Killean and Kilchenzie

   KILLEAN and KILCHENZIE, a parish, in the district of Cantyre, county of Argyll, 18 miles (N.N. W.) from Campbelltown; containing 2402 inhabitants. The name of the first of these two ancient parishes, now united, is of doubtful origin, but is supposed to be derived either from Killian, a saint of the seventh century, or from a Gaelic term signifying a "river churchyard," in allusion to a rivulet forming the northern boundary, and, in union with a tributary stream, surrounding the site, of the church and burial-ground. Another saint, called St. Kenneth, is considered to have given name to Kilchenzie, and to have been the tutelar saint of that district. The present parish is situated on the western coast of the peninsula of Cantyre, and is eighteen miles in length, and about four and a half in breadth, comprising 51,840 acres, of which between 5000 and 6000 are arable, several portions pasture, and the remainder, to a great extent, barren moors and wild mountains altogether incapable of cultivation. The coast is much varied. In many parts it is low and sandy, especially in the direction of the islands of Gigha, Cara, Jura, and Islay, which afford great protection against the fury of the waves. Farther south, it is more rocky and elevated; and though neither harbour nor secure anchorage is to be found, for want of those arms of the sea which penetrate many Highland districts, yet the shores are marked by numerous headlands, small bays, caves, and piles of rocks, serving to vary the uniformity of outline, and to create interesting scenery. The principal headland towards the north is Runahaorine point, consisting of a narrow neck of mossy land, stretching for about a mile into the sea, opposite to the north end of the island of Gigha, and, with a promontory in the parish of Kilberry, forming the entrance into West Loch Tarbert from the Atlantic Ocean. Bealochintie bay, more southerly, comprehends a circuit of nearly two miles, and has in its vicinity a projecting mass of rocks and stones of vast dimensions, overhanging the water. The sea is thought to have receded to a considerable extent. Traces of its ancient limits are evident in many places; and among these especially is a strip of alluvial land, extending near the shore, throughout the whole line of coast, and bearing marks of its former subjection to the element. The inhabitants are, indeed, of opinion that this recession is still gradually going on. The sound between the main land and the islands of Gigha and Cara is rendered perilous by numerous sunken rocks; and vessels approaching the coast, having no harbour here, are often obliged, upon a change of wind, to retreat suddenly to Gigha, and wait for a favourable opportunity of returning.
   The surface of the interior is also considerably varied. The land gradually rises from the shore to the height of 700 or 800 feet, and exhibits several glens, and elevations of some magnitude, enlivened by small streams. The general scenery, however, is uninteresting, and is almost entirely destitute of natural wood. The hills range in a direction from north to south: the most conspicuous, on account of its height, is Beinn-antuirc, or "wild boar mountain," at the head of Glen-Barr, which rises 2170 feet above the level of the sea. The slopes of the hills towards the shore, for about half a mile, are well cultivated, and afford crops of grain, peas, and beans; but beyond, the ground is dreary, bleak, and barren, consisting of lofty moors abounding with small lochs, and tracts covered with heath, coarse grass, and rushes. The soil varies very much in different parts, comprising clay, moss, loam, sand, and gravel; but that which most prevails is a light gravelly loam. Near the sea the soil is very sharp and sandy. In most parts it has from time immemorial been plentifully manured with sea-weed. The crops comprise peas, beans, potatoes, oats, and bear, especially the last, which is cultivated in large quantities. Potatoes likewise form an important article; they have been in great demand for seed since the opening of a communication with the English and Irish markets, and are the staple on which the tenants rely chiefly for the payment of their rents. The rotation system is in operation; but the successful prosecution of this method of husbandry is much retarded by the want of subdivisions in the land, and the scarcity of good inclosures; and no little difficulty arises from the distance of the market, the farmers being compelled to cart their produce to Campbelltown. The cattle are of the black Highland breed, but small, and altogether inferior; the sheep are of the ordinary black-faced kind. Great efforts have been made for many years past to improve the breed of horses, and those used for agricultural and other purposes are now of superior condition. The rateable annual value of the parish is £9532.
   The rocks consist principally of mica, quartz, limestone, and whinstone, which, in some parts near the shore, are varied with different admixtures. The district is bare of natural wood, the very small portion seen here being only brushwood, and in detached spots; but within the last forty years, plantations of larch and other forest-trees have been formed to some extent, and are kept in good order. Great discouragements, however, operate against such improvements, for, though the soil is considered particularly suited to the growth of trees, the severity of the climate, the fury of the winds, and the sea air unite together to neutralize, to a considerable extent, the efforts of the planter. The chief seats are those of Largie and Glenbarr, the former an ancient family mansion, and the latter a modern residence built in the style of a priory. The parish contains only two small hamlets, and the great bulk of the population are cottars or day labourers, dwelling in very humble tenements, and but scantily provided with the necessaries of life. A few persons are employed in taking lobsters, which they send by the steamers to the Irish and Liverpool markets; but the fine fish of the usual kinds abounding on the western coast, and the shoals of herrings passing by, are almost entirely neglected. Turf and peat are the ordinary fuel, obtained from a considerable distance, and with great labour. The public road from Inverary to Campbelltown passes through the district. An annual fair is held here regularly for the hiring of harvest servants.
   The parish is in the presbytery of Cantyre and synod of Argyll, and in the patronage of the Duke of Argyll: the minister has a stipend of £178, with a manse, and a glebe of nearly eight acres, valued at £10 per annum. There are two churches, the one erected in 1787, and the other in 1826, containing respectively 650 and 750 sittings. The parish contains two parochial schools, affording instruction in the ordinary branches: the master of the first school has £31. 6. salary, and a house and garden, and the master of the second, a salary of £20; the fees of both are about £15. A school is supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the master receiving a salary of £22, with a house, and two and a half acres of land, purchased by a bequest; and another is maintained by the General Assembly's Committee, the master of which has £25 per annum, with a house and a portion of land. The poor enjoy the interest of a bequest of £1000, made by Captain Norman Macalister, late governor of Prince of Wales' Island. Near the middle of the parish is the ruin of an old castle, said to have belonged to the Macdonalds, lords of the Isles; and in several places are tumuli, and circles of stones, usually called Druidical circles.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kilchenzie —    KILCHENZIE, Argyllshire.    See Killean and Kilchenzie …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

  • Kintyre — (Scottish Gaelic: Cinn Tìre pronounced|kʲiɲˈtʲiːɾʲə) is a peninsula in western Scotland, in the south west of Argyll and Bute. The region stretches approximately 30 miles (48 km), from the Mull of Kintyre (immortalised in the song of the same… …   Wikipedia

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