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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.
‘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”.’