The Iolaire Disaster

The Island's Saddest Day


"Two Hundred drowned. The lighthouse flashed its light

A bare mile from home and there we lay

Fished from the avid waters in the night.

The flood shone fatly south at break of day

Assuaged by the New Year dead. From the safe height

We gazed straight downward. Only God could say

What dry and prayerless prayers we turned to pray."

                                                         (Iain Crichton Smith)

The local news in the Stornoway Gazette on 21/01/1919


His Lordship visited the district last Saturday and after calling on the motherless children of the late John Macdonald,1 North Tolsta, who was lost in the Iolaire Disaster, he met some of the local people who had applied for new holdings.


Since we have sent in our last report the bodies of three of our local men have been recovered and buried in the local Cemetery- Donald Macleod and Malcolm Macleod, sons of Malcolm Macleod, 58 North Tolsta and Evander Murray, 45 North Tolsta. As we were burying these at night, verses from "The Burial of Sir John Moore", came to mind with strange persistency.

The bodies of Donald Campbell, no. 44 and of John Maciver, no 69, have not yet been recovered.

(Sadly, the bodies of these two men have never been recovered)

Click for list of the 11 Tolsta Seamen Drowned


Click for list of the 5 Tolsta Seamen Survived

Donald Murray, (37)  (Domhnall Brus)