History of the Parish of Inverchaolin and Toward

Some more history of the Parish of Inverchaolain & Toward provided by Richard Seaton


There follow some interesting items from the history of Toward and Inverchaolain Churches.
The History of Toward Church is a historical account written by Jim Campbell who was an Elder of Toward Church and is sadly now deceased.
The List of Clergy is a file from Toward’s former website.  Of particular interest is the Rev. John McKenzie who deserted his charge in 1686 and was unheard of until approx 10 years ago when I received an email from a woman in New Zealand who was researching the history of her local church and had traced the Rev. McKenzie back to Inverchaolain.  Apparently he served out his remaining years at this church in New Zealand.  In his defence he would have been an educated man in  remote community, of mainly sheep farmers, served mostly by small boats as the present road was non existent.  Perhaps he felt out of place with no common ground with the locals.  At this time Inverchaolain was linked with the Rothesay Presbytery as it was easier to get to Rothesay than Dunoon.
Also attached is a copy of the current church seating plan for the church.  At its height the population surrounding the church was approx 1000 with crofts on both shores of Loch Striven.  Members of the congregation from South Hall on the Colintravie side would have rowed across the loch to worship on a Sunday.  If you look at the seating plan you will see a number of pews allocated to Southall.  Lt. General Peter Campbell of South Hall donated 2 solid silver chalices to Inverchaolain Church which are now in the National Museum of Scotland.
A copy of the Inverchaolain Brochure is also attached.

More Inverchaolain History

The name Inverchaolain is derived from the Gaelic words “Inbhir-chaol-a(bha)inn” meaning “the mouth of the narrow stream” It is very descriptive and appropriate given that the church is close to the mouth of a narrow stream. The name Inverchaolain is pronounced Inver-hoolain
Before the Reformation, the Parish Church of Inverchaolain was situated on the side of the hill, about 200 yards above the present church. It was dedicated to Saint Bride, or Bridget, Abbess of Kildare in Ireland who lived 467 – 525. In Scotland the following of this Saint was extensive, and dedications to her are numerous, especially in those parts of Scotland nearest to Ireland. She is commemorated on the first day of February.
In the early days of the patronage of the Patronage of Inverchaolain belonged to the Chiefs of Clan Lamont, but during the infancy of one of these his guardian wrongfully granted the patronage to the Monastery of Failefurd, in Ayrshire, a community of Trinitarians, or Trinity Friars, whose Order was instituted by Saint John of Malta in 1198. Their office was to redeem slaves, especially Christians, from Turks. This Order possessed 14 Monasteries in Scotland, but Inverchaolain seems to have been their only church in Argyllshire. On the 20th July, 1465, Pope Paul II restored the patronage to John Lamont of Inveryne.
The first church here after the Reformation was built by a man who had dreamed that he would find a treasure in a certain spot in the parish, and was commanded to build a church upon “Crochdan in Airy”, but the treasure became exhausted and the church remained unslated for many years. The second church was built in 1745 (the year of the 2nd Jacobite Rising), and “almost re-built” in 1759, the population of the Parish being then 944. The 3rd church was built in 1812, and destroyed by fire on Sunday, 9th April, 1911. The present, or 4th, church was built in 1912, and opened on 27th October of that year.
The coping-stone of the original church is built into the south wall of the present edifice, above the entrance-door.
Richard Seaton

Valuing our History!

We hope to preserve the legacy of those churches which form part of Cowal Kirk. If you have further details of the history of our churches please contact us …..
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