Colonsay and Oransay Heritage Trust
Urras Dualchais Orasaidh is Colbhasaid
The islands of Colonsay and Oransay have a rich and varied historical and archaeological past. The area is one of outstanding beauty which attracts visitors to its remoteness, landscape and wildlife, particularly birds and marine species. The island has a strong history of Gaelic heritage. The Trust, which has been a registered charity since 1994, was formed to promote and preserve the heritage of the islands of Colonsay and Oransay.
Aims and Objectives
Promote, celebrate and preserve the traditional cultural, environmental and linguistic heritage of Colonsay and Oransay through the collection and public presentation of relevant material;
Create a dedicated centre and focal point on the island to display and care for collections locally;
Engage the whole local community, islanders living elsewhere, and visitors, in contributing to and using the centre and its resources and in participating in its initiatives;
Encourage creative responses to the islands’ culture and environment through a wide range of artistic and literary media.
Achievements - The trust was formed to promote and preserve the heritage of the island and having had no permanent site until recently has had to rely on temporary displays and exhibitions. Since our formation in 1990, we have been proud to run local exhibitions, open days and one-off displays. In 2006 we ran a summer activities programme focusing on local Gaelic place names, the history of crofting in Colonsay and wildlife walks. We hosted a bag-piping bonanza to coincide with the island folk festival in 2010, musical events, heritage walks and presentations from our photograph archive. We have been instrumental in community archaeological excavations in conjunction with the University of Ulster. The Stevenson Light in Scalasaig was restored with grant assistance from the Association of Industrial Archaeology. A leaflet describing the Priory on Oransay was created with aid from the Strathmartine Trust.
We hold in trust many donated historical items, books and photograph collections.
Exhibition Centre – Old Generator Shed, Port Mor
In 2012 the Trust was offered, courtesy of Colonsay Estate, the use of a redundant Generator Shed at Port Mor on the west side of the island to house exhibitions and display materials until such time as a more permanent purpose-built centre could be achieved, which is the long term goal of the Trust.
The exhibition centre proved a very successful way of promoting the aims of the Trust and of informing local community and visitors of the natural and historical heritage of the island.
Old Baptist Church –Kilchattan
In 2016 Colonsay and Oransay Heritage Trust was generously offered the Baptist Church in Kilchattan as a centre to display of the collection of items that the Trust holds. It has also served as a superb venue for events and workshops, particularly during the Spring Festival held annually on the island.
The Baptist Church has a strong history on Colonsay which stems from 1812 when the Rev. Dugald Sinclair, touring the Highlands & Western Isles, first visited. After attempting to leave and being beaten back by the wind on three occasions, he took it as a message that the Lord had a need for him on the island.
The congregation thrived and in 1879 the current church building was erected, seating 100 people. It has continued in use since then but a declining congregation led to the decision to donate it to the Trust and herald a new chapter in its use and function.
Membership and Website - The Heritage Trust is appreciative of the strong support we have received from both the local community and visitors and has many associate life members from off the island.
Further information about the Trust and Membership can be found on our website, currently under construction.