A Local Event

Today, this memorial was unveiled above Traigh Shanndaigh - the beach area we see from our home. Some members of our community raised money to erect a memorial here in memory of twelve men who were drowned near this spot in 1885.
The men, from the village of Eoropie - just across the bay from us - set out one Monday afternoon for some fishing. Although the weather was calm when they left, it soon changed, and later that afternoon the twelve men - six on each of the two fishing boats - were fighting to reach land.

It wasn't to be. For two hours they fought to land the boats but the storm made it impossible.

What makes the story even sadder is that for these two hours the villagers stood on the shore, watching helplessly as their loved ones struggled to get to shore.

All twelve men were lost, and only one body was ever recovered. This man's body was washed ashore and he was identified by his tatoo.

His remains were buried - not in the graveyard - but here, overlooking the sea. Just beyond the reach of the sea. The cairn of stones marking his grave is seen at the right of the photo.

His grave has been here for 125 years. The memorial, with a wreath which was placed today, is new. It shows the names of all those who were drowned.

In the foreground is a rock taken from Stoth - the tiny bay a mile or so round the coast from which the boats left on that fateful day.

The unveiling took place today in freezing temperatures. We had a windchill of -19C (-2F), so the service took place in the local Historical Society building, with only the actual unveiling taking place at the site.

On the right are the words of the first verses of Psalm 46, which we sang in Gaelic. 

And on the left are the words of a Gaelic song that was composed in memory of the tragedy of that day in 1885.

Here are some of those who gathered at the Comann Eachdraidh (Historical Society).

This man, Norman Smith, has been hoping to see this day for nearly 30 years - ever since he first researched the history of the tragedy for a Gaelic radio programme.

(Remind me, some day, to tell you something about this man's war time experiences.)

One of our local ministers spoke from Psalm 116  

"What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people"

And some members of the local choir and a teacher sang the Gaelic song.

After a minute's silence, a local piper played the tune Bays of Harris on the bagpipes.

And then we headed to the headland.

Anne Marvin researched the story for her degree dissertation and is worth hearing talk of the individual families involved.

History is always fascinating. But when the history involves families belonging to our own community, it is especially worth delving into.

It is good for us too to remember tragedies of this nature. It at least causes us to thank God for the many benefits and luxuries we have that our forefathers did not.


  1. I love the way your community marks places of remembrance. We are surrounded by history here, too......however, it seems that we have more people in our country trying to rewrite history than honor the people and events of our land. Thank you for sharing the history of the families around you.


  2. Hello~
    I so enjoyed peeking around your blog tonight. Relaxing before routine starts back tomorrow.
    Hope you have a wonderful week!
    Christmas Wishes~

  3. I agree with everything Anna said. Sometimes I think you are lucky to live where you do - so much more closely, everyday, with the fact that we are all in God's care, and that his power is mighty. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. What a helpless feeling, having to stand on shore, witnessing their trouble and not being able to help in any way. It is important to remember our past, you all do such a wonderful job, working together to preserve these memories.

    I do not think I could tolerate those types of temperatures, goodness that is so very COLD! How brave of you all, to go out and participate in this very special day.

  5. Thanks guys. There was one particular aspect to the story that I didn't go into: one of the men who was on one of the capsized boats was not long married. Before he left that day, his new wife noticed (as us wives do!) that the top of his jumper had a tear in it ('sweater' is a 'jumper' to you Americans!). This lady had a brooch - just a plain kind of pin brooch - and she pinned it where the tear was, so it wouldn't get any worse until she got to mend it.
    For two hours that particular man clung to the upturned boat, and the brooch could be seen glistening in the moonlight by those on shore - his wife included. Can you imagine? The pain is beyond words.

  6. What a sad story- but what a beautiful location! So nice that your community marks the spot and remembers the event....


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