Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan has written to Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Angus Robertson MSP, seeking a meeting over the future of Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra.
In a letter, Allan has asked when Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the carers of the castle since 2000, plans to reopen the castle, closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, to the public. The MSP has also submitted three written questions to the Scottish Government on the topic.
Kisimul Castle is the focal heritage site in Barra as a major tourist attraction and is of great economic, social and cultural significance for Barra residents and the Clan MacNeil more widely. At least two high-profile events are planned over the next two years in Castlebay: the Worldwide Gathering of the Clan MacNeil in August, 2022, and centenary commemorations of emigration to Canada in June, 2023. These events feature the castle prominently.
Alasdair Allan MSP commented:
“It is a pathetic situation for any country to be in, having a site as iconic as Kisimul Castle shut, with no clearly-stated prospect for reopening. It will be greatly disappointing, for example, if the property remains closed to visitors during the international gathering of the Clan MacNeil later this summer.
“Crucially, there needs to be a long-term plan put in place by HES for Kisimul Castle, something which I have been seeking for over a decade as the MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar. Unfortunately, even if the castle were to open tomorrow, it is likely that large areas of the site would remain closed, including the Great Hall, due to fears about falling masonry.
“I echo the worries of the castle’s owner, Macneil of Barra, and the wider community that one of the most recognisable properties in Scotland is falling into a dilapidated state under public custody. I have asked that the Cabinet Secretary meets with myself and other stakeholders to progress these matters.”