View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Tuesday 17 May

Went from bad to worse, in terms of weather. As I type this, just after 5pm, it is raining persistently with the wind, currently at force 5, set to rise to a near-gale later this evening. Spent the afternoon looking into four of the witnesses who spoke at the Napier Enquiry in 1883. One of them died on the island of North Rona, 45 miles northeast of Lewis. Rona has been uninhabited since the 17th century, and when Murdo Mackay and Malcolm Macdonald went there in 1884 after a row with the minister, they were not to return. After winter, a crew of Ness men went to look for them, but only found their remains. Illness appears to have been the cause of death.

Queen Elizabeth has laid a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin. The Garden remembers those who gave their life in the struggle for Irish independence from British rule in the early decades of the 20th century. One of the incidents associated with that struggle has a distant echo in Lewis history. John Macaulay, a sailor from Islivig in Lewis washed up north of Dublin in 1918, after his ship was torpedoed in the Irish Sea. His funeral was conducted with full military honours, and it would have gone down in the history of Balrothery as an event of note - if it had not been for the fact that two years later, British soldiers sacked Balrothery for the alleged murder of a Royal Irish Constabulary officer in the town.