This is an approximate translation of the transcript of the Gaelic taped recording, made by Donald Macdonald (38), of Donald Murray (37), Domhnall Brus, as he recalled his experiences on the Iolaire  during its fateful trip of 1st January 1919.

Domhnall recalled :-

The war had ended and the English lads were getting Christmas leave before we got 'demob' and when the English returned the Scots got New Year leave.   That is why so many of us were returning to Stornoway at the same time.

We came to Kyle of Lochalsh and that is how I lost John (Morrison, 8).   We were together all the time in the 'Iolaire'.   We were together until that happened.

When we came to Kyle that day many of the village lads were there; many who had not met previously.   There was real fellowship.

Now the ''Iolaire' was entirely Navy.   There were two or three soldiers, but they went onto the 'Sheila.'   Murchadh Aonghais Mhurchaidh Uilleim was in the  'Sheila'.   The 'Iolaire' was full and a few navymen were put with the soldiers.

Donald Murray, (37) and family.

(Domhnall Brus)

At first the night was not at all bad, but it was bad in the Kebog area and to the south - it was bad there.   Anyway, we did not doubt that everything was fine, but I remember very well when we were opposite Loch Grimshader, I said to Domhnall Red, "I am going to run up to see how far we have got" and I went up to the deck and the light of the Stornoway lighthouse was flashing in my face, almost directly opposite Grimshader.   You would think that nothing could go wrong, but now there was a strong breeze on the wind and it was behind us and when it struck the vessel the sea was fearsome, so I went down.

"Well lads,"  said I,  "She is almost at the lighthouse".   Each one of us had a kitbag and we hoisted them up and we were just going on deck as she came under the light.

After coming on deck we were aware that she altered course to the East of the entrance instead of going in ... and ... I do not understand!!   But Heavens when she struck, the sea was wild!   Where she now was the sea went up to the upper limits of the shingle - when it came out it swept everything out with it.

Now when she struck - a while after she struck - everyone was looking out for himself - and I went up to the boat deck.   They were lowering a boat there.   Now I never thought of studying that there was no possibility of a boat surviving.   In a state of excitement, I went into it.   The intention was that those doing the lowering would go down on the falls - but, she had scarcely touched the water when the first succession of large breakers hit her and she broke into splinters!.... I was last into her and I clung to the falls..... that's what saved my life.



Somehow I got to the boat deck.... it was just that my time had not come.  Then it was a case of what do I do next.   There was nothing for it except to go to the stern.   There was no one around.   I don't think anyone in that boat survived although someone might have.   I think one was saved on the after-fall, but no one else, I don't think.   She went down so quickly.   Claoid (Murdo Macdonald) said he had survived.

When I reached the stern, I told myself that I would go down with the 'Iolaire' before I would risk coming off her again.   From the stern I could see the rapid succession of waves moving her backwards and forwards - tearing her apart.   She was now holed and the sea was coming in.   I went down and when I got down they didn't have a rope out.   A Ness man, John Macleod, went ashore with a rope. (Others told me this.) Now they had a rope.   There were fourteen men on it at one time.   Now, once you were on the rope, you were safe enough if you caught the incoming succession of waves, do you see?   The tragedy was when the waves were coming out one after the other and that is when the were swept off the rope.

The first men to go on hadn't studied this.   I was watching for a long time, as I had vowed to myself not to leave the vessel.   I began to think that if I did go on the rope and had a good grip while the waves were coming in I would be amongst the boulders when the waves ebbed again.   The returning waves were sweeping the rope bare.   You cannot comprehend the ferocity of that sea!

I was still watching - the sea was coming in under the rail.   Many had now lost heart and would not go on the rope as they watched what was happening.   I thought I had to take my chance of life or death when the next sea would be going landwards.   When I heard the waves hit the ship on the outerside of the vessel, I grabbed my chance and went on to the rope and moved as fast as I could with the incoming waves along the rope.

When the wave returned outwards, I took a death grip of the rope.   I felt the sea receding and the rope curving with its force and I knew this was the point at which the men were being swept off the rope.  The next I knew, the waves had passed and I was among the boulders.

Still clinging to the rope, I moved as fast as I could along the boulders before the next sea would catch me.   I was clear before the next wave came.   It did not catch me.   That's how I got away.   My time had not yet come.

I came down to Tolsta in Coinneach Ruadh's gig.   It was in Stornoway, meeting Coinneach's son, Domhnall Red.   Ciorstag had gone up to meet her brother, but Domhnall was lost and she was returning without him.  She brought home the boys that had been saved - there were five of us.   I still remember that it was my sister, Christina who brought me in from the road.

I had seen Domhnall Red after the Iolaire struck, but I do not know what happened to him.   I do not think he went on the rope, but then, perhaps he did.

Domhnall Ghabhsainn came ashore.   They say he went looking for his brother, Calum and when he did not find him ashore he went out into the sea again to look for him.   That is what was said, but I cannot believe that anyone who got ashore would return.   No, not even for your wife.   It would be futile.

The two brothers were buried the same day.