 1905
Character: Flashing(2) White every 20 secs.
Range: 33.3 km / 18 nM
Elevation: 38 meters above sealevel
Tower: 23 meters
Init. Costs: £ ?.
Econ. Costs*: £ ?.
*) According to: MeasuringWorth.com

Automated: 1977
Last Keepers: ? - PLK
: ? - ALK
: ? - ALK
Fog horn: Blast ever 90 s, 2 times in 4 s.
: Discontinued 1987

Status: Operationel
Authority: Northern Lighthouse Board
Remarks: Solar Power

Holy Island map
Holy Island map

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