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- Category: B
- Date Added: 17/11/2009
- Local Authority: Na h-Eileanan Siar
- Planning Authority: Na h-Eileanan Siar
- Parish: South Uist
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NF 75816 16484
- Coordinates: 75816, 816484
Richard McCarron, 1964-5; engineer Dudley Gibb. Important largely unaltered Modernist single storey and basement roughly square plan church set within spectacular remote landscape with interior with Sacred Heart side altar (now known as Blessed Sacrament altar) with ceramic panel by David Harding. Comprises 3 interlinked brick-built monopitch roofed sections of varying heights and massing with predominantly narrow vertical openings. Black brick deep base course, white calcined flint dry dash, dark grey concrete roof tiles.
WEST (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: tall square plan elevation with near full-height narrow light to outer right. To left low stair projection with monopitch roof with plate glass window above and narrow lights to left and right. Illuminated Latin cross to roof. To left recessed entrance with projecting black curved concrete canopy with narrow light above. Below, projecting 1994 Michael Gilfeddar mural with central panel depicting the Mother of Sorrows and entitled 'MATHAIR NA DORAINNE'. To far left recessed lower monopitch wing containing 2 confessionals and Sacristy.
Predominantly small pane and/or horizontally-set glazing. Ramp leads to wide boarded mahogany entrance door. Further uPVC entrance door to rear.
INTERIOR: near intact interior. Simple whitewashed walls. Impressive sloping ceiling of tongue and grooved pine with exposed Douglas Fir structural beams. Gallery to West rests on simple white piers with tall cubist stair tower to right. Simple horizontally-emphasised timber gallery front. Bespoke timber pews. Altar lit by flanking tall narrow side lights. Circa 1878 painted oak altar from Pro-Cathedral in Oban. Side altar with ceramic mosaic Harding panel. Stations of the Cross with inscribed imagery on local slate. Thermoplastic light grey floor tiles, dark brown quarry tiles to aisles.
BOUNDARY WALLS AND GATEPIERS: later additions. Section of low boundary wall to W, coursed rubble with flat coping terminating in pier to pedestrian opening with simple metal gate. Pair of square plan coursed rubble gatepiers with flat coping with sloping masonry flanking cattle grid.
Statement of Special Interest
Place of worship in use as such.
Opened on 5 May 1965, Our Lady of Sorrows is an important example of a Modernist church which was largely self-built by local residents. It replaced an earlier church on the site and was the first major commission for architect Richard McCarron after he graduated. McCarron worked for Robert Matthew Johnston-Marshall and Partners before moving to the Scottish Special Housing Association and he also later worked as a consultant in Research and Innovation for Scottish Homes.
The church is a good example of pioneering Roman Catholic church design following the principles of Vatican II where a centralised worship-orientated plan allowed closer contact between the priest and congregation.
The simple and massive exterior combined with the carefully lit interior space makes it an exemplar of its type, probably influenced by the work of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia such as at St Paul's, Glenrothes (1956-7; see separate listing). It is a dominant and significant feature in the treeless terrain and it is an important part of the landscape.
Built as a Chapel of Ease it was commissioned by Monseignor McKellaig, parish priest of Daliburgh. It is understood that Mgr McKellaig was a traditionalist priest and it is surprising that he chose such a contemporary design. The engineer was Dudley Gibb, whose expertise was specifically required for the reinforced concrete work. The unusual involvement of the local residents in the build is an important part of the interest of the building. In view of the remote location and the difficulty of securing contractors from the mainland experienced parishioners were employed full-time for the duration of the construction of the church. Dedidated to Our Lady of Sorrows in memory of the islanders who died in the Great Wars it was to provide seating for 300. The illuminated Latin cross on the roof is intended to serve as a landmark to fishermen. There was a 15 month target build which was reached and the modest £18,500 budget rose to circa £20,000. McCarron notes in his article in The Clergy Review that the materials were chosen for their suitability, durability and economy.
An exterior panel by David Harding didn't withstand the fierce weather conditions and it was replaced in 1994 by Gilfeddar's work. David Harding studied at Edinburgh College of Art and became Glenrothes Town Artist from 1968-78. He later became Head of the Department of Sculpture and Environmental Art at Glasgow School of Art.
The Harding panel in the interior depicts Christ and is entitled 'A Chridh' Iosa, Fhurnais laiste na carrantachd, dean trocair oirnn" (Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, have mercy on us). The Stations of the Cross are by Canon Calum MacNeill, a local priest. The slate was sourced from the nearby Island of Sturley.
The Clergy Review pp409-416 (May 1966); John Gifford The Buildings of Scotland ' Highland and Islands p615 (1992); Our Lady of Sorrows, Garrynamonie: A Brief History (2005). Mary Miers The Western Seaboard p351 (2008). Historic Scotland Scotland: Building for the Future pp60-61 (2009).
Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.
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