The Vanishing Lighthousemen of Eilean Mór

The lighthouse on Eileen Mor
The lighthouse on Eilean Mór

‘The Vanishing Lighthousemen of Eilean Mór’ is the last of three long research papers Mike wrote for Fortean Studies during the 1990s. Its subject is one of the more celebrated cases of ‘vanishing’, the disappearance, around Christmas 1900, of three light keepers on one of the desolate Flannan Islands off the west coast of the Hebrides.

The story became well known to generations of British schoolchildren thanks to the epic poem on the subject penned by WW Gibson, which strongly hints at a supernatural explanation for the men’s disappearance. Several writers of science fiction and popular mystery books later took up the suggestion and proposed more or less outlandish solutions of their own.

In fact, as Mike’s research quickly showed, the disappearance of the three men was more tragedy than mystery, and the true causes were known and understood very soon after the disaster. ‘The Vanishing Lighthousemen of Eilean Mór’ is an object lesson in the importance of going back to the primary sources rather than depending on unreliable secondary accounts.

First published in Fortean Studies 4 (1998).