Few places which have their history written need a note to tell readers where to find them on the map. Minishant does. You will find it just five and a quarter miles south of Ayr on the main A77 road to Stranraer, the northernmost village in Carrick, that part of Scotland which produced King Robert the Bruce and all the feuding, fighting Kennedys.
To travellers it's a mere straggle of houses, hardly noticed as they dash through, but to me Minishant is a place of unmatched spirit which deserves more attention. But I'm prejudiced: I was born there and can trace my family connection back to Ivie Boyd, my six-times-great-grandfather who was born in 1759 - the same year as Robert Burns and lived less than four miles from the Poet's birthplace at Alloway.
For more than a decade this little book has been referred to by my Mother as "Hugh's history of Minishant" and by me as "Mother's history of the village". Whose book is it?
Like the village, its pedigree is none too clear. It began life as a village history compiled by my Mother for a Scottish Women's Rural institute competition in the late 1960's, and it gave a vivid picture of the place, especially during the first half of the present century.
However, Mother always felt that earlier history - the more formal textbook part of the story - was missing and she asked me to sketch some of it in. The task sounded easy, except that I soon discovered that no village called Minishant existed on a map or in a reference book prior to the middle of the last century, and the place which we now know as Minishant was called Culroy. Present-day Culroy, a mile away, was Culroy Bridge or Culroy Smithy.
It was a mystery which I thought could be solved quickly, but the answer still eludes me after consulting every authority I can think of. So here it is at last, our joint story of the village with only a guess at the answer to the mystery of the name, but with a lot of hitherto unrecorded information about the district.
In editing the book, I have added the names of authors of each chapter, so that it will be clear just how much credit is due to Mother's original work.
Many people have helped, especially those in Minishant district who have drawn on family documents and their memories. Mrs. Mary Macdonald, Headmistress of Minishant Primary School and her pupils have carried out a "Domesday Book" survey for us, and Miss Effie Limond has provided background about the woollen mill origins and the Church.
The Carnegie Library, Ayr, and Dick Institute, Kilmarnock, have given help and Mrs Sheena Andrew has answered our questions with unfailing care, interest and kindness. Strathclyde Regional Council's Principal Archivist, Richard Dell, and his staff have co-operated generously as have the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Record Office.
We would like to mention especially Mr. William Dillon, Mr. David Gray, Mr. Derek Cross, Mr. James Mackie and the late James T. Gray who corresponded on various points. Their help has been invaluable.
Both my Mother and I hope the book will stir some memories in old Minishanters and perhaps lure a few others to go and take a look at the place - it's well worth the trouble.