Alexander Ritchie, the 19th century silversmith whose legacy continues at Aosdàna once said, “I hope my Maker will credit me with the hours I have wasted watching the colours change on the Sound of Iona”. In his lifetime he would have watched the Sound in all its colours, from the glorious turquoise and violet of a summer’s day to the wild sea swells of winter months with blue black depths topped with lively white horses. Ritchie was first and foremost a man of the sea before he turned his hand to craft, and like most islanders to this day he held a healthy respect and reverence for the seas around his home.

The Celts too, revered the sea believing it to be a place of healing and an ‘Otherworld’ of protective spirits. There is a hill close to the north west shore of Iona known as ‘Dun Mhananainn’, named for the Celtic sea god Manannàn, son of Lir, God of the Sea. Celtic myth tells us that Manannàn had magical power over the elements, charming up concealing mists, and wild winds and waves to hide and guard his islands and the depths of his watery Otherworld.

The sea and coastline of Iona continues to inspire Aosdàna jewellery ranges from the rugged outline of our coast in Hannah Louise Lamb’s Iona Coastline range, to the jewel like colours of the sea which we have recreated in the blues and turquoises of our enamelled pieces. In our legacy Iona ranges you will find galleys and boats, echoing the enduring presence of the sea on island life and mythology. Often the galleys are depicted sailing west to ‘Tir nan Og’ or ‘Land of the Young’, an everlasting afterlife which lies just beyond the western horizon.

April 19, 2023