Thanks to George McFarlane for confirming the story of the Ballantrae witch who, he says, was called Minny.
Regarding his interest in standing stones, back in June 2011, I did an article on those of Garleffin, and I have also covered the stone in a field outside Girvan known as the ‘Maid of Curragh’.
Any more tales that come to light regarding theses or other stones will be gratefully received.
Remember, these tales exist and are retold by me in what I hope is an amusing and enjoyable way, but as far as believing them, that is entirely up to you.
To get to this week’s yarn, we have covered tales of the caves around Lendalfoot and, in particular, the one concerning the notorious Sawney Bean, but, in more recent times, these caves were a useful hideout for many smuggling escapades.
Climbing up the Bennane Head you used to come across the remains of the Craignaw Inn, which disappeared when the new road to Ballantrae was built.
In early years, the inn was run by Rob Forgie, who not only provided refreshments, but was a look-out for the local smugglers who were mainly the seven Coulter brothers – all big strapping fellows ready to celebrate after a daring exploit.
A white sheet on the clothes line or a bonfire was all that was needed to warn of the approach of the revenue men.
One night, after a full cargo had been safely run ashore and concealed, the usual celebrations were interrupted by the arrival of a naval cutter looking to press fit, young men.
The press-gang, numbering some 13 armed men, banged on the door of the Inn demanding entry in the name of the King.
The landlord called through the door that all inside were far too drunk to be pressed, but the seamen continued to batter on the door to gain entry.
The elder Coulter, who was a very big man, instructed all to lie down in front of the door whilst he, armed with a bottle of fine French brandy, took up his position.
As the press-gang burst through the door tripping over the smugglers lying on the floor, they were laid out by the bottle-wielding Coulter.
But no-one was badly hurt and the aforesaid brandy was then used for the general resuscitation of all, resulting in a night of jollity.
The following morning, in the same spirit, the Coulter brothers helped the hung-over seamen back to their cutter.