Pinsteps. St. Mary's Catholic Church: A Historical Beacon of Faith in Inverness
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St. Mary's Catholic Church is an emblem of Gothic Revival architecture on the west bank of the River Ness in Inverness. Constructed in 1837 by the architect Robertson of Elgin, the church became a significant symbol as the first Catholic tower to be built following the Reformation. Its detailed design closely resembles the now-demolished St. John's Church on Church Street, also by the same architect.

The church is strategically located among a chain of exciting churches on both sides of the river. Its façade features crocheted pinnacles and open parapets, a distinct era characteristic. The doors seem to welcome visitors most days, and from the dam opposite the entrance, onlookers can enjoy splendid views upstream towards Inverness Castle.

On Huntly Street, across the river from St. Columba High Church, St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church is a prominent feature. Inside, visitors are greeted by an altar made of Caen stone and adorned with beautiful stained glass windows. As the congregation grew, the original structure built by William Robertson in 1837 became insufficient. The building was subsequently expanded in 1894 to accommodate the increasing number of worshippers.

The church was opened on 2 April 1837, providing a place of worship for Catholics, who were previously confined to worshipping on Margaret Street. At that time, the church was known to the town "as a place where Lord Lovat and the tinkers worshipped." The Catholic population in Inverness was estimated to be around 400 in 1846.

Generous donations led to the construction of the presbytery at £1,200 in 1888 due to the benevolence of Miss Jessie McDonell. On 22 August 1894, a solemn re-opening of the church occurred as the sanctuary had been remodelled to seat 250 extra worshippers. An altar designed by Peter Paul Pugin and built by Carruthers of Inverness was installed, along with Stations of the Cross. The sanctuary later underwent further remodelling in 2014 to conform to liturgical changes heralded by the Second Vatican Council.

Complementing the church was a school built in 1845, initially staffed by Franciscan nuns. The original building was replaced in 1943, reflecting the evolving educational needs of the community. Sunday morning services at St. Mary's Church begin at 10:00 A.M., continuing a tradition of faith and community that has been a part of Inverness's spiritual landscape for nearly two centuries.

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Evgeny Praisman
Fairy Glen, Skye Ferry, Inverness, Nairn, Beauly of Jul 18, 2023

Embarking on a journey through some of the most striking and historically rich locations in the Scottish Highlands promises an unforgettable adventure filled with enchantment, lore, and natural beauty. Here's how you might enjoy such a trip, encompassing the mystical, historical, and cultural gems of the region:

Morning: Skye's Mystical Landscape

Fairy Glen: Folklore and Geology on the Isle of Skye Start your day on the Isle of Skye, exploring the Fairy Glen. This surreal landscape of peculiar conical hills and twisted rocks is imbued with local folklore, hinting at a supernatural presence. Legend has it that fairies created this magical landscape, and they still inhabit it today.

Skye Ferry: Navigating the Kylerhea Straits Between Skye and Mainland Scotland Hop on the Skye Ferry to cross the Kylerhea Straits, a picturesque journey steeped in tradition. The small ferry presents a chance to experience a genuine connection with the Scottish maritime heritage, adding a touch of nostalgia to the trip.

Midday: The West Coast's Rich Tapestry

Glenelg, Highland: A Historical and Natural Tapestry of Scotland's West Coast Arriving at Glenelg, you'll discover an area brimming with historical intrigue and natural beauty. Explore the ancient brochs and learn about the region's Viking history while admiring the breathtaking coastal scenery.

Lunch at Redburn Cafe & Gifts A relaxing lunch at Redburn Cafe allows one to enjoy locally sourced cuisine. The attached gift shop offers unique local crafts, perfect for a keepsake.

Afternoon: Loch Ness and Historical Explorations

Loch Ness: A Majestic Lake of Myths and Milestones A trip to the Highlands wouldn't be complete without visiting Loch Ness. Famous for its legendary monster, Nessie, this deep freshwater loch also offers stunning views and opportunities for boat tours.

History of Urquhart Castle: Early Beginnings to 15th Century Conflicts Nearby, explore the ruins of Urquhart Castle, which stands as a testament to Scotland's turbulent history. Its strategic location provides a glimpse into the early beginnings and 15th-century conflicts that shaped the nation.

Inverness: The Castle's Legacy and the Leaning Town Steeple Arriving in Inverness, explore the town's rich history, including the Castle's legacy and the intriguing leaning steeple.

Highland Heritage Unveiled: A Journey Through the Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Center Don't miss the Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Center for a hands-on experience of the country's textile heritage.

Evening: Literary Havens and Culinary Delights

Leakey's Bookshop: A Literary Haven in the Heart of Inverness Browse the extensive collection at Leakey's Bookshop, a must-see for book lovers.

The Downright Gabbler of Beauly: Tradition, Taste, and Tales End the day in Beauly at The Downright Gabbler, where the fusion of historical and modern cuisine by the skilled daughter of a former Speaker of the Parliament combines with the storytelling artistry of her father for a unique dining experience.

Night: Luxury Highland Rest

Sandown House: A Luxury Highland Haven Retire to Sandown House, where luxury and comfort await, providing the perfect end to a day filled with the diverse and rich tapestry of the Scottish Highlands.

This day trip offers a fascinating blend of natural wonders, historical treasures, culinary delights, and local craftsmanship. Every stop reveals a different facet of Scottish culture and heritage, creating a truly immersive experience. Whether you're drawn to the mystical landscapes of Skye, the historical narratives of Glenelg and Inverness, or the bespoke tailoring of Campbell's in Beauly, this journey offers something for every traveller's taste.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
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