BARR, Ayrshire

"A very few days in Barr are enough to make one aware of its rather unusual attractions, ... The place is in touch with civilisation on the one hand and, on the other, is an outpost towards the wilds. A bus runs between it and Girvan, but there is no regular bus traffic passing through it. In half an hour one can board a train or bus at Girvan for the ends of the earth, while in less than this time one can be plunged deep in the lonely quiet of hills where the chief sounds are those of purling burns and bleating sheep and the calls of grouse, peewits and an occasional black-headed gull. The Stinchar flows past the end of the village between well wooded banks, receiving up and down its course here and there a tributary rippling gently under the shade of trees or thrown violently down a rocky gully. Barr is indeed a beautiful nook among closely enfolding hills, with tall larches, birches, ash-trees and other woodland giants shading the little streets, the grounds of the churches, and the banks of the Gregg Burn."

"Highways and Byways in Galloway and Carrick" by the Reverend C.H. Dick, published 1916 by MacMillan and Co, London.

Cemeteries

The original burial ground associated with the 1653 church (see below) is well maintained and open. The Barr New Cemetery was opened in in 1935.

"Pre-1855 Gravestone Inscriptions; an index for Carrick, Ayrshire" edited by Alison Mitchell, and published in Edinburgh in 1988 by the Scottish Genealogy Society covers the parish of Barr.

Church History

"The Rev. E. B. Wallace, minister of Barr, in writing the Statistical Account of the parish, very quaintly remarks, in connection with the church, that 'there was a religious association for some years, but it has fallen asleep.' If we may be allowed to judge by outward signs, the spiritual state of the parish is not presently suffering from a similar cause, as two new churches have been erected recently in the village. The ancient church contained 390 sittings, and had a central seat reserved for the poor of the parish. It was built in 1653, when Barr was erected into a parish, formed out of the more remote parts of the adjoining parishes of Girvan and Dailly."

"The chief antiquity in the old churchyard is a tombstone erected in memory of Edward M'Keen, a Covenanter, who was shot, on the 28th of February 1685, by Cornet Douglas and his party. On the evening of that day, Douglas, with a company of 24 soldiers, surrounded the farm house of Dalwine, still standing about four miles above the village of Barr. On searching the house they discovered M'Keen, a pious young man, who was then on a visit from Galloway, hiding betwixt the gable of one house and the side wall of another. After asking him a number of questions, one of the soldiers had him by the arm, dragging him away, when the ruffian, Douglas, without any warning, or permitting him to pray, discharged his pistol and shot him through the head. A companion, named David Martin, who was apprehended on the same occasion, was brought to the same place, and, after the soldiers had turned off his coat, they set him upon his knees beside the mangled body of M'Keen. One of the soldiers, more humane than the others, entreated the Cornet to spare his life. Another cold-blooded murder was thus prevented, but the fright and terror so unhinged Martin's reason, that he became an imbecile to the day of his death."

"Ayrshire Nights Entertainment: A Descriptive Guide to the History, Traditions, Antiquities of the County of Ayr" by John MacIntosh of Galston, Ayrshire, published in 1894, by John Menzies & Co. of Kilmarnock, Dunlop and Drennan.

There was a medieval chapel, known as Kirkdomines or Kirkdominay, located on the high ground above the River Stinchar, near the Auchensoul Farm. Howver, there are no visible memorials on this site.

By the turn of the 20th century, there were two churches remaining in the village:

Description and Travel

The parish of Barr was created in 1653 out of parts of the parishes of Dailly, Girvan and Colmonell. The parish is a large rural area in Carrick and the south-east of the county. Much of the parish is a forested hill area leading to the mountains of galloway and drained by the Stinchar and the Cree; the latter forming the county boundary with the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Barr itself is a small and very attractive village in the Stibchar Valley some 9 miles west-south-west of Girvan. The village and surrounding area are popular places for walks along the various forest roads, or for the more adventurous into the hills, for which a good map is essential. The area has some historical connections especially related to the Covenanters.

The village of Barr is approached by the B734 road from Girvan over some bleak moorlands. The village itself is a mixture of traditional cottages and small houses that are separated from the newer local authority housing by the Water of Gregg as it runs into the Stinchar. The Stinchar Bridge dates from 1787. A small cottage in the village is known as the 'jam factory', a nickname it acquired as a post-Great War job creation scheme of the Rev. John Barr, employing local housewives to make jam.

An 1837 description of the parish, including a listing of the key personalities of the town, is given in this extract from Pigot's Directory for Ayrshire. The transcript was provided by Keith Muirhead from the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.

To the south-east of the parish is the county boundary with the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and the Parish of Minigaff.

View photographs of Barr and the surrounding area.

Gazetteers

Historical Geography

Information about boundaries and administrative areas is available from A Vision of Britain through time.

Maps

View maps of Barr.