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Places of Interest about Girvan
Barr


THE parish of Barr is one of the most extensive in Carrick, but at the same time the least populous. There is only one village in it; the other habitations consisting of the farmhouses scattered sparsely over its wilderness of hills. The Stinchar is its main stream, and what arable land the parish possesses lies chiefly along its banks. When the traveller leaves the valley of the Stinchar, he finds himself in an unknown region of moors and mosses, trod by no foot but that of the shepherd in charge of his sheep, or that of the sportsman in quest of game. It may be called indeed the Highland parish of Ayrshire, having higher hills, and more of them, than any other.

Perhaps the most picturesque spot in Barr is the well-known Pass into Galloway, called the Nick of the Balloch. This begins at the farmhouse of Pin valley, about four miles from Barr village, and ascends along the side of a hill for nearly two miles, having neither fence nor parapet to prevent the heedless traveller from being hurled into the ravine beneath. It is indeed a striking road, and the view from its summit, when you have Ayrshire on one side and Galloway on the other, is a sight worth going some distance to see. The parish extends several miles beyond the Nick of the Balloch into the valley of the Minnoch, from whose side rises Shalloch-on-Minnoch to the height of 2,520 feet.

The oldest building in the parish is the ruin popularly known as Kirkdandie. It is situated about 1^ miles below the village on a rising ground overlooking the Stinchar. The name is spelled in so many ways that it is difficult to say what is its real meaning. Kirk-Dominae and Kirk-Dominick have both been suggested, although, to make confusion worse confounded, we are told it was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. But, apart from the name, we know that this was the original Roman Catholic Church of the district, until the new parish was erected (out of portions of Girvan and Dailly) in 1653, at which date a church was erected at Barr village, which has only recently been removed.

The walls of the old church of Kirkdandie are still Standing, with the exception of the east gable, near which the High Altar stood The hewn stones at the door have been removed, and the only spot of interest remaining seems to be the Ambry, a recess in the wall about a foot square, where the portion of the bread not consumed at the Mass was preserved, as well as the vessels used in the observance of that rite. The Manse and the Manse garden, with a few fruit-trees, are still to be seen, and high up on the face of the hill behind are the walls of a small building which formerly enclosed a Holy Well (called the Stroll Well here), whose •clear waters still gush out abundantly from a cleft in the rock.

But it is the commercial associations of Kirkdandie that have given it its chief local fame. For in the old days, when packmen were the chief retailers and Fairs the chief markets, the annual gathering here on the last Saturday of May was reckoned a great event in South Ayrshire. Tents for refreshments were thickly planted on the green sward surrounding the old ruin, sometimes to the number of 30 or 40, where haggis was to be had whose taste made an Irishman declare that he "could drink Stinchar dry," and whisky, whose effects were speedily seen in fights innumerable.

But the rough fighting at Kirkdandie Fair was nothing in interest compared with the fighting that took place (so tradition records) on the summit of a hill called Craigan-rarie> about ij4 miles above the village. This fight lay between a former laird of Changue and the Prince of Darkness, and began under the following circumstances. Changue was getting short of money, and in order to replenish his purse, sold his soul to the Devil. After a season, the Creditor appeared and claimed the person of the debtor. But by this time the Laird had repented him of his bargain, and refused to go. The Great Adversary thereupon proceeded to lay hold of him; but Changue, placing his Bible on the turf, and drawing a circle with his sword around him, sturdily and, as it turned out, successfully defied his opponent. If any one doubts this wonderful story, let him go to the top of Craiganrarie and see for himself. There he will behold the circle, only 4 feet in diameter, and therefore perilously narrow, with the footprints of the doughty farmer and the mark of his Bible. Of course, in these modern days, when nobody believes in anything, it has been asserted that the tradition only records the visit of a priest to claim his dues. But far be such rationalistic explanations from me or mine. We will have the original story or none at all! Besides, is not the whole tradition but an outward embodiment of the well-known spiritual fact—Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you ?

Other places of interest may be found in Pederts Stone, near the Lane Toll, where that noted Covenanter once preached; and Dinmurchie, where Viscount Stair, author of the "Institutions of the Law of Scotland," was born in 1619, and with whom, in after days, Peden had some friendly correspondence. But perhaps the spot most generally interesting will be found in the old churchyard, where a small but well-preserved stone bears the following inscription :—

It is thus Wodrow tells the story:—"On the 28th of February, about 11 o'clock at night, Cornet Douglas, with 24 soldiers, surrounded the farmhouse of Dalwine (still standing about four miles above Barr village). There they apprehended David Martin, who dwelt in the house with his mother; and finding Edward M'Keen (the name is spelled Kyan by Wodrow), a pious young man from Galloway, lately come thence to buy corn, who had fled in betwixt the gable of one house and the side wall of another, they dragged him out, and took him through a yard. He was asked where he lived, and he told them, upon the water of Minnoch. When one of the soldiers had him by the arm dragging him away, without any warning, farther questions, or permitting him to pray, Cornet Douglas shot him through the head, and presently discharged his other pistol and shot him again in the head; and one of the soldiers of the party, coming up, pretended he saw some motion in him still, and shot him a third time. He was but a youth, and could not have been at Bothwell or any of the risings, and they had indeed nothing to charge him with but his hiding himself. When they had thus dispatched this man, the soldiers brought out their other prisoner, David Martin, to the same place, and after they had turned off his coat, they set him upon his knees beside the mangled body. One of the soldiers dealt with the Cornet to spare him till to-morrow, alleging they might get discoveries from him, and stepped in betwixt him and six soldiers who were presenting their pieces. The Cornet was prevailed with to spare him, and bring him into the house. But the fright and terror so unhinged his reason, that he became an imbecile to the day of his death." Such were the doings that were common in "the killing time." And the only grim satisfaction we have is in learning that this ruffian officer, who had previously shot John Semple at Dailly, was himself cut down, four years afterwards, on the field of Killiecrankie.

The drawing represents the Village of Barr, with the rushing Gregg in front and the Kelton Hill behind. The house to the extreme right is the very neat Public School, while those in the foreground extend towards what is called "The Clachanfit." There are two churches, both recently erected, and these, with the old churchyard, form the sights of a village which for neatness and picturesqueness of situation takes a foremost place among the charming villages of Carrick.


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