Notes on the way
through Ayrshire - 100 years
East of Maybole.
The village of Kirkmichael is finely placed on the north bank of Dyrock
Burn, crossed here by a bridge, half-a-mile north of Girvan Water,
and three miles east of Maybole. It has an Established Church, a public
school, a post office; grocer’s, shoemaker’s, black-smith’s, and
joiner’s shops; Kirkmichael Arms Inn, and a grain mill.
Population in 1871, 372; in 1881, 343.
stands, embellished with woods, on the opposite side of the burn. Cloncaird
Castle stands amid more extensive sylvan adornings, on the right
bank of the Girvan, one mile and a quarter south-east.
The village of CROSSHILL
is built on the left side of Girvan Water, crossed here by
a bridge, two miles south-west of Kirkmichael. It is a bright looking
place, with shops, a post office (with money order and savings bank
departments), Established and Free Churches, public schools, various
blacksmiths’ and joiners’ shops, and a grain mill. Population in
1871, 835; in 1881, 740.
a grand old place, partly modern, embosomed in umbrageous woods on the
Doon, is two and a half miles north of Kirkmichael. John
Kennedy, sixth Earl of Cassillis,
born 1600, was a powerful Covenanter
and a chief leader of the Presbyterians who met in the famous Glasgow
Assembly of 1638, and, with Henderson
as Moderator, abolished Episcopacy
in Scotland in defiance of the English advisers of Charles
I. His wife, Lady
Jean Hamilton, daughter of the
Earl of Haddington,
is the reputed heroine, and Cassillis House the scene, of the
ballad, " Johnnie Faa, the Gipsy Laddie." Sir
John Faa was a former lover who
came to Cassillis, disguised as a gipsy, and eloped with her
" The gipsies
they cam to my Lord Cassillis yett, And O ! but they sang bonnie ;
They sang sae
sweet, and sae complete, That doun cam our fair lady.
tripping doun the stairs, Wi’ a’ her maids before her :
As soon as they saw
her weelfaur’d face, They coost their glamourie ower her."
It is likewise the
opening scene of Burns’
" Upon that
night, when fairies light On Cassillis Downans dance."
The Downans are
little hills to the south-east of the Castle, on two of which is the
bare grassy ring of an ancient British camp for the fairies to dance
The surface of the
parish is finely diversified with heights and hollows, lochs and shrubby
burns, numerous individual trees, and knots and rows of plantation. It
is mostly in a state of culture, save Cloncaird
Moor, east of the Castle, and a narrow point at the south end, which
rises at a difficult crank of an old road-called the Deil’s Elbow -
to a height of 817 feet, and at Glenalla Fell to 1406 feet above
sea level. Freestone and limestone are plentiful, From the back of
Glenalla Fell, north to the Doon at Dalrymple, the length of
the parish is nine miles; and from Ballochbroe, eastward to
half-a-mile beyond Loch Spallander, its widest part is five
miles. Area, 15,930 acres. Population in 1871, 2254; in 1881, 1781.