The village of Castlebay (Scottish Gaelic: Bàgh a' Chaisteil) is the main village on the Isle 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, as well as nearby islands such as Vatersay.
The Catholic church in Castlebay, 'The Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea', was built in 1886 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.
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. There is also a timetabled ferry running between Mallig
and Castlebay during the summer months.
The island's ringroad, the A888, connects Castlebay to the rest of the island by road.
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), meaning that with its Primary School division it caters for all ages of school children. In September 2007, the school received an OFSTED report heavily criticising the relationships amongst the secondary school's staff and management, but complimenting them in the primary school.
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 and tourist buildings. The centre of the village is also home to the only supermarket on the island, although a bigger supermarket is currently under construction towards the west of the town and is due for competition in late 2008. There are also several hotels in the village, and a Tourist Information.
Kisimul Castle is located approximately 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 current Laird, Iain MacNeil.