Rev Y Gooljary, a licensed Minister in the Episcopal Church, Edinburgh, has written to the owners of what is now the Columba Hotel in Iona about its history and where the money came from to build it in the 19thC.
” I was walking past the hotel own my stay at the Abbey today, and saw your plaque regarding your links with the Free Church of Scotland. It is good that a link is being made with the story of the Columba, however I do feel that there is a piece missing. You may find it appropriate to add or reference some more information? I have a website that deals with these issues, feel free to use it if you feel appropriate.www.challengeracismscotland.co.uk.”
“To put it in a nutshell, $3000 was raised from plantation owners in USA by the 450 ministers who broke from the Church of Scotland in 1843, to build churches and manses, including the now Columba Hotel and the building at the end of Martyr’s Bay. Many of the churches and manses went back into Church of Scotland ownership in 1929. So the Free Church Manse (now the Columba), and church building on Iona (end of Martyrs Bay) has a legacy of Slavery. I am asking such buildings to use the C.A.R.E. protocol:
C. Commemorate the suffering
A. Acknowledge with a plaque , installation or information on website
R. Research their own situation
E. Educate their own community and implement training in white privilege and challenging racism “
Rev Gooljary is asking the Columba Hotel to make changes to the plaque and to their website information.
The Columba Hotel is now investigating this and are keen to do the right thing.
The Orkney News has several published articles around the issue of money from slavery and how it was used in Scotland. Links to those articles can be found by using our search button.
You may also be interested in this Plantation slavery and landownership in the west Highlands and Islands: legacies and lessons