On the morning of the 5th of March 1885, the fishing fleets of Ness set off in calm weather. But by afternoon, 15 miles out to sea, they found themselves caught in a terrible gale and made for home. The Ness harbour, due to a low tide and heavy seas was inaccessible, and so while some boats made for Broadbay some 20 miles distant, two rounded the Butt of Lewis seeking shelter on the west coast. As these two Eoropie boats made for land and watched helplessly by the villagers who came out to help bring them in, they were grounded one after another and their crews taken by the waves.
Each boat lost their six men to the sea, all twelve from the village of Eoropie. The body of one man, Angus Morrison of 36 Eoropie, was washed ashore, the rest were never recovered. All, as men of Ness, were able sailors and experienced fishermen.
One of those men was my Great Great Grandfather Angus Campbell (Aonghas Thormoid Dh’ll Chaluim) of 24 Eoropie aged 42. Another was his nephew aged just 25, also Angus Campbell (Bràthair Mhòraig), who resided at the croft at 25 Eoropie and was cousin to my Great Grandfather.
The loss, still keenly felt in the village today, has been marked by a new memorial beside the burial cairn of Angus Morrison and last Saturday a wreath was laid by my Granny’s cousin Donald Smith following a capacity service at Comunn Eachdraidh Nis.
While a blog like this is no place to tell of such a tragedy, there may be some value in providing the details for others to find.
” Is fheudar do chàirdean dealachadh. “
You can find more detailed photographs of the memorial and images of the newspaper reports at the time below.
(Thanks to cousin Lex for the images and information.)