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Coordinates: 56°57′N 7°29′W / 56.95°N 7.49°W / 56.95; -7.49

Scottish Gaelic: Bàgh a' Chaisteil
Castlebay is located in Outer Hebrides
 Castlebay shown within the Outer Hebrides
Council area Na h-Eileanan Siar
Lieutenancy area Western Isles
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district HS9
Dialling code 01871
Police Scottish
Fire Scottish
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Na h-Eileanan an Iar
Scottish Parliament Na h-Eileanan an Iar
List of places

Castlebay (Scottish Gaelic: Bàgh a' Chaisteil) is the main village and a community council area on the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is located on the south coast of the island, and overlooks a bay in the Atlantic Ocean dominated by Kisimul Castle, as well as nearby islands such as Vatersay.


The Catholic church in Castlebay, 'The Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea', was opened in 1888 on a mound overlooking the town centre. It was designed by an architect from Oban, G. Woulfe Brenan, along with a house further down the slope for the priest to reside in. The northern gable of the Church features a stained glass window depicting the Crucifixion, whereas the southern gables depict Our Lady Star of the Sea. In recent times, the Church has undergone renovation works that were completed in early 2007.[1]


The village is home to one of the important transport hubs of the island - the main ferry terminal. Steam ferries were known to be travelling between Castlebay and Oban in the late 1800s, albeit with notorious travelling conditions. In the 1980s, a roll-on-roll-off car ferry terminal was finally built in Castlebay, allowing much larger ferries to arrive on Barra. Between 1989 and 1998, the MV Lord of the Isles travelled daily between Oban, Castlebay and Lochboisdale on the island of South Uist, sometimes stopping on the Isle of Mull. In 1998, the MV Clansman replaced the MV Lord of the Isles on the Oban-Castlebay-Lochboisdale run.

The island's ringroad, the A888, connects Castlebay to the rest of the island by road.


Castlebay village and the heights of Heaval, from Vatersay

The Castlebay Community School (Gaelic: Sgoil Bhàgh a’ Chaisteil), is located on the western side of Castlebay. It is the only source of secondary education on Barra. Since 2007, the school has had responsibility for the Castlebay preschool (both the English and the Gaelic Medium),[2] meaning that with its Primary School division it caters for all ages of school children. In September 2007, the school received an HMIE report heavily criticising the relationships amongst the secondary school's staff and management, but complimenting them in the primary school.[3]


Castlebay is home to the majority of shops on the island. The main street forms a square with the ferry terminal and the ring road, and features several grocery shops, a bank, post office, and tourist information centre. There is a larger supermarket now to the west of the village, having opened in October 2009. There are also several hotels in the village.

Kisimul Castle[edit]

Kisimul Castle, the ancient seat of Clan MacNeil

Kisimul Castle is located approximately 100 yards (100 m) away from the ferry terminal in the centre of the bay that Castlebay overlooks. It is the home of Clan MacNeil, but is currently under a thousand year lease to Historic Scotland from the MacNeil of Barra.

In the 2010 Channel 4 programme Dom Joly and the Black Island, Joly and Tintinologist Michael Farr identify Castlebay and Kisimul as the locations of Kiltoch and the Ben More Castle used as settings in The Adventures of Tintin comic The Black Island, although the scenes of reaching it by boat and exploring it on foot were filmed at Lochranza Castle on the Isle of Arran.


  1. ^ "The Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea". Roman Catholic Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. Retrieved 1/3/13. 
  2. ^ "Sgoil Bhàgh a’ Chaisteil" Castlebay Community School. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  3. ^ Castlebay Community School (2008) (pdf) HM Inspectorate of Education. Retrieved 11 September 2008.