Iolaire Commemorative Sculpture Unveiled

03/01/2019

HRH Prince Charles, unveiled the new Iolaire sculpture to commemorate the centenary of the disaster at a special service on the morning of the 1st January. Commissioned by An Lanntair, the sculpture was created by artists, Will Maclean, Marian Leven and Arthur Watson.

Gael Force Group is honoured to have been in a position to support the creation of the sculpture which will serve to commemorate the fateful day on 1919 for many years to come.

The new installation overlooks the site of one of the most devastating peacetime tragedies in British maritime history, when HMY Iolaire foundered on the Beasts of Holm in the early hours of New Year’s Day 1919 with the loss of 201 lives. Most were returning service men and 179 came from the Isle of Lewis. The commissioned artists were Royal Scottish Academicians Will Maclean, Marian Leven and Arthur Watson. The installation features a bronze depiction of a coiled heaving line, which references the heroism of John Finlay Macleod who swam ashore with a rope to rescue 40 of the 79 men who were saved. It also includes a bronze wreath composed of maritime insignia and bears the names of all those lost and the communities they came from.

Powerhall Bronze Foundry produced the bronzes themselves, the stonework was carried out by Angus, Owen and Cedric Williams, the Caithness paving and plaque by Willie Mitchell and the carpentry by Andy Barvas. Special thanks also to the technical team at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for all they have done to lay the groundwork for the stone enclosure and prepare the site for the installation.

The project has been supported by the Gael Force Group and Stornoway Port Authority, whose contributions were matched by a large award from Arts & Business Scotland’s Culture & Business Fund Scotland, which aims to encourage active collaboration between businesses and the cultural sector by matching business sponsorship of cultural projects pound for pound.

Major donors were Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn, Horshader Community Trust, Point & Sandwick Trust and Tolsta Community Development. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has also been a key partner and supporter throughout the project. In addition, Stornoway Trust donated the beautiful wood for the benches.

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Iolaire Sculpture facing the Beasts of Holm - Photo credit: Jon Macleod/An Lanntair