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The Italian Chapel, Orkney

History, Local History
Publication Date
18 May 2017
Available for Sale
Birlinn Ltd
24pp colour plates

The Italian Chapel, Orkney

by Donald S. Murray - Find out more about the author

Thousands of visitors go to the Italian Chapel in Orkney every year, witnesses to a series of remarkable acts of transformation. Among these are the Churchill Barriers nearby, straddling the ocean to link a number of Orkney’s southernmost islands to its mainland. Constructed to protect Britain’s naval fleet in Scapa Flow during World War Two, its builders included a group of Italian soldiers imprisoned in this bleak and windswept part of Scotland. In the course of this, they not only played a part in changing Orkney’s way-of-life forever but also transformed a simple Nissen Hut, constructing through their labours a place-of-worship that still stands till this day a remarkable symbol of their identity and faith.

The Italian Chapel, Orkney tells the story of the strength and tenacity, laughter and tears of the men who built the Chapel, showing how spirits defeated and despondent during years of exile were lifted by its creation. It does this with its own artistry and grace, using folk-tale and myth to provide a fitting counterpart to the wonder and beauty of the building that inspired it. First edition published by Birlinn as And On This Rock.

Donald S. Murray is an an author and journalist whose poetry, prose and verse has been shortlisted for both the Saltire Award and Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. He won a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2012 and a Jessie Kesson Fellowship in 2013. His book, The Guga Stone, was recently nominated as one of the Guardian Best Nature Books of 2013. He lives and works in Shetland.

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