Visualising the Iolaire is an AHRC Living Legacies  1914-18 project.  

Living Legacies 1914-18 provides communities with access to information, expertise and support for projects that explore the impacts that World War One had in Britain and Ireland, and the war's continuing legacies today.

Visualising the Iolaire maps the tragedy of HMY Iolaire, which was returning sailors to the Western Isles from fighting in World War 1 when it foundered on rocks and sank on New Year’s Day 1919. The final death toll was ~201, of whom 181 were from the islands, devastating the island communities on both Lewis and Harris. Recent research by Malcolm Macdonald & Donald John MacLeod published in The Darkest Dawn: The Story of the Iolaire Tragedy ( suggests that the death toll was actually 201 and 79 survivors. The total figure of 205 came from the Iolaire memorial which was a ‘best estimate’ at the time it was created.  

To mark the 100th anniversary of this tragedy, researchers from Abertay University and the University of the Highlands and Islands have developed an online application that provides a virtual map of the disaster. It details those that died, identifies the communities directly and indirectly impacted, while also documenting how people have been memorialised on the island.

Visualising the Iolaire uses your mouse as the primary input device:

- Use the mouse to navigate and left click to select

- Use the scroll wheel to zoom

You can move between three periods - before, during and after the tragedy - by clicking on the bar at the bottom of the screen - this shifts between the layers to give different information on the disaster. 

To see the full impact of the Iolaire you can toggle all casualties by pressing 'Alt' on your keyboard while viewing casualties. You can select a name from the list to view more information about that person.