Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Kilbirnie derives its name from the term Kil, signifying a church, chapel, or monastic cell, and Birnie, or Birinus, the tutelar saint of the parish.



Kilbirnie Auld Kirk view by Kenny Monaghan

Atomz - Search whole website for Kilbirnie     Whatuseek - Search whole Website for Kilbirnie

Google map of Kilbirnie

Notes on the way through Ayrshire - 100 years ago  


West of Beith, and bounded by Renfrewshire on the north-east. The town of Kilbirnie stands on the right brow of Garnock River (which flows south), 20 miles west-south-west of Glasgow, and fully 20 miles north of Ayr. At the beginning of this century it was only a small, quaint village; and its present importance has been attained chiefly by enterprise in various branches of manufacture, and in mining. The principal manufactures are winceys, ginghams, woollen shirtings, flannels, linen thread, linen yarn, ropes, and fishing nets; and there are engineering and ironfounding works. It has a post office, with telegraph, money order, and savings bank departments; a Clydesdale Bank, numerous shops, two public schools, Established and Free Churches, a Roman Catholic Chapel, a hotel, and a railway station, which is a mile off. Population in 1871, 3313; in 1881, 3405.

Kilbirnie Place or Palace is a ruin a little to the west of the town. About 1395, its earliest known residents were Barclays, a branch of the Barclays of Ardrossan Castle.

Kilbirnie Loch, fully half-a-mile east of the town, is one mile and a half long and less than half-a-mile broad It contains trout, pike, and perch.

The village of GLENGARNOCK, at the south end of the loch, has a post office, with telegraph, money order, and savings bank departments; a public school, with about 400 scholars; a United Presbyterian Church, large iron and steel works, cabinet and other manufactories. Population, 1276, 406 of whom are in the parish of Dalry.

Glengarnock Castle, a most romantic old ruin, stands on the Garnock, one mile and a half north of Kilbirnie, Hugh Barclay, a Scotch poet of considerable power and humour. Here is a scrap of his poetry, written about 1580, and addressed to a brother of the poetic craft, Alexander Montgomery of Hessilhead, Beith:-

" My best belovit brother of the craft, God ! gif ye knew the stait that I am in. Thoght ye be deif, I know ye are not daft, Bot kynd aneugh to ony of your kin. If ye bot saw me m this winter evin, With old bogogers, hotching on a sped, Draglit in dirt, whylis wat evin to the ‘skin, I trow thair suld be tears or we tua shed, But maist of all, that hes my bailis bred, To heir how ye on that syde of the mure Birlis at the wyne, and blythlie goes to bed, Forgetting me, puir plewman I am sure. Low, sillie I, opprest with barmie Juggis, Invyis your state, thats powing Bacchus’ luggis

Had that been written after, instead of 200 years before Burns, we might have pronounced it a good imitation.

The River Garnock forms among high moors at the northern extremity of the parish, runs rapidly down south-east until it reaches the town, and thence meanders quietly south, in a rich, level country, past Dalry and Kilwinning, till it joins the Irvine, just before entering the sea, 20 miles. About two miles from its source it makes a grand cataract, or series of small cascades, over rugged rocks, 60 feet high, called the Spout of Garnock.

Misty Law, north of the Spout, 1663 feet above sea level, is the most prominent feature of the hilly portion of the parish. A thick vein of sulphate of barytes in this hill has been worked with profit. The prevailing rocks are basaltic. The stratified rocks in the valley contain coal, ironstone, fireclay, limestone, and sandstone. 

The parish is about seven miles long, north-west, and from two to four miles broad. Area, 10,335 acres. Population in 1871, 4953; in 1881, 5243.



Some Kilbirnie Old Parish Records


Partial 1841 Census for Kilbirnie


  Kilbirnie Poor Relief 1859 to 1862

[ Ayrshire ArchivesCO3-40-25.pdf]


  List of Gravestones in Kilbirnie Auld Kirk Graveyard & Cemetery

By Kenny Monaghan kennymonaghan@btinternet.com contact him here



1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts

Click on the Parish List tab then select Account Year  followed by County and Parish required. Click on the page link in the 'reference' column when this is found.


Map of Kilbirnie 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 Kilbirnie

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.



Kilbirnie Web Sites


Kilbirnie Auld Kirk Website

The Kilbirnie Auld Kirk, the 21st century face of one of the oldest places of worship in Scotland still in continuous use. The buildings which date in some parts back to 1470 and our heritage as a congregation which we can trace with certainty to a building on the present site established by King David the First of Scotland in 1127. There is a wealth of information about the present building and of the history of it's times available on the website.


The Community Web site  for the town of Kilbirnie

This web site is being set up to promote the town of Kilbirnie and to provide a link for ex-residents or people with family connections.

St.Brigid's Church in Kilbirnie


  GenUKI Kilbirnie

KILBIRNIE derived it's name from the parish church and the church obtained it's name from the saint to whom it was dedicated; the Celtic Cil, pronounced Kil, signifying a church, being prefixed to the name of the saint; St. Birinie, or Birinus, is said to have been a bishop and confessor who converted the West Saxons and died at Dorchester in 650 AD and was commemorated on the 3d of December..............



Kilbirnie Books


A History of Kilbirnie Auld Kirk

By John Lauchland, published by the Friends of the Auld Kirk Heritage Group 2000. 156 +xx pages A5, weight 400gms Price £5. Available from Ms A Harris, 34 Western Crescent, Kilbirnie, KA25 6JF.


Kilbirnie Maps


Pathfinder Map 0429 (NS25/35): Largs & Kilbirnie
Ordnance Survey

To Order or More Information

Ayrshire Books



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