Highlands & Islands

Stornoway museum to display Iolaire tapestry panel

Iolaire panel from the Great Tapestry of Scotland Image copyright Alex Hewitt
Image caption The Iolaire panel from the Great Tapestry of Scotland

A panel from the Great Tapestry of Scotland depicting the Western Isles' Iolaire disaster of 1 January 1919 is to be displayed in on Lewis.

The naval yacht Iolaire was carrying home hundreds of sailors after the end of World War One.

The vessel was wrecked on a reef called the Beasts of Holm near Stornoway, and more than 200 men died.

An exhibition opening on 2 October in Stornoway's Museum nan Eilean will feature the panel.

Designed by artist Andrew Crummy and made by more than a thousand volunteers, the Great Tapestry of Scotland is composed of 160 hand stitched panels which depict the history of Scotland.

Parts of the tapestry have previously been exhibited in Benbecula.

'Hauntingly beautiful'

The panel commemorating the loss of the Iolaire was stitched during 2012 and 2013 in Harris and South Uist by Tracey MacLeod, Moira MacPherson, and Gillian Scott-Forest.

Nick Smith, heritage manager at local authority Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: "We are grateful to the Great Scottish Tapestry Trust for agreeing to loan this panel and for their support and assistance as the people of Lewis and Harris prepare to remember the centenary of the loss of the Iolaire."

Image copyright The Nicolson Institute
Image caption A part of commemorations, stones remembering victims will form a new Iolaire memorial

Jan Rutherford, of the trust, said: "The trustees were deeply moved to know that the Iolaire panel from The Great Tapestry of Scotland is to be displayed at the heart of this exhibition at Museum nan Eilean to commemorate the disaster.

"The work of the artist Andrew Crummy and the stitchers who created this hauntingly beautiful panel has brought the Iolaire back to the attention of an international audience who had perhaps lost sight of this moment in history over the years."

The loan of the panel forms part of a wider effort both this year and next to mark 100 years since the disaster.

Other acts of remembrance include stones being collected from the communities of each of the men who died.

The stones will be incorporated into a cairn forming part of a new memorial in Stornoway's Carn Gardens.

Seventy-nine men on the Iolaire were saved.

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