The Tynecastle club had been transparent in their interest, admitting that they were in discussions with the 26-year-old free agent, who left Swansea City at the end of last season and, having taken his time to consider all his options, the one-time Scotland cap has penned a two-year deal with Robbie Neilson’s side.
“I’m sure a lot of people will remember his qualities from his previous spell in Scottish football; quick, direct, dynamic and capable of moments of magic,” said the delighted Hearts boss.
“To bring those talents to Hearts, where we now have considerable depth in our attacking options, is a real boost and I’m really looking forward to working with Barrie.”
He will now go straight into the squad for this Sunday’s derby against Hibs, who tried and failed to poach the player with an eleventh-hour bid.
The Easter Road outfit had hoped he would fill a void in the attacking third, after they came up short on transfer deadline day in the pursuit of St Mirren’s Republic of Ireland goalscoring midfielder Jamie McGrath.
Manager Jack Ross had pinpointed the attack as one area he wanted to strengthen before the window closed but he was left disappointed as a move, which would have involved financial recompense and Scott Allan and Drey Wright heading to Paisley, was foiled when the necessary paperwork could not be completed in time.
That left them scouring the market for a suitable free agent and that search goes on after McKay rejected their advances and opted instead to stick with his proposed move to Gorgie.
Sporting Director Joe Savage said: “We beat off interest from near, in fact very near, and afar to get Barrie’s signature and we’re very happy to have done so.
“Barrie is an exciting player and one I am sure will light up Tynecastle when he takes to the pitch.
“This window has been testament to the strength of our recruitment department and once again I must thank everyone who was involved.
“We have, in our opinion, built up a squad capable of challenging at the top end of the table and I hope that we continue our good start in the weeks to come.”
McKay got his big break at Rangers under Ally McCoist but he blossomed under Mark Warburton, grabbing the attention of the wider football fraternity when he scored a stunning goal in Rangers’ 2016 Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic.
He made over 100 league appearances for the Ibrox club and scored a dozen goals as they climbed through the divisions.
His reward was a Scotland call-up and he made his one and only appearance thus far as a late substitute in a friendly defeat to France in the summer of 2016 before joining Warburton at Nottingham Forest. After one season he switched to Swansea.
But, with Hearts looking to build on the brilliant early momentum – they will top the Premiership table if they defeat Hibs at Tynecastle on Sunday – manager Neilson has added further pace and drive to a squad that has already been strengthened by the arrival of Alex Cochrane, Taylor Moore and Ben Woodburn on loan and the impressive Beni Baningime, goalkeeper Ross Stewart, Cameron Devlin and now McKay.