The name ‘Kilmuir’ is a translation of the Gaelic ‘Cille mhoire’, meaning the church of Mary. The earliest Christian influence in the district were the Columban monks, travelling out from their base at Iona. Indeed we can still see evidence of their monastic settlement in St Columba’s loch, where their monastery was situated on an island. Now drained, the loch is no more, but it only takes a few days of rain to see what it would have looked like in former times.
The present church buildings in Kilmuir occupy an elevated position in the crofting township of Balgown and were erected after the union of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church in 1929. The church is spacious and the adjacent church hall is a most useful facility.
The main cemetery for Kilmuir is located a couple of miles to the north of the church, and contains the memorial to Flora MacDonald who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape capture after the Battle of Culloden.
In 1981 the parish of Kilmuir was united to the neighbouring parish of Stenscholl, and now the united charge of Kilmuir and Stenscholl is the most northerly of the five Skye parishes.
The former mission church at Kilmaluag, has been converted into a self catering retreat house for ministers and church staff.
The church in Staffin occupies a central position in the area, and was built in the 1830’s under the supervision of the famous Scottish architect Thomas Telford. It was renovated to its present state in the early 1980’s. The new parish manse was erected close thereafter, and at the rear of the church is the annexe which also serves as the office for the Staffin Trust, a community based organisation promoting local development.
The name ‘Stenscholl’ is the name for a particular crofting township which lies above Staffin Bay, and lends its name to the parish of Stenscholl which was united with the parish of Kilmuir in 1981. The main cemetery for the Staffin area is in the shadow of the magnificent pinnacles of the Quiraing. The former parish glebe lands (where the minister had the right to graze animals and grow crops) are now occupied by the Columba 1400 leadership centre. This is a much used community facility and centre for giving youngsters from challenging backgrounds an opportunity to be inspired amidst the grandeur of the natural surroundings.
The church is governed by its Kirk Session and Congregational Board who are mindful of their task to maintain and develop the Christian faith amongst its members and adherents, and in the communities in the parish. As the present worshipping generation it is conscious of the debt due to those who have gone before, and is always seeking ways to express the faith in a contemporary and relevant style.