With their original homeland in Antrim, it is thought that the ancestors of the MacNeils made the sea crossing from Ireland to Argyll at some point in the fifth century and came to hold territory on Barra and, on the mainland, at Knapdale.
Their subsequent history is one of constant feuding with not only rival clans and even among themselves, but also clashes with the authorities.
Matters came to a head in 1585 when the MacNeils of Knapdale joined in battle with the Macdonalds against the MacNeils of Barra. Great slaughter ensued, with the Barra MacNeils emerging victorious after slaying 340 of their enemy.
This incurred the wrath of King James 1, who subsequently issued a series of harsh edicts against the Western clans in a bid to quash the internecine warfare, but to no avail as the feuding continued.
Shot through with high drama and intrigue, the saga of the MacNeils is recorded here.