Kirkoswald Lang Syne
Sitting yae nicht by my cosy fire en',
My thochts wander back to my boyhood again,
Back to the village I mind when a boy
Wi' the ladies and lassies that joined in ilk ploy;
Its fifty lang years, or maybe twa mair,
My brither and I from the Auld Toon o' Ayr,
Wha lang had agreed when summer cam roon,
To spen' oor vacations awa' frae the toon.
In yon bonnie wee village, Kirkoswald by name,
No faur frae Maybole, but nearer Culzean,
The kindest o' uncles and cousins leeved there,
Wha invited us baith their freenship to share;
Biddin' parents fraeweel, a hard thing to thole,
We set oot in the train for the toon o' Maybole,
Oor cousins were there to show us the way,
Fower miles and a bittock, I mind o' that day.
The thocht o' that road, I mind it seemed lang,
Tho' cheered on oor way by the birds and their sang,
The fields o' green corn, the scent o' the hay,
The hum o' the bees and flo'ers by the way,
The hedge raws weel cled wi' roses sae braw,
The bramble bush blossoms as white as the snaw,
Clumps o' green fern, harebell and bedstrae,
Brichtend the roadside in natures ain way.
Oor uncle's wee hoose was noo close at haun,
And thankfu' we were, we scarcely could staun,
And o' what a tea for twa hungry boys!
The thocht o' it yet is yin to enjoy.
Noo I'll try and write doon as lang as I mind,
The names and the hames o' the auld folks lang syne,
Tho' lang passed awa' to the land o' the Leal,
Its hertenin' to ken they're aye minded weel.
Schulmaister Hutchison, long gaun to rest,
His scholars aye mind him as yin o' the best,
To make them guid scholars was ever his aim,
A credit to him, their village and hame,
Some of his scholars are far ower the sea,
But think of him yet wi' tears in their e'e,
Tho' faur frae the village, the hame o' their birth,
To them it's the dearest and fairest on earth.
In Souter Johnnie's wee hoose there leeved at that time,
Twa grandsons o' his in the cobblin' line;
Wully and Mattha Davidson, auld batchelors baith,
Wha leeved in the hoose till the day o' their daiths;
The hoose is weel cared for and held in regard,
And kept as a shrine to the National Bard;
Then doon in the kirkyard, better kept than mony,
Lie Tam o' Shanter and his frien' Souter Johnnie.
I mind the wee shop, baith Post Office and store,
Belonin' to Dauvit and his sister, Maggie Orr;
They're baith laid awa' but its sweet to reca',
Noo sair they were missed by yin and by a';
And then, the wee smithy, its staunin' the same,
But gaun's the aukd smith, Johnnie Gray was his name.
The twa village inns are aye tae the fore,
But Thomas and Wully are no' at the door.
The readin' room too, aye cosy and braw,
Wi' papers and magazines welcome to a',
Dominos, draughts, simmer ice, I can mind,
Were favourite games played there at the time;
Mrs Gilmours' wee shop pleased women folk weel,
Supplyin' their wants, richt doon tae a reel.
The readin' room tae was under her care,
And kindly the welcome to a' that cam there.
Mc Clymont's wee shop at the corner, I mind,
For mony a sweetie I bocht in my time,
When they left the village Mrs Harvey began,
A shop o' her ain a bit further alang.
Tam Smith was the carrier 'tween Maybole and Ayr,
And mony a percil was sent by his care,
Jamie Boyle was the joiner and Cartwright too,
Wi' plenty o' work for Jamie had skill.
The Orrs were in Kirklands for mony a day,
Its noo in the haun's o' a fermer ca'ed Gray.
It was aye a guid ferm and yin to admire,
Famed for its craps and weel stocked byre;
The pond on the ferm when winter cam roon,
Garred curlers look oot their best besoms o' broom,
Gin thefrost held and ice coonted gran,
Day in and day oot the curlers got thrang.
John Gilmour had the quarry o' guid Ballochneil,
Wi' plenty o' hewers and building as weel,
Work was in plenty and the village was thrang,
Then ower at Maidens a boatyard began;
I believe it was Lord Ailsa that started the same,
The keenest of yachtsmen and second to nane.
For years it gaed on and then 'twas closed doon,
To stert on a big scale up yonder in Troon.
Twq kirks in the village, the Auld and the Free,
The soun' o' their bells comes aye back to me;
"Come a' tae me" was the Free Kirks din,
The Auld replied ---- " Deil a yin! Deil a yin!"
The ministers, baith, were respected right weel,
And tended their flocks wi' credit and skill;
Mr Findlay in the Auld, Mr Arebuckle, the Free,
Were kenspeckle figures where e'r they may be.
The minister noo ---- in the Auld Kirk I mean,
I'm prood I hae met, and coont him a freen;
He's a great man on Burns, an author as weel,
An's written a book on Burns at the schule.
Itís a pairt o' Rab's life that's aye been obscure,
But noo weel supplied by the Rev. James Muir.
He mak's his ain sangs and sings them real weel,
And lectures on Burns wi credit and skill.
He's fortunate too, wi' his partner in life,
For often I've heard she's an ideal wee wife,
Helpin' him aye in the wark he loves weel'
In the village itself, and further afield.
May providence guide the guid wark in their care,
And hertin them baith the burden to share,
" Bless them wi' health and spare them for long,
That's the guid wish heard on every han;
Sandy Hardy was beadle and minister's man,
Precentor as weel, the best o' his clan,
He wrocht the manse garden aye keepin' it braw,
And prood was dear Sandy when showin' ye a';
My uncle was elder in the Auld Kirk for lang,
A man weel respected on every haun;
Kindly by nature and quate in his ways,
We looked up to oor uncle, the hale o' his days.
Then up the kirkbrae, I canna forget,
The hoose, byre, and stable, and garden weel set,
The waal roon the corner wi' watter aye caul,
And bonny green mosses that grew on the wall;
Then dear Granny Gilmour, the best o' her kind,
Sae prood o' the bairnies, sae weel dae I mind,
I can picture her yet, for there I can see,
Granny close by the fire, a cat on her knee.
Aunt Ann and Eliza, her dochters sae braw,
Tho' ever so busy, had a welcome for a',
Then after tea, wi' story and sang,
Hoo quickly the nicht gaed slippin' alang.
Twas hertinin' to hear the songs that they sang,
Like "Auld Robin Gray" and "Dinna Cross The Burn",
"Ye Banks and Braes" then "Robin Adair"
"Rothsay Bay" and twa or three mair.
And oh what a treat on Hogmanay nicht,
We danced in the kitchen to grannies delicht,
The bun and shortbread wi blackberry wine,
Were aye handed roon at Hogmanay time.
Then a guid he'rty tea, scones, butter an' cheese,
That was grannies ain wey the bairnies tae please,
Games, stories, and sangs till New Year cam' in,
"Guid Nicht!" and off hame by the licht o' the min.
Then in the kitchen my brither and I,
Tried catchin' the crickets ---- of course on the sly,
For Grannie had warned us 'twas unlucky to kill,
The cheerie wee cricket that never wrocht ill.
But boys will be boys, and crickets are rare,
We never had seen them at hame or elsewhere,
The temptation was great and so was the fun,
We got yin at last and nae herm was done.
The ower the Kirkbrae to Corrieston burn,
Yon hamely wee hoose doon there by the turn'
Whaur donce Sandy Heron and kind sister Jean,
Dwalt mony a year, baith happy and bien;
The soun' o' the burnie winyslin' alang,
Is still in my ear, the sweetest o' sang,
The flo'ers by the bank attracted me se,
And gied me a love for flo'ers to this day.
And threr in that burnie we paddl'd aboot,
Baith ladies and lassies and guddled for troot,
Syn tyrin' o' that we sat doon in a raw,
And sang ower the sangs familiar to a';
'Twas there in the burnie I first fished for troot,
And mony a yin in my day I took oot,
I mind o' the day the burnie was big,
Catchin'the biggest at Minniebae brig.
'Twas aye a guid hole as ladies kenned weel,
Wi' twa or three mair doon near Ballochneil,
At Crofton brig tae, richt weel dae I mind,
Gin the burn was in spate the fishin' was fine;
I munna forget that in Minniebae ferm,
The Cowperthwaites aweit for mony a term.
The fermis aye there, for I whyles pass that way,
But wha's in it noo, I canna jist say.
In yon cosy cottage up the Kirkbrae,
The twa Miss Gilmours leeve there to this day;
Dear frien's o' my ain, an frien's o' lang syne,
Its to you I ha'e written my verses o' rhyme,
Gin only the verses wad help to reca',
The days o' lang syne and them thatís awa',
I'd feel that my verses had no been in vain,
If gi'en some pleasure to friens that remain.
Another bien frien cam' intae my mind,
Mrs McKellar, wee Ann o' lang syne,
Her bairies I ken are a' daein weel,
A credit to her, the village and schule.
My ain kindly cousins are scattered aboot,
Annie and Bella are noo at Doonfoot,
James in North Berwick, Dave ower the sea,
Wha hear o' the village frae frien's an' frae me.
And ower in the kirkyard sae bonnie and green,
Lie mony a playmate and mony a frien',
Tho' passed frae oor scicht they're ne'er ooot o' mind,
But dear to us o' because o' lang syne,
Their guidly example and quate kindly ways,
Will help us along the hale o' oor days,
Till we meet again in land that is fair,
Whaur sorrow and pairtin' will happen nae mair.
Noo I hae gien ye the maist that I mind,
O' Kirkoswald, wee village, in days o' lang syne,
Wi' its kindly auld folks sae gled to share,
The best in the hoose wi a' that cam there;
And I'm shair ye'll agree it's weel to reca,
The names and the hames o' them thatís awa;
Noo I mun quat, for this is the en',
I'll close wi fower letters spellin' A-M-E-N.