Cill An Alein

On the road north from Craignure to Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, lies the small village of Aros.  To its northwest, is the Forestry Commission track to Ledmore and Lettermore. A short walk into the forest can be found Cill an Alein (sometimes spelt Ailein), a ruined medieval chapel standing in one corner of a burial ground.  In the burial ground lie the old bones which, as they fidget, settle and turn in their unquiet graves, encourage the headstones to examine life from a different angle:

Cill an Ailein Cill an Ailein

The Chapel dates from the 13th century, although the site may have been used as a place of worship since even earlier times. A recent tweet from Steve Carter, who lives at Shieldaig, got me thinking: “So… lichen grows 1 inch every 100 years. I give you the 1st World War: OldLichen & Mary Queen of Scots: OlderLichen“.  (I recommend looking at his website – photography is just one of his serious talents).

… when does this one date from (this section of a headstone is about 2 feet across):

Cill an Ailein

(click on the images to enlarge)

Brothers in Arms

We recently crossed to Mull on the Oban to Craignure ferry, a short journey on the waters of the Firth of Lorne and the southern reaches of the Sound of Mull.  As the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry leaves Oban, it passes between Alexander Carrick’s War Memorial on the mainland to the east and the Isle of Kerrara to the west.  The Brothers in Arms sculpture, erected in 1923, is considered Carrick’s masterpiece and depicts a wounded soldier supported on each arm by his comrades; in turn their arms support his legs to form a cupped circle.  Perhaps the circular composition symbolises the passing of time and how we are locked into an endless cycle of catastrophic repetition.  It is reminiscent of Don McCullin’s 1968 picture of an American marine supported by his brothers in arms, having been shot in both legs during the Têt offensive at Hué.  Both sculpture and image have been compared to the crucifixion.

Years later I went back to Hué…..It seemed so inconsequential, the whole thing…..those men who died, and those men who were maimed for life, went through all that, and it was totally futile, as all wars are known to be.  Without profit, without horizons, without joy.  I remember there was a street in Da Nang called Street without Joy.  They could have called the whole country after that street – Don McCullin – Unreasonable Behaviour.

Brothers in Arms

(click on image to enlarge)