This article is about the island of Barra in Scotland. For other places of the same name, see Barra (disambiguation).

Barra (Eilean Bharraigh in Gaelic) is a mostly Roman Catholic island, and the southernmost inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. In the 2001 census its usually resident population was 1,172. The Clan MacNeil has strong ties to the Isle of Barra and can trace its lineage back to the O'Neils of Ulster (hence the red hand on the arms of the Chief) who came to Barra from Ireland around the year 1000.

Barra's main village is Castlebay (Bgh a'Chaisteil). The town is home to Kisimul Castle, hereditary seat of the MacNeil's, and the Dualchas Heritage and Cultural Centre. Barra is also linked by a causeway to Vatersay.(Eilean Bhatarsaigh).

Other places of interest on the island the Black House Museum, a ruined church and museum at Cille-Bharra, an Iron Age broch at Dun Chuidhir, Scurrival Point and beaches, most sandy.

Every summer, the Feis Barraigh brings the whole island together in a cultural festival.

Barra is abundant with stunning scenery, rare flowers and wildlife, which can be appreciated by coastal or hill walks, drives or cycle rides along the various small roads. Car and bicycle hire are available locally.

Getting to and from Barra

Barra's tiny airport is unique in Britain in that the runway is a beach (Cockle Strand). Planes can only land and take off at low tide meaning that the timetable varies. The beach is also a source of cockles.

Castlebay is the main ferry port from which ferries sail to Oban on the Scottish mainland and Lochboisdale on South Uist. A vehicular ferry also travels between Ceann a'Gharaidh on Eriskay and Ardmore (Aird Mhr) on Barra. The crossing takes around 40 minutes.

Apart from the ferries, boat trips to Mingulay and Eriskay are available during the season, and a small boat can take the visitor to Kisimul Castle.


Missing image
The flag of Barra

The Barra flag, a white Nordic cross on a green field, has the same traditional colours as Fionbarr, the saint from Ireland after whom Barra is named.

The flags of other Outer Hebridean islands, that of South Uist and Benbecula also contain the same shade of green. The arms of the Mac Neil clan, fundamental to Barra history, include the Red Hand of Ulster - yet another connection with Ireland.

The Nordic cross used on the flag is also used on other island flags of Scotland where the Norse left their mark: South Uist, Orkney, Shetland and possibly an echo of one in the flag of Lewis.

External links

Flags of the World - Hebrides (

Isle of Barra community website (


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