Visit and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Castlebay, Na h-Eileanan Siar (Western Isles), is the chief town on the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. It has two hotels, a few shops, a large if rather austere 19th century Catholic church and, of course, a pier, which is designed to receive the steamships from the mainland three days a week; it is thus the gathering-place for the island. Castlebay has a life of its own, which visitors who are present upon Sundays or Holy Days of obligation will not easily forget. Castlebay must be one of the easiest places in Scotland in which to find congenial and casual conversation. All inhabitants speak English, though Gaelic is their native tongue.
More famous than the town itself is Kisimul Castle, immediately within the bay. The ancient piece of clan fortification, and later residence of the chiefs of the Clan MacNeil, lies upon a small, rocky island, scarcely 200 yds from the pier at Castlebay. This castle on a small island in the bay of a remote Atlantic island presents an appearance at once romantic, appealing, and slightly touching — touching because of its small size. it has recently also acquired a pleasingly domestic appearance. The more enthusiastic votaries of the Clan MacNeil maintain that Kisimul Castle has been in MacNeil hands for 1,000 years or more. Historians not bearing the name MacNeil have cast doubt upon this early date and prefer a slightly later one. More recent researches, however, do support a fairly early MacNeil occupation, probably in the early Middle Ages. From the late Middle Ages until about 120 years ago the chiefs of the Clan MacNeil inhabited Kisimul Castle. After the decline in the fortunes of the Highlands and Islands that took place at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries, the chiefs left their ancient castle and went across the seas to the Americas.
Just before the Second World War, however, Robert Lister MacNeil, a descendant of the chiefs of the MacNeils, returned from America, bought Kisimul Castle, and began to restore it. After the war, the reconstruction was completed, and in 1960 the castle-restorer and Chief held a gathering at Kisimul Castle at which he welcomed back MacNeils from all parts of the world. Moreover, Robert Lister MacNeil was an architect by profession and used his architectural skills to restore Kisimul Castle with taste and discretion as well as piety towards the past.
Nearby islands: Isle of Eriskay, Isle of Mull, Isle of Skye, Isle of South Uist
Nearby towns: Mallaig, Oban
Have you decided to visit or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a bed and breakfast (a B&B or b and b)
- a guesthouse
- a hotel (or motel)
- a self-catering establishment, or
- other accommodation