ON Tuesday 14th. February members of the Girvan Probus Club and their guests enjoyed a very interesting and informative talk given by Tom Barclay the local history librarian at Carnegie Library in Ayr. Tom came down to the Girvan Bowling Club with his audio visual equipment to present a talk on smuggling which was rife along this coastline a few centuries ago.
The Ladyburn at the Dipple was a favourite landing place for the smugglers and everyone seemed keen to take part as soon as a boat was known to be approaching the landing place. The landowners and gentry of the time turned a blind eye to the antics of their tenants as long as a sample of their efforts was left on their doorstep. The casks were small as they had to be rowed ashore from the transport ships and then loaded on to pack horses where they could be transported all over the area. .
Naturally there was no Alginate industries or Grant’s distillery there at that time and a knoll to the north of the Dipple was where a lookout was posted to keep an eye open for the excise men or Guagers as they were known. These were interesting times and the farm workers etc. supplemented their meager earnings by becoming involved in the smuggling trade which also provided them with something to enjoy when their work was done.
Now do not think that Ballantrae was innocent in all this as they were very active in the smuggling trade having a harbour the boats could sail into on high tide.
Did you know that the French drink more whisky in a month than they do brandy in a year. This was one of the questions in a quiz recently, so I wonder if any smuggling went in the other direction..
Probus Chairman John Casey in thanking Tom Barclay for his talk commented that he had researched his subject very thoroughly and obviously enjoyed imparting his knowledge to a rapt audience.