Alloway – More Than a Suburb of Ayr
Best known as the birthplace of Robert Burns, it is thought that Alloway’s history may date back to the time of Saint Mungo, who lived from 528 to 614. Recorded history includes the building of the Auld Kirk Alloway in 1516, which incorporates parts of a church thought to date back to the 13th century, and it is around this historic building that the village on the banks of the River Doon developed. At that time Ayr was two miles away, but today Alloway has become a suburb of the city, while still retaining its peaceful village atmosphere.
Visitors to Alloway will find a wealth of history and culture to enjoy, much of which is tied up with the life and works of Scotland’s favourite son, Robert Burns. The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum was opened at the end of 2010, bringing together all the features of Alloway related to the legendary Scottish poet. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, with the exhibits offering fascinating insight into the personality, life and works of Burns by means of multimedia displays, paintings, original writings, skillfully crafted woodcuts depicting scenes from Tam o’Shanter and other items. Other landmarks dedicated to Robert Burns include Burns Cottage, the burns Monument and Memorial Garden, and the Brig o’Doon – the old bridge crossing the River Doon that Tam o’Shanter crosses to escape the witches and warlocks he stumbled upon in Auld Kirk Alloway.
Standing on the River Doon’s north bank, overlooking the Brig o’Doon, the Burns Monument and Memorial Gardens were established between 1820 and 1823, following a decision taken by a committee chaired by the son of writer James Boswell, Sir Alexander Boswell, in 1814. Up to 700 people contributed financially to the building costs of the monument, which was designed by Sir Thomas Hamilton featuring nine pillars to represent the nine muses of Greek mythology that were said to give artists, philosophers and other creative individuals their inspiration. Visitors can climb the stairs to the upper walkway of the monument to enjoy the view of the landscaped garden, the river and the Brig o’Doon.
Rozelle Park in Alloway has a permanent collection of sculptures, including a series of carvings by Ayr-born sculptor Ronald Rae and a sculpture by Henry Moore. The park is the venue for the Ayr Flower Show each summer and has an art gallery that hosts exhibitions of local and international artists. Belleisle Park features a playground, walled garden and a golf course, while Cambusdoon New Ground is home to the Ayr Cricket Club and has hosted Scotland Cricket Internationals.