Dalry


Dalry
   1) DALRY, a manufacturing town and parish, in the district of Cunninghame, county of Ayr, 5 miles (S. W.) from Beith, and 7 (N. N. E.) from Saltcoats; containing 4791 inhabitants. This place derives its name, in the Gaelic language signifying the "king's valley," from its situation in the vale of Garnock, which formed part of the royal demesnes. Previously to the year 1608 the town was an inconsiderable village, consisting only of five or six decent houses, and a few straggling cottages, and containing scarcely one hundred inhabitants. It owes its origin and increase to the erection of the parish church at this place, towards the commencement of the seventeenth century, when the two ancient churches, becoming dilapidated, were abandoned. The town is beautifully situated on a gentle eminence rising from the right bank of the river Garnock, and between the rivers Rye and Caaf, which flow into the Garnock above and below the town; it consists principally of five streets, three of which terminate in an open area nearly in the centre. The houses are regularly and well built, and many of them are of handsome appearance; the streets are lighted with gas by subscription of the inhabitants, for which purpose a company was formed, and works erected, in 1834. There are two good bridges of stone across the Garnock, of two and three arches respectively; and bridges of one arch each have been erected over the rivers Rye and Caaf.
   The weaving of silk for the manufacturers of Glasgow and Paisley is the principal occupation of the inhabitants, in which 500 persons are constantly engaged; and as they are employed chiefly in the superior description of articles, they have not been subjected to the depression occasioned by the introduction of power-looms, which are not adapted to the finer kinds of work. A great number of females, also, are employed in sewing and embroidering muslins, for the Glasgow and Paisley markets, which are celebrated for Ayrshire needlework; and a mill originally erected for spinning cotton has been enlarged, and converted to the spinning of woollenyarn for the making of carpets. There is likewise a manufactory for wooden plates, bowls, ladles, and other articles of the kind, the machinery of which is driven by a steam-engine of two-horse power. The town contains numerous handsome shops, amply supplied with every requisite for the supply of the inhabitants and of the neighbourhood. A public library is supported by subscription, and has more than 1000 volumes; a church library, also supported by subscription, in connexion with the parochial school, contains 600 volumes; and there is also a library belonging to the congregation of the United Secession. The Ardrossan Farmers' Society hold their annual exhibitions occasionally in the town, and the Ayrshire Agricultural Association meet alternately here and at Kilmarnock. Six fairs are annually held, but one only is of any importance, which takes place on the last day of July, and was formerly one of the most extensive horse-fairs in the west of Scotland; it is chiefly for horses and cattle, but comparatively little business is transacted.
   The parish is ten miles in length, and from three to eight in breadth, and comprises 19,046 acres, of which 12,287 are arable, 6089 pasture and waste, and 670 woodland and plantations. The surface is pleasingly varied. A rich and fertile valley, through which the river Garnock pursues its winding course, intersects the parish nearly in the centre. The grounds on the western side of this valley rise, by a gradual ascent, towards the north-west boundary, and terminate in a ridge of hills, of which the highest has an elevation of 1200 feet above the sea. The lands on the eastern side are interspersed with hills of various height, of which Baidland and Caerwinning are the chief, the former having an elevation of 946, and the latter of 634 feet. The river Garnock rises in the parish of Kilbirnie, flows for seven miles through this parish, and, after receiving in its course numerous tributary streams, of which the Rye and the Caaf are the principal, falls into the sea at Irvine. The Rye has its source in the parish of Largs, and runs through a deep and richly-wooded dell into this parish. The Caaf rises on the confines of Kilbride and Largs, and, forcing its way through a basaltic rock, in which it has worn for itself a passage, enters a deep and rocky glen, where, its course being obstructed by huge blocks of stone, it forms a romantic cascade. The fall is from a height of twenty-four feet, in one unbroken column twenty feet in breadth, between two large masses of rock. There are also numerous springs of excellent water in the parish, and some possessing mineral properties, one of which, at Loans Bridge, is a strong chalybeate, and one at Maulside powerfully efficacious in scorbutic affections. The vale of the Garnock is thought to have been anciently an extensive lake, reaching from this place to Johnstone, in the county of Renfrew, and of which the lochs of Kilbirnie and Castle-Semple formed a part; and the supposition is in some degree rendered probable from the number of trees that have been found imbedded in the soil of the valley.
   The soil is generally a thin cold retentive clay, with a portion of rich loam along the banks of the Garnock; in some parts, of more adhesive clay, with a large extent of moss; and in the uplands, of a light and dry quality. The progress of the plough is impeded by vast numbers of boulders, of which, though great quantities have been removed at various times, many still remain; some of the mosses are of great depth, and in all of them oak, birch, and hazel trees are found prostrate. The crops are, wheat, oats, barley, beans, potatoes, and flax: the system of agriculture is in an advanced state, and much waste land has been brought into cultivation. The dairy-farms are extensive and well-managed; about 1400 milch-cows are kept, mostly of the Cunninghame breed, and the average quantity of cheese, to the making of which particular attention is paid, exceeds 35,000 stones annually. The sheep are generally of the blackfaced Linton breed, with a few of a breed between the Cheviot and Leicestershire. The rateable annual value of the parish is £16,314. The plantations, especially those on the lands of Blair, which have been chiefly formed on steep rocky banks, within the last forty years, are in a very thriving condition, and consist of oak, ash, beech, chesnuts, and willow, and of silver and spruce firs, and larch. Those around the house of Blair contain several fine specimens of luxuriant growth, among which are a Spanish chesnut and some plane trees; and in the grounds are various kinds of evergreens, including Portugal laurels and rhododendrons of unusual size. The plantations on the lands of Maulside are also remarkably fine.
   The substrata of the parish are, sandstone, limestone, and coal, and the hills are mostly claystone-porphyry, greenstone, and basalt; jasper is found in the porphyry, hornstone in the bed of the Caaf, and agate in that of the Rye. In the hill of Baidland, a vein of cannel coal has been discovered of the thickness of six feet, exceedingly inflammable, and, when burnt, emitting a strong sulphureous smell. There are several coal-pits at present open; valuable clay is also dug. Limestone is extensively quarried, not only for the supply of the parish, but for that of the adjoining districts; and there are three lime-kilns, at which great quantities of lime are burnt, and sold at a very moderate price. Ironstone, also, recently discovered, is wrought to a large extent. Blair House is a spacious mansion, situated in a richly-embellished demesne; a handsome residence has been recently erected at Swinridgemuir, and there is also a good house on the lands of Pitcon. Facility of intercourse with the neighbouring towns is afforded by excellent roads; and turnpike-roads to Paisley, Irvine, Kilmarnock, and Glasgow, and the railway from Glasgow to Ayr, pass through the parish.
   Dalry is in the presbytery of Irvine and synod of Glasgow and Ayr, and patronage of W. Blair, Esq. The minister's stipend is £231. 10., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £24 per annum. The church, erected in 1771, and thoroughly repaired in 1821, is a neat plain edifice adapted for 870 persons, but greatly inadequate to the population. There are places of worship for the Free Church and United Secession. The parochial school affords a good course of education; the master has a salary of £32, with £65 fees, and a house and garden. There are considerable remains of an ancient fortification on the summit of Caerwinning hill, consisting of three concentric circular ramparts of stone, inclosing an area of about two acres in extent, and surrounded by a fosse which may still be traced. The walls, about ten feet in thickness, have been nearly destroyed by the removal of the stones, at different periods, for fences and other uses. The Scottish forces are said to have been encamped here previously to the battle of Largs. There were formerly some remains, also, of a square fort on a precipitous rock called Aitnach Craig, on the bank of the Rye; but it has been totally destroyed. An artificial mound near the town, named Courthill, of conical form, and grown over with grass, was once the place for dispensing justice; and various tumuli have been discovered, in some of which were human bones. Four urns containing human bones have been found on the lands of Linn, near the site of an ancient chapel; an urn, also, containing calcined bones and ashes, has been discovered near Blair House.
   2) DALRY, a parish, in the stewartry of Kirkcud-Bright, 15 miles (N. N. W.) from Castle-Douglas; containing 1215 inhabitants, of whom 574 are in the village of St. John's Clachan. This parish, of which the name, signifying the "Royal Dale," is derived from a level and fertile plain called the Holm, is about fifteen miles in length, and seven miles in breadth, comprising 33,000 acres. The surface is diversified with hills, of which some are green to their summit, and others are covered with barren heath; the proportion of arable land is very small, nearly four-fifths of the area being pasture. The river Ken, which rises in the northern extremity of the parish, forms the western boundary between it and Kells, and, after a beautifully-winding course, flows through Loch Ken into the river Dee. The smaller streams are, the Blackwater, the Earlston, and the Stronriggan, which run through the parish into the Ken; they all abound with trout, and in the Ken are found also pike and salmon. The chief lakes are, Lochinvar, Boston, Knocksting, and Knockman, of which Lochinvar, about fifty acres in extent, is the most important; the others are all of very small dimensions, and undistinguished by any features requiring notice. In Lochinvar are the remains of the ancient castle of the Gordons, knights of Lochinvar, and afterwards viscounts Kenmure; and near it is a cairn, raised as a trophy on a spot where the first knight killed a wild boar that infested this part of the country. The scenery along the banks of the Ken is enriched with ancient woods of considerable extent, of which the largest is that of Earlston, formerly a hunting-seat of the Earl of Bothwell, and in which are some plantations of stately fir.
   The soil on the Holm lands is tolerably fertile, yielding favourable crops of barley, oats, turnips, potatoes, and rye; and the hills and higher lands afford excellent pasture. The system of agriculture is improved; and the surface has been drained, and inclosed with stone dykes of sufficient height to afford shelter to the cattle. Great numbers of sheep and black-cattle are reared in the pastures. In the village is a post-office under that of Castle-Douglas; and facility of communication is maintained by good roads, of which those from Kirkcudbright to Ayr and Glasgow, and from NewtonStewart to Dumfries and Edinburgh, intersect the parish. The rateable annual value of Dalry is £5768. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Kirkcudbright and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £217. 12., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum; patron, William Forbes, Esq., of Callendar. The church, erected in 1832, is a neat structure containing 700 sittings: in the churchyard is an aisle of the old church, quite detached from the present building, and which is the burying-place of the Gordon family. There is a place of worship for members of the United Secession. Two parochial schools, of which the masters have salaries of £25 each, with a house and garden, in addition to the fees, are supported by the heritors, and attended by more than forty children. A grammar school was founded by Dr. Robert Johnson, of London, who endowed it with £1000 for the gratuitous instruction of the children of the parish; it is under the management of two masters, who have salaries of £15 each, and is attended by nearly 120 children. The building, erected in 1658, comprises a good dwelling-house and schoolroom, with eight acres of land attached to it. There are several remains of ancient buildings on the farms of Benbreck and Manquhill, supposed to have been the ancient residence of the Galloway family; and in various parts of the parish, are numerous intrenchments for the security of cattle during the times of the border warfare.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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