Grey Abbey is a ruined Cistercian priory in the village of Greyabbey. It was founded in 1193, by John de Courcy's wife, Affreca (daughter of Godred Olafsson, King of the Isles), as a daughter house of Holmcultram Abbey in Cumbria. It had declined by the late Middle Ages and was dissolved in 1541. It was burnt out by Brian O'Neill in 1572. It was granted to Sir Hugh Montgomery who re-roofed the abbey in 1626 and refurbished it for use as a parish church. It was used until 1778.
The remains consist of a church with cloister and surrounding buildings to the south. Entry is through an elaborate west door, into an aisleless nave, transepts with two chapels in each and a short chancel with tall lancet windows. The buildings around the cloister include an aisled chapter house and a refectory with reader's pulpit, although the west range and cloister walks have disappeared. Three buttresses on the south wall of the nave are part of a conservation programme carried out early in the 20th century. In the north wall of the choir is an effigy tomb which may be that of Affreca, while an armoured knight figure in the north transept may represent John de Courcy. There are also monuments dedicated to the Montgomery family from the 17th and 18th centuries.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.