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2014 Mauchline Holy Fair
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Friday 23rd May 2014
was devoted to remembering those who left for World
War 1 and didn't come back.
the Friday evening there was a march which started at
7.15pm from the Loudoun Street Car Park to the Mauchline
War Memorial. This was well attended and there were many
spectators. The march was led by the Isle of Cumbrae Royal
British Legion Pipe Band and particular mention has to
be made of the two Flanders Bands proudly marching in
their WW1 uniforms. It was wonderful to see the support
in the march from many other organisations - including
young people - bearing their flags.
the War Memorial, the very moving service led by Mauchline
Burns Club President, Rev Tom Wilkinson took place with
WW1 uniformed Flanders soldiers - who appeared to know
exactly what to do - guarding the four corners of our
memorial. The Bugler was Douglas Cameron and our Rev Tom
Wilkinson, Rev John Paterson and Father McGrattan from
Cumnock all played their part perfectly in the actual
Some Friday Images
Lining Up in Car Park
Past President Hugh Brown leads the March
with the Cumbrae Band
Earl Haig Band in March
Flanders Jocks (from
France) and 'Gordon Highlanders' in the March
Here They Come
WW1 Soldiers at War Memorial
And now a march back to the Car Park to round off the
Friday Event with an hour and a half's quality entertainment
on the Holy Fair stage. As well as the Dalmellington Senior
Band and the Isle of Cumbrae Royal British Legion Pipe
Band, this included performances
from Willie Stewart and Community Singing led by Willie
Stewart - all accompanied by Mauchline Burns Club Musical
Director Billy McEwen.
Dalmellington Senior Band
Finale - Dalmellington Senior Band on stage & Cumbrae
Pipe Band in Front
Fundraising Tank at Mauchline Cross 1918
Mauchline Burns Club Dummy Tank at Mauchline Cross 2014
(Original picture by Taylor Gibb)
(Thanks to Gavin Lyell for this and
STORY OF MAUCHLINE WAR WEAPONS WEEK 1918 (When the first
Dummy Tank was used)
FROM THE KILMARNOCK STANDARD 22 nd JUNE 1918)
ASSOCIATION - 1918
‘Tank Week' commenced on Monday 17 th June at 3pm and
although we are late compared to the rest of Scotland,
we venture to hope that our sum invested per head will
create considerable astonishment when we announce it next
very large crowd assembled at Mauchline Cross in front
of a lorry which made a suitable platform. The chair was
occupied by Mr Robert McCrone C.C. J.P, chairman of the
War services association. Along with him on the platform
were The Countess of Eglinton, Mrs McCrone and the Misses
McCrone in introducing Lady Eglinton gave praise to the
Montgomery family on having been in the forefront of patriotism
for hundreds of years. He referred to the great need of
money to carry on the war and also to the safety and security
offered by the government. He hoped Mauchline would give
a good account of itself before the week came to an end.
Lady Eglinton expressed the pleasure it gave her to come
to Mauchline and lend a helping hand in this National
enterprise. She was sure Mauchline would do its duty and
not be behind any other part of the country. Rev Dr Mitchell
proposed a vote of thanks to Lady Eglinton while Mr William
Smith J.P. paid a similar compliment to Mr McCrone.
the close of the speaking, business became very brisk
at the tank and will continue until Saturday 22 nd June
1918. Unfortunately the ‘Tank' was not a real tank but
a faithful imitation all the same. The ‘Tank Bank' was
under the charge of officials from Kilmarnock Post Office,
Mr T.McHoul assisted by Misses Ribbeck, McCartney, Hislop
the week a brisk business was also carried out by Mr J.D.S.
McMillan at the Commercial Bank in Mauchline. Shortly
after the opening ceremony three aeroplanes appeared on
the scene and hovered overhead and divided around the
church tower. The whole village seemed to be on holiday
and to enter with marked enthusiasm into the scheme.
meeting of the War Savings Committee was held on Tuesday
25 th June in the Lower Temperance Hall, Mauchline when
the chairman Mr McCrone C.C. J.P. announced that the total
sum raised was 97,522 pounds and 5 shillings which was
regarded as one of the highest sums raised per head of
population in Scotland.
money raised throughout Ayrshire would be used to purchase
aeroplanes and submarines for the war effort.
by James Davidson, Mauchline Burns Club
2014 Holy Fair on Saturday 24th
headlined plus Scottish Rain, Kirk James, Jill Woodburn's
Jesse Garron, Flanders Bands, Huge Replica
Fundraising Tank, Dalmellington Bands,
Beggars Cantata, Uncle Billy, Mauchline Burns Club Presents
Re-creation Group, Vintage Tractors from 1914-18, a replica
street magicians and street entertainers, Old Mauchline
1914 Media Presentation,
over 80 stalls
and much, much more.
2014 Saturday Programme
A Selection of 2014 Holy Fair Images
(Thank you to the various contributing
Tank Builders at
Tank Leaving Boreland Mill
Tank Builders at the Holy Fair
A Young WW1Soldier
Who Built the Tank the Wrong Size? (See comparison
Images below are from the top of the Kirk
Tower at the start of the 2013 Holy Fair
and are courtesy of Ayrshire
History and Description
THE MAUCHLINE BURNS CLUB'S
Mauchline Burns Club are grateful to Andrew Cooper and
Andrew Bell who came up with the idea of a modern day
Mauchline Burns Club's Holy Fair has - for the thirteen
years since 2001 - become a showpiece for local talent
in it's music and drama. The wide variety of stalls also
displayed a wide range of local craft skills. These stalls
regularly numbered over 70, attracting participants from
has been estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors
were attracted to this remarkable event each year. Recent
surveys showed people spending an average of over £15
per head, producing spending in Mauchline on the day of
at least £225,000. Our thanks to everyone who attended.
Mauchline Burns Club were happy to do the work for those
thirteen years and were pleased to receive the modest
proceeds of our own Holy Fair Stall towards our Projects
Fund. Thank you to those who bought from our stall over
efforts and successes have been very much to the profit
of the village, of East Ayrshire, of Ayrshire, and even
of Scotland, (bringing many visitors from further afield
and abroad) not only financially, but as a local annual
Homecoming and by putting Mauchline to the forefront of
the Burns' world, a rightful position many of us have
struggled to achieve over the years.
Burns, in his poem The Holy Fair emphasised
the attendance in 1786 was- ‘In droves that
We have been lucky enough to repeat that each year.
jump back in time, to 1786.
Kirk Burns worshipped in in Mauchline was a 17th century
building which he described as —‘as ugly a lump of
consecrated stone as ever cumbered the earth.' The
interior was as bleak, with a floor several feet below
ground level due to subsidence. It was lit by six small
windows supplemented by a few candles. The sermon was
expected to last an hour and one passage of scripture
was expected to be examined over several weeks. One year,
eight verses of one psalm provided material for sermons
for the next 19 months.
Kirkyard was in as bad a state as the Kirk itself. The
Session records describe it as- ‘ a sort of dunghill,
a receptacle for all filthiness so that one can scarce
walk to Kirk with clean feet. Disorderly people break
the windows and break the tombs and deface the engravings
.' And it was in this Kirk and in these
grounds that the original Holy Fairs were held.
fair was actually an opportunity for people from all round
Mauchline to take communion. Some Kirks held communion
irregularly, so hordes flocked to Mauchline on the second
Sunday in August for the service. The occasion lasted
3 days: Saturday for cleansing and preparation, Sunday
for the services, and Monday for reflection. It was also
a continuation of the Covenanters open-air conventicles.
1788, 1800 people took communion, 400 only being Mauchline
folk, but the Kirk could cope with only 200 at a time.
So the crowds had to mingle in the Kirkyard for hours
as they waited. Two elders stood at the gate opposite
Poosie Nansie's with the collection plate. Stalls like
Punch and Judy shows, offered pulpits to local preachers.
The communicants entered the Kirk in groups of 80 taking
15 or16 sessions to cater for the crowds. Tents supplied
food and drink while various hucksters offered other entertainment,
and Racer Jess, Poosie Nansie's daughter, plied her trade
at the gate.
Burns make all this up? Did he exaggerate?
1759 pamphlet, written as a complaint to the Scottish
Kirk authorities is a prose version of Burns' verses.
It concludes -‘in this sacred assembly there is an
odd mixture of religion, sleep, drinking, courtship, and
a confusion of sexes, ages, and characters.'
is an idyllic painting in the Burns House Museum of the
crowds. Everybody is behaving doucely, listening attentively
to the preachers. The only transgressor is an old fellow,
who has succumbed to the joys of 40 winks. But this idyllic
picture of an important religious celebration is far from
the truth. And it is thanks to Robert Burns that not only
does posterity have an accurate, realistic picture of
the event, but also as a result of the poem being printed
in his Kilmarnock Edition, the scurrilous, bawdy, scandalous
circumstances, were reformed by the Scottish Kirk.