Kirkmichael lies three miles east of Maybole and started life as the focus of a well populated rural parish served by its church. Today it is a strikingly attractive, largely white harled small village set amid the rolling hills of South Ayrshire.
Possibly the most surprising facet of modern Kirkmichael is its role as a venue for musical events, including, from 1999 until 2005, the Kirkmichael International Guitar Festival. For three days each May, Kirkmichael became Scotland's guitar village and played host to thousands of music lovers from around the world. They came together for a weekend catering to all musical tastes from folk to flamenco and jazz to rock and roll. More recently the village has been home to the Kirkmichael Music Festival, held in June.
For the rest of the year Kirkmichael is a quieter place. Its origins date back to the 1200s when John de Gemmelstoun founded a church beside the Dyrock Burn here, which he dedicated to St Michael. For much of its early life the village was called Kirkmichael of Gemilston, after its founder, but the name was eventually simplified.
The village church you see today dates back to 1787 and is a fairly typical T-plan design intended to provide a large number of seats within a fairly small space, all exposed to the full force of the preacher's oratory.
The surrounding churchyard reflects its much greater age, though the attractive lich gate leading to it only dates back to 1702, according to the inscription on its bell. The lich gate was intended to accommodate mourners at funerals.
Kirkmichael focuses on two intersecting streets, largely comprising of white cottages built for hand-weavers in the 1790s. The most unusual building is the red stone McCosh Hall in Patna Road. This serves as the village hall and in 1898 was gifted to the village by James McCosh, President of Princeton University, whose family came from this part of Ayrshire. At the junction of Patna Road and Straiton Road lies the white-painted Kirkmichael Arms, a long one-storey village inn.
The mining industry that dominated much of South Ayrshire left Kirkmichael unscathed. The same cannot be said for many of those employed in the industry, and it is a mark of the village's attractive location and environment that in the early 1900s the large Kirkmichael House, to the south of the village, was converted into a miners' welfare home, while another was opened near Cloncaird Castle to the south east. Both closed in the 1950s.
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