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Places of Interest about Girvan
Girvan Street Names


GIRVAN town is of such modern date that the origin of its street names may still be easily traced. The first that seems to have been built was the one leading past the old Parish Church in the churchyard, and which is therefore appropriately called Old Street. It would be the Kirk Port of its day. This street is partly demolished now, the most notable house in it, the Ship Inn, after 150 years of existence, having been taken down a few years ago. High Street also shows signs of antiquity in its narrowness, in the old Star Inn, now a private dwelling, and in the numerous closes leading off it. But Knockushion Street, or "the Knowes," is the real Palladium of Girvan's nobility. This name, as the late Rev. Dr Macleod of Morven informed me, is -derived from two Gaelic words, knock, a hillock, and Cuish, a court of law—it being the rising ground on which the Earls of Carrick, 600 years ago, held their feudal assizes.

Vicarton Street plainly takes us back to the old Roman Catholic days, when the parish was ministered to by a vicar appointed by the Abbot of Crossraguel. But the oddest name of all, perhaps, is Plumb Street, which received its name from a deep pool of water that used to stand at the head of it. Now, according to Jamieson, Plumb is .the old Scotch for a deep pool in a river or stream; and he adds that boys, when bathing in deep water, delighted in plumbing the deepest bit, which they did by "sinking in an upright position, with the right hand stretched over the head till their toes touched the bottom. The greatness of the feat was reckoned by the number counted while the right hand was out of sight."

Not fewer than six of our Girvan streets received their names from the Bargany lairds, who are the superiors of the town. First comes Hamilton Street, named after the family who bought the Bargany lands from the old Kennedys. Then comes long Dalrymple Street, named after the family who succeeded to the Bargany estates, after a famous law-plea, about the year 1740. Montgomery Street commemorates the name of a sister of the Earl of Eglinton, who married the victor in the above law-plea; while Duncan Street recalls the name of the eldest daughter of Admiral Duncan, of Camperdown, who married Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton, of Bargany. Henrietta Street was named after the late Duchess de Coigny, while Wilson Street perpetuates the name of one of the factors on the estate.

Piedmont Road reminds us of the former name of Glen-doune, before the late Mr Young bought it; and Dounepark derives its name originally from the round hill or Dun above it. Ailsa Street and Bridge Street speak for themselves, although the latter has not much of a bridge to boast of; while Newton-Kennedy was so named after the laird of Dalquharran, to whom the land on that side the river belongs. Coalpits and Coalshore, though now corrupted into Coalpots and the Cauldshore, tell of a seam of coal that was once wrought there, though to little purpose; while the Avenue is the pretty name of our Girvan Belgravia, which the authorities at one time tried to change into Bank Street, but luckily in vain.

And this reminds me of what a genius for picturesque naming our ancestors possessed, which we now seem to be devoid of. What a host of quaint yet expressive names, for instance, rise on my memory, though they are fast passing into oblivion:—The Flushes, The Knowes, Windy Row, Sandy Row, Tarry Lane, Stumpy Corner, The Deacon's Close, Wapping Lane, The Trough, Orange Arch, The Wrack Road, Blue Sky, Lagganwhilly, Knock-o-vallie, Owre-the-water, The Sheddings o' the Road, Lovers' Loaning, Skipper Row, &c. Instead of these, we have now a lot of prosaic Harbour Streets and Wilson Streets, in accordance with modern taste; but I would not give Knockushion Street, or the Flushes, for a whole barrowful of such names, which have neither aptness nor originality to recommend them.


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