Project Background

This is a summary of a proposed project to build a world-class visitor experience in Stornoway based on the unparalleled Iolaire tragedy of 1st January 1919. In the early morning of 1919, 201 men returning from the Great War perished on rocks outside the harbour entrance. The tragedy, of almost incomprehensible scale and unimaginable loss, is a story that has never been fully told or understood until now, some 100 years later.

While the proposed Iolaire Centre will recognise and commemorate those lost and those who survived, it will also seek to look to the future by creating a meaningful visitor experience in a dynamic cultural venue, attracting visitors from across the UK and the Hebridean diaspora from the wider world.

The Centre is an opportunity to attract visitors to the whole Outer Hebrides and create a catalyst for Stornoway’s wider vision to regenerate the town and its waterfront. The Centre will be an integral part of the Harbour Development plan which will stimulate and sustain the island economy for the long term.

Our vision for this world-class facility is to be one of Scotland’s top visitor attractions which will drive our economic growth and in doing so merge the promotion of Gaelic, our Hebridean culture and produce, our maritime history, to look back and commemorate but also to look forward with positivity and shape our own future.

Initial community consultation support is 93% for the project as initially presented. The project and the centre will belong to the community through a Charity which has been established.