Schools in Western Isles to Receive New Iolaire Book

As part of the Dìleab (Legacy) project, all schools in the Western Isles will be gifted a signed copy of the new Acair publication, The Darkest Hour, which is the most comprehensive account to date of the Iolaire tragedy.  

Malcolm Macdonald (left) handing over a copy of the new Iolaire Book to the pupils of Laxdale School. Also pictured are Cllr Angus McCormack, Chairman of Education, Sport and Children’s Services and Mairi Macleod, Laxdale Head Teacher.

The book, which was written by Malcolm Macdonald, Chairman of Stornoway Historical Society, and the late Donald John MacLeod, was published by Acair Books and launched in An Lanntair during an evening event on Thursday, November 1. The book is the result of 20 years of research by the authors and contains many personal stories connected to the Iolaire, as well as information and theories on what could have gone wrong, in terms of navigation.

Malcolm Macdonald, one of the authors of the book, said: “It is gratifying to know that the Dìleab project has explored the tragedy and given much interest to pupils. In my schooldays the Iolaire was not mentioned at all. I really hope that this book will help to ensure that the greatest tragedy to befall the islands will never be forgotten.”

Cllr Angus McCormack, Chairman of Education, Sport and Children’s Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “We are very pleased to gift a signed copy of this wonderful book to all schools throughout the Western Isles. We felt that it was a very appropriate thing to do, particularly given that our schools have been involved in projects relating to World War I this year, working alongside the Comhairle’s Multimedia Team.

“We want our young people to be educated on their local history and to know what men and women went through in World War I so that we could have the freedom we enjoy today.”

As part of the Dìleab project, Lewis pupils have been working on the loss of the Iolaire, Harris pupils have been looking at World War I, Uist pupils have been focussing on Protest and Politics and Barra pupils have been researching Emigration.

The Darkest Dawn: The Story of the Iolaire Tragedy (ISBN: 978-178907-024-8) is available now from Acair, priced £25.