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Places of Interest about Girvan

THE present Parish Church of Ballantrae is the third of its kind. The first stood on the farm of Kirkholm, at the junction of the Tig with the Stinchar, and as that church was dedicated to St. Cuthbert, the parish then received the name of Kirkcudbright Innertig. But the great folks of Ardstinchar became desirous, after the Reformation, to have a church more convenient to themselves, so a new building was erected in 1604 in the middle of the present cemetery, of which the Tomb here represented formed one of the aisles. When that church became ,ruinous, the present Parish Church was built on a different site.

There is nothing of general interest in the churchyard save the Tomb. Above the entrance is the following inscription:—"This aisle contains the burial-place of the family of Bargany and Ardstinchar, chief of the name of Kennedy, and a monument raised over the remains of Gilbert, the XVIth Baron, who was slain in a feudal conflict with his cousin, the Earl of Cassillis, at Maybole in 1601, at the early age of 25, at which conflict, when overpowered by numbers, Bargany displayed the most consummate bravery. The epitaph, having been defaced, the representative of the family, Hew F. Kennedy, now of Bennane, mindful of their virtues, has considered it his duty to erect this tablet to the memory of his ancestors."

Inside the building, the view is as here given. A finely carved Monument, now much defaced, represents the laird and his lady, with hands clasped in the attitude of prayer. Their coats of arms are also given, with their initials G. K. and J. S.—Gilbert Kennedy and Janet Stewart. She was sister to Lord Ochiltree, and had been one of the "Queen's maideynes." The Memorial is handsome enough of itself, but it derives its chief interest from the tragic circumstances of the laird's death, and the fact that he was the last of the great Bargany Kennedys, who struggled so hard to maintain their position against their more successful rivals of Cassillis.

The Bargany Kennedys were more popular than the Cassillis Kennedys, but ruined themselves by their lavish expenditure, of which this Tomb is but a small instance. The funeral of the laird and lady was something to be remembered in the district. The bodies were brought from Ayr, escorted by 1000 mourners, including most of the nobility and gentry of Ayrshire, for whom great provision was made both at Bargany and Ardstinchar. Less than fifty years after, their large estates were broken up, and sold by Thomas Kennedy, the last of the line.

And so the great house of Bargany and Ardstinchar came to an end, and this Tomb, with the old ruined castle by the bridge, are the only relics of their grandeur remaining. The ancient historian of the Kennedys waxes quite pathetic over the virtues of the family. In mentioning the death of Thomas, who rescued the poor Commendator of Cross-raguel out of the Castle of Dunure, he says:—"He hed ewer in his houshald 24 gallant gentilmenne, double horsitti and gallantly cled, with sik ane repair to his hous that it wes ane wondar quhair the samin wes gottin that he spendit." While of the occupant of this tomb, he says :—"He wes the brawest manne that wes to be gottin in ony land; of hiche statour, and weill maid; his hair blak, but of ane comlie feace, the brawest horsmainne, ane the ae best of mony at all pastymis, for he was feirce and feirry, and wonder nimbill. He was bot about the aige of 25 yeair quhane he was slayne, bot of his aige the maist wyise he might be, for gif he had tyme to add experience to his witt, he hed been by his marrowis."

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