MacNeil of Barra

THE MacNeils of Barra and the McNeills of Gigha are Celtic, and according to some sennachies trace their common origin to Neil Og. Neil, the founder of the clan, lived about 1300. The earliest mention of a charter to a MacNeil of BarraΒ— named Gilleonan Β— is of date 1427. Gilleonan, the 9th of Barra, is on record in 1545. The Chapel of St. Barr was the burial-place of the MacNeils of Barra. In 1587 Queen Elizabeth complained that Roderick MacNeil of Barra had seized an English ship. Roderick did not appear at Edinburgh when summoned, but he was captured by MacKenzie of Kintail, and conveyed to Edinburgh. Barra was forfeited and given to Kintail. The superiority of Barra passed to Sir James MacDonald of Sleat until 1688. In 1650 MacNeil of Barra was among the “Scottish Colonells of Horsse.” In 1688 Roderick MacNeil, 14th of Barra, obtained a Crown charter of Barra, making it a free barony. Several MacNeils named Roderick succeeded. In 1840 Barra was sold to Colonel John Gordon of Cluny. The 45th Chief, Robert Lister MacNeil of Barra, recovered the island of Barra and Kismull Castle, the island fortress of the chiefs.