KIRKOWAN, a parish, in the county of Wigton; containing, with the hamlet of Kiltersan, 1423 inhabitants, of whom 607 are in the village of Kirkowan, 6 miles (S. W. by W.) from Newton-Stewart. This place, which derives its name from the dedication of its church to St. Owan, of whose history few particulars are recorded, anciently formed part of the adjacent parish of Kirkinner, from which it appears to have been separated about the time of the Reformation. The parish is bounded on the east by the river Bladenoch, and on the west by the river Tarf; it is about fifteen miles in length, and varies from less than two miles to nearly seven in breadth, comprising 30,580 acres, of which 7000 are arable, 300 woodland and plantations, and the remainder meadow, pasture, and waste. The surface is diversified with numerous hills, of which few, however, attain any considerable degree of elevation, and with large tracts of moors, interspersed with patches of arable land of moderate fertility and in a tolerable state of cultivation. The principal rivers are the Bladenoch and the Tarf. The former has its source in Loch Maebearie, in the north, and, flowing in a southern direction, separates the parish from that of Penning-hame: on quitting Kirkowan, it changes its course to the east, and runs into the bay of Wigton. The Tarf, which rises on the southern confines of Ayrshire, bounds the parish for some miles in a beautifully-winding course, and, afterwards altering its direction, intersects the south-eastern portion of the parish, and flows eastward into the Bladenoch near the church. There are several lakes; the most extensive is Loch Maebearie, about a mile and a quarter in length, and half a mile in breadth. Nearly in the centre of the parish, and within a mile of the Tarf, is a continuous chain of three lakes, connected with each other by rivulets, and extending for a mile and a half in length. Salmon, trout, pike, and eels are found in the rivers and lakes, but not in great abundance.
   The soil of the arable lands in the north-west district is cold and thin, but in the south-east of richer quality, light and dry, and, under good management, producing excellent crops of grain, chiefly oats and barley. The system of husbandry is much improved; the lands have been drained and inclosed; the farm-buildings are generally substantial and commodious, and most of the more recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been adopted. The hills afford good pasturage for sheep, of which more than 10,000 are reared, principally of the black-faced breed; they are much prized for the fineness of their wool, about 1200 stone being annually sold, producing an income of £900. The cattle are all of the pure Galloway breed, and are usually disposed of when two years old to dealers from Dumfries, whence they are sent southwards, and, after a year's pasture in England, forwarded to the London market, where they are in great estimation. The plantations are in general under careful management and in a thriving state. The substrata are greywacke and clayslate, and large boulder of granite are found in several parts: the granite, which is of good quality, is hewn into blocks for lintels, door-posts, and other purposes in which strength or ornament is required. There is also a quarry of stone, of good quality for building, at no great distance from the village. A vein of slate was some years since discovered on the Culvennan hill, and was for a time in operation; but the quality was not such as to render the working of the quarry desirable, and it has been long discontinued. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5393. Craiglaw House, an ancient mansion finely situated in a well-planted demesne, is the principal seat. The village is on the road to Wigton, and near the river Tarf, on which a mill was erected in 1822, for the manufacture of woollen cloths, affording employment to about seventy persons; the articles made are, blankets, plaidings, flannels, and plain and pilot cloths, for the dyeing and dressing of which the water of the Tarf, from its peculiar softness is well adapted. A post-office has been established under that of Newton-Stewart. There are several handicraft trades carried on for the accommodation of the district, and some shops in the village for the sale of various kinds of merchandize. Four annual fairs were formerly held here. Facility of communication is maintained by the roads to Wigton and Portpatrick, which pass through the parish, and by bridges over the rivers. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Wigton and synod of Galloway. The minister's stipend is £292. 11. 8., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £6 per annum; patrons, the Agnew family. The church, erected in 1829, is a neat substantial structure with a tower, and is conveniently situated in the village. A congregation of Seceders assembles for public worship in an old barn which has been fitted up for the purpose. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £25. 13., with a house and garden, and the fees average about £30 per annum. There are some remains of the ancient castle of Mindork in the south-western portion of the parish; but nothing of its history is recorded.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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