On the morning of 8th July 1856, 39 men from the Balephuil area decided to go fishing. They went out in six small sailing boats, despite a warning of approaching bad weather by one man who decided not to go. Sure enough a storm began and the sailors could not get home. The boats were battered by the wind and waves, which broke masts, ripped sails and washed away oars. Five men from one boat were all lost to the waves and their boat, containing the dead body of one man, washed up on the neighbouring island of Coll. By some miracle, however, 33 men managed to make their way to the island of Islay, 40 miles to the southeast of Tiree, in only 3 boats. That’s 11 men per tiny boat in a storm! Sadly, though three of those men also died. A memorial cairn to the victims and survivors was erected in 2016 by descendents of the families.
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