There was a very good programme on tonight about the Iolaire Disaster of New Year’s Day 1919. A horrific sinking of a boat packed with sailors coming home after the end of the Great War. 205 men, fathers, sons and brothers were killed. 80 survived.
It was a touching piece, and there is a website to investigate across bbc.co.uk/alba/tbh/iolaire/
To give some idea of the losses – between 1914 and 1918, the village of Leurbost lost 18 men (according to the memorial inscription listed by the North Lochs Historical Society). In addition to that, 11 were lost when the Iolaire hit the rocks at the entrance to Stornoway harbour. One poor soul’s body was found within sight of his house in Sandwick.
The programme discussed the impact that it had on those widows and families left behind. One girl had her Gaelic name changed to remove her father from it.
I go past it most times that I travel home. The sun sometimes marks the spot. (Maplink)
Have a look at the website. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Gaelic. They have video clips of the Iolaire sailing, interviews with the families and some historical ones of the survivors. Have a look at the faces of the departed, and you’ll see the same faces on many streets in Scotland, or Canada, or Australia or the myriad places we have diasporad to.