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Kirkoswald is a small Village about 13 miles south of Ayr, on the main A77 road.

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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 Jean.

The Old Church in Kirkoswald was built around 1244, said to be by monks from Crossraguel 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, also there is a small Plaque at each Grave saying who they are as the old Gravestones are hard to read.

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 Smuggler.

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 was Peggies Tearoom but is now a shop. The Shanter is now named Souter’s Inn, owned by Costley and Costley Hoteliers.

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.

Video of Robert Burns places with the graves in Kirkoswald.

  Auld Kirk  

Kirkoswald Auld Kirk Large Image

For Ayrshire accommodation, Ayrshire click on map, and all Ayrshire and the Islands attractions, visit the link below.

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Kirkoswald Hall
Kirkoswald Village Hall

Whiskey Experience
Whiskey Experience

Whisky Experience Casks
A Bottle from a Cask

Kirkoswald Shop

Souter Johnnie's Cottage
Souter Johnnie's Cottage Museum

Souter Johnnie's Ale House
Souter Johnnie's Ale House

House of Burns Diner
House of Burns Inn

Parish Church Kirkoswald Parish Church