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Marisa Macdonald from Point has been appointed to the emigration-themed Dileab 2023: The legacy project.

The 2023 edition of the Gaelic history project will pivot on the historic mass migrations of 1923 when the Outer Hebrides saw 600 of its young generation set sail for a new life in Canada aboard the SS Marloch and SS Metagama.

Apart from wars, the migration a century ago was one of the most profound demographic changes seen in the islands.

When the Metagama sailed from Stornoway on April 23, 1923, the ship contained 300 people, mostly from Lewis, with an average age of 22 – all but 20 were young men.

The Marloch had set sail for St John, New Brunswick, from Lochboisdale on April 15, 1923, with 300 men, women and children. This number represented at least 50 families from Barra, Eriskay and North and South Uist.

Marisa has been a weel-kent face in Gaelic, history, and drama circles for many years. She will be coordinating the work of Dileab 2023, which focuses on the Marloch and Metagama sailings and their impact on the Outer Hebrides.

Among the wide-ranging approach the project will take over the next 12 months will be developing links with local comunn eachdraidh and working with schools and Fèisean nan Gàidheal, through its formal education service, Fèisgoil.

Together with writers and storytellers, schools will be working on scripts to showcase in the early spring, with other creative practitioners brought on board by Fèisean nan Gàidheal, including visual artists and musicians, adding further artistic input for the children involved.

Evelyn Coull MacLeod, Gaelic Education Manager at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar said: “I am delighted to have Marisa MacDonald working on Dìleab 2023. Our schools are excited to be involved in the project. It is extremely important for our young people to know our history and reflect on what was a time of immense change across the islands.

“We want to explore those who left, where they went to, what lives they forged for themselves, and where are the wider diaspora of those who left now located.”

She added that the project would be looking to individuals within the community who are keen to promote and facilitate intergenerational learning. And Dileab would welcome contributions from those who have connections and stories about those who left to forge new lives for themselves.

Jasmine Wilkie from the Outer Hebrides Heritage Forum added: “Local community heritage organisations play a key role both in understanding significant historical events, such as the departure of these emigrant vessels, as well as in our education sector, linking our young people to their history.”