Flannan Islands: Mysterious Disappearance

gyrtrash

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This is one of my favourite weird tales!

It's like a 'Mary Celeste', but happened on the remote islands west of the Hebrides at the beginning of the last century.

'Strange Islands.
The Flannan Islands have long been the focal point of many superstitions by the local people. Indeed there are reports of bizarre and complicated rituals and dialects adopted by visitors to the Seven Hunters in order to protect themselves while ashore there. They believed the islands were inhabited by spirits, 'little folk' and other mysterious and supernatural beings. Another report claims that St.Flannan drove out an inhabiting race of diminutive people when he built his chapel there, and small human bones and a skull have been found buried on the island of Eilean More. Claims have also been made by children of abductions by 'little people dressed in green' in these Hebridean Islands. '


Weird!...
Check out the story here;-

http://www.btinternet.com/~loonboy/para_eilean_more.html

http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/scotland/outerhebrides/ouh4.html

http://www.nlb.org.uk/historical/flannans.htm



:eek:
 

Mythopoeika

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David Raven said:
Another report claims that St.Flannan drove out an inhabiting race of diminutive people when he built his chapel there, and small human bones and a skull have been found buried on the island of Eilean More.
That's not very nice...how did he get to be a saint?
Sainted for ethnic cleansing...hmmm. :(
 

rossba1

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jus' gonnae no dae that.
 
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Re: Re: Flannan Islands - mysterious disappearance.

Mythopoeika said:
That's not very nice...how did he get to be a saint?
Sainted for ethnic cleansing...hmmm. :(
But then, aren't there a fair number of saints who've been beatified despite extremely dodgy histories?

(IIRC, e.g., St. Francis of Assissi -Homer Simpson's 'most overrated saint'- was really just some sort of smelly unkempt hobo who used to leap out of the bushes shouting foul-mouthed abuse at terrified passers-by. ...Or was that just a piss-take?)
 

gyrtrash

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I've often wondered why anyone would build a place of worship all the way out there. I know hermits favoured the remote islands for contemplation, but who's gonna want to row all that way to go to church on a sunday morning???!!!:D



And no theory has yet proved what happened to the lighthouse keepers. I favour the 'they went mad after eating dodgy bread' story...
 
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David Raven said:
And no theory has yet proved what happened to the lighthouse keepers. I favour the 'they went mad after eating dodgy bread' story...
That's turning into a bit of a weather balloonesque 'one size fits all' explanation, isn't it?
 

gyrtrash

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Inverurie Jones said:
That's turning into a bit of a weather balloonesque 'one size fits all' explanation, isn't it?
Yup! It's a (boring) idea that could feasabley account for what happened!

Really I'd like to think that the islands were populated by a race of tiny people, remnants of a little evolutionary off-shoot from the rest of humanity. Like, you know, the many sub-species of plants and animals that develop in isolation on remote islands.
Anyway, these people were discovered by the lighthouse keepers and, for reasons unknown, had to dispose of them!

Ok, that's my wild and fanciful theory!:p :D ;)


Which idea do you favour, IJ?
 
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I'd rather it were the little people. If it were, then there would be more to the world than here appears and maybe I wouldn't be so damned tired of it all any more.
I don't believe that, or the bread thing, but I think it was probably just a tragic accident.
 

rossba1

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werent the two lighthouse keepers in "chewin' the fat" meant to be those from flannan island? Driven to kill each other by constant tomfoolery. I dont know if it's just Scots that get to watch the show, thus making my previous post seem odd to everyone else.
On a darker note plenty of things can happen to 2 men isolated from the rest of civilisation. Madness, drowning or a fatal argument are probably not that hard to imagine.
 
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barndad said:
werent the two lighthouse keepers in "chewin' the fat" meant to be those from flannan island? Driven to kill each other by constant tomfoolery.
That did occur to me when I first saw that, but then I thought; 'Weren't there three of 'em?'
 

McAvennie

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Originally posted by barndad I dont know if it's just Scots that get to watch the show, thus making my previous post seem odd to everyone else.
It is on down here but seems to get a graveyard slot. Mishandled and abused in the nature of Naked Video :(
OHBC News!! LOL!
 

McAvennie

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Originally posted by David Raven
Claims have also been made by children of abductions by 'little people dressed in green' in these Hebridean Islands. '
LOL! That'll just be pissed up Tims!
 

gyrtrash

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Inverurie Jones said:
That did occur to me when I first saw that, but then I thought; 'Weren't there three of 'em?'
Yeah, if you check out the links:rolleyes: it tells ya!:D

(we don't get that programme down here in whippet-land! ):p


IJ - It was the little people!:)
 
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David Raven said:
Yeah, if you check out the links:rolleyes: it tells ya!:D

(we don't get that programme down here in whippet-land! ):p


IJ - It was the little people!:)
You hadn't posted the links when I first watched Chewin' the Fat, so nyeeer. I had to toddle up the stairs and get a book.
 

JamesWhitehead

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Probably my introduction to the world of Fortean tales. This was the
story featured on the cover of the Grey Arrow paperback called
Unsolved Mysteries. In keeping with paperback custom, the
design heightened the mystery more than somewhat by depicting
strange faces in the clouds glowering over the mysterious lighthouse!

It was one of those things you don't like to look at, when you are ten.
Yet somehow there is an urge to read the book, if only to try to exorcise
the fear engendered by its cover! :eek:
 

GNC

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i think one of the volumes of Fortean Studies has a chapter on the Flannan Isles case. I first heard of it in a Scottish children's educational TV programme many years ago.

Anyway, the bad weather blew them over the side of a cliff.
 

lopaka

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(Just came across this thread...)

FWIW, some other contexts this tale has been mentioned in include: the opera The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies, a song by Genesis :eek: (way back in their hippie-pychedelic days), and the noted poem by Wilfrid Wison Gibson (a portion of which is quoted in the Dr. Who episode 'Horror of Fang Rock' !)

While the "freak wave" explanation is most probably correct, there are a few oddities in the details that have helped it endure: The weather apparently did not noticably deteriorate until the day after they disappeared. The rules were very strict that only two men were ever to leave the tower at once. One man left with his oilskins still hanging inside.

Wonderfully creepy, atmospheric story.
 

McAvennie

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Just saw the tail end of a documentary about this today.

I favour the washed away by a big wave theory but certainly something mysterious about lighthouses and those that dwell in them.

Living in a house that is all stairs for starters! :shock:
 

rynner2

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On iPlayer, from R4:

But Found No Keepers: The Flannan Isle Lighthouse Mystery

On Boxing Day, 1900, The Hesperus arrives at Flannan Isle to relieve the lighthouse keepers. She sounds her steam whistle to alert the keepers but there is no response. The telegram from the captain reads 'managed to land Moore, who went up to the Station but found no Keepers there.' What the relief keeper did find was the lamp prepared, the washing up done, but the clock stopped, the fires out and the last entry in the diary dated 15th December. The three lighthouse keepers had vanished.

The mystery of their disappearance has fascinated people ever since - not least artists. Wilfrid Gibson, a friend of Robert Frost and Edward Thomas, wrote an atmospheric poem on the subject, published in 1912, that intrigued the public of the day. Peter Maxwell Davies has written an opera, there's a song by Genesis and an episode of Dr Who all based on the mystery.

The poet Kenneth Steven visits Flannan and relates what he sees there to Wilfrid Gibson's poem. Using the original reports - the telegram giving the first news, a letter written two days later by Joseph Moore, the official report by the lighthouse superintendent - with archive recordings and expert opinion, he pieces together what happened, and interweaves all these elements with the wind, the waves, and the silence of the deserted isle.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00t870y
 

SHAYBARSABE

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gyrtrash said:
'Strange Islands.
The Flannan Islands
Just took a look around using street view on Google maps. I can see why people might get a bit strange out there, especially during winter. Wow. Beautiful scenery, but very lonely.
 

GNC

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rynner2 said:
On iPlayer, from R4:

But Found No Keepers: The Flannan Isle Lighthouse Mystery
Thanks for that, very interesting. Sounds as if the poet Gibson was inspired as much by the story of the Mary Celeste as he was by the facts of what really happened on the island. Good to hear his poem in its entirety too, very atmospheric, I remember it from school.
 

Peripart

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SHAYBARSABE said:
Just took a look around using street view on Google maps. I can see why people might get a bit strange out there, especially during winter. Wow. Beautiful scenery, but very lonely.
Not many streets on the Flannans, but you made me look nonetheless!

I am surprised, though, that the "mainland" Outer Hebrides are covered by Streetview, and as you say, it gives a good feel of the type of scenery to be found there.
 

AngelAlice

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I do love this story. Just ambiguous enough to keep you speculatiing.

Made me wonder - do we have a general thread for 'weird disappearances'? I did a half-assed kind of search but couldn't find anything.
 
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