Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, South Uist

I must confess, my first impression of this church was that it was somewhat of a blot on the landscape. In fact, it took me a moment to even realise it was a church as, from a distance, it resembles a rather ghastly 1970s cinema complex.

I am, however, glad my curiosity was piqued as it ended up being one of my favourite churches we visited in the Hebrides. I had every reason not to like it – with a passion for Gothic, it was far removed from my usual taste. But once inside everything changed. The space has a wonderfully calming atmosphere and the tall, glass brick windows refract the light, creating a beautiful rippled water effect on the walls. Never judge a book by its cover has never rung so true!

The church was built in 1965 by Scottish architect, Richard James McCarron, who studied at the University of Edinburgh. The church was McCarron’s first and only noted work and was commissioned by the parish priest of Dailburgh, Monsignor McKellaif.

The church also features the work of artist David Harding in the form of a colourful, ceramic image of the Sacred Heart displayed in the Lady Chapel. Born in 1937, Harding is most known for his work at Glenrothes where he was the town’s artist in residence between 1968-1978. Working with the planning department, he created many public works of art including Henge, which comprises a series of decorative concrete slabs in the form of a spiral.

Another example of modernist art is the interesting interpretation of the Stations of the Cross on the east wall. Each station is represented by a naturally shaped stone plaque upon which the images are carved. It is a striking feature, the choice of materials beautifully reflecting the rugged landscape of the isle.  

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