Maybole Minstrelsy
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Maybole, Carrick's Capital Facts, Fiction & Folks by James T. Gray, Alloway Publishing, Ayr. First published 1972. Copyright Permission for display on this site granted by David Gray. You may view and download chapters of this book for personal research purposes only. No other distribution of this text is authorized.

The story of this ancient Ayrshire town from its early beginnings in the 12th century through its growth and development until the nineteen sixties. A fascinating record of the history of a town including a wealth of factual information on its outstanding buildings  growth of industry etc., the book also gives an insight into the life of the community and townsfolk themselves.
Table of Contents


Chapter 22

MAYBOLE MINSTRELSY

THROUGHOUT the centuries many songs and poems have been written about Maybole and district, many humorous, some sad, some good and many bad, but unfortunately most have been forgotten and few townsfolk could today quote a line of any poem relating to their home town. In the distant past Maybole was synonymous with the whole district of Carrick, as it was the only place of any size in it, and naturally many people when speaking of Carrick really meant Maybole although perhaps not mentioning it by name. There are therefore many jingles and poems which are now taken to be about Carrick as a whole but when first written were connected with the old town. The focal point of the whole area was the town with its Old College and two castles in its midst with Crossraguel Abbey on the outskirts and the people from the country districts gathered in the town whenever local or national matters were to be discussed. Thus when Sir Walter Scott wrote his "Auchendrane, or the Ayrshire Tragedy" while he broadly placed the story in Carrick, its principals, Sir Thomas Kennedy, William Dalrymple, etc., were more truly Minniebolers than just men of Carrick. When he also had Bruce say at Bannockburn: "I, with my Carrick spear-men charge, now forward to the shock", it can be fairly surmised that most of his "Carrick men" came from the small township which in those days had a greater population than the whole of  the rest of Carrick put together. It is only about two hundred years ago that this was emphasised in the old jingle which is still often quoted.

"When Girvan was a sandy knowe
And Crosshill lay beneath the plough,
And Dailly stood-no one knows how- 
Stood the auld toon o' Maybole."

Before the advent of radio and canned music, and before television became a menace to social evenings, the townsfolk often gathered in each other's houses and passed a winter's evening in telling stories or singing the old songs which would be passed down by word of mouth, as these were seldom written. On such occasions the youngsters heard the old poems and songs from their elders and stored them away in their minds to recount them in turn to their children. It is impossible to give all jingles, poems and songs in a book on Maybole and district as they would fill a volume by themselves but the following short collection may be of interest to Minniebolers who love their old town and have an ear for the lilt of their home tongue when speaking of "Cockydrighty", "The Spoot o' Lumling", the "Capenoch" and other well remembered landmarks. There are many short jingles which are so old no one can tell when they were first written or who wrote them but they have lived for generations and, it is hoped, will still continue for many years to be quoted when Maybole men think of their old town. The most common are the following old rhymes:

"Minniebole's a dirty hole, 
It sits abune a mire,
But to me and hundreds like me
 It's the finest in the shire."

"Minniebole's a dirty hole, 
Ayr is fou o' clashes, 
Girvan is a bonnie toon
Wi' bonnie lads and lassies."

*     *     *

"Minniebole's a gran wee place,
 It sits langside a hill,
  'Tis there ye get the finest claith 
An' mutchkins o' guid yill."

*     *     *

"If ye should gae tae Maybole toon,
Your jaunt will no' be wasted,
 Gin ye should buy a pair o' shoon
 They're the finest ever lasted."

*     *     *

"Carrick for a man,
 Kyle for a coo,
Cunningham for butter and cheese 
And Galloway for woo'."

*     *    *

"Twixt Wigton and the toon o' Ayr
 Portpatrick and the cruives o' Cree
 You shall not get a lodging there, 
Except ye court a Kennedy."

*     *     *

"Johnnie Smith o' Minniebole
 Can ye shoe a wee foal?
 Yes, indeed, and that I can,
Just as weel as any man."

[second verse]

*     *    *

"In Maybole toon thae leeved a man,
 They ca'd him Bailie Niven,
 Wha gathered muckle gear and Ian'
But never got tae Heaven."

*     *    *

The first two rhymes, whilst taken as being derogatory to the town by strangers (especially Girvanites) should be read in an etymological sense and not in a sanitary one as, of course, they refer to the town being built above a mire. The fifth one is often the subject of hot debate, as folk from Kyle sometimes think their province should be commended for their men, but surely Bruce six hundred years ago could not be wrong when he praised his Carrick men. The sixth rhyme refers to the famous Kings of Carrick who reigned over their Kingdom for generations and whose town house was the old Castle of Maybole. The smith referred to in the seventh jingle is said to have had a smithy at the Baligreen which was latterly known as "Granny Hunter's Smiddy" until it finally became disused and now forms the back premises of the "Greenside Bar". The last rhyme was about the much maligned Bailie Niven whose wealth and power made him an outcast among his fellow townsmen although his work in improving streets, etc., did much to improve the lot of the townsfolk.

One of the best known Maybole poets was Mitchelson Porteous who was a printer and bookseller in the town last century. Although born in Ayr in 1796 he settled in Maybole where he lived until his death in 1872. He was a Town Councillor, Magistrate and Justice of the Peace and took a prominent part in the town's affairs. A keen student of astronomy he built himself the largest telescope in the district at that time and spent hours studying the stars from an attic window of his shop. For nearly fifty years he can be truly said to have been the town's Poet Laureate and wrote numerous poems in English and in the Doric. His collection of poems was published under the title "Carrickiana" and are mostly in broad Scots and describe local incidents and characters of his day. He also wrote a "History of Joseph" in verse and a metrical version of the Book of Job and translated "The King's Quair" into modern English. Altogether he was a man of many parts and few townsfolk have reached his level in the literary world. His Elegy on "Booler Jamie" was written on the death of James Gray a well-known Maybole bowler on the old green in New Yards and is a lengthy poem of which the following are some extracts:

Ohon! Ye boolers o' Maybole!
What can your bubbly grief console!
Maun the auld toon wi' you condole 
An' greet and grane;
An' gar her bell gae jow an' tell
For Jamie gane?

*     *     *

When youngsters braggit at a rink,
 He teuk them up just in a blink,
 For jaws o' onie kin' o' drink,
YiIl to champaing:
Fegs! he sune eas'd them o' their clink,
Bauld Jamie gane!

*     *     *

Whan winter's win' blew snell an' dour,
 An' froze the lochs in dale an' moor,
 Wi' shother'd broom-kow, steeve an' stoor,
An' curlin-stane,
The first that trod the icy floor
Was Jamie gane.

*     *     *

Now, Boolers, Curlers! I hae dun
My best to keep your hearts abune:
Get some Mustioner to tune
Frae it a strain,
Whilk at your meetins ye may croon:
O' Jamie gane!

*     *     *

The Rev. Roderick Lawson was born in Girvan in 1831, and after studying for the ministry came to Maybole and was ordained minister of the "Glen Kirk" in 1864, where a memorial tablet records he laboured for thirty four years until his death in 1907. During his lifetime in the old town he came to love it, and he wrote many poems and songs and also many books on the town and district. He collected ballads and rhymes of local interest and published them under the title of "Ballads and Songs of Carrick". Only a few of these can be given here but his books are well worth reading today, although unfortunately they are now very scarce and difficult to come by.

"COCKYDRIGHTY"
 or 
"THE SPOUT IN THE GLEN"

In this drouthy warld there's nocht to compare
Wi' the water that comes frac the sky,
For washing your face, or making your tea,
Or slockening your drouth when you're dry
But of a' the waters that cheerily flow
To bless balms, women and men,
There's nane in this toon that's at a' to compare
  Wi' the wee trinklin' Spoot in the Glen.

The Welltrees is sweet, and it never rins dry,
 But it disna dae to be keepit owre lang;
And the auld Castle Well's refreshing to drink,
 But it gangs gey an' aft oot o' fang.
And the Pipe-water - weel, the less that is said 
About that the better, we ken;
But for a gude drink to cule your dry mou,
Commend me to the Spoot in the Glen.

It's no vera big - it's jist a wee spoot
That comes oot o' the breist o' the brae,
But it's sweet, and it's cule, and it's pure as the snaw
 That comes frae the clouds far away.
And it's free to a' comers - the bairns wi' their cans
 And a' folks aboot the West en';
Even the rouch carter lads will pu' up their carts
And tak a gude swig at the Glen.

There's a great deal o' drink that's no vera gude,
And brings meikle sorrow and shame,
It steals awa health, and your money to buit,
 And lea's ye a sair ruined name.
But the Drink that I praise has nae siccan fauts;
It'll no land ye in the prison's dark den,
And ye'll no hae your heid sair, or your jaiket in rags,
 If you stick by the Spoot at the Glen.

There's mony a ane in a far distant land
 Wha minds hoo, in youth's sunny day,
They gaed wi' their stoups, and ca'd their bit crack,
At the place whaur the wee Spoot's today.
And there's mony a ane's gane farther awa',
Wha asked on his deathbed to sen'
For a jug o' the cule, cule water that rims 
Frae the wee trinklin' Spoot in the Glen.

And the wee Spoot aye rins, year in and year oot,
 And it asks neither fame nor a fee,
Content if it slockens the drouth o' the weans,
 And mak's your drap parritch or tea.
And the lesson it teaches to young and to auld,
 Frae childhood to threescore and ten,
Is, "Do what ye can, and ne'er think o' reward,
" Jist like the wee Spoot in the Glen.

 

"THE WELLTREES SPOUT" 

The Welltrees Spout comes bursting out
From its bed of silent stone,
Like the Smitten Rock of old that flowed
In Horeb's desert lone.
And its waters cool from their bubbling pool
 Leap up to the light of day,
As glad to look on the face of man
And cheer him on his way.

Full many a scene of the Past, I ween,
Is linked with that quiet spot,
And many a face once knew that place
Whom earth now knoweth not.
Yet still the big Ash lifts its head,
And sings to the passing breeze,
While the children gay shout at their play
Round the steps of the old Welltrees.

O Welltrees Spout, that gushest out 
With waters clear and cold,
I give thee the praise of useful days,
And the thanks of young and old.
I. wish that my life were with good as rife, 
And my heart from stains as free,
As the waters that rise to my gladdened eyes
From the root of the old Ash tree.

 

"THE AULD SCHULE"

(in Greenside)

O the Auld Schule, the Auld Schule, 
What though the place was wee!
O happy hearts were gathered there 
When life was fu' o' glee.
Thy playground is deserted noo, 
Thy wa's are silent a',
But mony a happy memory 
Does that Auld Schule reca'.

O the Auld Schule, the Auld Schule! 
Thy forms were gettin' frail,
Thy desks were rough and shaky too, 
Thy floor was like to fail.
But richt gude wark was done in thee, 
And lessons taught wi' skill,
And clever men and women bright 
Were trained in that Auld Schule.

O the New Schule, the New Schule! 
Ye're unco fine and crouse,
Ye're a great credit to the toon, 
Oor am new, grand Schulehoose.
But the Auld Schule, the Auld Schule 
Forsaken though ye be,
There ne'er will be a New Schule 
Will seem the same to me.

 

"THE CARGILL CONVENTICLE"

The news has come to Maybole toon 
And spread on every hand,
That Donald Cargill is coming to preach 
In spite o' the King's command.
He's coming to preach to the Carrick men 
In the lone sequestered dell,
Where the big stone stands beside the path 
That leads to Ladycross Well.

Oh, dark are the days of the Covenant now 
And few the preachers be
Who lift their voice like a trumpet loud 
And claim their liberty
But God has yet seven thousand left 
To stand for His holy will
And Chief of them all at this testing time 
Is the dauntless good Cargill.

So the folks have come, and the watch been set 
And the preacher grey stands forth
To plead for that Crown and Covenant 
Most banished from the earth.
And he bade them keep their conscience pure 
Let Kings say what they may,
And cited the hills as witnesses 
'Gainst the coming Judgement Day.

The meeting's o'er - the folk's gone home -
The preacher's gone his way,
To meet his fate on the gallows high 
And be laid 'mongst felons' clay.
But still the green hills cluster round 
That spot so still and lone
Where the daisies spring and the laverocks sing 
Around brave Cargill's stone.

The Maybole folk shall ne'er forget 
The day Cargill was there
When they listened to his preachings 
And bowed their heads in prayer.
And to mark this great occasion 
A monument was raised
In memory of their men who died 
Because their Lord they praised.

"THE LOVERS' LOANIN"

O, cheery is the morn when the day is newly born,
And not a breath o' wind is moanin';
But sweeter far the cheer, when the licht is no sac clear,
Wi' the lass that ye lo'e in the Loanin'.

Chorus

Then gang alang wi' me, my bonnie Maggie Lee,
Ye promised me to come in the gloamin'.
Noo the day is wearin' past, an' the mirk is comin' fast,
O, come to the bonnie Lovers' Loanin'.

O, merry is the day when every thing is gay,
And the hinney-laden bee gangs dronin';
But sweeter far the hour when the nicht begins to lour,
To walk wi' your lass in the Loanin'.

O lichtsome is the time when youth is in its prime,
And nae thocht o' sighin' or groanin';
To dauner by your sel', wi' the lass you lo'e so well,
In the bonnie quiet lanesome Lovers' Loanin'.

"THE LAZY CORNER"
or
"THE CASTLE CORNER"

There is a place in ilka toon,
 Weel kenn'd by a' the country roun',
Whaur gathers every idle loon,
And it's ca'd the Lazy Corner.

The tippler comin' aff the spree,
 The tradesman glad his wark to flee,
 And the man wha has naething else to dae,
Gang to the Lazy Corner.

It's wonnerfu' the things they hear
Of a' that's happen'd, far and near-
Whether they're true's a sma' affair
T' the folks at the Lazy Corner.

The corner wi' ill news is rife-
 Wha's sent to jail-wha's threshed his wife--
Wha's focht and nearly took a life-
 Is food for the Lazy Corner.

The clishmaclaivers o' the toon, 
The gossip o' the country roun',
  Tittle-tattle-that's the soun'
Has charms for the Lazy Corner.

Then, ilka body that gangs by
Maun stan' remarks-be't lass or boy
While winks, and nods, and glances sly
Mak' fun for the Lazy Corner.

Of course it's richt that folk should talk- 
But better, surely, tak' a walk, 
Or by the fireside ca the crack,
Than stan' at the Lazy Corner.

For in this busy life o' man, 
Whase length can hardly reach a span,
 It's surely wrang to idly stan'
Doon by the Lazy Corner.

 

"THE TOON STEEPLE"

Our steeple is old, our steeple is grey,
It has served us well for many a day,
For more than two centuries it has stood
And faced the rain, and storm, and flood.
It has watched the growth of this town of ours,
And measured the march of the passing hours,
And laughed with our smiles, and wept with our tears,
This steeple of more than two hundred years.

It has relics to show of the bygone Past:
The "Jouggs" which bound the culprits fast,
And the "Stocks" which bound him faster still,
When nought could tame his stubborn will;
And the old tinkling Bell which the Frenchman made,
Whose voice has gladdened both man and maid,
And the quaint old door looking down the street
To the "Lazy Corner" where idlers meet.

One winter night the wind blew high,
And bore disaster far and nigh;
The townsfolk rose with morning light
To see the damage of the night;
When lo! the Steeple-top was seen
A comic spectacle, I ween;
It looked athwart the morning sky
Like tippler's hat put on awry.

The top was doom'd: it must come doon;
It was a danger to the toon;
The very Cock that turn'd about
To show the way the wind was out,
Had now to bow to Fate's decree
And yield its post of dignity;
And so, with ropes securely bound,
'Twas brought all safely to the ground.

But now our Steeple look'd so bare
Expos'd thus to the wintry air,
That every townsman, Scot and Pat,
Wish'd well our Steeple a new hat,
But what sort of Hat should now be got
Was next the subject of deep thought- 
"A Dome" cries one-"a Hat like those
Worn now-a-days by all the beaux."

"No hat at all," cries some mad wag. 
"But Flagstaff tall to support a flag":
Whilst the most, to compliment the town,
 Would only have an "Iron Crown". 
So the Crown was bought and perched upon it,
 Just like a small Glengany bonnet, 
And the weather-beaten Steeple grey 
Was flouted by the crown so gay.

But had they asked the Steeple bare
What sort of a hat it wished to wear,
Its answer, I wean, could only be-
 "Just give me the hat I used to see-
The old cocked-hat, with its cozy air,
And the Weather-cock above it there;
For an old-fashioned hat suits old-fashioned people,
And that's just the case with your old Town Steeple."

Thomas Ferguson was born in Maybole in 1833, his father being Superintendent of the Poor, and after his schooling in the town he went first to Glasgow, then as a foreign correspondent to London and later to Dumbarton where he became a partner in a rope spinning works. He finally retired to his native town where he was a kenspeckle figure until his death in March, 1918. In 1898 he published a book of verse which included many nostalgic pieces on the district in which he spent his boyhood and later he wrote many poems which unfortunately were not set down in print and are now lost and forgotten.

"THE TOON O' MINNIBOLE"

My blessing on thee, auld Maybole,
The toon where I was born;
Beside the Wee Spout in the Glen
The rare auld toon,
The fair auld toon,
The toon o' Minniebole.

A tear slid silent doon my cheek
When I frac thee did part:
Where'er I gae I carry thee,
Auld Maybole, in my heart:
Thou dear auld toon,
Thou queer auld toon,
The toon o' Minniebole.

And like the swallow, I hie back 
Ilk year to the auld toon;
Wi' what a joy I see again
The green slopes o' Kildoon
And wander roun"
The guid auld toon,
The toon o' Minniebole.

From Mochrum to the Straiton hills, 
The haill expanse seems mine;
On nae sic bonnie scene as that 
The happy sun doth shine;
Frae Dailly hills
To Patna kilns,
Unmatched auld Minniebole.

Come back, far days, when for the sea 
We started fu' o' splore:
How lonesome to me now the hush 
Upon Culzean's dear shore,
Where ance we sang,
And lap, and flang,
Nor thocht o' Minniebole.

Crossraguel's haunted wa's wi' dread 
Out boyish hearts did fill,
By auld Baltersan for lang hours 
We ginelled at the Mill,
Then hirpled hame
Barefit and lame,
To scones in Minniebole.

The Auld Green Schule! where at the ba' 
We p1ayed till oot o' breath,
And where our wee bit quarrels whiles
We settled up the Peth!
I fear us boys
Had tricks and ploys
Unkenn'd in Minnibole.

The Auld Schule brought us lear enough;
And when we won our prize,
And to the auld folk took it hame,
What joy danced in their eyes!
They thocht, nae doot,
We'd a' turn oot
Great folks in Minnibole.

But time has swept us far apart;
Some, posts wi' credit fill,
While some sleep soun' at the Kirkport,
Some at the Clachan hill,
And a' maun gae,
Nae distant day,
Far, far frae Minnibole.

Williams Shaw was another native of Maybole who wrote many songs in praise of his native town in which he lived until his death in the 1930s. He was schooled by John Wyllie in the old Parish School at the foot of the Town Green and his school-master took a keen interest in him and prophesied he would make his mark in the world. Mr. Shaw, however, could not bear to leave his beloved Maybole and spent his life as a trusted clerk to Mr. James Gibson in the Royal Bank. He was a phenomenal mathematician and the compiler of "Shaw's Mathematical Tables" which was used in all banks throughout Scotland. He wrote much verse for newspapers and evangelical magazines and varied his themes considerably. During the first World War he wrote many poems urging peace between nations and his stanzas on Nurse Cavell who was shot by the Germans for helping British soldiers to escape from Belgium is well-known.

"WE ARE COMING, NURSE CAVELL"

A woman's voice is calling,
It is borne upon the breeze,
To ev'ry land and ev'ry strand,
Of all the Seven Seas.

And Freedom's sons are rising,
A stern and mighty host;
They are coming, they are coming
They are counting not the cost.

Above the din of battle,
And the roar of giant guns,
Above the braggart shouting
Of the lewd and murderous Huns.

The tramp of untold legions
Is rising loud and clear,
And 'mid the tempest of their wrath
These words I seem to hear-

 "We are coming, we are coming,
From city, mount and shore,
To avenge this latest infamy,
And twice ten thousand more.

"And not one heart shall falter,
And not one hand shall fail;
Now tremble, all ye murdering hordes,
For Right shall sure prevail.

"Our way may oft be dreary,
Nurse Cavell,
 Our feet will oft be weary,
Nurse Cavell,
 We know not what's in store,
 Some shall return no more,
 They shall reach the 'silent shore',
Like thyself, Nurse Cavell.

"But this we know-we're coming,
To speed the Reckoning Day,
And swell the conquering millions
Already on the way.

"Let unborn ages hear it,
Let our children's children tell
How swift we sent the answer- 
We are coming, Nurse Cavell."

 

"SUNSET ON CARRICK SHORE"

The sea was calm, the setting sun
In splendour all untold
Had thrown a bridge across the deep
That shone like burnished gold.

"Oh, this," I said, "must be the path
That angel feet have trod;
Oh, this must be the shining way
That leadeth up to God !"

Thus soared my childhood's fancy 
Above the silent sea;
'Twas long ago, as you must know,
When Time was young with me.

But now once more, from Arran shore,
There gleams that shaft of light
Which met my gaze in bygone days,
And held my raptured sight.

And when my latest sun goes down
Beyond life's fitful sea,
May mine, through grace abounding,
A golden sunset be.

Then, oh, how near shall be the path
That angel feet have trod,
And bright as day the shining way
That leadeth up to God.

A well-known local poetaster was William Davidson who was born in 1885 and spent his whole life in the town, taking a prominent part in the local Council and the town's affairs. He was a great lover of nature and wrote on a variety of subjects and two of his best known poems illustrate his depth of feeling for his beloved calf country and the bitterness he felt when it was proposed during the 1914-18 war that sparrows be exterminated as they were thought to eat too much of the grain grown by the farmers.

 

"TAIRLAW LINN"

There is a spot, a calm retreat 
Where earth and heaven seem to meet, 
Where pleasures are for ever sweet,
'Tis Tairlaw.

Where rugged hill-tops towering high 
In mystic splendour cleave the sky, 
And summer breezes gently sigh
Round Tairlaw.

Far, far removed from man and sin 
And from the workshop's awful din, 
The rushing waters leap the lin
At Tairlaw.

And foaming, pausing down below, 
Then rushing on in ceaseless flow 
Down through the glen where bluebells grow
At Tairlaw.

'Twould seem as if some magic wand 
Borne by a little fairy hand 
Enchanted that fair sun-kissed land
At Tairlaw.

With raptures sweet my heart would swell, 
If I could but for ever dwell 
Amid these scenes I love so well
At Tairlaw.

 

"A SPEUG'S LAMENT"

Vile sinfu' man, O hoo I yearn
That better laws ye a' should learn 
In hames sac snug
Plotting there, tae dae me harm, 
A puir wee speug.
Why coont me noo ane o' your foes? 
Why aim at me your cruel blows?
Am I to blame?
A man will reap just what he sows 
Honour or shame.

Man canna sin and suffer nane,
The Master makes that unco plain 
Tae ane and a'.
And if His laws they lang disdain 
Some day they'll fa'.
Noo, why you men should in your rage 
Dark war against wee sparrows wage
I fail to see
That you should in sic work engage 
Is strange tae me.

Your accusation is na fair
That sparrows eat mair than their share 
O' precious grain.
Tae ma.k your barns in war mair bare 
I wad disdain.
I like a pick o' corn 'tis true,
When grubs are rare and worms are few 
In faugh or lea,
But what it taks tae fill me fu' 
You'd hardly see.

But what aboot the barley bree,
You men are drinking day by day
Frae frothy jugs,
Destroying grain mair than wid dae
Ten million speugs?
Reflect ower jist what gangs for drink,
Then honestly, frail man, I think
Your laws you'll mend,
And waste nae grain or hard earned chink
On sic a blend.

But hae a care, for He wha sees
Each sparrow that aroun' e flees
Hoo'ever sma',
At hame or far ayont. the seas
Will mark its fa'.
But I hae got four youngsters sma',
Tae feed them noo I maun awa
And luik for grub.
Tak my advice, don't harm ava
A puir wee speug.

At the beginning of the 20th century when work was scarce many townspeople emigrated to Canada and elsewhere in search of employment. Among them was William Stewart, a local shoemaker, who was forced to leave his hometown in 1907. The evening before he left the town he took a walk over the Clachan Brae to Lochlands and, sitting on a stone at the "Runnel", pencilled his farewell to his native town. He also wrote on his memories of the Cairders Burn and both his poems are nostalgic to the older generation who knows so well the landmarks he mentions. Nowadays, with the younger generation using cars to go everywhere, they do not walk round the "Whinny Knowes", or to "Capenoch" or the "Cross Roads" as their forefathers did when courting their mothers in days gone past and the names of local landmarks may soon be forgotten.

"FAREWELL TO MAYBOLE"

I'm leaving the land of my birth today
To seek a new home in the land far away,
And now when the time comes to say goodbye
The gathering tears bedim mine eye,
And a feeling of sadness my bosom fills
As I bid adieu to the Carrick Hills.

I stand neath the Runnel's leafy shade
Where oft in boyhood days I've played,
To take one last long look around
At the straggling form of Maybole town,
The woods so green and the valleys wide
Shut in by the hills on every side.

The birds are singing their morning song
Down by Kilhenzie's wood and home,
And green is each wood, each glen and mire,
Twixt the Burning Hills and Culdoon's lone spire
And past the shoulder of Knockbrake
Is seen Baltersan's ruined shape.

There Mochrum rears his head with pride
And looks far o'er the Firth of Clyde,
Above the town the broad Howmoor,
Sees the fishermen sail out from Dunure,
Brown Carrick, rising from the Banks o' Doon,
Commands a view o' Ayr auld toon.

We've searched the woods, the glens and braes,
To find the berries, scribes and slaes
And many a pillowslip we'd fill
Twixt Crawfordston glen and Guiltreehill,
And when the night in darkness set
We drew the leafields with partridge net.

Over Benquhat in the eastern sky,
The summer sun is mounting high,
The morning mist his beams have spent,
Which hang around Straiton monument,
Raised to the memory of Blairquhan
Who fought and fell at Inkerman.

There, standing in front is Glenalla Fells,
Those sheep clad slopes I love so well,
Behind where the burn winds in and out
I've spent happy days with the wily trout,
Or searching the meadows of Balbeg,
In quest of whap and peesie's egg.

Through yonder pass with noisy din, 
The Girvan comes rushing from Tairlaw Lynn, 
Loch Lure, Loch Braden and Girvan Eye 
His clear and limpid streams supply,
Those lovely lochs lie calm and still 
Reflecting back each heather hill.

Shalloch on Minnoch, Carrick's King,
From his broad base the rivers spring,
The Doon, the Cree, and the Girvan fair,
Each in his narrow streamlets share,
And the Stinchar starts on its lonely way
And seeks the sea at Ballantrae.

Those lonely hills have heard the chant
Of the men who stood for the Covenant,
In those stirring times of religious strife
When to own your faith was to risk your life,
Those haunted men did refuge seek
Beneath the hills so wild and bleak.

Farewell, my native hills, farewell,
I'll still remain beneath thy spell,
Tho' I should lie on a foreign shore
And hear Niagra's thunder roar,
Each wooded vale and hillside steep
Is planted in my memory deep.

 

"THE CAIRDERS BURN"

As I wander in the morning,
O'er romantic Allan's Hill,
When the trees are clothed in beauty,
And the air is calm and still,
Scenes of Childhood pass before me,
As mine eyes with fondness turn,
To the rustic bridge at Fordhouse,
And the dear old Cairders Burn.

There I paddled late and early,
When my heart was young and free,
And this tiny little river,
Seemed to me a mighty sea,
Here I captured baggy minnows,
In a bottle or an urn,
With a playmate girl beside me,
At the sweet old Cairder's Burn.

Yonder Kildoon stands before me,
As it stood in days of yore,
And Knockbrake still faces bravely,
Shower and blizzard from the shore,
But the place that charms my bosom,
On this tranquil summer morn,
Is the rustic bridge at Fordhouse,
And the hallowed Cairder's Burn.

Here I list the flowing water,
And I catch its sweet refrain,
'Tis the same glad song of childhood,
It is singing once again,
Broken by a note of sadness,
As it ripples round each rock,
For the absent chums who guddled,
Further up near Thornbrock.

As I leave the bridge behind me,
And the water flowing fast,
On my mind are deeply graven,
Scenes and memories of the past,
And no matter where I wander,
Still my thoughts still fondly turn,
To the rustic bridge at Fordhouse,
And the charming Cairder's Burn.

John Fulton was another emigrant from the old town in the early part of this century and like many of his fellow exiles he settled in Hamilton, Ontario, where a Maybole Association was formed among the people who had been forced to go abroad in search of work when the "Bog" failed and half the townsmen were thrown idle. This association is still going strong and its members (mostly now the sons or daughters of the emigrants) are to this day keenly interested in the affairs of the old town on the hillside which is a Mecca for all when they visit Scotland on holiday. John Fulton became the Bard of the Hamilton Burns Club and wrote many poems about Scotland's Poet and about Maybole and district and a book of his poems was published in Canada entitled "Poems by John Fulton, the Scotch Canadian Bard". The following poems are examples of his work which show his love for his birthplace. His poem on "Clockie Tam" tells of the old tale of "Watchie" Logan and the time he was sold as a poached deer to a local butcher although he disguises the victim under another name.

MAYBOLE TOWN

Far up amongst auld Carrick hills 
'Mongst crystal springs and glittering rills,
  'Mongst shady trees and scented thorn,
 Whaur wild birds' song wakes early morn,
 Stands Maybole Toon, o' ancient glory 
Famed in romance, in song and story, 
Whose sons for freedom always fought, 
And with their blood new glory bought, 
On monys a gory field.

There castles grim tell of a day
When martial lairds then held the sway;
Each hill or dell, where'er you turn,
Bespeaks the Wallace, Bruce or Burns.
Up on the hill stands Peden's tree
And Cargill Stane doon in the lea,
Baith men who stood for conscience sake
Were hunted down by moor or brake,
By Claver's bloody band.

The scene's now changed, no more resound
The noise of steed or Claver's hounds;
The peaceful traveller wends his way,
Where'er he choose he now may pray;
The tyrant now witholds his hand
For justice now pervades the land.
The ploughman now from bondage free
Goes whistling homeward o'er the lea
To cottage hame and wife.

Whilst in the toon wi' joke and sang
The Souter lads still ply the Whang
As hearty as in days of yore
When Souter Johnnie sang and splored;
And bricht eyed bairnies fresh frae schule
The streets and lanes wi lauchter fill;
And Maybole still majestic stands- 
A bulwark o' auld Scotia's land- 
Up 'mongst auld Carrick hills.

 

AULD CLOCKIE TAM

Nae doot auld folks o' Maybole Toun
Wed minds a man wha' aince went roun'
And cleaned auld clocks and made then soun' 
When they gae'd wrong;
A man weel kent by a' aroun'
As Clockie Tam.

Noo, tho' his richt name 
I'll no' tell, I'll tell yous what him aince befell 
Yae nicht when he was unco' snell
 Wi' barley bree,
And sleepin' soun' in Enoch's dell 
Beneath a tree.

And sleepin' soun', nae care or fear, 
O' danger him a-drawin' near, 
Was ended nearly his career
Wi' poachin' hauns
Wha' thocht they saw a way there clear 
Tae mauk a dram.

Noo, poachers, whiles are awesum folk, 
But, as a rule, they like a joke; 
So they pap't Clockie m a poke
And wander'd hame
And took him tae a dealer's shop
Wha' dealt in game.

Noo, this dealer that they took him to, 
Year in, year oot, was always fou- 
A fact the poachers brawly knew,
So laid their plans.
So, in they marched, bold men and true, 
An' spun their yarn.

They said they'd got a deer at last, 
As Clockie on the flure they cast, 
And asked to get the money fast
For they had fears
The keepers had them tracked, alas,
And were then near.

And so the dealer, wi' the din, 
Forgot tat look what was within 
The pock the poachers had brocht in
and see his deer,
And handed owre tae them the tin
Wi' conscience clear.

Noo, just as oot the door they got, 
Auld Clockie frae his slumbers woke 
And wrestled hard within the poke
For tae get free,
For, whaur the de'il he noo had got
He could na' see.

Till lo' abune him something flash'd 
And Clockie's brains were nearly dash'd
Oot on the flure,
And noo, for aince himsel' he fash'd 
About a prayer.

"Oh, Lord, wouldst crush these murderous foes 
Wha's dinging me such kick and blows, 
And in thy ways I'll always go,
Aye, evermore;
And never mair whaurs drinks I'll go, 
O, never more. Amen."

Noo, when the dealer heard this prayer 
He stopp'd his blows just then and there 
And whumled Tam oot on the flure, 
And sent him clear,
Determined that he would nae mair 
Buy in sic deer.

But, as for Clockie, puir old man, 
His pious vows went far awrang, 
For noo he swore he took the dram 
His nerves tae richt,
For they were shatter'd and knock'd wrang 
Wi' that nicht's fricht.

And, noo the moral tae the tale- 
If, in life's fight you would prevail, 
Remember Clockie in the Dell.
From drink abstain,
For men gaes down 'neath wine and ale 
And fuddled brains.

John Russell was born in Bathgate and on being appointed County Sanitary Inspector for the Carrick District in 1900 he took up residence in Maybole. He was an enthusiastic Territorial and became Major of the 5th Battalion, The Royal Scots Fusiliers, going on service with them at the outbreak of the first World War and being killed in action in Gallipoli in 1915. For some years he was secretary for the local Burns Club and in 1913 he wrote a poem commemorating the visit of Robert Burns to Maybole in August, 1786, when he collected 1. 1s. 0d. for the sale of seven copies of his Kilmarnock edition of poems and held carousal afterwards in the Kings Arms Hotel with some of his cronies. This poem was read to the members of the Burns Club at their supper in the same Kings Arms Hotel on the night of 25th January, 1913.

"BURNS' VISIT TO MAYBOLE"

Lang syne beneath this self-same roof
Was laid within the poet's loof
A jinglin' purse, the welcome proof 
O' luck's renewal;
(Ev'n bards maun hae their feedin'stuff
And claes and fuel)

The billies, rigged in hodden claith, 
Wha met that jovial nicht beneath
This auld inn's roof-tree, sleep in death; 
Rab's coins are dust.
Image and superscription baith
Alike are lost.

Nae longer stands the Bard in need
O' sic like help as Carrick gied
When for his poverty, wi' speed
She toomed her sporran;
Frae want and care lang syne he's freed- 
Lendin' or borrowin'.

Yet as the Janwar chills
Weave snow-wreaths round the Ayrshire hills
The heart o' loyal Carrick thrills 
In rapture throbbin',
And love her purse to burstin' fills
Wi' gowd for Robin.

Archibald Crawford, although an Ayr man, was interested in the legends of Carrick and wrote about many of them. In 1825 he published a book "Tales of my Grandmother" which was founded mainly on the traditions of south west Scotland, and many other Carrick subjects. Although born north of the Doon he certainly believed that Carrick bred men and Kyle was a dairying province as his following poem shows.

"CARRICK FOR A MAN"

When auld Robert Bruce
Lived at Turnberry House,
He was the prince o' the people, the frien' o' the lan'; 
Then to Kyle for your cow,
Gallowa' for your woo,
But Carrick, my billies, when ye want a man.

At the stream o' auld bannocks,
There was cracking o' crummocks
It was a hard tulzie, lang fought han' to han';
Then to Kyle for your cow,
Gallowa' for your woo,
But Carrick, my billies, that day proved the man.

Then why should we not be crouse,
When we think o' auld Robin Bruce,
Whose blood it still flows, and whose progeny reigns? 
Then to Kyle for your cow,
Gallowa' for your woo,
But Carrick, my billies, gives Britain her Queens!

In 1876 William Kissock was born at Kilkerran and was schooled at Dailly. On leaving school he tried his hand at sketching but grew tired of art in a few years and turned to writing poetry and plays. For a few years he lived as a recluse in remote parts of Carrick and devoted himself to writing. In 1913 he published a volume of "Scottish and English Poems" and in 1917 produced another book of verse entitled "The Carrick Shore and other Poems". Both publications dealt with a great variety of subjects and were of considerable merit. The following is a short extract from "The Carrick Shore" and two of his other better known poems.

"THE CARRICK SHORE"

And here's Goat's Green, where fairies dance,
All clad in green in moonlight's glance,
To music of the sea; 
They trip along from out the Cove
To dance as Graces danced to Jove
When Pan played harmony;

And round that rocky point so near, 
The headless horseman rode;
And once a year you still may hear 
Clink of his courser's shod,
As, dashing and splashing, 
The gallant charger bore
The cold wight the whole night 
To his dear lady's door.

The Carrick witches held their ploys 
In this sweet place, the brae o' Croy,
The hill of mystery;
Where water rises, and every rill 
Goes flowing backward up the hill,
As flying from the sea.
Magic's deep heart is beating warm, 
As in the days of yore;
The place has never lost the charm 
Of elvin and wizard lore,
With bell chime and hell rhyme, 
The witch dance moves along,
With mad cry and glad eye,
Chanting their midnight song.

"THE POET"

'Mong people passin' on life's road 
A poet aince I saw;
An' wonderin' asked a woman there 
If she kent him ava.
"O, that's a daft, half-witted fellow, 
Wha makes great screeds o' rhyme, 
Wha sits a' nicht wi' candle licht, 
An' lies tat dinner-time.

A trouble in the body's bad, 
But waur when in the brain;
O, he stravaigs the country wide 
In storms o' win' an' rain.

He's come o' decent folk, ye ken, 
Lang natives o' the place,
Tae a' his friends a rale heart break, 
A mither's sair disgrace.

An' then I asked about his warks, 
The meanin' o' his lays;
"There's ne'er a meanin' in his warks, 
But foolish rhyme", she says.
"A lot o' bosh about here-after, 
An' hoo the soul may fare,
An' sangs o' lassies' een sac blue, 
Wi' luve for evermair.

"He says we'll think o' him when deid, 
I'm share we wull, says I,
For ye'll come on the Parish rates, 
An' in the Puirhoose lie."

"THE GUIDMAN"

A woman's wark is never dune, 
Frae morning on till dark
Altho' there's mony a feckless yin 
That canna wash her sark.
It's little guid tae sit an' greet- 
It's better far tae try;
Tho' unco ill tae gar en's meet, 
Whan nithin's lyin' bye.

Whan I put on my first lang goon, 
Ma bert was fu' an' free,
As glaiket as the thistle down 
On autumn winds that flee,
As daft as yett on win'y day 
Frae early on till late;
For men I didna care a strae, 
Till Rab cam' in ma gate.

Noo, Rab sits in the inn ilk nicht, 
Wi' yill-stoup at his nose;
Tho' no for wark, his han's aye richt 
For draughts and dominoes.
An' while he laughs wi' drunken men, 
I dowie bide alane;
An', while he plays at catch-the-ten, 
I tend a fractious wean.

Whan drink comes in, the gumption gangs, 
Tho Rab's no' ill tae me;
It's unco hard tae eat the tangs 
Tae gi'e yer man the spree.
O' sleep I never ken a wink- 
Rab sits the hale nicht thro',
For he's a thowless coof in drink, 
An' essert as a soo.

I kin'le the fire at brek o' day, 
An' bundle up his piece;
But he wad just-as I may say- 
As shin set out for Greece.
I'll no compleen, but thole awa, 
As jist a woman can,
Tho' fashious, oolin' ills befa', 
For luve o' ma guidman.

Before the 1914-18 War David McKie worked for some years in the Estates Office of the Marquess of Ailsa. He had a great love of the country life of the old town and district and he wrote many poems on various subjects which were published from time to time in the "Evening News" and the "Edinburgh Dispatch" as well as the local weekly newspapers. He joined the Ayrshire Yeomanry at the outbreak of war and after being badly wounded and discharged as unfit for further service he returned to his home town of Tarbolton and published a book of verse entitled "Songs of an Ayrshire Yeoman". Most of the poems deal with his life in the army but many are about the old Kingdom of Carrick and people of Maybole.

"THE EARL OF CARRICK'S OWN"

I've listed in the County Horse,
A trooper, don't you know;
With spurs of steel upon my heel,
Full swagger now I go.
I've sworn an oath to serve the King,
And to defend his Throne;
I'm proud to be a trooper in
"The Earl of Carrick's Own".

The call of bugles in my ear
Is sweeter than a song;
With rifle and with bandolier
I gaily ride along.
Our Colonel is a soldier true,
As Afric's plains have shown-
We're proud of such a leader, in
"The Earl of Carrick's Own".

The pretty girls all glance at me,
Or maybe 'tis my clothes;
No dull aesthetic soul is mine,
I quaff life as it flows,
Let hoary wisdom prate of fields
 Where youth's wild oats are sown- 
I scorn him like a trooper in
"The Earl of Carrick's Own".

Those sleek, thin-fingered laddie-daws 
Who strut like bantam cocks,
May smile disdainfully and say,
 "They're only soor-milk Jocks;"
But should Invasion's scourging breath 
Across our hills be blown,
They'll find we still have valour in 
"The Earl of Carrick's Own".

"CARRICK"

You have never been to Carrick,
 Never crossed the classic Doon,
Never heard the Girvan singing
 To her olden magic tune:
Never seen the hills of Straiton
 By the lips of morning kissed,
Never looked on hoary Arran?
 Then a glory you have missed.

"What", you ask, "is lovely Carrick?"
 But you ask in vain of me,
For my song could ne'er interpret
Half her charm and mystery;
But if you will deign to listen,
Then my muse will strive to tell
Just the shadow of her beauty,
And a whisper of her spell.

'Tis a land of wonder, Carrick,
Wheresoe'er you choose to roam,
O'er her mountains, through her woodlands,
 By her rivers and her foam;
Nature with a special favour
Bids the seasons lavish there
All their beautiful abundance,
Just to make old Carrick fair.

There are pleasant towns in Carrick,
Villages and hamlets too;
There are happy hearts in Carrick,
Rich in kindness, warm and true:
There's a cantie, couthie quaintness
In the spirit of her folk,
And there's still a laughing welcome
For the simple fashioned joke.

And the past is near, in Carrick,
For it seems but yesterday
Since the Kennedys went riding
Through the moonlight to the fray;
And Crossraguel priest was roasted,
And the Countess, like a bird,
Tempted from her keep of Cassillis
By a gipsy's luring word.

Vain my song to picture Carrick, 
You must cross the classic Doon,
You must hear the Girvan singing 
To her olden magic tune:
You must meet her men and women 
By their hearths' inviting glow- 
Only then you'll cease to wonder 
Why we love old Carrick so.

"BROCKLOCH GLEN"

There's a bonnie wee bit den 
Jist a mile abune the toon,
In the bosom o' the glen,
Whaur there's ne'er a jarrin' soun'; 
Whaur the bells are bloomin' sweet
And there's wealth o' wavin' fern, 
And the buddin' branches meet
High abune the singin' burn.

Ower the rocks the water fa's  
In a clear, melodious stream,
And when mornin' gilds the wa's 
It is bonnie as a dream;
Or when gloamin' twines the grove 
Then it seems beneath the glow,
Such a den as Eve would love 
In her Eden long ago.

One forgets his peck o' care 
Listening to the burnie's flow,
And the mair you wander there,
Still the sweeter does it grow;
For it charms the finer strings
That sae oft forgotten lie,
And it opes the sacred springs
With their spiritual supply.

There's a silence like a prayer
Underneath each gracefu' tree,
And if you could only share
All the peace it brings to me,
You would bless the Gracious One
For his gift of such a boon
As yon glen at set o' sun,
Jist a mile abune the toon.

 

"MADAME"
(To Mrs. C----- , Maybole)

No lady of the distant, sunny South is she, 
Nor dame high born,
Whom pearls adorn,
And at whose feet the courtiers bend obedient knee. 
Yet I would claim for her as rare a royalty
As theirs, who wear a crown,
And trail the purple gown
With stately stride and men of majesty; 
For she possesses this, the real nobility
Of life, and more than art,
The deep and queenly heart,
The giving hands, the broad and tender sympathy. 
And now I give salute, as would a knight with spur, 
To all the regal ways that I have found in her.

 

"THE CAIRDER'S BRIDGE"

We linger on the little bridge
Whene'er we pass along,
We linger there and listen
To the water and its song;
And if we didn't linger
There would seem a something wrong,
A tender admonition
In the water and its song.

We linger on the little bridge,
We love to linger there,
For sure the starlit water
Seems to wash away our care;
And, though 'tis time to hurry
Still we find a spell to spare,
To linger and to listen
And to hold each other there.

We linger on the little bridge,
The reason may be this,
Before the time of parting
We would steal another kiss;
And if we didn't linger,
Then I'm sure that we would miss
The music of the water,
And the wonder of the kiss.

Carrick and its men have been the subject of much poetry since John Barbour, Archdeacon of Aberdeen, in the 14th century wrote his long and vivid story of "The Brus" in which he describes the adventures of Robert the Bruce over a period of forty years until his death. This poem was written about 1376 and present day readers find it difficult to translate to modern English but King Robert II thought so greatly of it he gifted Barbour 10 and a perpetual pension of 1 yearly. Blind Harry, the 15th century minstrel, also mentions Carrick in his epic on Sir William Wallace, and Walter Kennedy, one of the principals in the famous "Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy" was born at Cassillis about 1460 and must have often trod the streets of the old town. The famous Boyd cousins, Mark, Robert and Zachary, were all Carrick men from Penkill and Trochrague and were among the most noted 16th century Scottish poets. Robert Burns found much of his subject matter in Carrick, the story of Tam o' Shanter being founded on a Maidens farmer and his Soutar crony. Hew Ainslie and Hamilton Paul, both noted, if now neglected, poets, were born in Dailly parish at the end of the 18th century. Both wrote many lyrics on the beauties of Carrick and it has been said Ainslie was second only to Burns as the poet of Ayrshire. John Keats stayed in the Kings Arms Hotel in Maybole for some time during his visit to Carrick and the same hotel also sheltered Shelley, Wordsworth and R. L. Stevenson during their visits to the ancient Kingdom. Dante Gabriel Rossetti the Italian poet and painter stayed at Penkill Castle in 1868 and there wrote his long poem "The Stream's Secret" in a little cave at Penwhapple Burn. In one of his black moods he visited Tairlaw Lynn and attempted to commit suicide by throwing himself over it and to this day the Lynn is often called Rossetti's Lyn. From 1865 to 1868 William Bell Scott, poet and painter and friend of Rossetti, also stayed at Penkill Castle where he painted scenes from "The King's Quair" on the walls of the circular staircase and wrote his poem "The Old Scotch House" or "Penkill Castle". Many other lesser known poets such as James Dow, who was reared at Kirkoswald in the early 19th century, William Lennox, Superintendent of Poor in Ayr and who fought as a private soldier at Waterloo, John McSkimming of Barr and Elizabeth Ramsay, a cottar's daughter on Dunduff Farm have all found the legends of Carrick excellent subjects for their poems, many of which are now unfortunately forgotten but all of which are well worth reading by those who have a love of the old and forgotten things which made Carrick one of the most interesting and historical parts of Scotland.


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