Old Parish Churchyard

1656-w600-h800The graveyard surrounds the church on all sides and runs down to the river bank from which it is separated by a low stone wall. On its other sides the walls are higher, and those on the north and south
have large memorials, taken from the pre-1774 building and dating back to pre-Reformation times, with protruding tops built into them.While here and there in the churchyard a tombstone may be found with a date about as old as the Reformation, or an undated stone of an earlier date, it is to be remembered that, although it is a common practice today for people to erect a memorial stone, this is a comparitively modern custom and the right of doing so was at one time disallowed.

grave 6-w600-h800There are almost 1500 memorial stones arranged in neat rows, and shaped as obelisks,
statues, tables and undraped urns. There are relatively few plain headstones. Many are carved from sandstone and the inscriptions on a surprising few are now illegible.

The graveyard is well kept by North Ayrshire Council with short grass and neat paths.
There is a south-east extension to this graveyard, which also adjoins the river bank. The south wall of the main graveyard has been lowered at some time to make the extension seem less separate. It contains a further 337 stones, and access to it is best gained from Kirk Vennel.
grave 8-w600-h800As might be expected from the site of Irvine, being by the sea, in not a few cases the stones mark the resting place of the mariner, or are set up to the memory of the shipwrecked, whose bones lie in the depths of the sea.

The skull and crossbones of older sculptured stones can be found around the old graveyard, and the curious inscription, “Hier lyes ye corps,” is a common one (Here lies the corpse). Many ancient insignia of the old-time Crafts are also to be seen, bakers, masons and weavers.



Inscriptions from some memorials

grave kelso-w600-h800On one face:
Captain Alexander Kelso of the ship Conflict who died at Calcutta 8th November 1866 aged 48.
Having bequested £3000 to provide an annual supply of coal, clothing and comforts to the Poor of Halway District of Dundonald Parish.
On another face:
also Pte. Thomas Craig 8th A & S Hrs [Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders] who went missing at Ypres in Belgium 22nd August 1917 aged 21 years.


grave thomson-w600-h800Rev John Thomson late of Glasgow who died 22nd October 1835 aged 32 years.

After short but active service in the cause of the Redeemer and the extension of His Kirk in Halfway District.



rev richmond-w600-h800William Cunningham Rector of Grammar School of Irvine who died on 17th August 1766 in the 70th year of his age.
A gentleman of distinguished ability, piety, integrity and learning who discharged the duties of his important office with diligence, fidelity and approbation upwards of forty years.
Here lies also his spouse Margaret Hunter who died 4th August 1802.


nantes-w600-h800Sacred to the memory of Joseph McPhail Snr aged 45 years, Joseph McPhail Jnr aged 13 years, Roderick
McCafferty aged 39 years, William McDonald aged 24 years, Duncan Bicker aged 15 years, Anthony Liddle aged 26 years, Archibald McClay aged 25 years.
Drowned by the upsetting of a small boat near Irvine Bar on their way from Troon to Irvine on the night of 21st October 1876
This monument was erected out of a fund raised by public subscription for their widows and orphans.

grave dickie-w600-h800David Dickie for 32 years General Goods Manager of the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company. Born at Irvine on 6th November 1822 and died on 21st March 1885. Also interred is his wife Mary Johnston who was born at Irvine on 31st January 1837 and died in Glasgow on 23rd August 1896.



grave dalziel-w600-h800Memorial stone erected by Andrew Dalziel and his wife Esther (nee Henderson) in loving memory of their children.






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