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The Official Home of the Clan McLea - the Highland Livingstones

The Lion Rampant

 

An Gorm Mor - Lismore in Alba

Rev Ian Carmichael, DSO, MC

An Gorm Mor lived at Achnadun, facing the Garbh-Shlios hill in Morven and was said to have possessed the strength of five men. Across Linne-Sheilich, on the wooded slopes of Morvern, there roamed a great, fierce, black bull, whom none could master. One version declares that this monstrous black brute was Satan himself. In any event An Gorm Mor decided to match his strength against the creature, and, crossing the sea alone, he sought out his chosen enemy. The place where he landed is still called Camas Ghuirm (Bay of Gorm). None saw the terrific contest which ensued between An Gorm Mor and the bull (or the devil): but standing on the shores of Lismore the people heard the din of the conflict. A great bellowing with the sound of crashing trees informed them of each time the bull charged, and so long as the noise continued they knew An Gorm Mor was still on his feet. It is said that the struggle lasted from sunrise to midday, when suddenly a great stillness descended on the Garbh-Shlios, and all who listened on the shores of Lismore strained their eyes In an endeavour to learn the result. Some. say that An Gorm , wrestling with the bull as with a man, broke his back and thus gained the victory. others hold that the fierce black devil was too strong for him and that he lost.

As An Gorm Mor is known to have been buried In Lismore Church- yard, the probability is that he won. That being the case, and, as it has been established that Satan has often been seen in Morven since that day, the bull this Livingstone fought was not the devil.

Leac a Ghuirm Mhoir. the gravestone of this doughty champion, is still to be seen in the Churchyard. Its design is considered to belong to the middle ages. Originally the carving was in high relief, but it is now greatly weathered, defaced and in parts obliterated. On the upper half of the stone is the figure of a man in a kilt, which is not unlike the modern dress. In his hand is a long staff. Along the side of the stone it is possible to trace trellised foliage which ascends, intertwining at the top, where it bursts into blossom and drops gracefully over the head of the man. On the lower half of the stone there are faint traces of design which must have portrayed hunting scenes with hunters, dogs and deer.

In The Celtic Review April 15 1909, pp 356-375 Alexander Carmichael writes:
The tomb of the Livingstones of Lismore adjoins the site of the original church of Saint Moluag. The place is called Plod nam Baran, Plod na Bachuill, Plod Chlann-an- leigh, the lair of the Barons, the lair of Bachuill, the lair of the Livingstones.

The Barons are buried by themselves, no member of their family being buried with them. There is only one known instance of a member of his family being buried with a Baron-a wife who, when dying, appealed to be buried in death beside him whom she loved in life. The husband and wife were so devotedly attached to one another throughout their long married life that the touching appeal was acceded to, and she was accordingly buried in the same grave with the Baron. The grave of the Barons is situated by itself, and is known as An Uaigh Mhor-the great grave, Uaigh nam Baran - the grave of the Barons, and Uaigh na Bachuill - the grave of Bachuill, and other names.

One of the Barons was a man of immense strength and stature, and was called An Gorm Mor, the big blue. The gravestone of this Baron, Leac a'Ghuirm Mhoir, is of great interest. The carving on it is that of the Middle Ages, and in high relief but greatly weathered and defaced, and in some places worn out. On the upper half of the stone is the :figure of a man in the kilt-much as the dress is worn now-and holding a long staff in his right hand, probably the staff of Saint Moluag. Along the sides of the stone trellised foliage ascends intertwining at the, top and then bursting into blossoms and drooping gracefully over the head of the man. The carving on the lower half of the stone is even more obliterated, though still exhibiting traces of deer and dogs, of hunters and hunting scenes.

Last updated 22 May, 2008