Barra funeral of Manchester attack victim Eilidh Macleod

The coffin of Eilidh MacLeod draped in the Barra flag is carried across Traigh Mhor beach at Barra airport after it arrived by chartered plane yesterday. Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
The coffin of Eilidh MacLeod draped in the Barra flag is carried across Traigh Mhor beach at Barra airport after it arrived by chartered plane yesterday. Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The family and friends of Manchester terror victim Eilidh MacLeod have gathered on Barra for her funeral.

Eilidh, 14, was among 22 people who died in the explosion at the Ariana Grande concert on Monday May 22.

Her friend Laura MacIntyre, a fellow pupil at Castlebay Community School on the island, was seriously injured in the bombing at Manchester Arena and remains in hospital.

The funeral is being held at the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Castlebay, with about 1,000 people expected to attend.

The mass is also being relayed to mourners in nearby Castlebay Hall.

Parish priest Father John Paul MacKinnon said the community had come together as “one big family”.

He was expected to tell mourners that Eilidh “packed a lot into her 14 happy years”.

“That’s so important for us to remember today - Eilidh was a happy girl, she had 14 happy years and in the last few days of her life she was the happiest you could ever imagine,” he said.

“The last thing in Eilidh’s life was happiness - she had spent a wonderful weekend away from the island, going shopping, going to nice cafes, going to the cinema and then going to her pop idol’s concert - Ariana.

“She was the happiest she had ever been and that’s what we hold onto today - the happiness of Eilidh’s life.

“Those memories of Eilidh will live on in all our hearts. Every year of her life was precious to us and we thank God for blessing us with her precious life.”

He will add: “Roddy and Marion were blessed with a beautiful daughter, Shona and Laura were blessed with a wonderful sister, our island was blessed to have such a young talented girl growing up on it.

“Even though there is a great sadness here today, there is a great thankfulness to God for blessing us with Eilidh’s life. Our loss is heaven’s gain.”

Mr Mackinnon was also offering thanks on behalf of Eilidh’s parents.

“The family have been overwhelmed by the great generosity and love that they have received ever since they lost their Eilidh.

“The huge number of prayers and messages and cards and gifts and love and support the family has received has been appreciated and has overwhelmed the family.”

Prayers were also being said for Laura as she continues to be treated in hospital.

Scottish Government ministers including Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Humza Yousaf, minister for transport and islands, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan were expected to attend.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham sent a message and wreath of flowers.

Businesses on the island will be closed for several hours as a mark of respect and to allow staff to attend the funeral.

A large procession is expected to follow the hearse to Vatersay, an island connected by causeway where she was originally from, for her burial.

The route will pass Eilidh’s school, where the green and white flag of Barra has been flying at half-mast.