The Old Burial Ground, Barrhill Road - by George Scott

CemeteryA visit to this graveyard is of great interest. Even the limited wording on most of the headstones and memorials can give an impression of the way of life in those far-off days. Here are a few examples of the interesting information etched on the stones:-

Thomas Richard was a tenant farmer at Greenock Mains, near Muirkirk. At the age of 80 he was taken from his farm by Peter Inglis and brought to trial at Cumnock under Colonel Douglas. He was executed as a covenanter in Cumnock Square on 5th April 1685. His corpse was taken to the Gallows Knowe (normally used for criminals) and he is the first covenanter buried on this spot.

John Johnstone, who was born in Sanquhar, and died in Cumnock in 1880, aged 99, had fought under Lord Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805. He had been in receipt of an Admiralty pension from 1871.

Sergeant John Ranken, 7th son of George Ranken of Whitehill was killed while leading his company in an attack on the Wattygoon Stockade, near Prome in the Burmese Territory in 16th November, 1825, aged 23. This information is inscribed on a stone pillar which gives details of the other members of his family.

Download the full monumental inscriptions HERE

Ayr Advertiser 1 June 1888
Although we have no intention meantime of writing Chapters on Churchyards, like the late Mrs Southey, yet so long as our cemetery and our old churchyard – the former especially – are kept in the present untidy state, we cannot but draw the attention of the public to their condition in the hope that the Parochial Board and Cemetery Committee may be stirred up or even shamed into remedying their present neglected condition. We had a hope that this year the grass in the new cemetery would be cut at least once a month, and that the walks would be kept free from weeds; but though the grass is once more waving in the winds, and the narrower and less frequented walks are becoming covered with many sots of unsightly weeds, no one has been set to cut the grass, while the weeds seem to overtake John before he is able to overtake them. When attempting to do so if he would use a scuffle hoe instead of crawling along on his belly like a tortoise, and only using his hands, he would do as much work in an hour as he at present seems able to do in a day. Surely it cannot be that for the sake of making a miserable thirty shillings out of the hay the committee will again allow the hallowed spot to be turned into a hay field, dotted over with coils or ricks of hay rising among the graves like spiky pyramids, or that they will, grudge to expend a very few pounds yearly to have the grass cut at least monthly (it ought t be cut fortnightly) during the summer. A contemporary has been trying to open the eyes of the heritor to the dilapidated of the gate leading into the old churchyard and to the ruinous state of the stone wall which surrounds it, which is fast tottering to its fall, but as yet has done so in vain. We fear they feel in regards to these matters as the witty laird of Logan did a century ago, when a movement was got up to have the churchyard surrounded by a wall, not unlikely the one which is about to tumble down. Being scarce of money to pay his part of the work, he said he thought it would be time enough to build the dyke when the tenants complained! At present not a few of the living are complaining that every passer-by, and all children who please (the gate, such as it is, generally standing open or unlocked), can enter the place and commit any vile nuisance on the graves, or besides the monuments of the dear departed ones now sleeping there. Surely, surely, all these things will be seen to and remedied soon.

No change there then!

Situated at the top of Glaisnock Street across from the Fire Station. The new cemetery was opened in 1887 following the closure of the old cemetery on Barrhill Road. The new cemetery was situated next to the New Station on the Ayr and Cumnock line which was opened in 1874 and was located where George McTurk Court now stands. Passenger services were withdrawn in 1951 and the line closed and was lifted in 1964. Where the new part of the cemetery is situated was the original football playing field which closed in the 1930's and the access road to the playing field at the north of the cemetery still exists today.

War memorialCumnock War Memorial is facing you as you enter the cemetery and was unveiled in 1921 to commemorate the 117 men who were killed in World War I. Built of white granite it is a tall smooth column topped by a stylised carved crown and a sphere. The stumpy base is octagonal with bronze plaques set on each side - on which the names are contained. In 1950 a five-panelled granite wall was built to list the names of a further 37 soldiers who died during World War II. There are many war graves from WW1 and 2 in the cemetery where some of these men and women are buried.

As in the old cemetery there are a few notable persons interred here including:

James Keir Hardie, the founder of the independent labour party.

John Warrick, the author of the History of Old Cumnock.

Agnes Kerr Earl, who served with the Scottish Women's Hospitals and died in Serbia during WW1. She is remembered on the family headstone.

In the near future we will be undertaking a similar project to record and photograph the pre 1920s headstone inscriptions as in the old cemetery project.