Friends of Kilbride preserves and promotes the ancient churchyard of Kilbride, including the remains of an 18th century Kirk and the memorial burial aisle of Clan MacDougall, leading an ambitious programme of restoration and renovation of the built heritage, to welcome visitors from around the world and host outdoor events for the benefit of the community.
Statement of National Importance
“The national importance of the monument is demonstrated in the following way(s):
a. The monument is of national importance because it makes a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past as a medieval and post-Reformation ecclesiastical site. In particular it adds to our understanding of ecclesiastical foundations, architecture and religious practices.
b. The monument retains structural, architectural and other physical attributes which make a significant contribution to our understanding or appreciation of the past. In particular there is potential for the preservation of buried features and deposits, including architectural remains and burials, and a significant group of late medieval grave slabs survive within the churchyard.
d. The monument is a particularly good example of a multi-period ecclesiastical site. Kilbride appears to have been a particularly significant church in medieval Argyll and was used and developed over a long period of time. It is therefore an important representative of this monument type.
e. The monument has research potential which could significantly contribute to our understanding of the past. It can help us understand much about ecclesiastical architecture and the role of the church in medieval and post-Reformation society. It has the potential to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of changing belief and religious practice and the development of places of worship over an extended time period. It can add to our understanding of the origins and development of places of worship in Scotland and the role of the church in wider medieval and post-Reformation life.
g. The monument has significant associations with historical and traditional events. It is traditionally associated with the 6th century St Bride/Brigit. Kilbride is mentioned in a 13th century grant by Alexander II, which is confirmed by Robert I and James IV.”
What We Do
Accomplishments & Timeline
-An Adopt a Monument and Dunollie Preservation Trust Project” was
undertaken by Dr Robert Irving and a team of volunteers in 2012-2014 for a measured survey of the Kilbride gravestones
-Condition assessment and progress reports submitted by Dr Irving. A summary report on the progress of the survey of 200 gravestones was submitted and published in Discovery and Excavation Scotland Volume 14 (2013) pages 53-54
-A summary report of the project surveying 200 gravestones, including 13 West Highland Medieval grave slabs was submitted and published in Discovery and Excavation Scotland Volume 15 (2014) pages 53-54. Final report prepared and provided to Archaeology Scotland"
-Began general tidying up, clearing vegetation and painting fences and gates
-First contact made with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) through Mike Mackenzie, MSP
-Meeting arranged with Martin Brann of HES at Kilbride, also attended by invited local business owners, Mike Robertson, Bob Irving and Colin MacDougall
-First direct contact with Margaret Small, former resident of Kilbride. First meeting of proposed Trustees (Liam, Myra, Bob Irving, Mike Robertson and Caroline Boswell
-Applied to OSCR for registration, drew up a constitution and organised site clean-up event
-Bank account opened. Fund raising commenced
-Conservation plan drawn up by Shauna Cameron
-First funding application to HES to cover a detailed/priced Conservation Plan
-Seymour, Liam and Paul Thomson appointed as Trustees. World War 1 – Commemoration Service
-Gaming Licence applied for and granted by A&BC
-Installation of new car park
-Information kiosk, map and information board (with assistance of ABC Community Fund)
-Clearing of bank and planting of wildflowers
-Open day involving falconry and archery
-Selected to give presentation at Scottish Community Heritage Conference
-99 years lease of Churchyard granted and minute of agreement to the use of Café Kilbride and adjacent small field
-Phase 1 of Conservation Assessment (MacDougall Memorial Burial Aisle)
-Listing of entire site by HES as being of national importance
-Clan MacDougall gathering
-Phase 2 of Conservation Assessment (West gable and door - with assistance of Carraig Ghael and Clan MacDougall Society)
-Archaeology dig led by Dr Clare Ellis
-Institution of newsletter and social media
-Site made Covid-safe
-Phase 3 of Conservation Assessment (South wall and Session House - with major grant from HES Covid Recovery Fund)
-Archaeology dig led by Dr Clare Ellis
-Carraig Ghael Windfarm Community Benefit Fund - £7000
-Argyll & Bute Council - Supporting Communities Fund - £1231.00
-Carraig Ghael Windfarm Community Benefit Fund - £7000
-Clan MacDougall Society of North America - £1543.18
- Carraig Ghael Windfarm Community Benefit Fund - £3000
-HES Recovery Fund - £68,509
Meet the Team
Friends of Kilbride Volunteers
Seymour was a senior civil servant in the UK Government, responsible for Human Rights, Freedom of Information and Data Protection in the Ministry of Justice, before becoming Director of Corporate Governance for NHS London and Croydon University Hospital NHS Trust. He was a non-executive Director of the Scotland Office from 2006 to 2014, and was Chair of its Audit Committee from 2011. Since retirement, Seymour has lived in Lerags, and is Chair of the Lorn Archaeological and Historical Society, and Vice Chair of the Culture, Arts and Heritage assembly for Argyll & the Isles. Seymour has been the driving force behind our ambitious conservation programme.
Clan Chief Madam Morag MacDougall
Madam Morag MacDougall is the 31st Clan Chief of the Clan MacDougall, inheriting the title from her Aunt Colina MacDougall. She and her husband, Richard, have a son, Robin the Younger of Dunollie, and daughter, Fiona, the Maid of Lorn, who has two children. Madame MacDougall is active in various clan organisations, including acting as an Honorary President of the Clan MacDougall Society of North America and a Trustee of Friends of Kilbride.
From the Falkirk area, Myra is a retired administration and secretarial professional. After working for organisations including British Petroleum, NHS and Strathcarron Hospice, she moved to Oban in 1988, where she and her husband, Liam, started a diving and marine contracting business. In 1993, the couple moved to Lerags Glen to build a home for themselves and their two sons. Little did they know that the discovery of Kilbride Church on their property would have such an impact on their lives. As Secretary of Friends, Myra is responsible for the day-to-day business operations, from accounting to admin, and is the principal author of more than £150K in grant applications.
Caroline is a retired civil servant who has lived in Kilmore for 30 years. She worked at sea for 25 years on the UK Customs patrol boats, becoming the first woman to take command in 2012. A long term taphophile, she spent many years researching her family tree, and in 2012 studied part time for a Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogy with Strathclyde University. She became involved in early discussions with Liam about the possibilities for researching and preserving the heritage of Kilbride and has been a trustee since the charity was founded. With an expertise in local history and gardening, Caroline is our official oral historian, as well as landscape specialist.
Mike has had a lifelong interest in historical matters since serving as a choirboy in a 12th Century church in Herefordshire. Being a solicitor in Oban since 1971 has seen him work not only for Friends of Kilbride, but also for Dunollie estate, and he helped set up the charity which now looks after the historic Dunollie House Museum, Castle & Grounds, plus Gylen Castle on Kerrera. For good measure, Mike is also a trustee of the Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre & Museum. Mike assists us with legal issues and, with his vast network, helps us coordinate with other related heritage sites around Argyll.
Dr Robert Irving
Bob is a molecular biologist (London, 1977), and has worked in England, Canada, Australia and Scotland. A keen historian, he managed the Historic Kilbride measured survey and condition report. He volunteers at the Inveraray Castle Archive, where he is cataloguing the West Highland Medieval grave slab rubbings collection made between 1892-1912, and at the Mull Museum, studying the glass plate negatives of documents relating to the Spanish ship sunk in Tobermory Bay in 1588. Bob also assisted at various archaeological digs including the Lochbrow Neolithic landscape project.
Michelle is a journalist and archaeologist from the USA with a Master's degree in anthropology. She moved to Kilbride eight years ago and has volunteered for Friends since its inception, joining the board as trustee in 2019. She served as a heritage and environmental regulation compliance officer for the US government for more than a decade and worked as a folklorist for the Smithsonian Institution. She runs a 5 star travel company as a Scottish Tourist Guides Association certified Oban Yellow Badge guide. Having worked on burial sites from Israel to the Mississippi Delta, Michelle specialises in historic cemetery preservation.
Lauren is the former owner of Lagnakeil Highland Lodges, our neighbour in Lerags Glen with her late husband Paul, who was a Trustee, and who is remembered at Kilbride with a memorial bench. With two children at the local primary school, Lauren is passionate about actively including children in Scottish culture and heritage, and she assists Friends of Kilbride with activities focused on our younger visitors, making it a welcoming place for all ages. She makes sure our gatherings always include fun for kids, from football to educational materials to seasonal singalongs.
Liam Griffin performs a multitude of services for Friends, not least of which being the person who was first inspired to save the site. Liam, who is from Stirling,was trained to dive in the Navy, and he is a retired commercial diver in the oil and seafood industries. He discovered Kilbride hidden under decades of neglect when he and his wife, Myra, bought the neighbouring property, and after purchasing the plot, he has since worked tirelessly to conserve the site, raise funds and interpret it for thousands of visitors from around the world.
Other volunteers include:
Partners, Funders & Friends