First Minister pays tribute to those lost in Iolaire disaster

First Minister at the Iolaire monument this afternoon.
First Minister at the Iolaire monument this afternoon.

The First World War commemorations on the Western Isles, led by the Gaelic Arts Agency will be given a funding boost of £10,000, First Minister Alex Salmond announced today (Thursday)

The Gaelic Arts Agency will mark the significant contribution the people of the Western Isles made to the First World War through a series of five multi-media exhibitions and a series of community productions based on writings, songs and experiences of those that lived and died in the Great War.

The First Minister made the announcement while on Lewis as part of a series of cabinet meetings across Scotland and he paid tribute to those who perished on HMY Iolaire off the coast of the Isle of Lewis on January 1st, 1919 when returning home from war.

Visiting the HMY Iolaire memorial Mr Salmond said: “In 1919, off the coast of the Isle of Lewis, more than 200 service personnel returning from war tragically lost their lives when the HMY Iolaire sank so close to Stornoway Harbour. It remains one of the largest domestic losses of life in the maritime history of the British Isles.

“This year, when we mark the centenary of the start of the Great War, we reflect on the sacrifices made by generations of service men and women, including those currently serving.

“The centenary programme will see commemorations of major battles and the observance of significant domestic events, such as the loss of HMY Iolaire.”

Chief Executive of the Gaelic Arts Agency, Erica Morrison, said: “This welcome funding coupled with other sources of financial support will enable Pròiseact na Ealan to create a series of high quality, multi-media Gaelic exhibitions capturing community perspectives, illuminating social impacts, legacies and lessons for the rising generation based on the significant contribution made by those from the Western Isles to the Great War.”