The 100th anniversary of the Iolaire tragedy will be remembered in a special commemorative shinty match on the 1st of January 2019. Kinlochshiel Shinty Club will be the opposition as Camanachd Leodhais honour the 201 men who didn’t make it home on that fateful night. The historical significance of the match lies in the fact that the Iolaire left Kyle of Lochalsh, a town represented by Kinlochshiel, and that many of the Lewis men who served in the Great War were shinty players.
Camanachd Leodhais captain Ally Lamont said “As a club we are conscious that we represent the island and our community in everything we do. The unimaginable loss of the Iolaire tragedy can still be felt across our island and we feel that a shinty match, a sport which many of the Lewis men who went to war would have played, is a fitting way to honour their memory. We would like to thank Kinlochshiel Shinty Club for making the journey to Lewis and for their understanding of the importance of this event to our club and community.”
Neil Macrae, a Director of Kinlochshiel Shinty Club, welcomed the opportunity to honour those who never came home. “Kinlochshiel Shinty Club are pleased to participate in the Iolaire commemorations. Notwithstanding the fact the boat started her journey in Kyle, the tragedy took the lives of young men of shinty playing age from an island renowned for its sportsmen. This commemoration is a sobering reminder of how fragile life can be and how lucky our young men and women are to be able to play freely. We can only wonder how prominent shinty may have been on Lewis had these lads been given the chance to take up the game. We look forward to a sporting and respectful challenge with the present and growing Lewis Camanachd “
Respected shinty historian Dr Hugh Dan Maclennan explained how appropriate the match is. “The significance of Kyle of Lochalsh as a key part of the chain which has historically linked the Western Isles and the mainland will forever be overshadowed by the tragic events which began to unfold when the Iolaire set sail for Stornoway. There was, no doubt, an overwhelming sense of relief that the War and its traumas were being set aside; the impending celebration of a New Year and all that this entailed, with local shinty matches still fresh in the memory. The Iolaire changed the Western Isles forever. It is singularly appropriate, however, that the sportsmen of the West Coast and Lewis, and in particular the shinty players, are coming together to play their own distinctive part in marking the events 100 years ago. Shinty withered on the Western Isles with the passage of time and the cataclysmic events of WW1. The homecoming of men with their football and changed habits, along with other changes in community life saw to that. But now, with the fullness of time, the caman is again at the heart of the community, a symbol of the strength of its people, their resilience and a pride in its past.”
Norman A MacDonald, Chairman of The Iolaire Working Group commented “The Iolaire Working Group is pleased to support this shinty match as part of the wider commemorative events for the centenary of the Iolaire tragedy. Although not known to many, shinty was, of course, the sport played by many of the men at the time. We are very pleased and grateful to Camanachd Leòdhais and to our friends in Kinlochshiel for making the effort to organise this very fitting sporting event on the 1st of January 2019.”
The match will take place at 1.30 pm on January the 1st at Bayhead Playing Fields. Spectators are warmly welcomed.