Jesus & The Inner Hebrides

Jesus & The Inner Hebrides




Eilean Isay is a small Island located in Dunvegan Bay off the west coast of the Scottish Hebridean Isle of Skye.

The gaelic name for Jesus is Iosa, whereas the original spelling for this Island Isa is the Middle Eastern Arabic spelling for Jesus.

There are no religious sites on Eilean Isa or anything to suggest that it’s name was conceived from a religious dedication. According to James Murray MacKinlay, M.A., “Eilean Isa in Dunvegan Bay, Skye, is said by the writer of the article on Durinish parish in the New Statistical Account of Scotland, to signify the island of Jesus. Were this the correct etymology, one would expect that a chapel dedicated to our Lord would have been discoverable on the island. There is, however, no indication that an ecclesiastical building of any kind ever existed there.” (“Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland: Scriptural Dedications”, 1910.) Incidentally, near Damascus in Syria is to be found the topographical placename Mayuam-i-Isa which translates from the Arabic as “the place where Jesus lived”.

In the New Statistical Account of Scotland, published in 1845, under the heading “Parish of Druinish”

the following information was provided by the local Minister, the Rev. Archibald Clerk, and was dated February, 1841: “There is a small number of small islands belonging to the parish, but none of them is habited except one, called Eilean Isa, ‘the island of Jesus’. Which is only a few miles in circumference; yet, from its fertility, fourteen or fifteen families in considerable comfort.”

This island is now spelt with a y, i.e. Isay, on current maps, perhaps suggesting a Norse origin rather than an original gaelic/arabic name. Why was the spelling of this name changed in recent times? Could it be to conceal the obvious implication of the original meaning, i.e. that Jesus (Isa) actually visited the Island, probably according to local tradition. It is known that during the early centuries A.D. that when a place was seen to be sanctified by the presence of a holy man or woman their name was often enshrined into the specific naming of the place itself.

Interestingly, in Cahir, County Tipperary, Ireland, we find the placename Tobar Iosa (well of Jesus). In light of the above could this support the legend that Jesus (Isa/Iosa) visited Ireland?…/tobar-iosa…/

The Third Carpenter – Google Books Result


Scottish literary writer, William Sharp (using the pseudonym Fiona MacLeod) in his essay Iona (1900) refers to “the old prophecy that Christ shall come again upon Iona.” This presupposes that Christ had already visited Iona according to an ancient oral tradition. Curiously, just 80 miles due north of Iona is to be found another small Hebridean island, located in Dunvegan Bay, off the west coast of the Scottish Isle of Skye. It is called Eilean Isa (currently spelt Isay) which translates from the gaelic as the “Island of Jesus”. Isa is the Middle Eastern arabic name for Jesus, whereas His name in gaelic is Iosa. So why do we find the appellation of this island with the arabic spelling rather than the gaelic? Interestingly, there are no religious sites on Eilean Isa or anything to suggest that it’s name was conceived from a religious dedication. During the early centuries A.D. a placename was often given to record the actual presence and sanctification of a specific place by the early Celtic Christian monastic saints who were seen as holy men and women. So it could be conjectured that the “Island of Jesus” was so named as a result of it being sanctified by the presence of Jesus Himself.
Furthermore, according to Christine Hartley, in her classic work The Western Mystery Tradition (1968): “There is a legend too that Mary Magdalene lies buried in Iona.” Writing about Mary Magdalene’s legendary association with Scotland, Hartley further says, “Wandering the hills of Scotland, she came to Knoydart.”

Professor Hugh Montgomery in his treatise The God-Kings of Europe: The Descendants of Jesus traced through the Odonic and Davidic Dynasties (2006) provides the interesting information, “John Martinus was believed in the early Christian Period to be the last son of Jesus by Mary Magdalene. In some versions he was born on Iona.” Curiously, as Christine Hartley has pointed out, the holy isle of Iona was also known as the Isle of John. Could this relate to the presence of the child of Christ, John Martinus, on Iona? The Rev. J.F.S. Gordon in his book Iona, published in 1885, comments on “Cladh-an-Diseart, ‘Burial-ground of the Highest God’ called sometimes Cladh-Iain, ‘John’s burial-ground’

John, descends from Jesus and Mary Magdalene who lived on the Isle of Iona.

Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. By James Murray Mackinlay, M.A.


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