Island bids sad farewell to Eilidh
ON A beautiful Barra beach in the presence of family and friends, the body of ‘fun-loving and bubbly’ Eilidh MacLeod was carried home, having been flown back from the city of Manchester.
Eilidh lost her life in the terror attack following the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena on May 22, having enjoyed the ‘ weekend of her life’ in the city.
While music was still ringing in her ears, she was caught up in the chaos of terrorism, something that before that day was unimaginable.
Why? was the question on the lips of the 1,000 mourners who attended a mass at the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea in Castlebay. The service started shortly before 11am on Monday (June 5).
Loudspeakers were fitted in the adjacent community hall for the huge number of people who attended the funeral.
Eilidh’s coffin was covered in the green and white flag of the island of Barra, and her forebears.
Her coffin was brought to the island by a small aircraft from the mainland. Local men carried it along the beach and into a hearse.
The funeral service was led by the parish priest, Father John Paul MacKinnon.
In his introduction, Father MacKinnon said: ‘Eilidh was taken from us at such a young age – and we are hurting and in pain with the loss of Eilidh from our lives.’
He reminded mourners: ‘In 14 years, Eilidh packed a lot into her life – 14 happy years. That’s so important for us to remember today. Eilidh was a happy girl. She had 14 happy years and in the last few days of her life she was the happiest you could ever imagine.
‘The last thing in Eilidh’s life was happiness - she had spent a wonderful weekend away from the island, going shopping, going to nice cafes, going to the cinema and then going to her pop idol’s concert – Ariana – she was the happiest she had ever been – and that’s what we hold onto today: the happiness of Eilidh’s life.
‘Those memories of Eilidh will live on in all our hearts. Every year of her life was precious to us and we thank God for blessing us with her precious life.
‘The family have been overwhelmed by the great generosity and love that they have received ever since they lost their Eilidh.’
Eilidh’s grand-uncle Donald Manford moved the mourners, saying: ‘In contrast to the hate that took her life, Eilidh’s life was and now stands as a testament forever in the world of love, innocence, goodness, kindness and faith. We will look after each other – we will love one another.’
During the service the congregation heard a pipe recording of
Both Sides of the Tweed, played by Eilidh, who was a member of Sgoil Lioncleit Pipe Band. The Gaelic choir also sang. And as the mourners left, Ariana Grande’s song My Everything was played.
The congregation also prayed for Laura MacIntyre, who was seriously injured during the tragic events.
Father MacKinnon said: ‘We pray for Eilidh’s good friend Laura, who is in hospital in Manchester. We pray to our Lord Jesus to bring strength and healing to Laura in her recovery and to give strength and peace to her parents and family at this time.’
Prayers were offered for all those affected.
Father MacKinnon added: ‘We pray for all who have been affected by the Manchester attack; for all who have been injured, for all who have died, for all who feel pain and hurt. May the Lord Jesus unite us together as God’s children and help us all to live in God’s love and peace.’
Laura remains in hospital with ‘serious head and leg injuries’.
In the silence of the Isle of Vatersay graveyard, Eilidh was laid to rest.
Eilidh’s casket, draped in the Barra flag, is carried across the beach at the island airport.