[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]
IRVINE (THE), a river in Ayrshire, forming, from a short distance beneath its source, to its entrance into the frith of Clyde, the boundary-line between the districts of Cunningham and Kyle. What, in the region earliest drained, bears the name of the Irvine, rises in two head-waters, the one in a moss at Meadow-head, on the eastern boundary of the parish of Loudon or of Ayrshire, and the other a mile eastward in the parish of Avondale in Lanarkshire, near the battle-field of Drumclog. The rills making a junction a mile below their respective sources, the united stream traces the boundary of Ayrshire a mile southward, and then turns westward, enters the interior of the county, and thence, till very near its embouchure, pursues a course which – with the exception of very numerous but brief and beautiful sinuosities – is uniformly due west. About 2¾ miles from the point of its entering the county, it is joined from the north by Glen water. This, in strict propriety, is the parent-stream, on account both of its length of course and its volume of water; for the stream of the Glen rises at Crosshill in Renfrewshire, a mile north of the Ayrshire frontier, and runs 6 miles southward, drinking up five rills in its progress, to the point of confluence with the Irvine. Swollen by this large tributary, the Irvine immediately passes the village of Derval on the right, – 1¾ mile onward, the village of Newmills, – at 2¼ miles farther on, the village of Galston, on the left. A mile and a quarter below Galston it receives from the north Polbaith burn; ¾ of a mile lower down, it is joined from the south by Cessnock water; and 3 miles westward in a straight line – though probably double the distance along its channel, the course here being almost emulative of the lesser windings of the Forth – it passes Kilmarnock and Riccarton on opposite sides, and receives on its right bank the tributary of Kilmarnock water. Nearly 2¾ miles onward, measured in a straight line, but 4 miles or upwards along its bed, it is joined on the same bank by Carmel water; and 2½ miles farther on, it receives still on the same bank, the tribute of the Annack. The river now runs 1½ mile in a direction west of north, passing through the town of Irvine at about mid-distance; It then suddenly bends round in a fine sweep till it assumes a southerly direction; and opposite the town of Irvine — at 3 furlongs’ distance from its channel – when running northward, abruptly expands into a basin ¾ of a mile broad, which receives Garnock river at its north-west extremity, and communicates by a narrow mouth or strait with the frith of Clyde. The parishes which come down on the river’s south bank are Galston, Riccarton, and Dundonald; and those which it washes on its north side are Loudon, Kilmarnock, Kilmaurs, Dreghorn, and Irvine. If the beauty of the stream, gliding slowly on its pebbled bed, the richness and verdure of its haughs, the openness of its course, the quality of the adjacent soil, the progress of agriculture along its banks, the array of noblemen’s and gentlemen’s seats looking down upon its meanderings, the crowded population and the displays of industry and wealth which salute it in its progress, are taken into view, the Irvine will be pronounced, if not one of the thrillingly attractive rivers of Scotland, at least one of the most pleasing, and one on whose scenery combined patriotism and taste will fix a more satisfied eye than on that of streams which have drawn music from an hundred harps, and poesy from clusters of men gifted with the powers of description and literary painting. The mansions of note situated near the river demand notice in crowds, and must be disposed of in simple enumeration. Loudon-castle and Cessnock-house, both the residence of noble owners, Lanfine, Holms, Kilmarnock-house, Peel-house, Caprington, Fairly-house, Craig-house, Newfield, Auchens, Shewalton, some of them the homes of men distinguished by title or important influence in their country, – these mansions and others, besides many handsome villages, overlook the river. On the banks of its tributaries, too, are similar adornings, – such as Crawfordland and Dean-castle on the Kilmarnock, Rowallan, Kilmaurs, and Busby castles on the Carmel, and Lainshaw, Annack, Lodge, and Bourtreehill on the Annack.
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