Kirkcudbright and Wigtonshire

From the minute book of the Kirkcowan Curling Club

“The first Spiel or match in the parish came off someway about 1808 and 1810 between the married men and batchelors for a dinner. The former being headed by the Laird of Shenanton and the latter by James Girrard. After a keen contest victory declared itself in favour of the married men by a majority of 4 or 5 shots. It was part of the conditions that the victors should march foremost in procession from the Dam of Barhoise to Mrs. Loves, innkepper, the place appointed for holding the Festival. March they did and in good order. Curling at Kirkcowan, 1961

Curling at Kirkcowan, 1961 It was the first curling procession in Kirkcowan, and the novelty of the thing excited some curiosity. Upon the first appearance of the party, on the heights of Barhoise one said they are coming, another enquired who is first? a third answered it is the batchelors. Nay said a canny old Housewife, putting on her spectacles, it is the married men, our Sawners is amang them. I see the braw buckles and his shoon glentin wi’ the sun, notwithstanding the decisive tone in which this was said and the respect due to long sight, aided by spectacles, not a few questioned the truth of it, and many warm debates, and bickerings ensued during the march from the above place to the spring wells concerning who were and who were not the conquerors. At length however the mystery was cleared up, the party having ascended the heights close by the village.

Foremost Came the married Men, with their brooms on their shoulders, strolling with all the Gaiety of a wedding party followed by the batchelors, marching with all the solemnity of a funeral procession with their brooms grounded and a thoughtful Cast of countenance, expressive ratherof for the recovery of their honour than of deep concern for its loss. In this order they marched down the village, amidst the rows of spectators, of all ages sex and sizes, breathing the spirit of old Scotia’s game into the bosom of many a youth as they passed who were afterwards to become Loyal subjects of John Frost and play many a narrow port for the honour of Kirkcowan in their Stead. Curlers at Glendarroch Loch, Kirkcowan, 1963 These are competitors in the Wigtownshire County Curling match.

On arriving at the Inn Dinner was served in Mrs. Loves usual excellent style and after paying a good compliment to her smoking bowls and reeking trenchers and Spending the evening in the greatest mirth and good humour, the party separated at a late hour. The married men to tell their wives the merry history of the spiel and the batchelors away forming many resolutions yet to rob their more lucky Seniors of their hard won laurels… ”

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