“A journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step.” So says the Chinese proverb.
Local charity, Friends of Kilbride, took that first step recently, when, with the aid of an £7000 grant from the Carraig Ghael Windfarm Community Benefit Fund, they organised significant preservation work to stonework surrounding the iconic Clan MacDougall Memorial Aisle. Sinuous ivy, some branches as thick as a man’s leg, had woven itself through the random rubble construction, dislodging grout and filling material, threatening to bring the wall down, thus dislodging important 18thcentury marble commemoration stones.
A team of skilled craftsmen from, Rowan Stoneworks, in conjunction with Benderloch firm, Shauna Cameron Architect, spent two weeks dismantling the wall, removing the offending growth and then rebuilding the wall, using the appropriate natural lime mortar.
“This work would not have been possible without the financial input from our funders, Carraig Ghael Windfarm Community Benefit Fund and the many donations from local folk and visitors from afar,” says trustee, Myra Griffin “We have a Preservation Plan for the whole site, which costed the project at around a quarter of a million pounds. However, the professional advice we’d received was to break that overall cost down into manageable bites. This is the first bite, and we are grateful to Carraig Ghael WCBF for their financial support and for their encouragement.”
Sited in Lerags Glen, some 3 miles south of Oban, Kilbride is first referred to in writing by Alexander 2ndin 1236. Further documented references, including one by the iconic Robert the Bruce, indicate Kilbride was active right up to the 16thCentury. The current structure was developed in the around 1750, before being finally abandoned in the late 19thcentury.
Friends of Kilbride was formed some five years ago, following purchase of the site from a local land owner.
The charity sees Kilbride as an important part of a matrix of such local sites, such as Dunollie, Rockfield, Slate Islands Trust, Kilbrandon Church and Luing Historical Society.
“Last year, we had around 500 visitors sign our visitors’ book. We don’t really advertise in any significant way,” says Liam, “ so that’s a tremendous footfall. Local B’ n B’s distribute our leaflet, and, as a result, we see folk from the USA, Australia and Europe, but we also receive local visitors from Oban and surrounding areas. They are all welcome.”
Liam reports that the charity is already beginning the fund raising process to tackle phase two of the project, and will continue their efforts to meet ongoing costs for annual expenses such as insurance, grass cutting and the like.
If you’d like to donate, volunteer your time or expertise, or would like further information as to the aims and objectives of Friends of Kilbride, contact Liam Griffin on 01631 565081, e.mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see the charity’s web page www.friendsofkilbride.scot