Two Comhairle nan Eilean
Siar ferries, each chalking up over two decades of lifeline services
to Island communities, have now left their Island homes for pastures
new under different owners.
Eilean Na H-Oige and Eilean Bhearnaraigh have had a long and illustrious
history serving a generation of passengers in the Western Isles,
providing invaluable links for their rural destinations.
The "Eilean Bhearnaraigh" leaving Eriskay
Eilean Na H-Oige was the first RoRo vehicular ferry provided by
the Comhairle, coming into operation in 1980 on the Eriskay to Ludaig
service until the opening of the Eriskay Causeway in July 2001.
The vessel was then laid-up until she began operating as the first
vehicular ferry service across the Sound of Barra, from Ceann a
Gharaidh to Aird Mhor, in March 2002, where she was the primary
vessel on this route until April 2003, when a Caledonian MacBrayne
vessel took over.
Eilean Na H-Oige left Eriskay for the last time yesterday (14th
August) for Bere Island, Co Cork, where she will be owned by Bere
Island Ferries. On arrival at Bere Island she will immediately be
changed to the Bere Island colours of red and used to act as a liberty
boat for an American naval ship which is visiting the area to coincide
with the reopening of a renovated Martello tower. The vessel will
then operate as a ferry between Bere Island and nearby Castletownbere.
Eilean Bhearnaraigh came into service in 1982 to provide the first
vehicular link between Berneray and Otternish, North Uist, where
she served until the 1998 opening of the Berneray Causeway. She
was then used as a relief vessel for Eilean Na H-Oige during annual
docking and continued to make annual livestock runs to Boreray in
the Sound of Harris, transferring livestock for the Berneray crofters.
After her annual docking in 2002 she remained in Eriskay and served
as the secondary vessel for the Sound of Barra service.
The vessel is due to leave Eriskay on Saturday 16th August for
Papa Stronsay in Orkney. She has been purchased, incidentally, by
monks - the Transalpine Redemptorists Inc - to provide a link and
transport goods and materials for the building of Golgotha monastery.
Both Eilean Na H-Oige and Eilean Bhearnaraigh will continue to
provide their essential services in their new, and very different,
roles further afield. Their past passengers will no doubt wish them
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Tel: 01851 822622 (Work)
Tel: 01851 706412 (Home)
Tel: 07884 236103 (Mobile)