Iolaire Monument

Sandwick, Isle Of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, HS2 0AE

Type:Monuments & Ruins

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Iolaire monument
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The Iolaire Monument is a memorial to those who perished on the HMY Iolaire which sunk on approach Stornoway in 1919.

HMY Iolaire, an Admiralty Yacht sank at the entrance of Stornoway harbour in the early morning, New Year’s Day, 1919.  280 Island servicemen were returning home from the Great War when the yacht struck a group of rocks a mile from safety in Stornoway Harbour and only a few yards offshore. 205 of the passengers perished of whom 181 were islanders.

It is hard to imagine the grief caused to the community after four years of war but the Scotsman newspaper came close in its report a few days later:

“The villages of Lewis are like places of the dead. The homes of the island are full of lamentation – grief that cannot be comforted. Scarcely a family has escaped the loss of a near blood relative. Many have had sorrow heaped upon sorrow.”

A subsequent Admiralty enquiry into the sinking was inconclusive, causing further distress to the Islanders and accusations of a whitewash by the authorities.

In 1958, this memorial was erected and also pillar marking the wreck. On the centenary in 2019, the nearby Iolaire Centenary Sculpture was commissioned to complement the present memorial. In Stornoway, 'Sheol an Iolaire/The Iolaire Sailed’ is Stornoway Port Authority’s  tribute to the Iolaire. The sculpture is an actual-size blueprint, 189 feet from stem to stern, with a 27 foot beam. It  shows the true size of the vessel and represent the number of crew and passengers on board as she sailed for Stornoway on 31 December 1918.

There is ample parking and there is a short walk to the memorial.


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