|Scottish Gaelic: Tobar Mhoire |
Tobermory shown within Argyll and Bute
|OS grid reference|
|Council area||Argyll and Bute|
|Lieutenancy area||Argyll and Bute|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||ISLE OF MULL|
|UK Parliament||Argyll and Bute|
|Scottish Parliament||Argyll and Bute|
Tobermory (//; Scottish Gaelic: Tobar Mhoire) is the capital of, and the only burgh on, the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It is located in the northeastern part of the island, near the northern entrance of the Sound of Mull. With a current population of approximately 700, the town was founded as a fishing port in 1788, its layout based on the designs of Dumfriesshire engineer Thomas Telford.
Legend has it that the wreck of a Spanish galleon, laden with gold, lies somewhere in the mud at the bottom of Tobermory Bay - although the ship's true identity, and cargo, are in dispute. By some accounts, the Florencia (or Florida, or San Francisco), a member of the defeated Spanish Armada fleeing the English fleet in 1588, anchored in Tobermory to take on provisions. Following a dispute over payment (or possibly, according to local folklore, a spell cast by the witch Dòideag), the ship caught fire and the gunpowder magazine exploded, sinking the vessel. In her hold, reputedly, was £300,000 in gold bullion. Other sources claim the vessel was the San Juan de Sicilia (or San Juan de Baptista), which, records indicate, carried troops, not treasure. Whatever the true story, no significant treasure has ever been recovered in Tobermory Bay. The largest attempt made to locate the galleon was in 1950 when the then Duke of Argyll signed a contract with the British Admiralty to locate the galleon. Nothing came of the attempt, even though it led to the development of items used today to locate ancient sunk vessels.
Due to similarities in sailing conditions, in the mid-1800s emigrant sailors created the community of Tobermory, located in Ontario, Canada. This namesake town has twin harbours, known locally as "Big Tub" and "Little Tub", which sheltered ships from the severe storms of Lake Huron. Big Tub Harbour is Canada's largest natural freshwater harbour. There are numerous shipwrecks nearby so it is a thriving SCUBA diving destination.
During World War II, Tobermory was home to Royal Navy training base HMS Western Isles under the command of the legendary Vice-Admiral Sir Gilbert Stephenson. The so-called Terror of Tobermory's biography was written by broadcaster Richard Baker, who trained under him.
Many of the buildings on Main Street, predominantly shops and restaurants, are painted in assorted bright colours, making it a popular location for television programmes, such as children's show Balamory. The burgh boasts the Mull Museum, the Tobermory Scotch whisky distillery, the Isle of Mull Brewery, and An Tobar, an arts centre, while the Clock Tower on the harbour wall is a noted landmark. Just outside Tobermory (based in Drumfin) is the Mull Theatre which boasts youth and adult dance and drama groups and hosts a wide variety of performances.
71% of Tobermory residents were born in Scotland, 23% in England and 6% born elsewhere.
Tobermory's many famous sons and daughters include Duncan MacGilp and Janet MacDonald, both past Gold Medal winners at Scotland's Royal National Mod. Three generations of the town's MacIntyre family have achieved eminence: Colin MacIntyre is a singer songwriter. His brother is BBC Scotland Sport's Kenny Macintyre, and his late father, also called Kenny, was BBC Scotland Political Correspondent while his grandfather was the so-called Bard of Mull, poet Angus MacIntyre. The late accordionist Bobby McLeod lived in the town from his birth in 1925 until his death in 1991, and owned the Mishnish Hotel, which is still in the family (may be not for much longer at hotel is up for sale Feb 2014).
Another Tobermory native was Donald McLean (1805-1864), who emigrated to Canada before he was twenty and became a fur trader and explorer for the Hudson's Bay Company in the New Caledonia and Columbia Department fur districts, rising to the position of Chief Trader at Thompson's River Post (Fort Kamloops) in the then-Colony of British Columbia. He was the last casualty of the Chilcotin War of 1864; his halfbreed sons were known as the Wild McLean Boys and were tried and hanged for murder.
The visit of the composer Felix Mendelssohn in 1829, en route to Staffa, is commemorated in the annual Mendelssohn on Mull Festival in early July. Other highlights of the town's calendar include an annual Traditional Music Festival held on the last weekend in April, the local Mòd, which takes place on the second Saturday in September and has established itself as one of the best local Mòds on the circuit, the Mull Fiddler's Rally also in September, and the traditional Mull Highland Games held every summer.
The fictional town of Torbay in Alistair MacLean's novel When Eight Bells Toll was based on Tobermory, and much of the 1971 movie was filmed in the town and other parts of Mull. The writer Saki gave the name to a talking cat in one of his most famous short stories and two well-loved children's TV series have made use of the town's name. Elisabeth Beresford called one of the Wombles Tobermory and, more recently, the town played host to its almost-namesake Balamory for 3 years (2002-2005). Other films made in the area include the 1945 Powell and Pressburger classic I Know Where I'm Going!.
In the children's animated feature, Nocturna, the Cat Shepherd's faithful cat is called Tobermory.
Ferries sail between Tobermory and the mainland to Kilchoan on the peninsula of Ardnamurchan. But principal access to the island is via ferry between Oban and Craignure. Craignure is some 22 miles from Tobermory. This is the main route for visitors to the island. An additional ferry route is between Lochaline on the mainland to Fishnish.
- Ainmean-Àite na h-Alba ~ Gaelic Place-names of Scotland
- "Guide to Gaelic origins of place names in Britain" (PDF format). Ordnance Survey. Nov 2005. Retrieved 2006-09-01.
- "A Guide to the Meaning of Gaelic Distillery Names". 2003. Archived from the original on 2006-08-13. Retrieved 2006-09-01.
- Samuel Lewis (1846), Topographical Dictionary of Scotland: Tain - Tobermory pp. 526-46. From the Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 1 September 2006.
- A Clan Feud, a Spanish Galleon, and a Big Bang. lostfort.blogspot.com Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- The Galleon San Francisco. shipmodeling.net Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- The Tobermory Wreck. news.scotsman.com Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- "British Archaeology Magazine - Guns of the Armada - Colin Martin". 2002. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
- Tobermory Bay. reese.org Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- "Preliminary Search for Treasure in Tobermory Bay" Popular Mechanics, October 1950, pp. 160-162.
- Baker, Richard (1972). The Terror of Tobermory: Vice-Admiral Sir Gilbert Stephenson, KBE, CB, CMG. W.H. Allen. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-84158-197-2.
- Baker, Richard (2005). The Terror of Tobermory. Edinburgh: Birlinn. ISBN 978-1-84341-023-2. Paperback edition of the above biography of Vice Admiral Sir Gilbert Stephenson KBE CB CMG and history of HMS Western Isles
- Mull Theatre http://www.mulltheatre.com/ Accessed 16/03/2013
- National Statistics online
- "Tobermorite". mindat.org. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
- Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online entry "Donald McLean"
- "Mendelssohn on Mull Festival". Retrieved 2 November 2009.
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