Local News for Monday 5th June 2017
Island falls silent in grief
The Island of Barra falls silent today as the family and friends of Eilidh Macleod gather to mourn the loss of a young life cut cruelly short just two weeks ago. 14-year-old Eilidh was one of the last victims of the Manchester bombing to be named and she is the first to be laid to rest. Bereft parents Roddy and Marion travelled with her remains from Manchester yesterday, the tiny plane landing on Traigh Mhor at lunchtime, met and blessed by parish priest Father John Paul Mackinnon. Airport firefighters were among those who lifted her casket, draped in the green flag of Barra, and carried it to the hearse to be driven home to Castlebay. Ahead walked piper Duncan Nicholson, son of Eilidh’s piping tutor Donald Patrick Nicolson, playing slow airs that Eilidh, a keen piper, had been learning.
Today Eilidh’s funeral mass is to be held at 11.15am at Our Lady Star of the Sea church, conducted by Fr Mackinnon. Island shops and businesses will close, and much of the Barra’s population will be in or outside the church. Afterwards refreshments are being offered at Castlebay school, with many giving quiet support by setting out the school hall and providing baking. Neighbours and friends continue to support the Macleod family as they have since Eilidh and her friend Laura were found to be missing. Police Scotland have made further arrangements to protect Eilidh’s family from intrusion, by strictly limiting press and media passes to the island.
Transport operators CalMac and Loganair have worked hard to allow as many relatives and friends as possible to be in Castlebay in time for today’s funeral. Additional ferries yesterday, today and tomorrow were laid on by CalMac, with a series of early morning crossings from Eriskay to Barra today, and evening return sailings, as well as extra services between Castlebay and Oban. Loganair added a third return flight to the island, offering places to 13 passengers to arrive in Barra in time for Eilidh’s funeral. With accommodation at full stretch, islanders have also thrown open their homes to provide places to sleep.
Throughout the Western Isles, the families of Eilidh, and of her friend Laura Macintyre, 15, who remains seriously injured in a Manchester hospital, were never far from people’s thoughts. The first parade of Lewis Pipe Band’s summer season was dedicated to the girls, with a moving tribute as Pipe Major Peter Mackay played ‘Fair Maid of Barra’ to a gathered crowd. A collection for the girls’ families at the parade raised £880.
There was an excellent turnout in brilliant sunshine for the annual Point 5k, raising funds for The Leanne Fund. First man to complete the course was Cameron Ewen in 22 minutes and 24 seconds, and Marina Murray was once again the first woman in 23 minutes three seconds. In the younger age groups, Daniel Stewart was the first boy home in 22.36 and Isla MacKay first girl in 31 minutes and 46 seconds.
Sunshine and a fresh breeze also helped runners taking part in the Benbecula half-marathon on Saturday, where Stornoway Running and Athletics Club had runners competing among the 90-plus participants. John Macaskill was 4th overall in one hour, 24 minutes and 25 seconds and picked up his age group prize, while Stornoway ladies Katy Mackenzie and Adrienne Stewart carried home the team prize.
Only one of the six island football teams which played in Highland Amateur Cup matches at the weekend has made it through to the next round of the competition. Iochdar Saints beat Kirkwall Hotspurs 5-3 for their position in the third round of the competition. Coming close were Ness, who held Hill Rovers to a 6-all score at full-time, but succumbed after extra time 3-2 on penalties. At Garrabost Maryburgh beat Point 3-2, and in Inverness Avoch scored the only goal late in the match to defeat Carloway. ANM Ace beat Benbecula 6-nil and Aths went down 6-1 to Randall.
Lewis Camanachd’s home match on Saturday ended with the senior team defeated by a very good Lochaber side, although David Cleary scored for Lewis on his debut. There was much better news on the mainland where three junior teams had a great time at the Far North Sixes with the Camanachd Leòdhais Blues finishing third overall, denied second place only on goals scored.