Sir Iain Noble Bt
Born 8 September 1935
Died 25 December 2010
Sir Iain Noble whose formal title was Third Baronet
of Ardkinglas and Eilean Iarmain, was a major
landowner on the Isle of Skye, a banker and businessman,
a hotelier and distillery owner and a passionate
activist on behalf of the Gaelic language. We
were honoured to have him as an active Honorary
President of the Royal Celtic Society.
courted controversy by admitting he was a “racialist” in that he wanted
to preserve the genetic purity of Skye by discouraging
incomers from England. “I don’t have
any English blood in my veins, a thing which I
am inordinately proud of”, he told a conference
Born in Berlin
where his father was a diplomat he inherited
the Baronetcy after his father’s
death in 1987.
He had most of his education in Buenos Aires after
his father was posted to Argentina, returning to
the UK to attend Eton and then University College
In 1969 he cofounded
the Merchant Bank Noble Grossart in Edinburgh
- it later became The Noble Group.
When he was bought out in 1972 he bought the 23,000
acre Elean Iarmain Estate on Skye where he also
purchased the Eilean Iarmain Hotel, now a popular,
upmarket romantic getaway for couples from around
the world and where Gaelic is the first language.
He also founded, in 1976, the “Gaelic Whisky
Company” which produces the award winning
malt Poit Dhubh and the blends Te Bheag and MacNaMara.
In all his ventures
Sir Iain practiced “positive
discrimination” on behalf of Gaelic speakers
and encouraged his staff to learn the language
including a Polish woman who is manager of his
Sir Iain was a former Trustee of the National
Museums of Scotland and as well as being President
of the Royal Celtic Society he was a past President
of the Saltire Society.
For the past ten years, after his retirement,
he was Chairman and Chief Executive of Sir Iain
Noble and Partners, Financial Advisers, Edinburgh.
Iain Noble was appointed OBE in 1988. He died
peacefully at his home in Isle Ornsay, Skye on
Christmas Day 2010 and is survived by his wife
of 20 years, Lucilla, Lady Noble.
More than 300 people fought their way through
blizzards to attend his funeral where Sir Iain
was buried in a private grave at his estate on
the Island. Before the internment a largely Gaelic
funeral service was held at Sabhal Mor Ostaig which
he had founded in 1972.
A memorial service was held at a packed Greyfriars
Kirk on 8 April 2011.