Garyvard cemetery, Isle of Lewis

Gearraidh means fertile land and Gearraidh a’ Bhàird (Garyvard) suggests it could be the fertile land of the bard. Whereas on the shore the place name is Gaelic in origin the sea loch isn’t. Loch Erisort is derived from the Old Norse Eiríksfjorðr (Eric’s fjord).

Just looking at the graveyard of the small settlement outside of Balallan tells all about the past on the Isle of Lewis, the Gaelic speaking inhabitants and the Norse invasions and consequent rule that lasted until the 13th century. The Isle of Lewis belonged to Norway for centuries.

The disaster of the Iolaire (1st January 1919) left no obvious trace in the graveyard even though two men from this small settlement died in it. One was the 26-year old deckhand Alexander Macleod, the other was Angus Montgomery, he drowned at the age of 44 and lies buried in Old Laxay. His young neighbour from Garyvard was never found in the waters outside Stornoway.

Garyvard casualties in the Iolaire disaster

 

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