A Successful Social Evening


As part of their World War 1 Project, the Comann Eachdraidh hosted a very successful Social Evening in the Community Hall on Friday, October 10, 2014.   The evening got off to an appropriate start with Piper Scott MacRae, great, great, grandson of the late John Macdonald, of 1A North Tolsta, who perished in the Iolaire disaster, playing us in with The Flowers of The Forest .



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This was followed by the beautiful rendition of The Green Fields of France sung by Marion Henderson  and accompanied by her father, Alastair Henderson, on guitar.

Marion is the great, great, granddaughter of the late Murdo Murray, of 27 North Tolsta, who perished when H.M.S. Invincible was sunk at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May,1916.

Her great grandfather on the Macdonald side was the late Kenneth Macdonald of 51 North Tolsta.   Kenneth was wounded in France before his seventeenth birthday.

Our speakers for the evening were Robert Doig, grandson of the late Dr. R. S. Doig and Sandy Matheson, son of Dr. A. Matheson.   Both these doctors were household names in Tolsta from the thirties right up until they retired in the late sixties.   It was fascinating to hear about Dr. Doig's early days in France during WW1 and how he met this young French pianist, fell in love and married, later making their home in Stornoway where they brought up a family and are now buried in Sandwick Cemetery. 

When Dr. Doig first arrived in the Islands in 1931, tuberculosis was rife and several families were completely wiped out by this scourge.   People were frightened of the consequences of this diagnosis and often tried to hide the illness with tragic results.

Most of the houses were sadly substandard, with the animals sharing the main door and heat and cooking supplied by the fire in the middle of the floor.   These conditions were conducive to the spread of all disease.   For years, the elderly and young children, weak and strong alike, succumbed rapidly.

It was Dr. Doig's task to test all the schoolchildren and inoculate with the BCG where appropriate.

By the mid-sixties, housing conditions had much improved and coupled with the BCG vaccine, the scourge of tuberculosis was seen as conquered on the islands.


On the 10th October, 2014, the North Tolsta Historical Society held a very successful Social Evening with Sandy Matheson, Lord Lieutenant of the Western Isles, and Robert Doig, grandson of the late Dr R.S.Doig, talking to us about their own connections with North Tolsta and their knowledge of the First World War and the years that followed.

 You can follow their very fascinating talks on video.  Just click on the arrow.