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Our Lady Star of the Sea

A picturesque church which stands prominently above the village of Castlebay in the south of Barra, Our Lady Star of the Sea lies on the lower slopes of Ben Leribreck, overlooking Kisimul Castle. This is the principal Roman Catholic church on the island (there are others at Craigston, Eoligarry and Northbay), all organised within the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. More than 70% of Barra's population follow the Roman Catholic faith.

Built of local gneiss with a traditional slate roof, the building was designed by Oban-based architect G. Woulfe Brenan and opened in 1888. The funds to build the church were bequeathed by a Castlebay merchant, Neil MacNeil. The entrance is under a three-stage square tower which forms part of the facade of the building, while a house for the priest lies behind. A bell and clock were added to this tower in 1891, the clock chimes on the hour both day and night. Stained glass was installed as a war memorial in the early 1950s. A statue of Our Lady is located nearby on the southern slopes of Heaval.

The funeral mass for 14-year-old Eilidh MacLeod was held here after she was murdered in the Manchester Arena terror attack of 2017.


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