The Darkest Dawn author Malcolm Macdonald’s book signing event in Point yesterday afternoon (Monday December 17th) was a great success, with staff from Buth an Rubha having to rush out to get extra copies to keep up with demand.

People who had bought the book on the Iolaire tragedy queued for the author's signature and commemorative inscriptions as it emerged that publishers Acair are looking at doing a third print run in January, because of demand.

Malcolm was signing books in Café Roo in the Old Knock School which also includes Buth an Rubha in an event organised by the cafe in partnership with Point and Sandwick Trust, which had sponsored the book by giving Acair £10,000 towards the additional costs of printing such a high-quality hardback.

The event was publicised at the weekend, along with the information that there were still a few copies of the book available in the Buth an Rubha shop.

And it ended up selling around 40 of the books on Monday alone, with staff having to go to Acair in Seaforth Road, Stornoway, for additional copies after running out.

The event was late starting as Malcolm had been unable to return from Inverness during the morning because of ferry cancellations caused by the weather and instead it was arranged for him to fly back in order to avoid disappointment for would-be purchasers and readers.

Malcolm, who co-authored the book with the late Donald John Macleod, has been somewhat overwhelmed by the interest in the book – he even had an interview request from Radio New Zealand – but was delighted to see so many in Café Roo - by the time he arrived, almost every seat was taken by people waiting for the book-signing. “Considering the weather, I was astounded by the turnout and delighted. Surprised and delighted. I knew so many people.”

Malcolm, who chairs Stornoway Historical Society, was struck by everyone’s reaction to the book. “They were all saying it was a wonderful book, ‘you must have worked for many years on it’ – words to that effect – and they were all saying that lots of the books were for Christmas presents. Relatives were saying, ‘if you’re going to buy me anything, buy me the Iolaire book for Christmas’.” 

The Darkest Dawn, the product of more than 20 years of research, was published on November 1 and Acair had to do a second print run just two weeks later, with a third now on the cards. 

Norman Mackenzie, who chairs Point and Sandwick Trust, said it had been “a really worthwhile project”. , Donald John MacSween, General Manager of Point and Sandwick Trust, was delighted Malcolm had been able to find the time to come to Point for the signing event, given the number of requests he has had for interviews and personal appearances.

The community wind farm charity has been involved in a number of Iolaire-related events this year, including the Sandwick Hall Exhibition, the new Iolaire memorial sculpture and the tree planting at the Lewis War Memorial.

Malcolm now has speaking engagements lined up on the mainland from January up to August.