A memorial service is planned at the Iolaire memorial at Holm for Wednesday, New Year’s Day 2020, at 2pm.

But forecast strong winds and rain have put a question mark over the event, which will require participants standing in the exposed spot in south-westerly gales.

The memorial service has been planned by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar as a continuation of memorial events surrounding the centenary of the Iolaire disaster, which took place in the early hours of January 1st 1919.

Rev James Maciver of Stornoway Free Church is to conduct the memorial service, predominantly in English, with one Gaelic psalm to be sung.

The road up to the memorial will be closed, while a shuttle bus has been organised to take participants from the car park at Sandwickhill School up to the start of the new footpath which leads to the memorial.

Rev Maciver told welovestornoway.com: “We would be very happy if this could become an annual commemoration, especially because of the benefits to the community which we saw arising from the events last year.

“A lot of younger people came to understand and appreciate the importance of the anniversary and the meaning of the tragedy to our community. There were also people who discovered that they had relatives who were involved in the disaster, and there are still some older people left in the villages who had direct contact with families affected a century ago.

“Those people found the commemorations very helpful. It helped them to come to terms with what happened and involvement with the events offered a way to express their sense of loss.”

Rev Maciver also paid tribute to the 100 portraits of Iolaire men created by artist Margaret Ferguson, which, he said, had helped some people to grieve for lost relatives or to appreciate the role their ancestors played in the tragedy.

Dr Ferguson has herself published a list of locations in which some of these portraits can now be viewed. She said: “I'm happy to say that the Iolaire 100 portraits are exhibited again around the island, particularly as we approach the 101st anniversary in the next few days.” 

Lochs (including South Lochs) sailors are displayed in Kinloch Historical Society (Comunn Eachdraidh Ceann na Loch) in Balallan. Tolsta, Back and Tong district portraits are on show in North Tolsta historical society.

Some Stornoway, Point and Harris sailors are at Stornoway Airport, while Bernera and Uig portraits are at Uig historical society, although this is currently closed until April.

In Ness district portraits are displayed at Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, North Dell while Westside portraits are shown at Horshader Community Development, Raebhat House, Shawbost.

The picture shows Margaret Ferguson with some of the Iolaire 100 portraits, hung at An Lanntair for the centenary exhibition.