Islay – History & Features of Interest

 Beach in Islay

The Church of St Columba, Bridgend, was built by Canon C T Wakeham, Rector of St Kiaran’s, Campbeltown and consecrated in 1888. Until 1931, it was the main centre of Episcopalian worship, work and witness on the island. From 1931, it was hardly used at all and its condition had consequently deteriorated seriously by the time it was re-opened in 1962. During these years the congregation worshipped at the Mission of the Good Shepherd in Bowmore. In 1962 and 1963 the church was repaired and modernised and its facilities improved. A porch and organ chamber were built on the south side of the church and a vestry on the north. The church was re-roofed in 2005 and fully refurbished internally. Additional works will see the addition of a new porch, a fully accessible toilet and a kitchen.

In the sanctuary, Commander J R C Montgomery installed an altar of Itailian green marble and put in the east window above it. This window, by George Kirk of Glasgow, contains a design of the Kildalton Cross, one of the finest complete Celtic crosses still in existance. The fine lectern, designed and made by J Holdsworth in 1965, is a memorial to the late Canon Kenneth N MacKenzie, Diocesan Itinerant Priest. The attractive carpet with its representations of the Kildalton Cross and other Celtic imagery was made by hand for the church by R H H Montgomery.

In the churchyard, the gravestone of Commander Montgomery was the last work designed by Maxwell Allan, the sculptor of the impressive statue of “Our Lady, Star of the Sea”, which stands on Heaval overlooking Castlebay, Isle of Barra.