Io­laire story is 200 tales of in­di­vid­ual tragedy

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE -

More than 200 lives were lost when HMY Io­laire hit rocks at the Beasts of Holm on Jan­uary 1 1919, in a tragedy that cut so deeply it was not pub­licly dis­cussed by is­lan­ders for decades.

Now a per­for­mance us­ing doc­u­ments, poetry and mu­sic re­lat­ing to the sur­vivors and men who per­ished is tak­ing place at An Lan­ntair in Stornoway tonight and to­mor­row.

Ahead of the 100th an­niver­sary this New Year, mu­si­cal duo Dun­can Chisholm and Julie Fowlis have been ex­ten­sively re­search­ing the lives of all on board the Io­laire on that tragic night and have com­piled a 90-minute show to tell the story of the tragedy through the men who ex­pe­ri­enced it.

Miss Fowlis said: “When we started the re­search, one of the best pieces of ad­vice we got was to let the men who sur­vived tell the story rather than us.

“When you start to break down one in­di­vid­ual story and then an­other in­di­vid­ual story, you can start to feel the sense of loss and to a small com­mu­nity it is un­think­able that that could hap­pen.”

A pi­ano and string quar­tet will join the mu­si­cians in the show en­ti­tled An Treas Suaile, The Third Wave. The ti­tle is a ref­er­ence to the story of John MacLeod, who waited for the third wave of a swell to carry him to shore to se­cure a rope from the ves­sel to land, which in turn saved the lives of many on board.

Mr Chisholm said: “Ul­ti­mately it is a tragic tale al­ready, but made more so by the time of year and the prox­im­ity to home. It was on peo­ple’s doorsteps.

“If you were go­ing to tell the story of the Io­laire prop­erly you’d be telling 280 sto­ries.” The event has sold out for both nights.

Fur­ther per­for­mances are to take place in Glas­gow on Jan­uary 24, and in In­ver­ness on Jan­uary 27.

HMY Io­laire hit rocks on Jan­uary 1 1919

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