It was a profound and emotional experience to be in Stornoway and Uig for the community commemorations of the Iolaire Disaster. All those involved in every ceremony and event across the islands can be immensely proud of their contributions to these acts of remembrance.
In marking 100 years since the tragedy that that left wounds deeper than the bloodiest war, we have as a people been part of a great outpouring of collective emotion, creativity, spirit and connection that is unprecedented.
The question before us now as a people is where will this energy go? What use shall we make of it? There is surely no going back to the old ways of silence and suffering, therefore we must harness it in this New Year to start building a Gàidhealtachd of which generations, past , present and future can live whole and hearty lives.
We remain a deeply traumatised and alienated people in many ways. Our language remains an item of mockery and shame for too many, even those who speak it well; our land remains in the hands of the uncaring and absent rich, our culture lies prostrate at the whims of the unelected and unaccountable.
We can only overcome this damage and collective trauma through talking to each other. The needs of our community start by connecting as individuals and by holding open conversations.
I saw with my own eyes over the last week, people awaken to their family history and talking through the pain that had held their family back for so many generations.
Many people this New Year will be making it their resolution to learn Gaelic, but those of us who speak Gaelic must look also to it for its healing power, and its ability to help us reforge the bonds which hold us together and lift our communities up.
Let “The Eagle” no longer be a symbol of death and pain, no more “eun mòr marbh na h-Albann”, but one that inspires us to rise on wings and shape a better place to live and love and die when our time comes.