Highlands & Islands

Manchester attack: Funeral for Barra's Eilidh MacLeod

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Media captionEilidh MacLeod was among the 22 people killed in last month's attack

Family and friends of Manchester Arena attack victim Eilidh MacLeod have attended her funeral mass on her island home of Barra.

The 14-year-old was taken from her home to Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Castlebay, for the church service.

Eilidh's friend, Laura MacIntyre, 15, was injured in the terrorist attack which killed 22 people on 22 May.

Barra parish priest, Fr John Paul MacKinnon, said Eilidh "packed a lot of life into 14 happy years".

During the service, which could be heard from speakers set up outside the church, mourners stood in silence as the song My Everything by Ariana Grande was played.

Eilidh and Laura had seen the US singer's performance at the Manchester venue before it was attacked.

Near the entrance to Our Lady, Star of the Sea, was a floral tribute sent from Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, and Manchester's mayor Andy Burnham.

Image copyright Eilidh MacLeod Family
Image caption Eilidh MacLeod was among the 22 people killed in last month's attack
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mourners followed Eilidh's coffin to the church for the funeral mass
Image copyright PA
Image caption A Police Scotland officer lays a floral tribute, sent from Manchester, at the entrance to the church on Barra

In a message on the wreath, the senior officer and Mr Burnham said: "We may not have known you, but you will forever be in the hearts and thoughts of all at Greater Manchester Police and the people of Manchester."

Scottish government ministers - including Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Humza Yousaf MSP and Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan - attended the service.

Eilidh's body was flown home on Sunday, arriving in a plane that landed on the island's beach runway.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mourners gathered at the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea
Image copyright PA
Image caption Eilidh's family and friends leave for the journey to Vatersay for her burial

The teenager and her friend Laura, both from the Castlebay Community School in Castlebay, Barra, were attending the Grande concert with thousands of other pop music fans.

The pair had travelled to Manchester for the event with members of their family. Laura is still receiving treatment in hospital.

Eilidh's family confirmed she had died in the days following the attack.


Image copyright Eilidh MacLeod Family

Eilidh's last pipe tunes

Eilidh was a piper with Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band.

Band members attended her funeral mass and played four tunes in her honour.

The band's Donald MacDonald said: "These were the last tunes that Eilidh played on the pipes on the day before she went to the concert.

"They are The Sweet Maid of Glendaruel, The Piper's Cave, Pipe Major Willie Ross and The Atholl and Breadalbane Gathering."

Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band will play the tunes again at the European Pipe Band Championships in Forres later this month.


In his to introduction to the funeral mass, Fr MacKinnon said: "Eilidh packed a lot into her 14 years. Fourteen happy years.

"That's so important for us to remember today- Eilidh was a happy girl, she had 14 happy years and in the last few days of her life she was the happiest you could ever imagine.

"The last thing in Eilidh's life was happiness. 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.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A piper led a procession along Traigh Mhor beach in Barra on Sunday

"Those memories of Eilidh will live on in all our hearts. Every year of her life was precious to us and we thank God for blessing us with her precious life."

Fr MacKinnon also asked the congregation to pray for Eilidh's friend Laura and others affected by the attack.

He said: "We pray for Eilidh's good friend Laura, who is in hospital in Manchester, we pray to our Lord Jesus to bring strength and healing to Laura in her recovery and to give strength and peace to her parents and family at this time."

'Chase our dreams'

After the song My Everything was played, Eilidh's great-uncle Donald Manford gave a tribute.

He 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.

"We will look after each other, we will chase our dreams, we will love one another."

Ahead of the service, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "I know that everyone in Scotland will join me in sending our heartfelt sympathy to Eilidh's family and friends ahead of what will be the most difficult day imaginable.

"Everything that I've heard, seen or read about Eilidh shows that she was a vivacious, fun-loving young woman with a bright future ahead of her, and I know that the community on Barra will pay her a fitting tribute. Her family are in my thoughts."

Image copyright Laura MacIntyre Family
Image caption Prayers were said for Laura MacIntyre who was injured in the attack

Eilidh was a piper with Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band.

The band's Donald Macdonald said: "Eilidh was very much a big part of the pipe band.

"She was so committed. Always practising. Always giving her best."

He added: "She was the perfect pupil. She always gave her best. She always gave 100%."

Businesses on the island have shut for the whole of Monday or a number of hours as a mark of respect and to allow staff to attend the funeral.

A large procession followed the hearse as it carried Eilidh's body from the church to Vatersay, an island connected by a causeway where she is originally from, for her burial.

'Loving sister'

On the arrival of the plane carrying Eilidh's body at Traigh Mhor beach runway on Sunday, Barra's parish priest Fr John Paul MacKinnon performed a blessing over the casket.

A procession of six firefighters and two other groups of men carried the coffin across the sand to the hearse.

A crowd of about 50 people were at the airport to observe the ceremony and about two dozen vehicles followed as the family made its way home to Castlebay.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Laura MacIntyre and Eilidh MacLeod had gone to Manchester with members of their families

Barra's community has been fundraising for the families of both victims.

Money is to be donated to Eilidh's favourite charity, Cobhair Bharraigh, a local home-based support service and day care centre.

In a statement released last month along with photographs from her childhood, Eilidh's parents, Roddy and Marion, described their daughter as "beautiful, popular and talented".

They said she was "a loving sister" who loved socialising with friends, and who had an "unsurpassed" love of music.

"Eilidh and Laura were so excited about going to the concert together but what should have been the perfect ending to a fantastic trip ended so tragically," they said.

"We continue to have Laura and her family in our thoughts and pray that she makes a full recovery.

Image copyright Eilidh MacLeod Family

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