Ayrshire Towns and Parishes

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Google Map of Muirkirk


Muirkirk Parish 100 years ago

East of Sorn. The town of Muirkirk stands near the centre of the parish, on Ayr Water, four miles from its source, 27 miles east-north-east by railway from Ayr. Being built on a straggling plan, with most of its houses one story, it lines a long length of roads; and though it contains fully as many inhabitants as Old Cumnock, it posses much more the appearance of a village, or a number of villages combined. Its name is derived from the Muir Kirk - " a puir wee kirk, theeked wi' heather" - erected here about 1650 to accommodate the scattered inhabitants of "the moorlands of mist where the martyrs Lay." Before that time the place was called the Garron, and was included in the parish of Mauchline. The famous Muirkirk Ironworks were commenced in 1787, and from that date the town has gradually expanded to its present extent. The town has Established, Free, United Presbyterian, and Evangelical Union Churches, a Roman Catholic Chapel, a public school; a post office, with telegraph, money order, and savings bank departments; a Clydesdale Bank, several hotels, and numerous shops. Population in 1871, 2376; in 1881, 3470.

In the churchyard is a monument to the martyr, John Smith, who was shot in the parish of Lesmahagow, February 1685.  John Lapraik, poet, and early correspondent of Burns was born, 1727. He was laird of the farm of Dalfram, three miles from Muirkirk, until the failure of the Ayr Bank (Douglas Heron & Company), in 1772, caused him to sell his property.

The village of GLENBUCK lies at the source of the river Ayr. It originated with a mining company from England, who abandoned their project: afterwards became partly occupied by handloom weavers from Glasgow, and, they also failing, it was deserted and fell to ruins almost; but lately, through mining and ironworks, it has risen to a cheery, thriving, and more important place than ever it was before. It has an Established Church, a public school, a post office, and a railway station. Population in 1871, 311; and in 1881, 858. Glenbuck House is a pleasant seat in its neighbourhood. On the moor, fully a mile to its north-west is the monumented grave of the martyr, John Brown of Priesthill. Mr Brown was granted time to pray to his maker before his execution, and, when he had done so, Claverhouse commanded his men to shoot; but the soldiers were so affected by the poor man's prayers, and the presence of his wife and children, that they could not shoot, and stood silent, when Claverhouse, with his own cold-blooded hands, raised his gun and shot him, May 1st 1685.

The little village of WELLWOOD, about two and a half miles west of Muirkirk, has a public school. Near to it is the grave, with tombstone, of William Adam, a young man who had made a tryst with his lass to meet at this quiet spot on Proscribe Burn - there was no village then - and, while waiting her arrival, was occupied in reading his bible, when he was set upon by dragoons under command of Dalziel, and shot. Greenock Mains, a mile or two northward of this, was a farm of Thomas Richard, the martyr. He was a fine old man nearly 80 years of age. They granted him a few minutes for prayer before his execution, but shot him before he had done. His grave is beside those of other martyrs and the Rev, Alexander Peden, in Old Cumnock Churchyard.


1791-99 and 1845 Statistical Accounts


Map of Muirkirk 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 Muirkirk

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.



Muirkirk is a remote parish in the north east of the former Kyle district of Ayrshire. It lies ten and a quarter miles ENE of Auchinleck. The parish also contains Glenbuck Village. Muirkirk formed part of Mauchline parish until 1631. The parish is deeply and pathetically associated with the martyrs of the Covenant. A martyrs monument was erected in 1887 and upon Priesthill farm is one to John Brown who on 1st May 1685 was shot by Claverhouse........>




Muirkirk Websites


Muirkirk in the Hills of Ayrshire



John Lapraik was born near Muirkirk in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1727. He is famous principally as a friend of Robert Burns, Scotland's leading poet.


Muirkirk Books


Muirkirk, Ayrshire

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Old Muirkirk and Glenbuck
David Pettigrew

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Muirkirk Maps


Pathfinder Map 0469 (NS62/72): Muirkirk
Ordnance Survey

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Ayrshire Books

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