What You See Is What You Get. This is a journal blog, an explore-blog, a bit of this and that blog. Sharing where the mood takes me. Perhaps it will take you too.

Menootanabootery; A Birthday Treat

When I moved to Dunoon, I cast around for various places of interest and historical significance. There is quite a bit to be found. One place that has intrigued me for quite some time is Kilmun Church. Having been over there on several occasions, though, I have failed to be able to gain entry to it or the attached mausoleum. When Aitch was asking what we might do for my birthday, this came immediately to mind, and I set about, once again, attempting to organise entry. 

First, I noted that there was a website that had not previously been available (pre-COVID) and contact details that were clearly different to those seen previously. A call was made, a message left, and a couple of hours later, a cheery voice said that the afternoon of the 26th of April would be fine for a visit and tour. It turned out that this is no longer an active church but is a centre of historical interest and seeking to be a hub for various community happenings - including weddings and funerals. Anyway, the morning of my birthday arrived, and we enjoyed a relaxed breakfast, plentiful tea, an early bite of cake, a surprise present opening and then lunch before making our way over in the afternoon for our 2 pm appointment.

We arrived at one thirty, so that we could have a wee scout of the old cemetery first. That would bear another visit, for there are some fascinating headstones (see the info board back on Tuesday's views post). Then the door of the kirk was opened and we were greeted by Dinah, who was to be our guide for the visit. That website I just linked has all the information Dinah gave us, so I won't repeat it here - but both Aitch and I were thrilled with her presentation of the info and the lovely in-between chats that we had around the various points of interest as well as making connections outside of that. Within the body of the church, we were taken by the jewel-like stained glass and impressed that the organ is one of only two remaining operational water organs in the country. (You can hear it - and about it - in this video.)

Outside of the main building, matters became more grave... *cough*... The ancient tower at the door is the only remaining part of the original priory settlement and the grave marker of one of the original abbots was discovered during some restoration in the cemetery, which now resides undercover in the south transept of the church. On the back wall of the old tower are fastened two coffin leads, used to weigh down burial to prevent robbers from looting the bodies for 'medical research!' Then there is the mausoleum of the Campbell family as well as the burial place of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to be recognised as a doctor. (Again, you can read the detail from the Historic Kilmun website linked earlier.)

We were with Dinah for a full 90 minutes and then some. She happily left us to browse the archival materials (of which there is a surprisingly good supply) and the souvenirs, with just the instruction to close the door behind us as we left. A level of trust which we both appreciated. I took that seriously, for the centre is not open to public entry except on Thursdays and Fridays... thus when a couple just wandered in shortly before Aitch and I were preparing to leave, I went (astoundingly) into guardian mode and did not disabuse them of the notion that I was anything other than a volunteer, enquiring whether they had made an appointment! They sort of ignored me to start with and wandered over to the 'shop', but I sat and Aitch left as if she'd been my customer and they got the message..."oh, you're waiting to lock up?" I just smiled and said yes, but that they were perfectly welcome to make arrangements for a full visit and told them how.

Waiting a respectful few minutes after their departure, I switched off the lights and closed both doors, firmly, and put up a prayer for the safety of the place until Dinah would return with the key! 

Aitch and I then wandered more of the burial grounds - the modern cemetery beside having some Commonwealth War Graves to pay our respects at - not to mention just enjoying more of the wonderful views. We were there very nearly three hours in total! A wonderful place... but our day was not over. Come tomorrow to find out why!


  1. That round dome is interesting, too. It was a great visit.

  2. How interesting. Do they still use the grave yard.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

  3. Looks amazing, Thanks a lot for sharing.

  4. What an interesting place to visit!

  5. wow that is interesting... also the stone sign about the coffin covers ... wow! are people from the campbell clan still alive? and we love the stone of the first female dogtor... that are milestones...

  6. What a great birthday treat. So interesting about the water organ, and about Elizabeth Blackwell.

  7. what a huge and wonderful birthday adventure. that was quick thinking on your part with the unwanted visitors. the video of the organ is quite amazing and I had no idea a water driven organ ever existed. it sounds just like other organs. i agree with that fantastic view and light. so glad you found the website and could have a private tour with Dinah...

  8. Hi Yam - what a wonderful exploration birthday day ... it looks such an interesting church - and how delightful to have such a great church guide, and then leave you in charge. I'd forgotten Elizabeth Blackwell lived down here (further east in Hastings), but knew she was the first woman doctor to be recognised ...

    PS - I must look at the water organ video ... fascinating ...

    Great that you'll be showing us more - and well done on the impromptu guardian of the church. Cheers - such fun and happy belated birthday ... Hilary

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  10. Lovely to see your photos and memory of the visit. It was wonderful and cannot wait to see the church again. Thanks for saying we were early so we could see the churchyard rather than my need to be early for everything (LOL). I'll be adding my 'side' in a few weeks. Sorry about the deleted message above, usual problem.

  11. What a birthday treat this is! I can hardly see to type. My brother's thing was pipe organs and he traveled to see as many as he could in his short lifetime. Love the video♥

  12. YAM what a wonderful tour you had for your birthday. The pipe organs are amazing and the stained glass.
    You certainly lucked up with a well informed guide. Bryan will love reading this tonight
    The silver pitcher is breathtaking. Off to listen to the video now
    Hugs Cecilia

  13. Thank you for this link....I thoroughly enjoyed the photos. What a place to get to see.


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