Ui Church Past


3 land

Storm Damage

As many of you will know, the island endured some very severe weather during the week of 8th December. It was described as a “weather bomb”; whatever that actually means! It certainly included very high seas and storm force winds, the combination of which engulfed Ui Church (the attached photograph taken by Iain Mackay, Aignish)Ui Church during storm – and eroded the seawall immediately below the church – (see second photograph taken by Helen Macdonald) - as well as further towards Stornoway. Some bones from the old cemetery were exposed. These have been dealt with by Deborah Anderson, the Comhairle’s archaeologist. However the Urras has been left with serious problems due to the breaching of the seawall in several places so near the church.

The good news is that the sheet piling done in 2006 is performing well and holding the ground under the west chapel. The extensive work done in 2011/12 - stabilisation and consolidation of the ruin combined with the temporary roof to protect the graveslabs – has stood firm and there is no damage to the building in spite of the pounding it took.

However it is clear that the existing sheet piles are not long enough to prevent the sea getting round them. The path is washed away, the graveyard wall is more exposed and undermined Ui Church storm damagethan previously and several voids have appeared in the ground to the west of the west gable. We have received engineering reports recommending both interim and more permanent solutions and Urras Eaglais na h-Aoidhe is working together with the Stornoway Trust and Historic Scotland to decide the best way forward. All solutions obviously depend on sufficient funding being available.

I don’t know what the final decision will be – Historic Scotland will guide us through this, but I can assure you that everyone involved is very concerned about the future of Eaglais na h-Aoidhe and is doing everything possible to preserve it from being damaged by future storms. While we are quite hopeful that the current financial gap will be filled, there are so many seekers after public funding these days, that we cannot be certain of success and if any Friend can make any suggestion as to where we might make approach for additional help, could he or she please let us know. We have some funding in place already, but the last bit might be the most difficult to achieve.

I will let you know how things progress – it looks as though 2015 will be another busy year for us!




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