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Information on the village of Bunessan in Scotland.
Iona has an atmosphere all to itself - it has a peace equalled perhaps only by that on Lindisfarne, the Holy Island of Northumbria.
Although only some 3 ½ miles long and 1 ½ broad, it is a beautiful island - white sand, green-blue sea and black rocks. Marshy in wet weather, but with open grassland on the higher ground, it is perfect for walks of an hour or two. The only real hill on the island is Dun I, from the top of which, on a clear day, one can see the whole of the Inner Hebrides - Jura, Islay, Staffa, Mull, Rum, Canna, Skye, Coll, Tiree and the Treshnish islands. The island today is much the same in essence as it was in the times of Columba with its daisied meadows, the snowy sands and the rocky uplands.
Since the 6th century, when Columba landed on the southern shore after his crossing from Ireland, the island has been a place of pilgrimage for Christians from all over the world.
The name Iona is said to originate in a spelling error when a medieval scribe was copying a manuscript. The original Pictish name was Iou, later, Ioua. Other forms to be found are Eo, Ea,Io and Ia. In modern Gaelic, Iona is called I (pronounced ee), meaning the island, with other spellings being Y, Hy, Hi and Hii.
Other Gaelic names for the island are "Innis nan Druidhneach" - the Isle of the Druids, and "Icolmkill" - The Island of Columba of the Cell or Church. Legend has it that the Druids lived and worshipped on Iona prior to the coming of Christianity in the form of Columba, thus the Gaelic names.
Access to Iona is by ferry from Fionnphort, across the narrow Sound of Iona. Visitors are not permitted to take vehicles onto the island; there is however a taxi service on the island which takes people to the Abbey - it is a fairly steep walk for the less than fit.
For the tourist, there are shops, craft studios making the items for sale, and the B&B's and Hotels, supporting that same community.
Throughout the year it is home to the members of the Iona Community, a crofting community and the services which support them.
Back to: About Iona