Wayfarer- The story of how Ailsa Craig came into being

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Everywhere you go there are tales to be told and with nearly 800 islands around Scotland there must be plenty there to keep us amused.

Islands being somewhat remote are usually populated with people who really know how to tell and appreciate a good tale.

We all know of Ailsa Craig and the trouble they had in eradicating the rats from it as they were blamed for stopping the puffins from nesting. The rats apparently arrived around 1889 from ships ferrying supplies to the newly built Stevenson designed lighthouse. However it was claimed that the rodents were breeding with the local rabbits, but that is something I cannot quite believe, but may explain why they bred so fast.

You may however wish to believe the tale of how Ailsa Craig came into being which is said to come from the time when the devil was making his way across Carrick when he tripped over and in a temper grabbed a large chunk of hillside and threw it into the Clyde where it became known as Ailsa Craig. The chunk of land the devil chose came from the hillside forming part of Maxwellston or Hadyard Hill where the present Penwhapple Reservoir now lies.

The hillside is in the parish of Dailly and this is the reason given to explain why Ailsa Craig became part of the parish of Dailly and not Girvan or Kirkoswald.

Ailsa Craig is regarded as part of the Barony of Knockgerran which lies in the parish of Dailly and consequently is the property of the Marquis of Ailsa who took his title from it. However the tale does not end there as the rock lies midway between Glasgow and Belfast and not to be outdone an Irish king named King Brian Bonhomie around the year 1000 claimed it as Irish territory as there were no snakes on Ailsa Craig. Snakes were traditionally banished from Ireland by St. Patrick, so therefore he considered Ailsa Craig as part of Ireland and it became know as ‘Brian’s Stone’

Naturally in modern times we can appreciate that Ailsa Craig and Hadyard Hill are formed from different types of rock and consequently there is no connection between the two, but these old tales should still be retained to be told with the required pinch of salt.

The island of Cara in the Inner Hebrides has the ghost of a Macdonald murdered by a Cameron. The ghost known as The Brownie is a neat little man with a pointed beard and a very mischievous sense of humour.

Good manners dictate that you raise your hat to The Brownie on arriving at the island as you would not wish to upset him. See you next week.