The sight of a single coffin being carried across the sands of Barra led by a lone piper and 21 male mourners is the penultimate part of a very tragic journey for 14 years old Eilidh MacLeod. Her funeral yesterday was a very different affair as all of Barra accompanied by a recording of Ariana Grande turned out to say goodbye to someone who everyone on the Island will have known. Although I have never been to Barra, much to our disappointment as a family, we did visit neat neighbours Harris and Lewis in 2014. The nature of these two Islands that are physically connected is very different from one another. It is inevitable that Barra like Uist which separates the island from Harris will be very different in culture and geography to its many neighbours and yet there will be plenty of similarities. The death of Eilidh will have had a huge impact on all of these outer Hebrides Islands. They are used to tragedy, usually caused by the impact of the sea on travelers, but they have largely been untouched by terrorism. The beautiful Islands are places of great peace and security when it comes to the human interactions we observed during our short visit. If anyone wants to know something, they will know who on the Islands to ask, as we found out when my son was engaged in his study of Harris Tweed. We turned up with almost no plans or places to go and within 24 hours our 10 day holiday was mapped out with visits and meetings all arranged over breakfast at the Bed and Breakfast establishment we stayed at.
Rest in peace Eilidh MacLeod your whole life has been taken but you clearly were known and dearly loved by many 100’s of people whose lives your life and death has touched.