Tickets available to mark maritime disaster centenary

Tickets for an event to mark the centenary of one of the worst UK maritime disasters are available from today.

The Iolaire Working Group says the public will be able to reserve tickets for the Iolaire Community Remembrance Event from 9am today, Monday, 10 September.

The Iolaire was carrying sailors who had fought in the First World War back to the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides on Hogmany, 1918.

She departed Kyle of Lochalsh, but at 2.30am on New Year’s Day, she hit the infamous rocks known as the Beasts of Holm, and sank, just a mile away from the safety of Stornoway Harbour. At least 201 of the 283 men onboard died.

To mark the tragedy, a remembrance event, hosted by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, will take place at 9.30pm on Monday, 31 December, in the Lewis Sports Centre, and is the civic event to mark the centenary of the Iolaire tragedy, featuring military and school band performances, poetry readings and songs, drama in addition to spiritual elements.

Norman A MacDonald, chairman of the Iolaire Working Group, said: ‘This commemoration is of major significance for our Islands.

‘The events of that terrible night in January 1919 impacted on communities throughout the Western Isles and remain a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by our young men in the service of their country. It is the worst tragedy to befall our Islands and its effect reverberates to this day.

‘The capacity for the event in the Lewis Sports Centre is 720 and therefore, although tickets will be free of charge, there will only a limited number available and we do anticipate a high demand for tickets.

‘Tickets will be on a first come first served basis. We would encourage the public to be mindful of older family members, neighbours or friends, who may wish to attend but may not have access to the internet and/or phone.

‘This will be an opportunity for our community to bring in the New Year together as we remember the men and families associated with HMY Iolaire.’

Tickets for the event are limited to four per person, and are available to reserve online HERE  or by calling 01851 600502.