Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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Effigy of Robert Burns at Tarbolton

This evening, I am posting information on the historic, Bachelors’ Club Museum in Tarbolton, South Ayrshire, Scotland.

The Bachelors’ Club is closely associated with Scotland’s National Poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796) whose place of birth, Alloway, is just ten miles to the S.W.

The Club was formed by Robert Burns together with his brother Gilbert and five other friends as a debating society for the amusement and interest of young men who were ‘a professed lover of one or more of the female sex’. In reality the club was a platform to enable Robert Burns to improve his debating and public speaking skills and a step in Burns’ self-improvement agenda. Burns was initiated as a Freemason in the Club in 1781. The building is now a museum but has limited opening hours.

Here is a link to a Robert Burns themed tour.

Bachelors’ Club, Tarbolton (Thatched building on left.)

Detachment of Scottish Soldiers at Ayr.

Today, November 11th., is Remembrance Sunday in the U.K. with particular emphasis this year on the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I.

As a special tribute to the fallen, twenty-seven beaches around the United Kingdom have been transformed to reveal portraits in the sand of soldiers and persons involved in the war effort who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Each location ‘adopted’ one person special to that community.

In Ayr, S.W. Scotland the image of Walter Tull was etched into the sand. Walter Tull was the first black officer to be commissioned into the British Army (in 1917)and became the first black combat officer. He was killed in France in 1918 without his body ever being recovered.

Partly eroded silhouette of Walter Tull

We (Catswhiskerstours) arrived at Ayr around 10.30 am during a period of heavy rain. By this time the precipitation combined with the incoming tide had eroded about half of Walter Tull’s silhouette. However, there were many other extant sand figures plus others being work in progress  created by local artists and volunteers.

The assembled group of persons on the beach stopped to hear a reading of a poem, The Wound in Time  (by Carol Ann Duffy) followed by two minutes’ silence.

We also had the good fortune to encounter  a small detachment of Scottish soldiers close to the County Buildings.

Overall, a satisfying trip despite the poor weather conditions.


Sillhouettes in the sand at Ayr

Douglas Gordon memorial

‘Thank You’ in the sand

Silhouettes of soldiers

Archibald William Mearns memorial

Creating images in the sand at Ayr

Images in the sand

Church Interior

Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday in the U.K. with emphasis this year on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I (aka the ‘Great War’).

During the WWI conflict about 700, 000 U.K. personnel died out of a mobilised total of around 6.0m. Of the 700,000 about 100, 000 were Scots.

Carmunnock is a quasi-rural village near Glasgow in the West of Scotland. Here, local ladies have made a special effort to commemorate the War’s ending by crocheting and knitting thousands of poppies which have been used to elaborately embellish the local Parish Church (Presbyterian). Poppies proliferated in the former battlefields in France and Belgium after ending of the conflict with the British authorities adopting the flower as a symbol of the annual remembrance events. Historically, the artificial flowers were manufactured by military veterans with money raised from sale proceeds applied to benefit military related charities.

Carmunnock today has a population of about 1100 persons. The Roll of Honour in the Church lists about 113 local men who were mobilised in WWI of which 13 were killed, a statistic consistent with the national 12 pct. fatality rate.

Images taken this morning benefited from unusually strong and direct sunlight.

By way of a historical footnote, Carmunnock was previously Carmannoc or ‘monks close’. The actual Church site may have a Christian heritage dating back to the 8th century. The current Church was built in 1767 and replaced earlier buildings from the 12th century onwards.

Church entrance gate

Poppy display

A MacIntyre- WW1 casualty

Poppy display

Poppy display with tape link to headstone of WW1 casualty.

Poppy display

Poppy display outside Church

Carmunnock Roll of Honour- all mobilised combatants.

Thirteen local fatalities recorded in the stained glass window.

Stained glass window commemorating the 13 local casualties of WWI.