Ter­ror strikes at heart of is­land com­mu­nity

The Oban Times - - Letters - AN­GUS MACPHAIL an­gus­macphail@ya­hoo.co.uk

FROM an is­land tragedy of long ago about which I wrote last week, the sub­ject of this week’s ar­ti­cle is an­other is­land tragedy but very much of the present day.

The seeds of Is­lamic ter­ror­ism grow far from Bri­tain and the streets of Manch­ester are far from the shores of Barra, but last Mon­day night the con­tem­po­rary wrongs of the world, by a com­bi­na­tion of fate and an act of evil by a sin­gle hu­man be­ing, struck at the very heart of that re­mote and beau­ti­ful is­land.

We are con­stantly made aware of the un­pre­dictable na­ture of ex­is­tence, and al­though that has al­ways been and al­ways will be part of life, it never will cease to cause pain.

In the re­mote is­lands of the He­brides the peo­ple are, of course, not un­ac­cus­tomed to tragedy.

On Barra, with a long his­tory of such a large per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion work­ing on the sea and deal­ing with the risks that en­tails, the hand of death is all too fa­mil­iar. The se­ri­ous in­jury suf­fered by Laura MacIn­tyre and the death of Eilidh MacLeod, among so many oth­ers in last Mon­day’s Manch­ester bomb­ing, is set apart from these pre­vi­ous times of sor­row be­cause it was caused not by the un­teth­ered hand of fate but by a de­lib­er­ate act car­ried out with the pri­mary in­ten­tion of killing in­no­cent young peo­ple.

This is very dif­fer­ent from any­thing that peo­ple are ac­cus­tomed to deal­ing with in this part of the world and the scars will be dif­fi­cult to heal.

How­ever, the peo­ple of Barra are a par­tic­u­larly ro­bust, re­silient, close and car­ing pop­u­la­tion, and if ever a com­mu­nity had the strength to grieve and then heal to­gether, it is that of the Bar­raich.

The evils of the world that last week vis­ited these shores will not change the peo­ple of Barra and Vater­say, and the good in the peo­ple there will al­ways far out­weigh the evil of this de­spi­ca­ble act of mind­less killing.

Laura will be given all the sup­port she needs to re­cover, and mem­o­ries of Eilidh, a bright young piper and High­land dancer, will be cher­ished and cel­e­brated far into the fu­ture.

The fol­low­ing is a post we put on the Skip­in­nish Face­book page last week.

‘Our thoughts are on Barra. From our very ear­li­est days play­ing in the Craigard Ho­tel, be­fore we even had a name, the peo­ple of Barra and Vater­say have been a big sup­port to Skip­in­nish. When tragedy strikes close to home, it is felt sorely and our sym­pa­thies and con­do­lences are be­ing sent to that very spe­cial is­land.

‘We wish Laura a speedy re­cov­ery and to Eilidh, a safe pas­sage on tran­quil seas to Tìr nan Òg.

‘There is a link be­low to a Just­giv­ing page for con­tri­bu­tions. Money will not ease the pain, but there will be some pres­sures in the weeks, months and years to come that will be helped by a lit­tle sup­port from us all.

‘ www.just­giv­ing.com/crowd­fund­ing/ alan-an­der­son

‘We hope Eilidh is danc­ing on her is­land of the young...

‘ “…Will you dance and re­turn to the is­land of the young

‘ “Will you dance un­til the dawn un­til the ris­ing of the sun”.’

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