a small village, situated about 13 miles
south of Ayr, on the main A77 road.
The most popular attraction in the
village, is the old cottage of Souter
Johnnie that is now a museum. This is
where the poet Robert Burns was inspired
to write his classic poem, Tam O Shanter.
Burns spent a summer in Kirkoswald in
1775, when he was about 16, said to be
with his grandparents to learn
mathematics at a school in the village.
Burns mother, Agnes Broun, was born and
raised in Kirkoswald.
Burns time in the village, saw him
observe some of the local characters, and
turn them into an interesting story.
Douglas Graham, who rented a farm named
Shanter, became Tam O Shanter, John
Davidson, owner of the cottage and the
local shoemaker, or souter as it was
known then, became Souter Johnnie, and
Jean Kennedy, who ran a small inn with
her sister, named Kirkton, became Kirkton
The Old Church in Kirkoswald was built
around 1244, said to be by monks from
Abbey, two miles north. The Old
Church graveyard contains the resting
places of Burns Relations, Tam O Shanter,
Souter Johnnie, Kirkton Jean, and his
teacher Hugh Rodger. There is a plaque on
the Auld Kirk gate that shows where each
historic grave is situated.
Kirkoswald, along with other small
towns down this coast, were well known
for smuggling when Burns stayed there.
The Government had imposed heavy taxes on
imported goods around that time, such as
gin, tea, brandy, and textiles. Smuggling
was the way to avoid taxation. Douglas
Graham/Tam O Shanter was said to be a
The new church at Kirkoswald was built
in 1777, designed by Robert Adam. The new
church sits high above the the old
church, about 200 yards to the east.
Large trees now block the views between
the two churches.
The Kirkton Inn and Shanter Inn, were
rebuilt in about 2007 to serve as a
tearoom, diner, and cake and ice cream
parlour. The Kirkton is now named Peggies
Tearoom, and the Shanter is named The
House of Burns Inn, both owned by
The Whiskey Experience opened in
Kirkoswald in about 2010, offering a wide
range of rare whiskies, tasting sessions,
and you can fill your own bottle straight
from a cask, strong stuff.
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Kirkoswald Auld Kirk . Large Image