Clan MacFarlane Worldwide, Inc.

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Island I Vow (The island of the cow).

This article is courtesy of our friends at "EXPLORE LOCH LOMOND". They are as excited as I am to have MacFarlane's developing relationships with residents, in the Loch Lomond, Arrochar, Tarbet and Ardlui areas. We have linked with their website and they have reciprocated. 



Island I Vow is Loch Lomond’s most northerly island lying almost in the middle of the loch in one of the narrowest parts of loch Lomond.

A small tree covered island of approximately 100 metres in length, once being the stronghold of the clan MacFarlane.

The MacFarlane’s made the island their home after their earlier castle on Inveruglas Isle had been destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s army in 1654 due to the clans loyalty to the Stuart’s cause, the castle here been built as early as 1577.

In 1697 the MacFarlane’s moved to a new residence at Arrochar on Loch Long and the castle on Island I Vow was used as a store. It may still have been inhabited until 1724.

The English poet William Wordsworth visited the island in 1814 to find the castle already a ruin, although at this time the island was still inhabited, albeit by a hermit living in the castle’s dungeon and inspired Wordsworth to pen The Brownie’s Cell.

Proud remnant was he of a fearless race,
Who stood and flourished face to face
With their perennial hills...All were dispossessed, save him whose smile
Shot lightning through this lonely isle!
No rights had he but what he made
To this small spot, his leafy shade

Wordsworth returned to Loch Lomond in 1831, and hearing of the hermit’s death, he penned these lines:

How disappeared he? Ask the newt and toad;
Ask of his fellow men and they will tell
How he was found, cold as an icicle,
Under an arch of that forlorn abode

The ruins of the old castle covered by trees and ivy can still be seen on the southern end of the island, and steps still lead down to castle dungeon.

It has been reported that during the 1940s the island was inhabited by another hermit for a short time, making the castle dungeon his home. He is said to be responsible for marking out the small paths around the island using stones collected from the shoreline.