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John Francis Campbell Monument on Islay

Picture of a monument / obelisk for John Francis Campbell on Islay, surrounded by a fence

Most visitors to Islay will have noticed this monument, after all it stands in a quite prominent place on a hill near Bridgend at the top of Loch Indaal. The monument is for John Francis Campbell, born 1821, brought up on Islay, died and buried in Cannes, France, 1885. So who was this famous son of Islay?

He was the son of Walter Frederick Campbell, the last Shawfield Laird of Islay. Growing up on Islay at Islay House he spent a lot of time with the ordinary people of Islay despite his priviledged upbringing, also becoming fluent in Gaelic. When his father died it turned out that the estate was bankrupt and had to be sold, forcing him to look for other opportunities. After initially becoming a lawyer in London (a career he didn't enjoy) he later became secretary to a number of Royal Commissions.

But he's best known for some of his other work: Utilising his Gaelic language skills, his connections with native Gaelic speakers (many from his childhood on Islay) and his interest in Gaelic culture he recorded and collected Gaelic folk tales, published in Popular Tales of the West Highlands.

But that isn't all, he also invented a sunshine recorder, later improved by George Stokes and now known (and still used) as Campbell-Stokes recorder.

Quite impressive, isn't it?



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