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Issue 27 - Port Grullain Bay, Isle of Iona

History & Heritage

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Scotland Magazine Issue 27
June 2006


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Port Grullain Bay, Isle of Iona

Photographer Andy Hall looks at the favourite place of actor Kevin McKidd

Perhaps it is because you cannot take a car on to Iona or more probably because it is of historical and spiritual significance, whenever you set foot on this tiny Hebridean island, you can feel a wave of peace and tranquillity wash over you.

I’ve visited Iona on many occasions but on the day that this photograph was taken, it was at its most beautiful.

Actor Kevin McKidd chose this particular spot of Port Grullain Bay on the west coast of the island as his favourite place in Scotland. Kevin is one of Scotland’s most versatile actors.

His most recent starring role is in Rome, an epic saga set in the final years of Julius Caesar’s reign, although he is also remembered for his role in the seminal Scottish film Trainspotting with Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle.

In A Sense of Belonging to Scotland: Further Journeys, Kevin describes how Iona has had a profound effect on his life. He has visited since his childhood and remembers having picnics on the grassy ledges of the photograph.

He recalls falling asleep there to the sound of the sea and gulls while a summer breeze kept him cool. Since then, he has visited with his own family and named his daughter Iona.

As a young girl, my mother who was born and brought up on the Ross of Mull, would visit Iona with her sisters on a small open boat, soaked in sea spray and, in the words of my Aunt Cathy from Bunessan, they would “stand on the tiny island’s hallowed ground with voices toned down to a whisper.” Even now, as an adult, one feels that voices require to be subdued as you explore the beaches and coves of this very special place.

I intend going back in August this year to explore the south part of the island whilst staying at Fionnphort on Mull, the embarkation point for the Iona Ferry.

In particular, I’m keen to photograph the Iona Marble Quarry and visit Columba’s Bay where St.

Columba first set foot on Scottish soil after his boat trip from Ireland in 563 AD when he converted Scotland to Christianity.

If you have time, Traigh Bhan on the north of the island on a sunny morning is an unforgettable experience. Of all the places I have travelled on my photographic journeys, nowhere has had a comparable effect on me to this lovely island.