|OS grid reference||NF687004|
|Gaelic name||Barraigh, Eilean Bharraigh (help·info)|
|Meaning of name||Barr's island, after St Barr|
|Area and summit|
|Area||5,875 hectares (22.7 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||Heaval, 383 metres (1,257 ft)|
|Population rank||13 out of 101|
|Island group||Uists and Barra|
|Local Authority||Na h-Eileanan Siar|
Area and population ranks are for all Scottish islands and all inhabited Scottish islands respectively. Population data is from 2001 census.
The island of Barra (Scottish Gaelic: Barraigh, Eilean Bharraigh, pronounced [ˈparˠaj, ˈelan ˈvarˠaj]) is a predominantly Gaelic-speaking island, and apart from the adjacent island of Vatersay, to which it is connected by a causeway, is the southernmost inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides (Na h-Eileanan Siar) in Scotland.
The 2001 census showed that the resident population was 1,078 (1,172 including Vatersay). The area of Barra is roughly 60 square kilometres (23 sq mi), the main village being Castlebay (Bàgh a' Chaisteil).
Kisimul Castle at Castlebay is located on a rock in the bay, so giving the village its name. A smaller castle can be found in the middle of Loch St Clare on the west side of the Island in Tangasdale.
The highest elevation on the island is Heaval, halfway up which is "Our Lady of the Sea" a prominent white marble statue of the Madonna and Child which was erected in during the [Marian year] of 1956.
Other places of interest on the island include a ruined church and museum at Cille Bharra, a number of Iron Age brochs such as those at Dùn Chuidhir and An Dùn Bàn and a range of other Iron Age and later structures which have recently been excavated and recorded.
The Clan MacNeil has strong ties to the Isle of Barra and claims descent from the O'Neills of Ulster. The name Barra is thought to take its name either from Saint Finbarr, the founder of Cork, or from St. Barr, the great-grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the legendary 4th century king of Ireland.
The motto of the Clan MacNeil of Barra in Latin is Vincere Vel Mori or in Gaelic Buaidh no Bàs which translated is "Victory or Death" or "Conquer or Die".
Alexander, Lord of the Isles granted the island to the MacNeil clan in 1427. The clan held the island until 1838, when Roderick MacNeil, the 40th Chief of the Clan, sold the island to Colonel Gordon of Cluny. Gordon expelled most of the inhabitants in order to make way for sheep farming. The displaced islanders variously went to the Scottish mainland, Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and Canada. Barra was restored to MacNeil ownership in 1937 when the Barra estate, which encompassed most of the island, was bought by Robert MacNeil, an American architect, and 45th chief of the clan.
In 2003, the ownership of the Barra Estate was passed by the owner, Ian MacNeil, to the Scottish Government. The estate can be transferred to the inhabitants in the future if they request it. MacNeil, the 46th chief of the clan, who died in early 2010, had previously transferred Kisimul Castle to Historic Scotland in 2000.
In May 2007 Channel 4's Time Team came to the hamlet of Allasdale to investigate the exposed remains of Bronze Age burials and Iron Age roundhouses in sand dunes that had been previously uncovered by storms. The programme was broadcast on 20 January 2008.
Fèis Bharraigh & Barrafest - Air an Oir 
Fèis Bharraigh began in 1981 when an idea was spawned to promote, encourage, foster and develop the practice and study of the Gaelic language, literature, music, drama and culture in the Islands of Barra and Vatersay. Since its inception in 1981 it has gone on to become a movement, now with 42 other feisean taking place every year throughout Scotland.
Following on from the success, and subsequent end of BarraLive; In 2007, Fèis Bharraigh launched Barrafest - Air on Oir, a two-day festival of traditional and modern Scottish music held on Tangasdale machair, literally on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
Barrafest generally takes place on the last full weekend of July. Barrafest 2013 will take place on Friday 26 July, and Saturday 27 July.
The 1949 Ealing Studios comedy Whisky Galore! was filmed on Barra. The film is based on the novel Whisky Galore by Sir Compton Mackenzie, itself a fictionalised telling of the story of the SS Politician, which ran aground with a cargo of some 50,000 cases of whisky on board in 1941. Mackenzie, who lived near the airport and died in 1972, is buried in a grave marked by a simple cross at Cille Bharra cemetery, which is situated a little way up the hillside overlooking Eoligarry jetty. The sequel movie Rockets Galore! was also filmed in and around the island.
In the sitcom Dad's Army, Private Frazer claims to be from the Isle of Barra, which he often describes as "a wild and lonely place, y'unnerstand". Frazer is renowned for his "We're all doomed!" catchphrase. On one occasion, he relates how "a submarine was sunk in Castlebay and seven brave men were trapped. The water got higher and higher until it got to their necks. And then... terrible way to die!" The story meets with the disgust of his fellow platoon members.
Barra was also featured on the recent Channel 5 programme "Extraordinary people: The Boy Who Lived Before", where a young boy named Cameron, who lived in Glasgow, had memories of a past life on the island. In early 2011 the island was one of those featured in the new series of An Island Parish.
Barra is also regularly featured in various television programmes on the new BBC Gaelic Channel BBC Alba, and it was the location for the fifth and sixth series of the BBC Two documentary An Island Parish.
In 2008 the Barra RNLI Life Boat, Edna Windsor was featured on a series of stamps. The first class stamp shows the 17 metres (56 ft) Severn class lifeboat in action in the Sound of Berneray 20 kilometres (12 mi) south west of Barra in 3.5 metres (11 ft) swell with 30 kilometres per hour (16 kn) of wind.
Barra hosts an annual half-marathon called the Barrathon, which is part of the Western Isles Half Marathon series. This is accompanied by a shorter fun-run for families, and younger children. A number of fund-raising events are held around this, including ceilidhs and dances. There is an annual hill race, where participants run up Heaval (383 m) before returning to Castlebay Square. The fastest recorded time, set in 1987, is 26.25 minutes.
The Barra community holds an annual games on the island. The island golf club, Comunn Goilf Bharraidh, has a 9-hole course that is claimed to be the furthest west in the United Kingdom. However, this title may in fact be held by one of the courses near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland.
Barra's tiny airport, near Northbay, uses the beach called An Tràigh Mhòr (English: The Big Beach) as a runway. Planes can only land and take off at low tide meaning that the timetable varies. Voted the world's most stunning landing spot, Barra's airport is the only airport in the world to have scheduled flights landing on a beach. The aircraft currently in operation on Barra is the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, flown by Loganair on services to Glasgow and Benbecula from where connections to Stornoway are also available. There are usually flights every day of the week in the summer. The beach is also a source of cockles.
Ferries to Oban, Lochboisdale, Tiree and Eriskay are run by Caledonian MacBrayne. Castlebay is the main port from which ferries sail to Oban on the Scottish mainland, Tiree and Lochboisdale (Loch Baghasdail) in South Uist. The mainland crossing takes about 5 hours. A vehicular ferry travels between Ardmore (An Àird Mhòr) and Ceann a' Gharaidh in Eriskay (Èirisgeigh). The crossing takes around 40 minutes.
Industry & tourism 
Tourism provides the main income for the majority of islanders, the high season lasting from May to September. Thousands of people visit the island every year, the busiest times being during Fèis Bharraigh & BarraFest in July. In 2010 camping on the machair at the airport was banned due to erosion , this prompted crofters to provide areas on their crofts for visiting tourists. Boat trips to the neighbouring island of Mingulay are available during the summer season and island hopping plane trips are also available.
There is a planned Distillery to be built in Borve, on the west side of the island. The Isle of Barra Distillery (trading as Uisge Betha nan Eilean Ltd) has now installed two Proven 6 kW wind turbines next to the reservoir Loch Uisge which originally supplied the drinking water to Castlebay. It is proposed that as much of the necessary resources to produce the Whisky should come from the Barra or the surrounding islands, with only the bare minimum necessary being imported from outside the islands economy.
See also 
- List of places in the Western Isles
- Flora MacNeil (b. 1928) Scottish Gaelic vocalist and Barra native.
- Mick MacNeil (b.1958, Barra) Simple Minds keyboardist 1978-1990.
- General Register Office for Scotland (28 November 2003) Scotland's Census 2001 – Occasional Paper No 10: Statistics for Inhabited Islands. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. pp. pp 218–222. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
- Ordnance Survey
- "MacNeill of Barra History". ScotClans. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
- Ross, John (6 September 2003). "A gift to Scotland - the isle of Barra". The Scotsman. Retrieved 4 November 2007.
- "Barra, Western Isles". Time Team. Archived from the original on 23 January 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
- "Dualchas". Comunn Eachdraidh Bharraidh agus Bhatarsaidh. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
- "Whisky Galore!". screenonline.org.uk. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
- "Grave of Compton MacKenzie, Eolaigearraidh, Barra" Photograph NF 7007. Geograph. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
- Rockets Galore! at the Internet Movie Database Retrieved 4 April 2010.
- An Island Parish (Series 5) « Tiger Aspect
- BBC - BBC Two Programmes - An Island Parish, Series 5, Getting to Know You
- "Set of stamps honours the courage of Britain’s lifeboatmen and coastguards". London: The Times. 13 March 2008. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
- "Royal Mail Stamps 'Mayday - Rescue at Sea'". news.hmmm-uk.com. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
- "Barrathon". barrathon.org.uk. Retrieved 29 March 2008.
- Madden, Richard (24 Mar 2009). "Kayaking in the Outer Hebrides". The Telegraph.
- Joly, Dom (Monday 18 January 2010). "The shocking truth about golf on Barra". The Independent.
- "Barra airport is world's most scenic". BBC News.
- "Barra Airport". Highlands and Islands Airports Limited. Archived from the original on 22 March 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2009.
- "Barra". Caledonian MacBrayne. Archived from the original on 26 November 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2009.[dead link]
- Cramb, Auslan (05 Dec 2008). "What makes Barra the best village in Britain?". The Independent.
- "Isle of Barra Distillery Location". Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- "Isle of Barra Distillery". Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- "Isle of Barra Distillery Wind Turbines Installed on Site". Retrieved 24 March 2013.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Barra.|
- Barra travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Explore the Isle of Barra
- Isle of Barra community website
- Barra Distillery
- Ferry Operator Caledonian MacBrayne
- Encyclopaedia Britannica, Barra
- Barra weather
- National Library of Scotland: Scottish Screen Archive (1950s archive film about the island of Barra)
- Island Priest tears strip off agency for nude surfers stunt Guardian 04-03-2008