Group Leader:        David Bowman 01292 474067
Location:            Newton Wallacetown Church Hall.
Day & Time:          Wednesday 10.00 am - 12.00 noon (fortnightly)

Unfortunately for OiR, a decision has been taken by Ayr Free Church that they will not be re-opening their hall in the near future, possibly not before January 2022.

Face to face meetings will resume on 13th October in Newton Wallacetown Hall.

Members intending to attend meetings should have read OiR’s policy statement, which is included in italics, in the Chairman’s Remarks on page 3 of the recent OiR Outlook magazine.

All notices relating to entering the halls, and the health issues to be satisfied, must be followed.

In order that OiR groups can continue to use Newton Wallacetown Church Hall the following points should also be noted:

  • Delegated members will see to the setting up of the hall before the start of the meeting, and the clearing up following the meeting.
  • We will complete Track and Trace forms as per the advice on our website. There will be a bucket for your £1 contribution towards the costs of renting the hall.
  • 1 metre distancing, and the wearing of face coverings, must be observed at all times, including when seated. The only exception will be for anyone addressing the meeting, who may remove their mask while doing so.
  • Sanitiser will be provided in all areas, and should be used.
  • To maximise ventilation windows and doors will remain open during the meeting.
  • If toilet facilities are used, all contacted surfaces must be cleaned using the wipes provided.
  • As the kitchen facilities will not be available, and we will have our usual break half way through the meeting, anyone wishing to do so may bring their own refreshments, provided they take away their dirty cups, empty bottles etc. Any spillages will require to be wiped up.

David Bowman – Group Leader

Programme until Christmas 2021

29th SeptemberDenis Rattenbury – Voltaire and Rousseau, main representatives of the Age of Enlightenment and fathers of the French Revolution
David Hume wrote: “Why is it when we have lost parliament and monarchy and independent government, speak uneasily in a foreign tongue, but yet are the people most distinguished for literature in Europe?” Voltaire agreed: “It is to Scotland that we must look for all our ideas of civilisation.” In 1791, two years into the French Revolution, a church in Paris was transformed into the Pantheon, a burial place to honour great men of the new nation. The bones of Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (both had died in 1778, 11 years before the Revolution began) were lifted and transferred there amidst huge admiring crowds.

13th October       Mick Roebuck – A brief history of Lewis and Harris Part 1
The talk, over 2 meetings, will focus on key events such as where the Callinish Stones came from, Viking raiders and the Lewis Chessmen, Lord of the Isles, Matheson and Lews Castle, Crofting and Land Raids, the Iolaire disaster, and Lord Leverhulme.

27th October Mick Roebuck – A brief history of Lewis and Harris Part 2

10th November   David Bowman – A brief biography of the U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton
Part 1

24th November   David Bowman – A brief biography of the U.S. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton
Part 2

8th December     Ian McAnulla – “A Christmas Selection Box” – A collection of festive items for your entertainment!

With an average attendance of 65 before covid-19 social distancing restrictions, this is one of the largest groups in the OiR. It meets every other Wednesday from 10am to 12noon including the vital coffee break.

The group has gone from strength to strength under the guiding hand of its leader, David Bowman. He has a small committee, which makes up the programme. Speakers include both members and guest speakers. The programme, which, under normal circumstances, is advertised on the group’s web page, is arranged months in advance so it is likely that David and his team are already thinking of topics for when they restart.

In addition to the fortnightly meetings, trips are organised to places near and far, e.g. Stirling Castle, Caerlaverock Castle, the underground museum at Glasgow central station.

Because of their common interests, members also arrange “side-shoot” meetings e.g. to events at the Irvine Harbour Arts Centre. All in all, it’s a very sociable group. Come and join us!


The Pictish Stones in Angus History has few records which tell us of the Picts – the people who inhabited Scotland North and East of the Central Belt in the Dark Ages – the early centuries AD up to the 9th Century AD.  The legacy we have is of incised and carved sandstone  bearing animals, real and imaginary, winged creatures, snakes and the like, hunting scenes with spear carrying mounted warriors and, as Christianity gradually became absorbed into their way of life, many of the stones also bear an upright Christian cross.  The Pictish Stones, visited by nineteen members of OiR’s History Group, are all located in the East of Scotland, mainly in Angus.

We left Ayr early, 8am on Wednesday, 10th May, in a Bennett’s coach driven, once again, by our favourite driver, Andy.  Our first stop was to a most interesting museum in Meigle which contains 27 carved Pictish stones. This Historic Scotland property is small, but well lit and with excellent information.  On afterwards to the small village of Aberlemno, a lovely name, where there are three famous stones out of doors, at the side of the road, but the road was so narrow that Andy decided it foolish to try to park a large coach in that area.  Then we did park in the hamlet of Eassie where the ruined church contains a cross-slab stone from mid 8th Century and can be viewed through a see-through enclosure.  Brechin was our next stop, to visit the tall 11th century round tower, only one of two still existing in Scotland. The tower is now part of Brechin Cathedral which we also visited.

Then, after a very full day and a welcome meal in the Premier Inn East in Broughty Ferry, we  did not linger long, but headed to our comfortable rooms to sleep well in very comfortable Hypnos beds.  After breakfast we drove through Arbroath to a tiny village, St Vigeans  where there is another sculptured stones museum  which again contained carved stones, many with carved religious figures indicating that the mound on which a large impressive church now stands was once the site of a monastery.   St Vigeans is tiny, once a village apart, but now almost absorbed into Arbroath.

On again, to our last stop – Forfar.  The museum there, the Meffan Museum, contains many mediaeval relics among them a large Pictish stone – the Dunnichen Stone. 

Following lunch in Forfar we hit the road again, not stopping until we arrived back in Prestwick and Ayr. A most interesting two days had gone by in a flash and we are very fortunate in OiR having such willing members as Jean Lockley and Mick Roebuck who planned and reccied this trip.  (Unfortunately Mick did not join us as he had to call off on the morning of our departure due to a stomach bug). 

Many thanks to both.  Amy Kinnaird
Thanks to Amy for her report and photographs.


Mick Roebuck reports that twenty-seven members of the History Group visited Stirling Castle on 19th April.
They had a great tour guide who gave an outstanding presentation on its history.  In the King and Queens bedchamber there were also two guides dressed in traditional costume  who explained the beautiful heads in the ceiling as well as the seven tapestries. They explained that it took fourteen people to create of the Hunt of the Unicorn.  Some of the OiR Ayr History Group is shown below.  

Amy Kinnaird:  The weather for our History Group tour to Stirling Castle was dull and a bit drizzly for most of the day, although the sun did break through in short bursts in the afternoon. We had a full guided tour with an Historic Scotland guide, Stewart, who was excellent. The tour was scheduled to last one hour, but such was the interest we were with him for at least an hour and a half.  Stewart gave us lots of information relating to historical dates, and we tried to absorb every detail. This tour took in the outer areas of Stirling Castle for example, the Guardroom Square, the Outer and Inner Closes and the outer walls with the Battery cannons.  In our own time, we also toured the Great Hall, the Stirling Heads Gallery, the Chapel Royal, the Tapestry Exhibition and the Royal Palace. 

Stirling Castle is truly the jewel in Scotland’s Crown;  so much of the events in our country’s history is contained within its walls.  Its location, on the volcanic outcrop high above the Forth Valley, has clearly made it the Gateway to the Highlands for more than a thousand years. 

The inner man/woman was also catered for as we enjoyed a welcome coffee in the Unicorn Cafe on arrival, plus a light lunch before we boarded the coach at 3pm to return to Ayr.  As on previous occasions we had a coach from Bennett’s of Kilwinning  with our excellent, very helpful driver, Andy, who has been with us on other trips.  Thanks to Mick for organising our most enjoyable outing – photos attached. 

At the start off 2014 the History Group had an enjoyable 6 months with sessions on the Russian Revolution and the First World War.  There were guest lectures on Women and War and Glasgow Transport Museum.  In June 2014 we had two visits to Covenanters sites and to the Transport Museum.  When we returned in September 2014, after the summer break, we had a further guest lecture on Women and War and on Poor Houses in Ayrshire before finishing with the Russian Revolution, looking at the Middle East since 1916 and the Scottish Diaspora.  All OiR members are welcome.

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