Originally published in the Scotsman on 23 April 2016
The name of Lamlash (Helantmlaysche late 14th Century) on the Isle of Arran has a complex history. The settlement sits on the coast facing Holy Island. The name of the island was of old Eilean MoLaise ‘the island of MoLaise’. MoLaise seems to be the name of the saint, and on Holy Island is a place called St Molaise’s Cave. According to local tradition, St Columba came to the island to visit him.
Over time, Gaelic Eilean MoLaise has turned into English Lamlash, by reduction of an unstressed ‘Eilean Mo-’. The name has also transferred from the island itself to the settlement facing it. To add to this confusion, the name of the town was often referred to locally in Gaelic either as An t-Eilean ‘the island’ or An t-Eilean Àrd ‘the high island’, with the bay of Lamlash being Loch an Eilein ‘the loch of the island’.
For further research please see our database: Lamlash