'˜Special' Ariana Grande song at funeral for Manchester attack victim Eilidh MacLeod
A “special” Ariana Grande song was played at what was the first funeral held for a Manchester terror victim, who has been brought to her home in the Outer Hebrides.
The 14-year-old was among 22 people who died in the explosion at the Ariana Grande concert on Monday May 22, which left dozens injured.
Her friend Laura MacIntyre, a fellow pupil at Castlebay Community School on the island, was seriously injured in the bombing at Manchester Arena and remains in hospital.
The funeral began just before 11am on Monday at the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Castlebay, with about 1,000 people in attendance.
Eilidh’s dad Roddy led the coffin with a rope while extended family members took it in turns to carry the coffin at waist height.
A piper played as the procession walked up to the building.
Speakers were used so the mass could be heard by mourners outside the nearby Castlebay Hall.
Parish priest Father John Paul MacKinnon spoke of the “gifted” and “beautiful” teenager before saying songs which were special to Eilidh would be played before the ceremony .
Mourners stood in silence with heads bowed outside the church and in the town square as My Everything by Grande was played.
Her great-uncle Donald Manford then gave a tribute.
He said: “In contrast to the hate that took her life, Eilidh’s life was and now stands as a testament forever of the world of love, innocence, goodness, kindness and faith.
“We will look after each other, we will chase our dreams, we will love one another.”
Fr MacKinnon added: “Eilidh had such a warm gentle nature, a heart full of love. Our loss is certainly heaven’s gain.
“The last thing in Eilidh’s life was happiness - she had spent a wonderful weekend away from the island, going shopping, going to nice cafes, going to the cinema and then going to her pop idol’s concert - Ariana.
“She was the happiest she had ever been and that’s what we hold onto today - the happiness of Eilidh’s life.
“Those memories of Eilidh will live on in all our hearts. Every year of her life was precious to us and we thank God for blessing us with her precious life.”
Prayers were also said for Laura as she continues to be treated in hospital.
A recording of Eilidh, a talented musician, piping Both Sides the Tweed was played as mourners left the church while a choir sang over it in Gaelic.
Her father led the long procession with a white rope attached to the casket. Mother Marion and Eilidh’s two sisters followed holding another rope.
Police officers saluted as the coffin was carried down to the town square, which overlooks the shore and Kisimul Castle.
Scottish Government ministers Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Humza Yousaf, minister for transport and islands, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan attended the funeral.
They each shook hands with Mr MacLeod and hugged Mrs MacLeod when the coffin reached the hearse.
Businesses on the island were closed as a mark of respect and to allow staff to attend the funeral.
A large procession followed the hearse to Vatersay, an island connected by causeway where she was originally from, for her burial.
Flower arrangements saying “Daughter” and “Eilidh” were in the vehicle.
The route passed the teen’s school, where the green and white flag of Barra flew at half-mast.
After the service, the building was opened for mourners to gather.
Eilidh’s body was brought back to the island by a small chartered flight from Manchester on Sunday.
Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham sent a message and wreath of flowers