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Holy Island (Arran)

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Isle of Arran : Holy Island (Arran)
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Holy Island (Arran)

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Holy Island [1] is off the coast West coast of Scotland, near the Isle of Arran.


Originally called Inis Shroin (House of the Water Spirit), the Holy Island seems to have been a place of great spiritual importance from the time it was founded. The island later became the home of Saint Molaise. He lived in a cave, which has since been named after him.

Today, Holy Island is home to a community of Buddhist monks in the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Apparently a vision of the Virgin Mary persuaded the previous owner to sell it to Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, who is one the monks. There is a retreat center, monastery and an interfaith 'Peace Hall.' Note that if you get caught smoking, or if you get found with any amount of alcohol, drugs or tobacco you will be told to leave the island. Pets are also forbidden on the island because of its unique wildlife. This rule has been especially increased because in 2009 a dog was bought onto the island on a private boat and it killed a rare breed Soay sheep.

Get in

See the Arran page for more information on getting here

By road

Ardrossan, the nearest point on the mainland, is about ten miles north of Ayr. There are bus connections from Glasgow and Prestwick International Airport.

By Train

There is a direct train to Ardrossan from Glasgow Central.

By plane

The two nearest airports are Glasgow Airport and Prestwick International Airport.

By boat

From Ardrossan take a ferry to Brodick on the Isle of Arran - a journey of about 55 minutes. Tel:01294 463470. At Brodick take a ten minute ride on bus number 323 to Lamlash Pier. At the pier, you can board the ferry for another ten minute ride to Holy Island. It is advised to contact the boatman, Tom Sheldon, after 6 pm on the evening before your departure to check the times of tides suitable for sailing. Tel:01770 600998. Leaflets for the ferry are available all over Arran. Prices are £6 single and £10 return as of 2010.

Get around

This is a small island with no roads, so walking is the only way to get from place to place.


  • View of Lamlash and Mainland - especially beautiful at sunrise.
  • Buddhist Monastery - not accessible to the public as it is used as a place of retreat.
  • Sacred caves
  • Buddhist art
  • Wild ponies, Soay sheep and goats
  • The Holy Spring (and the infamous sign)


  • meditate
  • relax
  • walk
  • volunteer to work on monastery gardens and building projects
  • get enlightened !!!


There is a gift shop called The Boathouse near the Peace Hall, selling gifts, recipes and other things.


Meals are only available if you stay at the monastery. For all other things, you can go to the Co-op in Lamlash. Be aware that meat is forbidden to the Buddists, so only eat your meat in secret!


Alcohol is illegal on Holy Island, and will be frowned upon by the Buddists. If you get found with any amount of alcohol, drugs or tobacco you will be told to leave the island. On the other hand, you can get free tea and coffee at the gift shop.


There is accomodation at the monastery. A bed in the dormitory costs £25 per night, a single room £45 and a double room £65. Two sea view rooms are also available, costing £75 per night or £50 for single occupancy. Prices include 3 vegetarian meals per day. A £20 deposit is required. If you volunteer on the island for 5 days, you get 25% off!

Wild camping, although permitted, is strongly discouraged. You can camp at a few places on the island, as long as the Buddists don't see you! Be aware that lighting fires are also forbidden on the island.

Get out

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