Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Note there is also a St John's town of Dalry in Dumfries and Galloway

Blair house Dalry view By Kenny Monaghan 


Google Map of Dalry


Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago  


South of Kilbirnie. The town of Dalry is located between Rye Water and Caaf Water, on the west bank of Garnock River, 17 miles north of Ayr, 11 miles north-west of Kilmarnock, and 22 1/2 miles by rail south-west of Glasgow. It was in existence near the beginning of the seventeenth century, but remained comparatively small until the erection of large ironworks and the development of mining, about 1845, when it soon became the great industrial and business centre which it now is. A central square, with five radiating principal streets, rich in shops, form its main body; and BLAIR, or Blair Ironworks, is a suburb on the east side of the river. The beautiful town hall opened in 1884; Daly also contains a post office, with telegraph, money order, insurance, annuity, and savings bank departments. The British Linen Company, Clydesdale, and Union Banks also had homes in Dalry, along with three public schools, two Established Churches; Free, United Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic Churches. Dalry also contained several cheap hotels, and a railway station with diverging lines. Population in 1871, 5214; in 1881, 5010.

Blair House, about a mile south-east of the town, is a mansion, partly modern and partly a very ancient tower of great strength, famous as having been the residence of Sir Bryce Blair, one of the sterling patriots who fought and bled with Wallace and never swore fealty to Edward. It has exceedingly fine gardens and wooded grounds,. decked with flowering plants, flaked with shadow and sunshine, and traversed by Bombo Burn. In the beautiful Glen Dusk, at the south side of the woods, is a Covenanters.

Swindridgemuir, a seat one mile and a half up the burn from Blair House, is the paternal home of James George, General Neill, who was born 1810. Before he had completed his seventeenth year he joined the 102nd Fusiliers, then called the 1st Madras European Regiment, of which he wrote an interesting "Historical Record." During the Indian Mutiny, 1857, his wonderful sagacity and courage brought him quickly to the front rank of distinguished generals; but while his fame was spreading, and before he could receive the thanks of a grateful nation, he was killed at the relief of Lucknow, September 25, 1857, aged 47. A fine statue of the general has been erected in Ayr.

SOUTHFIELD is a village one mile north-east of Dairy. Population, 374. 

THE DEN is a village a little farther on. Population, 995. 

KERSLAND has an Established Church, a public school, and a ruined castle, made sacred by the memory of the Covenanter, Robert Ker of Kersland.

LANGBAR is a village on both sides of the march between Dairy and Beith, close to Kilbirnie railway station. Population, 750. 

DRAKEMIRE, a village on the Rye - forming a northern suburb of Dairy - has woollen manufactories. Population, 325. 

BURNBIDE, a village with public school, is a little farther north. 

CAMPHILL is a place, with public school, away up the Rye

The Rye has its source among high hills, past the north-west end of the parish. On its course of eight miles to the Garnock are some pretty bits of scenery, but the most interesting spot is that about which the world has been singing for centuries - the spot where it was crossed by a ford below Ryefield House. Before the erection of any bridge at Drakemire, the fording of the stream had occasioned much fun and banter, as shown by the many traditionary verses of the light and beautiful song that commemorates the primitive scene. Here is one :-

" Gin a body meet a body Comin’ through the Rye : Gin a body kiss a body Need a body cry ? Ilka lassie has her laddie, Nane, they say, ha’e I ! Yet a’ the lads they smile on me, When comin’ through the Rye."

Caaf Water, rising farther south in the same hill range, has a frolicking run of seven miles south-east to the Garnock, making a splendid leap over a ledge about a mile from its final destination. 

Baidland Hill, 1099 feet above sea level, and situate between the Rye and the Caaf, is the most eminent feature of the parish, which is hilly in the west and moderately low and arable in the middle and east. For a description of the coal seams in the valley of the Garnock see Kilwinning. The length of the parish is nine miles, and its greatest width, east and west by Dairy, is seven miles. Area, 19,284 acres. Population in 1871, 10,885; in 1881, 10,153.


Some Old Parish Records for Dalry


  Photographs of Headstones in Dalry Cemeteries

By Kenny Monaghan kennymonaghan@btinternet.com contact him here


1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


The Wraith of Lord Lyne

There were, for example, in the parish of Dalry, the Lynes, vassals of a greater house, that of the De Morvilles, who of old possessed the greater part of Cuninghame. They came, they went, they disappeared. Even their names have become extinct in the county. And yet from a remote time, down to the beginning of the seventeenth century, they played their part, and they left their influence on the countryside wherein they dwelt.


1851 Census for Dalry (2% of Census Total only)

The 2 per cent extract of the 1851 census was done by taking every 50th enumeration book, and transcribing that entire book; NOT every 50th page. As a result, you get full data for all those persons in those books which were taken (Not randomly selected - just every 50th book in the sequence throughout the UK was transcribed). The result is that you might find all the household of interest to you, but the odds are 50 to 1 against!



With the advance of the centuries we have outgrown witchcraft, but three hundred years ago its existence was a common article of belief; and the ministers and the gentry, as well as the venerable senators of the College of Justice, were instant, in season and out of season, in rooting. out the abominable thing...... 


Map of Dalry today

This Link takes you to the MULTIMAP website where you will find a map of the town and the surrounding area as it is today. You can zoom in and out and move around in all directions.


StreetMap of Dalry

This Link takes you to the STREET website where you will find a street map of the town as it is today. You can zoom in and out and move around in all directions.


Old Maps of Ayrshire Place Names

This link goes directly to the OLD MAPS website for an Ayrshire Index to detailed old maps of most Ayrshire Towns around 1860. You can explore out to all sides by using the arrows at the top of the page. These maps are ideal for finding the locations of areas such as farms.



Dalry is first mentioned in 1226 as a "chapel of Ardrossan". If the parish was not formed at that date, it surely was by 1279 when a certain "Henry, Rector of the Church of Dalry" appears in the Register of the Diocese of Glasgow. There appear to have been two places of worship in the parish by the late 13th century......>




Dalry Web Sites

St Andrew's and St Peter's Scottish Episcopal Church

The web site for the Churches of St. Andrew's and St. Peter's the Episcopal Church in Ardrossan, Irvine and Dalry.



Dalry Books


Bessie Dunlop: Witch of Dalry
John Hodgart

To Order or More Information


John Smith of Dalry: Geology

To Order or More Information


Old Dalry
Hugh McTaggart, Armour Hamilton

To Order or More Information  

Excellent pictorial representation of Dalry in a bygone age.
This 49 page book contains over 50 photographs and postcards of the charming Ayrshire town of Dalry. The pictures depict a century of local scenes and people and is well researched.

This book will be of special interest to locals, their descendants and anyone with an interest in local history or for anyone who is merely looking for a pictorial record of a bygone age.



Help needed to source old pictures, postcards or photographs, interesting articles or the history of Dalry. If you would like to help please contact :-

 email address below






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