Saturday, 23 August 2014

Hebrides 11: St Michael's Church, Eriskay

St Michael's Church on Eriskay is famous for having incorporated the prow of a boat into its altar.  It's also features as a key location in Peter May's Lewis Trilogy, which is highly recommended as a gritty and atmospheric (if fictitious) introduction to life on the Outer Hebrides.  The second book in particular, Lewis Man, highlights the differences between the Wee-Free dominated - i.e. Presbyterian Protestant - North (Harris and Lewis) and Roman Catholic South (the Uists, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay).  St Michael's might be a Catholic church, with the obligatory statues and carvings of the Stations of the Cross, but it was the plainest and most spartan Catholic church I'd ever visited.

Not a wall painting in sight, and everything was light and airy.  A distinct change from the oppressive and over-decorated style of so many Catholic churches.  The apse also had a rather wonderful blue painted ceiling covered in stars, as well as housing the "boat altar".

A picture of the whole church, taken from the gallery, which shows the plain simplicity of the architecture.

The church itself is on the top of a hill commanding views over the sound which separates Eriskay from South Uist (now linked by a causeway).  It was rather bleak on the day we visited, unfortunately, but I'm still glad we went.

Bad light stopped play at the point, but the weather forecast for the following day was more promising - from a fishing point of view anyway.  Fingers crossed...