Kirkcolm takes it’s name from ‘kirk’ (church) and ‘colm’ – referencing either one of the following saints: Columba, Colum or Calum. As there is a site known as ‘St Columba’s Well’ in the old kirk of Kirkcolm, it is believed to be named after St Columba.
In its present form, Kirkcolm, once known as Stewarton, has been in existence since the 1780s and was once famous for its production of muslin embroidery. The nearby ruins of Balsarroch House was the birthplace of legendary polar explorer Sir John Ross.
Worth seeing if one is in the vicinity is the Kilmorie Cross. Something of an enigma, its original location was said to be in the churchyard of St. Mary’s Chapel, just south of Kirkcolm. What is more certain is that it was found in the grounds of Corsewall House, where it was being used as a door lintel for the now ruined Kirkcolm Kirk. Eventually the cross was relocated to the grounds of Ervie-Kirkcolm Church of Scotland, in Kirkcolm itself. The Kilmorie Cross is a 9th or 10th century carved cross with both Christian and Viking inspired drawings in a style similar to the Ruthwell Cross. On one side of the cross are carvings of animals and an ornate cross. On the other side of the cross is a depiction of the crucifixion above a blacksmith holding a hammer and tongs alongside two eagles. The carvings can be regarded as the triumph of Christianity over Paganism or may have been carved by someone with a interest in both worlds – as at the aformentioned Ruthwell Cross.
Just outside Kirkcolm on the road back to Stranraer is Wig Bay – look for a car park and a long sandbank heading into the loch. The sandbank, known locally as ‘the Scar’, is home, during the summer, to massive flocks of Terns, plus numerous resident waders. Adjacent to the Scar is the remains of the old WW2 flying boat launch ramps, from where Sunderlands and Catalina flying boats departed to prowl the northern approaches. There is a pleasant walk from the village down to the shores of Loch Ryan, which itself offers good photo opportunities and picnic spot.
Within the village itself, one will find the Blue Peter Hotel, CAMRA Scottish Pub of the Year, 2007, well known for its real ales and beer garden which teems with wild birds. There is also a general store/post office in the village.
Image Copyright Chris Henley. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence.
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