The progenitor of this clan is said to have settled in Barra in the 11th century. Neil Og, 6th chief, supported King Robert the Bruce during the War of Independence. The fortress of Kismull Castle was the home of the Chiefs. Roderick, 15th chief, was called "the turbulent", and was arrested for piracy against an English ship. He successfully defended himself. Barra was made a Crown Barony in 1688, and the 18th chief supported Claverhouse's campaign in 1689. The MacNeils of Barra supported the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745. Barra was sold by the 21st chief in 1838, but was repurchased by the present chief in 1938.