childhood memories

Lady Norah Fairfax-Lucy was the youngest of a family of eight living at Calgary, born in 1895. She was a Mackenzie of Mornish by birth, her father an elder of the established Church of Scotland.

childhood memories

Sundays on Mull

Both parents observed the Sunday “with great reverence” and as austere as these Sundays now seem, Lady Norah Fairfax-Lucy looked back on them with fond and happy memories. In her autobiography she devoted a whole chapter on the way her family would spend Sundays on the Isle of Mull.

The day started with family prayers in the house at 9am, then everybody would go to church. Means of transport was a horse drawn cart, the other islanders would arrive on foot, on bicycle, or on pony traps. When older, the girls would be allowed to go to church on horseback.

childhood meomories

Sunday Services in English and Gaelic

The girls amsued themselves watching the neighbours oufits on festive days, laughing at small mishaps during service. It was a normal thing for the family to take the dogs with them to church.

“There was always a service conducted in Gaelic, only afterwards one in English. They would attend both and bring sandwiches to eat in between the two. Tea time at home would be full of bannocks and jam and then Bible lessons with their mother. “It was always cold supper on Sunday evening which we (the children) were required to clear away but it was left to the servants to wash up the following day.”

childhood meomories

Mornish or Kilninan

Normally they would attend the church in Mornish, the only change in pattern was when the church service was held in the other church, that of Kilninian, then the family would use the billiard room for a private service. Only on special occasions such as Communion Sunday would the family travel to Kilninian.

Kilninian was the far older church, and not as well attended as Mornish, the area being sparsely populated.

coast line

“Then we would drive over the hill by what was known as the Minister’s road, a hill track made many years before to enable the minister of the day to take a short cut to his church rather than go by the winding road which followed the coast line.”

More facts on Kilninian church and graveyard are given by The Mull Historical society

The scattered village of Kilninian lies on the west coast of Mull overlooking Loch Tuath and the island of Ulva.  The parish church was built in 1755, ten years after the Jacobite Rising.  It is one of the oldest and, until very recently, still used for worship.  Possibly standing on the site of an earlier medieval church, it first appears in the records of 1561, where it is stated that the parsonage of ‘Keilnoening’ had formerly belonged to the Abbot of Iona, one-third of the revenues going to the Bishop of the Isles as was customary in the diocese.  Iona Abbey would have appointed a minister for the church at a stipend lower than the tithes.

It is uncertain whether the church was dedicated to St Ninian, the apostle of Galloway, or to a local saint of the Early Christian period.  It is also believed to have once been known as ‘The Chapel of the Nine Maidens’, or in Gaelic ‘Cill Naoi Nighean’, although another possible name was ‘The Church of the Holy Maidens’ or ‘Cill Naoimh Nighean’.

sources and further reading:

Lady Norah Fairfax-Lucy: Hebridean childhood : An Autobiography. Collins, Glasgow; 1981

Mull Historical Society – Kilninian

Spooky Scotland – nine maidens

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