The Old Chapel at Kilkivan…This is a Grade ‘B’ Listed Building with Historic Scotland

Machrihanish ckilkivan6

“..In our district the tribal meeting place from very early times would be round the Standing Stone on Kilkivan hill, where can still be seen the outline of Drumfin holding, or Ferm Toun, once owned by the O’May family. This was not a very suitable place for the old, the young or the infirm to hear Kevin, so a site was chosen by the roadside, on the sloping ground, where Kilkivan Church now stands,- convenient, sheltered and picturesque.

We can easily picture the scene – the missionary standing on a grassy mound and, facing him on a lower level, the expectant congregation of people from all the settlement groups between Ballygreggan and Ballygroggan. The gospel message, delivered by the handsome Kevin with power and charm, inspired people to do, for him, what others had done for Kiaran and Columba – to set up a cell or chapel in his honour which later grew to be the church of Kevin (Kilkivan)

We know that these missionaries came and went from 563 A.D. onwards, so we can take it that the foundations sacred to St. Kiaran, St. Columba and St. Kevin are likely to date from round about 600 A.D. It is very unlikely that these places of worship could have had a settled pastor for many years after this, owing to Norse Raids, Pictish wars and internal strife, but would have to depend on missionary visits from Ireland and the Columbian settlement at Iona to carry on religious services.

We note the beautiful ornamental gravestones gathered together near the Eastern gable, but regret that better measures have not yet been taken for their preservation, for wear and weathering have already taken their toll of their original beauty. They were well worth preserving, for Celtic art and workmanship were beautiful significant…”

from: ‘Meanders in South Kintyre’ by James McNeill Published by the Kintyre Antiquarian and Natural History Society.
Medieval grave slabs at Kilkivan Chapel

“The sculpture of one stone is similar to the Abbot’s Stone in Saddell Abbey. One of these stones has the striking figure of a priest in the attitude of prayer, another has the figure of a man in full armour, the inscriptions being worn away, except for “Hic est jacit”. This last stone covers the remains of Archibald Macneal, the great duellist. He taught the art of fencing in Kintyre. He is one of the Macneals of Tirfergus, and many stories are told of his bravery, and his strength and skill in fighting duels at home and on the continent.
From the SWRI 1966 History of Machrihanish

Kilkivan was also the original location of the Campbeltown Cross.

Campbeltown Cross as it stood in Main Street

The Cross is Scheduled Ancient Monument No 249.

The inscription reads

“This is the cross of Sir Ivor MacEachen, sometime parson of Kilkivan, and of his son, Sir Andrew, parson of Kilchoman, who caused it to be made”

Sir Andrew MacEachen was promoted from Kilkivan to the church of Kilchoman, in Islay, before 1376, and dispossessed of this benefice shortly after 1382. This suggests that the cross originally stood within or near the graveyard at Kilkivan. It was removed to Campbeltown and adapted to serve as a market cross sometime after the foundation of the Burgh in 1607. It was formerly sited outside the town hall, but was taken down during the Second World War for safety and erected afterwards in its present position. The socket stone appears to be original due to the similarity in the stone, but the rest of the base is modern.

Excellent video about the ‘Campbeltown Cross’ by Robert Westerman, commissioned by Campbeltown Community Council.

 Australian Kilkivan
The first European settler in Kilkivanshire was John Daniel MacTaggart who established a sheep run in the area east of Boonara in the early 1840s.

Mactaggart named his selection “Kilkivan” after the family farm in the Kintyre region of Scotland.

Shire of Kilkivan, Australia