Funeral set for Macneil clan chief who taught Obama


By Michael MacLeod

A CLAN chief who taught law to US President Barack Obama will be laid to rest next week.

Funeral arrangements for Ian Macneil – who predicted a young Obama would be America’s first African American president – were confirmed last night (Thursday).

He died aged 89 on Tuesday in Edinburgh and will be buried on the Isle of Barra, where he was chief of the Clan Macneil.

He leased the family home, medieval Kisimul Castle, to Historic Scotland for 1,000 years for the sum of £1 a year and a bottle of whisky.

Among those expected at his funeral at the Isle’s Cueir Cemetery on Wednesday are his widow Nancy and their children Rory, Sandy and Jennie.

While Mr Macneil is widely acknowledged as the man who led President Obama to a law degree from Harvard University, locals on the Isle of Barra said the scholar was “genuinely very humble.”

Angus MacNeil, the Western Isles MP, said: “He told his wife that he had thought he had the first black president in his class.

“She just smiled, but he was a man of great foresight and a great talent spotter.

“At the same time he was genuinely very humble.

“He was a person who delighted in other people.

“He was active in the Barra community in protecting the island air service from proposed Scottish Executive cuts eight years ago.”

A funeral service will take place at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Barra’s Castlebrae at 11am on Wendesday, prior to Mr Macneil’s burial.

It is not yet known if the White House plans to send a representative.