Iorram (Boat Song) (2021)

  • Documentary, Scotland
  • 1h 36m

Iorram (Boat Song) will be part of Screen Machine’s upcoming tour starting on Monday 17th May. Click here to see if it will be screening in your area. We can’t guarantee it will be shown everywhere.

The first cinema documentary entirely in Scottish Gaelic, ​Iorram (Boat Song) is a lyrical portrait of life in the fishing communities on the Western Isles, past and present.

Director Alastair Cole takes the audience on an immersive journey into the heart of a thousand-year-old community, blending archive sound recordings with contemporary visuals shot over the past three years, set to an original score by acclaimed folk musician Aidan O’Rourke.

At the core of the film is an extraordinary trove of sound archive, recorded by pioneering Scottish ethnographers in the mid-20​th​ century, who visited the Western Isles to capture the hardship and romance of life lived in precarious balance with the sea. These newly restored recordings preserve an oral history of lore and legends, tall tales and tragedies, passed down through generations of Gaelic speakers reaching back hundreds of years.

This soundtrack from the past is accompanied by images of the working rhythm of the islands today, on land and on water. The tough realities of fishing and gutting in all weathers and seasons co-exist alongside superstitions and visions of mermaids, faerie folk and mysterious vanishing islands.

Also available to watch in Gaelic with Gaelic subtitles, plus bonus content described below. To access these, click the rental button above. Once the film has loaded you can will be able to switch version and watch the bonus content.

“It’s less a documentary, more like unearthed treasure.” Radio Times

“An expressive doc blending oral history, folk song and seascape to celebrate a vibrant but endangered culture.” The Skinny


Alastair Cole


Scottish Gaelic



Bonus Content

Iorram (Boat Song) - Gaelic with Gaelic Subtitles
1h 36m

Watch the film in Gaelic with Gaelic subtitles.

Making Of - Director's Commentary

Director Alastair Cole on the making of Iorram (Boat Song).

Q&A with composer Aidan O'Rourke
Q&A with Dr Magnus Course

Discussion with Dr Magnus Course and director Alastair Cole about the research underpinning Iorram on the relationship between Scottish Gaelic and the fishing communities of the Outer Hebrides.