reconstruction and another account of Dunure Castle can be found
This ancient seat of the Kennedys stands by the sea shore,
about six miles from Maybole and seven from Ayr. Its massive walls and
commanding situation shew it to have been formerly a place of great strength.
Here dwelt that Sir John Kennedy who built and endowed the Collegiate Church of
Maybole, and whose descendants have since become Marquesses of Ailsa.
But the grim story, which has entwined itself about Dunure
more firmly than the ivy upon its walls, brings before us a much less pious
Kennedy than the good Sir John. This was Gilbert, third Earl of Cassillis, who,
according to the old historian, was "ane werry greedy manne, wha cairitt
nocht how he gatt land, sa that he culd cum be the samin." After trying in
vain to get the new Commendator of Crossraguel Abbey to sign away his lands, he
seized him, and bore him off to this Castle, where, in the "black
vault," he roasted him before a fire, in the hope that he would sign the
paper provided. But the Commendator proved tougher than the Earl expected, so
his plan failed. In which of the chambers of this old ruin the dark deed was
done, there is no tradition to tell, but there are several of them which seem
quite handy for such a purpose.
Dunure Castle and lands have now passed into the hands of the
Dalquharran Kennedys, who have built a neat fishing village adjoining, and spent
a considerable sum in providing a harbour. The old castle is wonderfully well
preserved considering its age (probably over 600 years), and the conical dovecot
to the right in the engraving is almost intact. The name Dunure is said to mean the
fort of the yew tree. On the hill side above stand
the ruins of the unfinished castle of
Dunduff a local illustration of
that searching question of our Lord’s—" Which of you, intending to
build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, whether he have
sufficient to finish it Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is
not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man
began to build and was not able to finish." Its date is about 1650. Close
by this old castle is the churchyard of Kirkbride.
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