IT has had a rich and colourful past, and now Barra's Kisimul Castle seems set for an exciting future.
One of the most important surviving symbols of Gaelic Scotland, Kisimul was for centuries the clan seat of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from Niall of the Nine Hostages, great-grandfather of St Columba.
Now Macneils from across the globe have donated around £100,000 to help pay for major conservation, archaeological and interpretation work as part of a plan agreed between Historic Scotland and the 46th clan chief, Ian Roderick Macneil, who in 2000 had transferred responsibility for management and conservation of Kisimul to Historic Scotland. He died in 2010, but his son Rory, the 47th chief, will soon see an icon of Gaeldom given a new lease of life. The work will have a total investment of more than £200,000.
This is another reason for Gaels to be of good cheer - the 2011 census showed the number of Gaelic speakers in Scotland holding steady at around 58,000, stemming the rate of decline. And the fundraising effort is another indicator of the enduring hold that Scotland's Gaelic heritage has on the descendants of those who left these shores.
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