Gradually the photos from my trip to Scotland are beginning to be sorted out. To say that chaos reigns in my creative process is to put things mildly. There are so many stories, many of which I have yet to uncover. As I read more about the island of Islay I realize I will have to go back and explore more of its antiquity. Some of the sites visited were closed for repair, others are now more firmly fixed in my limited knowledge of ancient Scotland and beg for me to set eyes upon them. The 3 and a half days I spent staying in Bowmore were a bit rushed as I was trying to see too much and do too much. Islay is a place to savour and take in slowly – on “island time.” The differences in the landscape throughout this 240 square mile jewel in the southern Hebrides encompass the very nature of Scotland. The capitol, Bowmore, is probably most recognizable for its famous Round Church built in 1767 by Daniel Campbell the principal Laird of Islay. The Bowmore Distillery is yet another landmark and produces a particularly fine version of single malt whisky with the distinctive Islay peat flavor. Most distilleries on Islay have cafes where the locals gather to visit and share a wee dram or a meal and are social hubs in the towns where they are located.
Islay figures prominently in Scotland’s ancient history and was the center of Dál Riata, a territory dating back some 2000 years. The administrative capital of the medieval MacDonald Lords of the Isles was Finlaggan, a site that was closed when I visited and one to which I will return. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around the ancient culture that ruled this part of Scotland and there is a definite sense of history that you can feel I your bones when you stand in these places. My journey to Islay was because of the whisky – my return will be because of the stories it yields about ancient times and the diversity of the landscape, especially the beaches.