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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - August/September 2004
The Other 70%


In the southwestern area of Scotland is the Galloway District, a land of tall hills, lochs, and moors. In its fields graze the Galloway cow, one of the oldest breeds of cattle, and descendants of two distinct breeds of Scottish cattle.   They have thick, wooly hides and are hornless.  Galloways were the beef choice in the 15th and 16th centuries and are still raised for their beef.  Bred to live off the poorest of lands they can be black, red, dun, or the famous belted Galloway which is black except for a wide band of white that encircles their  torso.

Though Galloway was not in the middle of many battles, it did have its moments in history.  I would imagine its shores were the last glimpse of many Scots as they fled their country for safer havens. 

The name Galloway comes form the old Scot word, Gallovid, meaning a Gaul. It was the here that the first Christian Church in Scotland was founded by St. Ninian in the 5th century at Whithorn.  Many Scots including  Robert the Bruce, Mary, Queen of Scots, and James IV made pilgrimages to this church. 

It was here in Galloway that Robert the Bruce fought his first "battle" against the British in Glentrool near Loch Trool.  Though there is debate on whether this was a battle or an ambush, since Robert and his men rolled boulders down the steep hills and routed the English.  Robert had spent the winter of 1506 and 1507 on Rathein Island just off the coast of Ulster - which is quite close to Galloway across the Irish Sea.  Edward I was dying when he returned to the mainland to Glentrool to accost the English army.

Galloway also was the retreat for the Covenanters when they  were being hunted by the English after John Knox determined to change the manner of worship for Scotland.  The Covenanters fought and many died in defense of the old ways of practicing their religion. Two women were actually tied to stakes on the shore of Galloway at low tide to make them reform.  They were drowned when the tide rose.

Though the land is generally low, rolling hills, from the Mull of Galloway, the southernmost tip of Scotland, Ireland and England can be seen on a clear day from the 210 foot high cliffs.  The coast of Galloway is also dotted with smugglers caves and other hideaways and on the Peninsula of the Rhins the Gulf Stream causes the climate to be so mild it is almost totally frost free and tropical plants can flourish there.

In Torhouse there is a Bronze Age Stone Circle with 19 stones and 3 boulders set in a line.  Three miles away is Baldoon Castle which is believed to be the setting for Sir Walter Scotts The Bride of Lammermoor.

Irish elopers at one time sailed across the Irish Sea to be wed in the town of Portpatrick to escape the rigid laws or Ireland and perhaps the negative wishes of their families.  A similar area frequented more by English elopers and better known than Portpatrick was Graetna Green.


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