Local News Update for Monday 5th June 2017
Eilidh at rest at her island home
Barra teenager Eilidh Macleod has been laid to rest in the churchyard at Vatersay, where she grew up for the first 12 years of her short life. 14-year-old Eilidh died two weeks ago in the Manchester arena bombing, where her friend Laura Macintyre was also seriously injured.
Eilidh’s funeral today at the church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Castlebay was attended by over 1,000 people, including government ministers, police and local authority representatives, schoolfriends and fellow musicians. Eilidh’s casket was carried to the church by family members, led by her father Roddy Macleod, followed by her mother Marion and two sisters, and preceded by a lone piper. A requiem mass for the repose of her soul was then said by parish priest and family friend Father John Paul Mackinnon.
Music formed a strong feature of the commemorations this morning. Ariana Grande’s song ‘My Everything’ was played outside the church, and Eilidh’s own piping was heard as a recording of ‘Both Sides the Tweed’ was played, accompanied by a Gaelic choir. Speakers relayed the proceedings to mourners outside and at the nearby Castlebay Hall.
Among many tributes paid, Eilidh’s great-uncle Donald Manford said: "In contrast to the hate that took her life, Eilidh's life was and now stands as a testament forever of the world of love, innocence, goodness, kindness and faith”. Father MacKinnon spoke of Eilidh’s ‘warm gentle nature and a heart full of love’. He said “Our loss is certainly heaven's gain.” He went on to reassure mourners that Eilidh’s last days were some of the happiest of her life. He said: “She had spent a wonderful weekend away from the island, going shopping, going to nice cafes, going to the cinema and then going to her pop idol's concert - Ariana. She was the happiest she had ever been and that's what we hold onto today - the happiness of Eilidh's life.”
After the mass, Eilidh’s father led the long procession down to the town square, and Police officers saluted as the coffin passed. Scottish Government Ministers John Swinney, Humza Yousaf, and islands MSP Alasdair Allan shook hands with Mr MacLeod and hugged Mrs MacLeod when the coffin reached the hearse. The large procession then followed Eilidh’s casket to Vatersay, for her burial, passing Castlebay Community School, where the green and white flag of Barra flew at half-mast.
Speaking before the funeral today, Eilidh’s parents Roddy and Marion emphasised the importance of seeing their daughter come home to the island at last. In a statement released through Greater Manchester Police, they said:: "Two weeks ago today we lost our darling daughter and sister, Eilidh MacLeod, in one of the cruellest ways possible. Most of Eilidh's happiest times were spent in the Western Isles, particularly Barra and Vatersay, with her friends and family, so we are pleased to have her back home among those she loved so much. Eilidh's infectious personality touched everyone she met and it has been a privilege and an honour to have her as our daughter. We will always remember her as a truly beautiful girl inside and out, eternally young, loved by all and forever in our hearts."