McBirnie and Fulton Families of Maybole and Canada
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I am continuing my McBirnie/McBurnie family research and have come across a query that no one in the family has been able to answer. Agnes Jean (Jeamie) McBirnie worked as a 'maid servant' in a grand house in Ayrshire up until about 1919 when she decided to emigrate to Canada to be near he sister and two brothers who had gone previously. Jeanie's parents died of the Spanish flu and her fiancÚ was killed in the war so she made the decision there was nothing to keep her in Crosshill area. She later married a Mr Craig in Canada. Their descendants have just recently been here for the McBirnie Family Gathering, but we were not able to locate the house in this photo. Jeanie is bottom right, and her fiancÚ is apparently in the photo too, as he was also a staff member before the war but it is not known which one in the photo.  This must have been taken pre World War 1 or the date of her fiancÚ's call-up. Can anyone tell us the name of this house?. Jeanie's daughter who is now in her 80s vaguely thinks that her mother said it was called something like 'Garveston House'.  Robyn Jobson

I am Rita Isles, nee McBirnie.  My father was Robert McBirnie, and his parents were Christina and Thomas McBirnie, Glen Coral, 7 Coral Glen, Maybole (which we always referred to as "the Glen").  My granny's parents were John and Sarah Fulton.

My father Robert McBirnie was a master plasterer.  He started his career with Kerr's of Maybole.  One of the memorable accomplishments that my father spoke of was the making of plaster moulds for the heads of Tam o' Shanter and Souter Johnny that hang on many walls.  My father became a master of ornamental plasterwork.  His skills recreated the plasterwork in the oval staircase of Culzean Castle and work on restoration of the Adam designs in other rooms after the Second World War when Culzean had been adapted for a military convalescent hospital.  Much of the plasterwork in Drumlanrig was also rebuilt and brought back to grandness by Robert McBirnie.  Latterly he helped recreate the old imagery of buildings in the Midlands that had been damaged or destroyed in the last war.

Once my father married and myself and my brother arrived, we never lived in Maybole as my father's work took him away.  However we returned at every opportunity for holidays, and once I was old enough to travel alone, I was returned to Maybole to stay with my Aunt Agnes (Nancy) McBirnie at the Glen.  These times were filled with fun and many stories of the family.  I also visited extensively with my Aunt Jean (Mrs McCulloch) who stayed at the corner of Crosshill Road and the Glebe, diagonally opposite the gas works where the Brown family lived, Mr Brown being the manager.  The oldest daughter Christine was a good friend for many years along with Ann Landsborough who lived next door to my Aunt Jean.  I have lost touch with both of them now.  I believe Christine Brown went to live in Australia but I believe Ann is living in Girvan.

My grandparents, Thomas and Christina McBirnie had 8 children in all.  Their first child Sarah died young.  She was followed by Thomas, then Agnes (Nancy), Mary, John, Christina, Jean and Robert.  John, the second son, was very gifted poetically.  I have many of his verses, which I hope to put together shortly and pass on to the next generation.  His poetry was acknowledged by Atlantic Press (see enclosed certificate) and some was included in "Poetry of the English Speaking World". 

Of my aunts, Mary married Harry Ross and spent the rest of her life, first in Pinwherry and latterly Barrhill where they are both buried.  The last surviving aunt is Tina (Christina) who married late in life and is now 92 or 93 and still lives in Prestwick.  My Uncle John was a tanner and moved to Bridge of Weir after the war.

This brings me back to my granny, Christina McBirnie nee Fulton.  John Fulton, my granny's brother, was Bard of Burns Club, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  My granny received copies of her brother's book of poems and gave a copy to each of her children.  I am lucky enough to have a copy of these verses, given to me by my father Robert before he died.  I enclose a copy of the foreword of the book, along with some other cuttings and poems. 

I have a few bits of information on our family in Maybole and I will try to put them forward in a sensible order.

1st        I was through in Maybole last October (2002) to place my mother's ashes in the family grave as my mum had died in August that year and wanted to be placed beside my father.  While I was through, I bought one or two books from Ayr Library as Maybole was closed on Wednesday afternoon.  One of the books was Maybole Past and Present published by Maybole Community Council.  On page 32, the bottom picture show a tall man in a cloth bonnet and buttoned waistcoat - this was my grandfather Thomas McBirnie, who was head fireman at St Cuthberts shoe factory on Ramsay's Brae.  Also on page 52 in the photograph of Carrick Thistle, back row in white top is my cousin Roy McCulloch who emigrated to Canada in the 60s but has returned and now lives in Alloway.

2nd       My granny Christina McBirnie was the organist to Roderick Lawson in the West Church and had a lot of information about him and his philosophy.  Alas it was all thrown away by my remaining aunt when the Glen was cleared.  I begged that it be given to the Library along with the very good etching of him.  It is very sad that so many senior people refuse to see the value in keeping such items.

3rd        I remember fondly the Sundays going to the shore and queuing on the Greenside for the buses which took many from the village in relays to the heid o' Rack Road, all laden with Iron Brew, pancakes and sandwiches.  If we were lucky we could pick up tatties from the sides of the fields on route down the Rack Road, which we then cooked in the ashes of the fires after washing them in the sea.  Those left over were buried in the sand for the next week.

Every family had its bit of the shore and everyone went to their own spot where often tents were left standing all summer ready for each weekend invasion.  Motor boats and stylish cars were created in the sand, one family played another at volleyball, cricket, football - all improvised, as we didn't have the real gear.  The ice cream van would appear as did the pony and trap with melons cut up and served in portions 6d a time.  Fresh water for tea was obtained from the spring at the edge of Croy Shore - woe betide anyone who needed the toilet anywhere near the spring.  When the tide was out, long walks would be taken at the edge of the water towards Culzean Castle looking for washed up treasures, daring each other to jump the rock pools without getting wet, seeing how many whelks you could knock off the rocks (not many).

Rain, hail or shine, from mid-morning (Church was at 9am) to approx. 6pm, everyone stayed at the shore, then everyone wound their weary way up the Rack Road to wait for the buses to take us home.  Sticky from the sea, sandy from the shore and weary from our exertions, we piled on to the buses, sitting on knees, standing shoulder to shoulder.  It was fun and we were happy - well that's the way it appeared to me in the 40s and 50s.  By the 60s cars had taken over although there was one great game at the end of the day and that was freeing the cars from the soft sand if the drivers had not got the timing right to get from the hard damp sand on to the Rack Road and had half buried themselves in sand.  Spades, sacks, buckets of water all went into freeing the sand-bound wheels.

4th        Glen Coral, 7 Coral Glen had, or maybe still has, an original croft house at the rear (see enclosed sketch).  This was the original house in Glen Coral.  I hope it is still there, as a similar house in Pitlochry is at present being renovated and is of great interest.  Tears came to my eyes when I viewed it as many memories returned, and the young archaeologists were taken aback when I related living in and with such a building.

The Glen's history goes away back.  My great-granny Fulton kept goats and they came into the building to be milked, and it was here that my great-granny made goat's milk cheese and sold it to add to their income.

Before my great-granny lived there, my great-great-granny owned the house -   their name was Swann.  Before that, my research becomes a bit confused and I am still trying to clarify a number of aspects, including surnames as the surname Wilson also appears.

In conclusion I hope some of this information is of interest and of use to you.  I am very pleased that you have a Historical Society and Family History Centre.  I worked hard here in Pitlochry with a group of people to establish the very same and it is proving very enjoyable and informative, and hopefully will keep the character of the town alive.

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