Dalry, pp.303-305.

[Gazetteer of Scotland Contents]

   DALRY,1 a parish near the centre of the district of Cunningham, Ayrshire. It is bounded on the north and north-east by Kilbirnie; on the east by Beith; on the south by Kilwinning; on the south-west by Ardrossan; on the west by West Kilbride; and on the north-west by Largs. Its extreme length, from north to south, is about 10 miles; and its breadth varies from 1½ to 9. It is narrowest in the middle; is nearly dissevered toward the north by the parish of Largs; sends out an arm 3 miles northward from its main body; and is, in consequence, of extremely irregular outline. The surface consists principally of four vales, with their intervening and overshadowing uplands. The principal vale stretches south-westward along its eastern division, and varies from a mile to ½ a mile in breadth. This vale is watered by the meanderings of the river Garnock, and abounds in fertility and the beauties of agricultural landscape. The other parts of the parish, though well-watered with the Rye, the Gaaf, and other streams flowing south-eastward and falling into the Garnock, are in general hilly, and in some parts, especially toward the north, almost mountainous. Bedland-hill, between the Gaaf and the Rye, rises 946 feet; and Carwinning-hill, to the eastward of the Rye, rises 634 above the level of the sea. At Auchinskich, 2 miles from the village, in a romantic and sylvan dell, is a natural cave, 183 feet in length, and from 5 to 12 in breadth and height, stretching away into the bowels of a precipitous limestone crag, and ceiled and panelled with calcareous incrustations which give it the appearance of Gothic arched work. Coal, at a comparatively inconsiderable depth, is, in three places, worked from seams of from 2½ to 5 feet thick. Limestone abounds in strata of unusual thickness, and in general imbosoms numerous petrifactions. Iron-stone frequently occurs. Agates have been found in the Rye. In the holm-lands of the parish the soil is a deep alluvial loam; along the base of the hills it is light and dry; in some districts the soil is clayey and retentive; and in others it is reclaimed and cultivated moss. The parish is intersected by the Glasgow and Ayr railway, and is in other respects well-provided with means of communication. On the summit of Carwinning-hill are vestiges of an ancient fortification, two acres in area, and formed of three concentric circular walls. Near the end of the village is a mound called Courthill, – one of those moats, so common in Scotland, on which justice was administered. Urns and other antiquities have, in various localities, been dug up. In this parish the insurrection of 1666 broke out against the Privy council’s measures for the erection of episcopacy. Dalry was the birth-place of Sir Bryce Blair, who resisted the usurpation of Edward I., and the home of Captain Thomas Crawford, who captured Dumbarton castle in the reign of Mary. – The village of Dalry is beautifully situated on a rising ground on the right bank of the Garnock, immediately below the confluence of the Rye with that river, and not far above the confluence of the Gaaf. It commands an extensive view to the south and the north-east; and, owing to the peculiar nature of its site, and the liability to inundation of the mountain streams by which its environs on three sides are washed, it has sometimes the appearance of lifting its head from a lake, and being seated on an island. It is 16 miles from Paisley, 14 from Kilmarnock, 5 from Beith, and 9 from Saltcoats. Of no higher origin than the beginning of the 17th century, and long existing as a mere hamlet, it has eventually attained considerable prosperity, and at present contains a population of upwards of 2,000. There are five streets three of which converge, and form a sort of square or open area near the centre of the town. The streets indicate the want of police, yet enjoy the luxury of being lighted up at night with gas. The principal manufacture is weaving, which employs about 500 individuals. Nearly 50 persons are employed also in a woollen carding and spinning-mill. Here are the parish-church, two dissenting churches, three schools, and a number of inns and other appurtenances of village importance. There are 6 annual fairs, the chief of which is held on the last day of July. The town as well as its vicinity will probably now rise rapidly in prosperity, from its being touched by the Glasgow and Ayr railway. Population of the town and parish, in 1801, 2,815; in 1831, 3,739. Houses 503. Assessed property, in 1815, £13,141. – Dalry is in the presbytery of Irvine, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, Blair of Blair. Stipend £231 10s. 6d.; glebe £24. Unappropriated teinds £575 9s. 10d. The parish-church was built in 1771. Sittings 941. Before the Reformation the church belonged to the monastery of Kilwinning, and was served by a vicar. On a rising ground to the east of the Garnock, about a mile from the present village, formerly stood a chapel, vestiges of which have not long ago disappeared. At a greater distance from the village are still some ruins of another ancient chapel. – One of the meeting-houses in the village belongs to the United Secession, and the other to the body of Original Burghers, part of whom recently became reunited to the Established church. Sittings in the former 508; in the latter 282. Stipend of the former £110; of the latter £70. According to a survey made in 1835, there were 2,762 in connection with the Establishment, and 927 dissenters within the parish. – There are in the parish 4 schools, 3 of which are nonparochial. Parish-schoolmaster’s salary £32 15s. 9d., with £65 school-fees. 

   DALRY, a parish in the north-east verge of Kirkcudbrightshire; bounded on the north by Ayrshire and Dumfries-shire; on the east by Dumfries-shire; on the south-east by Balmaclellan; on the south-west and west by Kells; and on the north-west by Carsphairn. It is of the form of a triangle, having a small parallelogram resting on its northern angle, and presenting its apex, or greatest angle, to the east. Its greatest length, from the confluence of Grapel burn with Ken water on the south, to a point north-eastward of Black-Larg-hill on the north, is 14 miles; and its greatest breadth, from the confluence of Deugh water and Ken water on the west, to the point where Cairn water leaves it on the east, is 7½ miles. Over a distance of 15 miles, following the sinuosities of the stream, Ken water forms its north-western, western, and south-western boundary; and over the southern half of that distance it flows through a fine vale, richly tufted with natural woods. But even behind this vale, as well as through all the other districts, the parish is almost entirely pastoral and hilly. Toward the north, and along the eastern boundary, it is very mountainous; and it terminates northward in the towering eminence of Black Larg, which rises 2,890 feet above the level of the sea. Grapel burn, which flows south-westward into Ken water, and Cairn water, which flows north-eastward into Dumfries-shire, along with an intermediate boundary-line of only about a mile, divide the parish from Balmaclellan, or form one of the sides of its triangle. Numerous mountain-brooks rise in the interior; a few of which flow southward into Capel burn, and the most westward into Ken water. Lochinvar, near the centre of the southern division, is a sheet of water little less than 3 miles in circumference; and, as well as the smaller lakes, Boston, Knocksting, and Knockman, contains excellent trout, and is much frequented by fishers. Pike, trout, and salmon abound in the Ken. The salmon, however, except in high floods, cannot ascend higher than to a linn or cascade at Earlston, and they there often excite observation by repeated and exhausting, though generally vain leaps, to surmount the water-spouts which repel their further progress. The parish is traversed by only three roads; one along its western limit, down the vale of the Ken; another, along its south-western limit, chiefly on the banks of the Capel and the Cairn; and one, among the mountain-gorges from east to west, about midway between the northern and the southern extremities. In Lochinvar are the remains of an ancient fortified castle which belonged to the Gordons, formerly knights of Lochinvar, and recently viscounts of Kenmure. There are several moats, cairns, and curious places of defence. In the farm of Altrye, near the top of a hill, whence a distant view is commanded through the mountain-passes, is an artificial trench capable of accommodating 100 persons, reported to have been a hiding-place of the persecuted Covenanters, and – in derivation from the epithet by which that suffering people were most commonly known – bearing the designation of the Whighole. Dalry, in common with the contiguous mountain-districts, was the scene of not a few eventful occurrences under the persecutions of the Stuarts. In the churchyard of Dalry one gravestone covers the dust of Major Stewart, of Ardoch, and of John Grierson, who were shot in 1684, by Graham of Claverhouse, and after being buried in the family-cemetery belonging to Ardoch, were dug up, by Graham’s orders, and finally reinterred in the north-west corner of the churchyard of Dalry. – The village of Dalry is beautifully situated on a bend of the Ken, near the southern angle of the parish. The houses, though irregularly scattered over a considerable space of ground, produce a fine effect to the eye. The little crofts lying around them are all carefully cultivated; and the gardens are neatly surrounded with hedges, and sheltered by rows of trees. Here are the parish-church, and an United Secession meeting-house. Population of the parish, in 1801, 832; in 1831, 1,246. Houses 211. Assessed property, in 1815, £5,889. – Dalry is in the presbytery of Kirkcudbright, and synod of Galloway. Patron, Forbes of Callander. Stipend £217 12s. 2d.; glebe £20. Unappropriated teinds £180 4s. 6d. The church having formerly been dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the village, till recently, was called St. John’s clachan, and a large stone, shown to strangers as an object of curiosity, is called St. John’s chair. Before the establishment of Carsphairn parish in 1640, Dalry comprehended the mountainous and extensive tract between the Ken and the Deugh, and it anciently had several chapels, all subordinate to the mother or parochial church. During episcopal times the parson was a member of the chapter of Galloway. The present church was built in 1832; sittings 700. The United Secession church was built in 1826; sittings 200. Stipend £70. There are 3 schools; 1 parochial, 1 endowed, and 1 supported wholly by the parishioners. Parochial schoolmaster’s salary £25 13s. 3½d., with school-fees. The endowed school has 2 masters, whose combined salaries amount to £15. There is a mortified fund of £1,000 for a free-school.

1  Chalmers derives this name – which was formerly written Dalrye – from the Gaelic Dal, ‘a valley,’ and Rye, the name of one of the streams by which the parish is intersected. But the writer in the New Statistical Account prefers a derivation from Dal and Righ, ‘a king,’ making the name mean ‘the King’s valley;’ and he observes that a part of the site of the village is still called Crottanry, which he supposes to be a corruption of Croft an Righ, ‘the Croft of the king.’ 

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