Kirkmaiden

   KIRKMAIDEN, a parish, in the county of Wigton, 16 miles (S. by E.) from Stranraer; containing, with the villages of Drumore and Port-Logan, 2202 inhabitants, of whom 1700 are in the rural districts of the parish. This place, which occupies the southern extremity of Scotland, derives its name from the dedication of its ancient church to St. Medan, to whom some other churches in this part of the country were also dedicated; and the original name, Kirk-Medan, after suffering various modifications at different periods, has since the Reformation invariably retained its present form. From the names of some localities within the parish, it would appear that other churches were founded here at an early period, of which slight vestiges of the cemeteries may still be traced. The principal on record are those of Kirkbride, Kilstay, Kildonnan, Kirkleish, and Kirkdrain; and upon the shore of Maryport bay was an ancient chapel in honour of the Virgin Mary, of which the ruins were standing in 1680. The promontory called the Mull of Galloway, at the southern extremity of the parish, is said to have been the last retreat of the ancient Picts, where, when no longer able to withstand the assaults of their victorious enemies, they leaped from the rocks, and perished in the sea.
   The parish is bounded on the east by the bay of Luce, and on the south and west by the Irish Sea. It is about ten miles in length, from north to south, and varies from a mile and a half to nearly four miles in breadth, comprising 13,000 acres, of which 4000 are arable, 6000 meadow and pasture, 300 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moor and waste. The form is very irregular, and the surface greatly diversified. In some parts the ground is low and flat, though interspersed with numerous hills of moderate height, of which some are clothed with plantations; in other parts the lands rise into mountainous elevation, and almost in the centre the parish is intersected by a range of heights extending from the bay of Luce to the Irish Sea. Among the more conspicuous of the hills that diversify the surface, and of which some attain to nearly 900 feet above the level of the sea, are, Montlokowre, Dunman, Cairnhill, Cairn of Dolt, and Grennan Hill, from all of which are obtained extensive and interesting views. The bold rocky promontory of the Mull of Galloway, a peninsula nearly a mile and a half in length, and a quarter of a mile in breadth, is connected with the main land by a narrow isthmus, little more than a quarter of a mile in width, and on which a lighthouse was erected in 1830, displaying an intermitting light, visible at a distance of twenty-three nautical miles. From the balcony of the lighthouse is an unbounded prospect, embracing the mountains of Cumberland, the whole of the Isle of Man, the coast of Ireland from the mountains of Morne to Fairhead, the heights of Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, and Ayrshire, and the summits of Mountjura, in Argyllshire, all of which are distinctly seen in clear weather. The coast on the eastern side of the parish is flat, and the shore gravelly; but on the west, rocky and precipitous, and worn by the waves into caverns of romantic appearance. The principal headland on the east is Killiness Point; on the west are, Crammag, Gounies, and the Mull of Logan. Of the numerous bays that indent the coast the most important are, Chapelrossan, Balgown, New England, Tirally, Grennan, Curghie, Drumore, Culliness, Maryport, and East Tarbet, on the bay of Luce; and West Tarbet, Barncorkrie, Clanyard, Portnessock, and Port Gill, on the shore of the Irish Sea. The harbours are, Port-Logan in the bay of Portnessock, and Drumore. At both of these, commodious quays have been erected, where vessels of any burthen may land and take in their cargoes, and find safe anchorage in the bays; but the former cannot be entered at low water by vessels of great size. Several of the other bays, also, are accessible to small vessels in fine weather; but they are not much frequented. Fish of many kinds are found in abundance off the coast; the most general are, cod, whiting, mullet, mackerel, skate, turbot, soles, oysters, lobsters, and crabs, of which two last great numbers are taken by fishermen from Ireland, for the supply of the Dublin market. Herrings, after having for years abandoned this part of the coast, are beginning to return, and promise to be abundant, in which case the fisheries, not now conducted upon any regular plan, may become a source of much profit to the inhabitants.
   The soil, though various, is tolerably fertile, and the lands are in profitable cultivation; the crops are, wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses. The system of husbandry is in a great degree advanced, but is still susceptible of improvement. Thorough-draining has been introduced to a moderate extent, with considerable benefit, and due regard is had to the rotation of crops; the lands, also, have been mostly inclosed. But the fences, which are partly of stone and partly of thorn, are but indifferently constructed; and though the buildings on some of the larger farms are substantial, many are still of very inferior order. The cattle reared are of the Galloway breed, with the exception of the cows for the dairy, which are of the Ayrshire; and great attention is paid to their improvement: the sheep reared in the hill pastures are all of the black-faced, but such as are kept on the farms for domestic use are of the Leicestershire breed. The plantations, chiefly confined to the vicinity of Logan House, consist of ash, mountainash, sycamore, elm, beech, birch, and Huntingdon willow, for all of which the soil is well adapted; and in places sheltered from the sea, pincaster, white-spruce, Scotch fir, holly, and yew, are in a thriving state. The rocks are generally composed of greywacke and argillaceous schist, alternated with portions of granite and gneiss. Slate of tolerable quality for roofing is found in abundance, and in some places has been wrought to a considerable extent; but there are neither mines nor quarries at present in operation. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6396. Logan House, the seat of the principal landed proprietor, is a handsome modern mansion, situated in an extensive demesne richly embellished. No manufactures are carried on; but in the villages of Drumore and Port-Logan, which are separately described, a few of the inhabitants are employed in the requisite handicraft trades. There is a post-office established under that of Stranraer, from which town the mail is conveyed daily to Port-Logan and Drumore, three days in the week by a gig merely, and on other days by a car carrying passengers. A fair is held near the church on the Tuesday after the 21st of November; it was formerly frequented by dealers from various parts of the country, but has recently degenerated into a mere pleasure-fair. Facility of communication is maintained by statute-labour roads, recently much improved, and kept in good repair.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Stranraer and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £150. 16. 5., of which £5. 7. 8. are paid from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £8 per annum; patron, the Earl of Stair. The church, situated nearly in the centre of the parish, was erected in 1638; it is a very plain structure, with 275 sittings. The parochial school is attended by about ninety children; the master has a salary of £25. 15., with a house and garden, and the fees average £18. A parochial library, containing a collection of 600 volumes, is supported by subscription. There are slight vestiges of ancient fortresses on the hills, supposed to have been of Pictish origin: on the isthmus connecting the Mull of Galloway with the main land, are some traces of a double line of fortifications extending from sea to sea. Upon the coast, near East Tarbet, is a cave thought to have been the retreat of St. Medan; and near it, in the adjoining rock, is a cylindrical well, about four feet in diameter and six feet deep, naturally formed, and supplied with water by the surf breaking over the rock at spring tides. There are some remains of the ancient castles of Logan, Clanyard, and Drumore; and the dinner-bell of the old castle of Clanyard, which, according to an inscription, appears to have been originally cast for the grandfather of the first Earl of Dalhousie, in 1534, is now suspended in the steeple of the parish church. Near Logan is a natural cavity in the rocks, into which the tide enters at every flood, and which is generally stored with various kinds of fish. Andrew Mc Douall, Lord Bankton, author of Institutes of Scottish Law, and Robert Mc Douall, admiral both in the Portuguese and British service, were natives of the parish.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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