Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago 


West of Straiton. The village of Dailly.

Thomas Thomson, Law of Scotland antiquary, was born in the Manse of Dailly, 1768. On the death of Sir Walter Scott, in 1832, Thomson succeeded him as president of the Bannatyne Club. Died 1852. 

Dalquharran Castle, a fine residence, occupies the opposite side of the water, and the ruins of two ancient castles are close by. The Right Hon. Thomas Francis Kennedy of Dalquharran, born 1789; M.P. for Ayr Burghs, 1818-34; a Lord of the Treasury, 1833-4; Privy Councillor, 1837. Died here in 1879, aged 90. The seat of Kilkerran, with its large pleasure-ground and gardens, is two and a half miles up the water. Sir James Fergusson, Lord Kilkerran, second Baronet, born 1688, and Sir James Fergusson, K.C.M.G., sixth Baronet of Kilkerran, born 1832, have made the name illustrious.

The hamlet of KILGRAMMIE, with public school, is the Earl of Stair, stands two miles below the village. Bargany Mains is notable as the birthplace of two poets. The Rev. Hamilton Paul, an early and enthusiastic editor and biographer of Burns, was born here April 10, 1773. At Glasgow University he had Thomas Campbell for a class-mate. In 1800 he published "Paulís Epistles to Female Students in Andersonís Institution," and is the author also of a few songs. In 1813 he was ordained minister of Broughton, Peeblesshire; and in 1819 was published at Ayr his edition of the Poems and Songs of Burns, with Memoir. Died February 28, 1854, aged 81. Hugh Ainslie, poet, was born under the same roof, 1792 ; obtained employment in the Register House, Edinburgh; published in 1820 "A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns; " in 1822 went to the United States, where he was employed as a commercial traveller; and in 1855 published his " Scottish Songs, Ballads, and Poems." Died at Louisville, 1578, aged 86.

Killochan Castle and Penkill Castle are seats in the lower end of the parish; and not a great way from them are the ruined Church and Churchyard of Old Dailly, containing the grave and monument of two martyrs of 1685 . There is no village.

" I pass Old Dailly, lonely-looking spot : A few small stones appear above the graves

Of those who are below. How soon they are forgot ! That aged tree so solemnly that waves,

Has witnessed many a tear and many a sigh, And many a striving for the hope that saves

From cold despair. How sad it is to die ! How mournful in the silent grave to lie ! "

The parish of Dailly contains most of the Girvan Valley coal field, ascertained to be about four miles long by half-a-mile broad. The seams in descent are:.-Main coal, 10 to 12 feet in thickness; little coal, 3 to 4 feet;

Ailsa Craig belongs to this parish. It is a great conical rock, two miles in circumference and 1114 feet high, standing alone in the sea, 10 miles west of the shore at Girvan. It is the native home of innumerable sea-fowl, many rabbits, and some wild goats. A lighthouse and two fog signal houses were erected on it in 1884-85, at a cost of £25,000, and are attended by four keepers. Previous to 1884 it contained only the dwelling of a solitary tenant and his family on the beach, and the ruins of a square castle of three stories at a considerable height up the rock, built, we suppose, about the end of the sixteenth century, by Hugh Barclay of Ladyland, Kilbirnie, as a place of refuge and defence for some of the then persecuted Roman Catholic clergy.

Ailsa Craig 1846
AILSA CRAIG, an island belonging to the parish of Dailly, in the district of Carrick, county of Ayr. This island lies in the Frith of Clyde, between the shores of Ayrshire and Cantyre, from the former of which it is distant eight miles; it is a rugged rock, about two miles in circumference at its base, rising precipitously from the sea, to an elevation of 1100 feet, and accessible only on the north-east side, where a small beach has been constructed. The rock is basaltic, and in several parts assumes the columnar formation: at a considerable elevation, are the remains of ancient buildings, supposed to have been originally a castle, with a chapel. A small portion of its surface affords a scanty pasturage; but it is frequented only by various aquatic birds, of which the most numerous are the solan geese; and the sole income arising from the island, is derived from the sale of feathers, for the collection of which, during the season, a person resides on the spot. It was in contemplation, some time since, to make this island a fishing station, for the supply of Glasgow and Liverpool by the numerous steamers which pass this way, and the erection of some buildings for that purpose was commenced, but the idea was subsequently abandoned. The island gives the British titles of Marquess and Baron to the family of Kennedy, who are the owners of the property.

From: A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846)

Contributed to Ayrshire Rootsweb by Mary Muir [mmuir@aebc.com


I thought this remark from the 1841 census of Dailly might interest some people. It was found after the first enumeration district. It is as follows:

The south district of the Parish of Dailly of which I have been enumerator, is mountainous and chiefly pastoral, the houses of course much scattered, the length that has been allocated to me is estimated at 6 and the breath at 3.5 miles. The numerous antiquities however which abound amply demonstrate that at one period this part of the parish has been more thickly studded with the habitations of man. I shall briefly notice a few of the more interesting of these ancient remains. At the western extremity of this district and about three miles from Dailly stand the roofless walls of Old Dailly Church pleasantly situated and surrounded by aged trees. It used to be the parish church till about 1750 when it was thought necessary to remove the church to it's present situation at Dailly, the centre of the parish. Old Dailly was then a considerable village, but now scarcely a house remains to mark where it stood. The church has been a long and narrow building, the doors and windows very small. The summit of the northern gable still displays the cross a token of its antiquity. In the north end of the building is the tomb of the Bargany family, and to the north west that of Kilochan. In the vestry is a moss covered stone bearing an antique latin inscription in memory of Patrick Crawford for eighteen years minister of the parish. It is to be regretted that no date appears on the stone. Several of our zealous forefathers who suffered death in the cause of religion have found a resting place here. The church yard is still used as a burying ground. Half a mile east we next meet the ruins of Penkill Castle, once the principal residence of the Boyds of Penkill and Trochraigue. It stands on a promontory which projects into the beautiful and romantic Glen of Penwhapple, till within these last few years a triangular stone was visible in front of building bearing the initials T. B. M. M and also the date of erection 1642 but a portion of the front wall having fallen along with this ancient memorial it has either been carried away or destroyed. From its situation and appearance it must have been a place of great strength but the "tooth of time" and also the ruthless hand of man has done much to impare its stability. It is nearly a century since it was inhabited. The celebrated Zachary Boyd D.D. was descended from this family and probably once resided here. Proceeding again about a mile and in a meadow on the farm of Knockgirran, the ruins of the ancient catholic church of Altichapel are traced. Formerly it must have been a place of vast consequense and it has consisted of several connected buildings, but nearly all the stones have been carried away for this purposes. It is said that a church yard also existed here; which is very probable the of a mudwall being still visible at considerable distance on the east and south sides and although its surface appears even yet from the soft nature of the soil the amical action of the scythe we might naturaly infer that it become so in the course of years. A small streamlet surrounds it on two sides which tradition says still retains its consecrated influences. I shall conclude by noticing the _ench Hill which forms the highest part of the range of the Hadget Hills south of Dailly. It has received its name no doubt from its summit having been Fortified. The traces of two walls of stone and mud are still to be seen and are supposed to be erected by Robert Bruce after his return from Arran and whose Maternal Castle of Turnbery is within sight and only a few miles distant. The view from it is both varied and extensive commanding even the coast of Ireland, the Mull of Cantyne, the firth of Clyde with Ailsa, Arran, Bute & c and of course would be a place of great resort in those perilous times. It is also to be absened that in the tops of several of neighbouring hills cairns or large collections of stones are met with which must have cast an immense labour to place them in their present situation but whether they for defence or over the grave of some warrior or chief or formed part of the ancient Beacon or are the remains of Druidical superstitions would perhaps be difficult to determine.

Daniel Mackie

June 1841


1841 Census for Dailly

The complete 1841 census for the whole of Dailly Parish


1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


Map of Dailly today

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StreetMap of Dailly

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Old Maps of Ayrshire Place Names

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The ancient name of the parish of Dailly was Dalinakeran, and there were in it several chapels. One of these stood at the lower end of the Lady Glen, and was called the Lady Chapel. Another, which was dedicated to St. Machar, was called Machrikill, and stood on the banks of a small stream near the old castle of Kilkerran......>



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Dalquharran Castle

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Dalquharran Castle, situated on high ground overlooking the village of Dailly in Ayrshire, was built between the years 1786 and 1790 to designs by Robert Adam. It constitutes a surviving but little-known example of the Castle Style developed in the late 18th Century by the brothers Robert and James Adam.

Commissioned in 1781 by Thomas Kennedy of Dunure, Dalquharran was extended in the years 1880-82 by Wardrop and Reid of Edinburgh. These additions stretched the financial means of the Kennedy family and the building subsequently proved to be too large to be manageable, passing out of the Kennedy family in 1935 with the death of the last laird, John Campbell Kennedy. Dalquharran remained occupied until 1968 when the roof was removed. The building has since deteriorated through neglect and vandalism, so much so that it now survives by the sheer strength of its masonry construction



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