An article from

'The Topographical, Statistical, and Historical Gazetteer of Scotland'

Published by A.Fullarton and Co. - 1848


DALRY,(1) a parish near the centre of the district of Cunningham, Ayrshire. It is bounded on the north and north-east by Kilbirnie; on the east by Beith; on the south by Kilwinning; on the southwest by Ardrossan; on the west by West Kilbride; and on the north-west by Largs. Its extreme length, from north to south, is about 10 miles; and its breadth varies from 1 to 9. It is narrowest in the middle; is nearly dissevered toward the north by the parish of Largs; sends out an arm 3 miles northward from its main body; and is, in consequence, of extremely irregular outline. The surface consists principally of four vales, with their intervening and overshadowing uplands. The principal vale stretches south-westward along its eastern division, and varies from a mile to a mile in breadth. This vale is watered by the meanderings of the river Garnock, and abounds in fertility and the beauties of agricultural landscape. The other parts of the parish, though well-watered with the Rye, the Gaaf, and other streams flowing south-eastward and falling into the Garnock, are in general hilly, and in some parts, especially toward the north, almost mountainous. Bedland-hill, between the Gaaf and the Rye, rises 946 feet; and Carwinning-hill, to the eastward of the Rye, rises 634 above the level of the sea. At Auchinskich, 2 miles from the village, in a romantic and sylvan dell, is a natural cave, 183 feet in length, and from 5 to 12 in breadth and height, stretching away into the bowels of a precipitous limestone crag, and ceiled and panelled with calcareous incrustations which give it the appearance of Gothic arched work. Coal, at a comparatively inconsiderable depth, is, in three places, worked from seams of from 2 to 5 feet thick. Limestone abounds in strata of unusual thickness, and in general imbosoms numerous petrifactions. Iron-stone frequently occurs. Agates have been found in the Rye. In the holm-lands of the parish the soil is a deep alluvial loam; along the base of the hills it is light and dry; in some districts the soil is clayey and retentive; and in others it is reclaimed and cultivated moss. The parish is intersected by the Glasgow and Ayr railway, and is in other respects well-provided with means of communication. On the summit of Carwinning-hill are vestiges of an ancient fortification, two acres in area, and formed of three concentric circular walls. Near the end of the village is a mound called Courthill, one of those moats, so common in Scotland, on which justice was administered. Urns and other antiquities have, in various localities, been dug up. In this parish the insurrection of 1666 broke out against the Privy council's measures for the erection of episcopacy. Dairy was the birth-place of Sir Bryce Blair, who resisted the usurpation of Edward I., and the home of Captain Thomas Crawford, who captured Dumbarton castle in the reign of Mary. - The village of Dalry is beautifully situated on a rising ground on the right bank of the Garnock, immediately below the confluence of the Rye with that river, and not far above the confluence of the Gaaf. It commands an extensive view to the south and the north-east; and, owing to the peculiar nature of its site, and the liability to inundation of the mountain streams by which its environs on three sides are washed, it has sometimes the appearance of lifting its head from a lake, and being seated on an island. It is 16 miles from Paisley, 14 from Kilmarnock, 5 from Beith, and 9 from Saltcoats. Of no higher origin than the beginning of the 17th century, and long existing as a mere hamlet, it has eventually attained considerable prosperity, and at present contains a population of upwards of 2,000. There are five streets three of which converge, and form a sort of square or open area near the centre of the town. The streets indicate the want of police, yet enjoy the luxury of being lighted up at night with gas. The principal manufacture is weaving, which employs about 500 individuals. Nearly 50 persons are employed also in a woollen carding and spinning-mill. Here are the parish-church, two dissenting churches, three schools, and a number of inns and other appurtenances of village importance. There are 6 annual fairs, the chief of which is held on the last day of July. The town as well as its vicinity will probably now rise rapidly in prosperity, from its being touched by the Glasgow and Ayr railway. Population of the town and parish, in 1801, 2,815; in 1831, 3,739. Houses 503. Assessed property, in 1815, 13,141. Dalry is in the presbytery of Irvine, and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. Patron, Blair of Blair. Stipend 231 10s. 6d.; glebe 24. Unappropriated teinds 575 9s. 10d. The parish-church was built in 1771. Sittings 941. Before the Reformation the church belonged to the monastery of Kilwinning, and was served by a vicar. On a rising ground to the east of the Garnock, about a mile from the present village, formerly stood a chapel, vestiges of which have not long ago disappeared. At a greater distance from the village are still some ruins of another ancient chapel - One of the meeting-houses in the village belongs to the United Secession, and the other to the body of Original Burghers, part of whom recently became reunited to the Established church. Sittings in the former 508; in the latter 2S2. Stipend of the former 110; of the latter 70. According to a survey made in 1835, there were 2,762 in connection with the Establishment, and 927 dissenters within the parish - There are in the parish 4 schools, 3 of which are nonparochial. Parish-schoolmaster's salary 32 15s. 9d., with 65 school-fees.

{1 Chalmers derives this name which was formerly written Dalrye from the Gaelic Dal, 'a valley,' and Rye, the name of one of the streams by which the parish is intersected. But the writer in the New Statistical Account prefers a derivation from Dal and Righ, 'a king,' making the name mean 'the King's valley;' and he observes that a part of the site of the village is still called Crottanry, which he supposes to be a corruption of Croft an Righ, 'the Croft of the king.'}





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