Neil Munro was born, an illegitimate son, in Inveraray , Argyll, to Ann Munro, a kitchen maid, on 3rd June 1863.
Shortly after his birth, Neil and his mother moved in with his grandmother Anne McArthur Munro who lived in a one-roomed house). Both ladies were native speakers of Gaelic and it is from them that the Neil received his knowledge of the old language and culture.
He was educated at the parish school in Inveraray which he left in 1877, having gained employment as clerk in a local lawyer’s office. Whilst working there he learned what Latin and taught himself shorthand.