Lamlash Bay is dominated by the Holy Isle and many years ago Lamlash was called Loch an Eilean (the loch of the island). It was on Holy Isle, around 680AD, that St. Molias, a disciple of St. Columba, settled, and the cave he made his home still remains. This island, once called Eilean Molaise (Molaise’s Island), is now owned by the Buddhists and is a centre and retreat. The Holy Isle must indeed have a spiritual aura.
Lamlash Bay has sheltered many ships over the years. Haakon of Norway mustered his galleys there before the Battle of Largs in 1263, and after his defeat gathered the tattered remnants of his fleet in the shelter of the Holy Isle before leaving these shores forever. It was from Lamlash on 25th April, 1829, that the brig “Caledonia” sailed for Canada carrying 86 islanders from North Sannox. A memorial to this stands on the grass in front of Hamilton Terrace. The foundations of a harbour built by the Duchess Ann can still be seen at low tide.
During both wars Lamlash was an important Naval Base and prior to the First World War visits from the North Atlantic and Home Fleets were great social occasions. Naval personnel were given the courtesy of Lamlash Golf Club and in return presented trophies which are still played for . The signatures of the Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VIII) and Prince Albert (later to become King George VI) can be found in Lamlash Golf Club Visitors Book. The Public Hall, which was built as a Naval Canteen before the First World War, was used during that conflict as a Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital for convalescent soldiers. During WW2 it was a wet canteen. Lamlash was also a base for the 11th Commandos.
The Isle of Arran War Memorial Hospital overlooking Lamlash Bay was raised on the suggestion of the Marchioness of Graham (later to become The Duchess of Montrose) as a fitting memorial to those who gave their lives in the the First World War. It was built, equipped and maintained by voluntary subscriptions and first opened to patients in 1922.
Some buildings in Lamlash have disappeared forever, but are not forgotten. The White House, originally built as a hunting lodge, was on the land beside the High School now designated for development. There was also a dyemill, mealmill and two quarries. Of the seven farms in the village only two remain, Clauchlands Farm and Glenkiln Farm.
Lamlash has grown over the years, but the bay and view of the Holy Isle remain virtually unchanged. Shipping still seeks the shelter of its bay, yachts rest at their moorings and children swim, play, fish and mess about in boats around the harbour. The formula for an Arran holiday for many years past.
NB: The information for this brief history was obtained from “History of the Villages of the Isle of Arran” by the SWRI, Arran Federation. This fascinating book is available at a number of local outlets.