Clan MacNeil of Barra

This is where I can talk about my Scottish Ancestry. You even get to see a photo of me in my kilt!

Richard in his kilt
Dancing with Grandma, December 2000

  • How high should the kilt be worn? The kilt should be worn such that, if the gentleman kneels (which a Scot only ever does when receiving a knighthood from the Queen, or when proposing marriage), the front of the kilt just touches the ground.
  • Is anything worn under the Kilt? The answer to that question is, of course, "No, Lassie, everything is in perfect working order."

  • The name Neill comes from the Scottish clan MacNeil of Barra.
  • We are the oldest Scottish Clan, and can trace our ancestry back to Niall of the Nine Hostages in Ireland in 379 A.D.
  • The motto, Vincere Vel More means "Conquer or Die."
  • The chief lives in Kisimul Castle on the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. Kisimul castle was commenced in around 1039 AD, but abandoned to the elements in 1838. Fortunately, it was restored by Robert Lister MacNeil, after he re-purchased the castle and most of the island in 1937.
  • The background to this page is a (de-saturated) form of the MacNeil tartan. [Tartans come in three varieties: The Modern form is produced using state-of-the-art dyes, and has vibrant colours. My kilt has the modern colours. The Ancient form is how a tartan would have looked when it was newly made, simulating the use of the original vegetable dyes for colour. The Weathered form is how the Ancient tartan would look by now, after ageing for several hundred years and becoming faded. Here are some samples.]
  • My particular branch of the family has the surname Neill rather than MacNeil. The Mac, which is optional (it simply means "Son of") was dropped as a consequence of political pressure exerted on the Scots by the English. The extra l was added by James Neil between the birth of his sons Thomas Neil in October 1818 and David Neill in June 1821. No doubt, this was because he wanted to distinguish our (clearly superior!) branch of the family from the rest of the MacNeils. Interestingly, the family bible, is labelled on the inside cover as "The Family Bible of Thomas Neill, born Saltcoats 10.11.1818".
  • My grandfather, Justin Bernard Maxwell Neill is the Clan Chieftain for Southern Africa. He was appointed in 1969 by Robert Lister MacNeil, 45th Chief of the Clan MacNeil.

  • Legend has it that every evening, the 35th Chief, Rory the Turbulent, would send a herald and trumpeter to the battlements of Kisimul to proclaim to each point of the compass: "Hear, oh ye people, and listen oh ye nations! The Great MacNeil of Barra having finished his meal, the princes of the world may dine!"
  • One rival clan chief, on hearing the MacNeils boasting about our long ancestry, commented, "I suppose you MacNeils must have been on the Ark." The reply was simple: "Nae, we had our own boat"
  • Apparently, the River Nile in Egypt is so named because a Clan member had a very large estate there a few hundred years ago. And hence "Nile" is a corruption of the name "Neil".
  • A recent study has shown that there are approximately three million descendents of Niall of the Nine Hostages.

  • An old family recipie, now published for the world: Lemon Meringue Pie (the sticky version!)
  • If you are really riveted by the above, you can read about my Family Tree.