Ailig Mackay and his son Calum, 15 Valtos

Alexander Mackay (Alasdair Dhomhnaill Aonghais) was born in 1868, a son of Donald and Annie nee Matheson, 18 Valtos.  He married Christina Maclennan 15 Valtos (Caristiona Chaluim Ille Mhoire) and after a period as cottars at 21 Valtos, Ailig became the third tenant of No. 15.  They had four children – Dolina, Ceit, Donald and Calum. 

Ailig served in the RNR and was on active service during the war.  He survived the sinking of HMS Hermes but was lost in 1917, at the age of 48, on SS Vedamore, an armed British Merchant steamer which was torpedoed by U-85 while en route between Baltimore and Liverpool.

Stornoway Gazette, March 2, 1917

VALTOS OBITUARY – Deep sorrow was felt by the Valtos inhabitants when the sad news of the death of Mr. Alexander MacKay, 18 Valtos, was received on Friday, the 16th ult. Mr. MacKay was a gunner on board H.M.S. ______ [SS Vedamore] and lost his life when that ship was sunk. He was serving on H.M.S. Hermes when that ship went down early in the war, but he got off safely on that occasion. Mr. MacKay was a man of integrity, to whom the poet’s line may well be applied:-

“An honest man’s the noblest work of God”.

He leaves behind a widow and four children, also an aged mother, who lived with him. The deepest sympathy of all who knew him goes out towards his relatives in their great sorrow.

Ailig’s younger son Calum, born 1911, also died while serving at sea, in 1942.   He too was a naval reservist and at the age of 31 lost his life during WW2 while serving on HMS Avenger, as did Neil Buchanan, 11 Brenish.

Stornoway Gazette, December 18, 1942

LOST ON ACTIVE SERVICE – It was with deep regret that the community learned that two West Uig lads have lost their lives on H.M.S Avenger. They are Neil Buchanan, son of Malcolm Buchanan, 11 Breanish, and Malcolm MacKay, son of the late Alexander MacKay, 24 Valtos [15 Valtos]. Buchanan has a brother serving with the Army. MacKay’s father gave his life in the last war.

Stornoway Gazette, January 13, 1943

UIG BOY LOST – It is with very deep regret we record the death, through enemy action of Malcolm MacKay (Calum a’ Ghreagain), at the age of 31 years. He was the youngest member of the family of the late Alexander MacKay and Mrs MacKay, 15 Valtos, Uig. His father also gave his life for king and country in the first World War. Calum was a naval reservist before the war and was called up at the outbreak of hostilities, being twelve months on foreign service before obtaining his first leave. Eventually he was transferred to another ship on which he served until the last fatal action. Calum was of a very jovial disposition and was a general favourite in the whole community. In pre-war years he took a great interest in the social activities of the district and was the originator of many entertainments, whereby the Valtos School district took a prominent position on the ‘chart of finance’ of the Lewis Hospital. The whole district is poorer for his passing. To his widowed mother, his brother and sisters at home and abroad, we extend our heartfelt sympathy in their sore bereavement.