Poems of Kilbirnie and Glengarnock

Poems of Kilbirnie and Glengarnock

Dedicated to my Mother Catherine of Kilbirnie

Who would think that writing a book of poetry about
Kilbirnie and Glengarnock is hilarious.

The Kilbirnie Harp

If Kilbirnie were a harp with strings
I’d surely sweep a strain,
An everlasting melody
Which no man could restrain

I’d write a song of thanksgiving
Of peace and love and cheer
To bless the town with all its woes
Bring pleasure to their ears

I’d play the song on Knoxville road
And at the Walker Hall
I’d play it at the Labour club
While drunkards take their fall

I’d play the harp so silently
For those who hate the sound
To aid them out of hopelessness
To turn their lives around

I’d sweep a strain of sad refrain
At steel works passing by
I’d touch upon a melody
And older folks would cry

I’d play it softly at the match
While folks would cheer their team
And move along the park so long
To watch the Garnock stream

I’d play the harp across the tracks
As cyclists speed me by
I’d play and wait at graveyard’s gates
For mourners with their sighs

I’d play it at the Garnock’s heart
Right up at Jacob’s Well,
where no one goes to see it flow
Or care to even tell

I’d play a tune right at the school
The Children would be pleased
I’d pass the harp to little ones
To hold upon their knees

So to the town with all my sounds
And everlasting strains
I leave the harp right at the cross
For others who remain

To strain their sounds of happiness
And hope for all the town
To watch it grow with sadness no!
As an everlasting crown.


No longer glows the sky at night
Eerie orange from steel so bright
They still feel what they did was right
As I walk through a village called Glengarnock

The hills seem alive with mist and rain
Dead sheep killed for politics’ pain
Same with the old chemical rain
As I walk through a village called Glengarnock

The old warehouses moan and creak
While people sign on for another week
Everyone wants but no one will seek
As I walk through a village called Glengarnock

My Grandfather’s village where he walked those streets
Dreaming of people he would never meet
Even the ground has gone beneath his feet
As I walk through a village of Glengarnock

Those streets once full of the working men
With CCTV for the news at ten
Just in case you happen to go round the bend
As I walk through a village called Glengarnock

The powers that be, drive through every day
Closing their eyes to the things of dismay
Saying “Ah well tommorrow’s another day”
As I walk through a village of Glengarnock

Key tasks and spin as the place lies in gloom
While preachers predict that we are all doomed
A village once living which died so soon
As I walk through a village called Glengarnock


Come to my town dear spring,
With your cool short breeze
The budding  flowers in vale park
The leaves on Moorpark’s trees

Soft dew on graves you lay
On vale and Kersland sheep
Sun rises new each day
By Place the small fish leap

And with you bring the peace
Desired by all your sons
Of warmth and cheer and friendship
A community at one.

The Oak

If all who claimed to love someone
Came under one oak tree
The town would surely empty up
Walking towards the spree

Perhaps the public park’s too small
To hold nine thousand folk
Maybe the Golf course or at Place
There lies that sacred oak

Or in a field at Baillieston
With branches stretching high
Would crowds of folk bustle around
Show love with tearful eyes?

If Love brought down from empty shelves
Like books or DVDs
Was brought to act in people’s lives
What feelings there would be

 Main street perhaps with rose petals
Or colours from the blooms
People chatting at the cross
While bands played Tara Boom

If everyone said simply “thanks”
To neighbours, friends and foe
Or if per chance a pleasant smile
So Love may freely go

What if the morn brought questions like,
Who can I bless today?
How much a little town could change
And put her on her way.

 Imagine Tesco selling love
What sadness that would be
For surely that would mean a death
to sacred old oak trees


Last night I dreamt of Lilac trees,

Upon the Garnock Stream,

amid the thorns and briars thick

a purple colour beamed

I thought about the folk who came

and chanced upon this sight

perhaps ancestors, long since gone

left it burning bright

Perhaps a bird did carry it

from far and distant lands

or from a child´s hands it fell

and grew to proudly stand

Or from the Castle seeds did blow

across the glade and vine

to where the lovers meet in quiet

with bodies deep entwined


The Commercial Labour Club,
Main Street

Many men have sat before,
Drunk their beer and sung a song
And, departing, come no more
Wives at home have waited long

When the night was long and cold,
and the cows did see a storm,
They moved down to hedges old,
Men sat here in little swarms

As the gin and beer went round
some invited cards to play
When the storm passed so loud,
Each, departing, went his way

On the walls, pictures remain
Of those men who came and went
Big Jimmy, others, leaders stayed,
and some my mother said she “ken’t”

Ah! my friends, where did you go,
Left no trace of past for me
Not pale daffodils or woe
just memories, how things used to be.

The  Rowan Tree

In the shade of Grandpa’s house

There stood a Rowan Tree

Where my Brother tried to climb

With Rosalyn and me

Every day my Grandpa came

Admired towering boughs

While we as children playing there

Saw darkened twigs and crows

shadows hung upon his life

With towering darkened power

Yet we as children plain could see

They were withering every hour

Its leaves held back the sunshine light

Its branches stern with years

Sitting with his chair and pipe

It calmed away his fears

Yet we as children playing in sight

Saw only twigs and leaves

Revealing more of sky to us

Than he could ever see

 We pointed up at shafts of light

Throughout the darkened power

Whilst he preferred the shaded glade

To pass the wakened hour

We saw sun and endless days

Upon his chair he sat

Despite the passing years it stood

The tree was sound at heart

Place Castle

Early morn and summer dreams,
Guarding tales of all unseen
Falling, sinking, sad despair,
Old woman bent upon a stair

Just know I cannot love your frown
Guarding all who leave this town
Never have I met a place
Who feels so sad and far disgraced

Tell me not you love it dear
Centuries old with deepest fear
But when Kilbirnie’s in it’s sleep
You still appear so dim and bleak

Old Castle Crawford Guard the days
And stories old upon your face
Of tunnels deep beneath, they say
A land which has seen better days

The Mossend Mine

While walking near the  Mossend mine
I chanced upon a flower
I stopped and stared at beauty spent
and passed away the hour

Her leaves were yellow daffodils
where bees would pass the time
watching men go underground
While entering the mine

Her stem did sway with summer breeze
she slumbered on the brink
like a burdened miner walks
whilst thirsting for a drink.

Suddenly a voice I heard
transported back in time
young men with blackened faces walked
deep inside that mine

Awaking, flowers, buttercups
Blessed me on my way
Whilst haunting thoughts of distant past
I carried through my day.

So if a flower does call you back
to places, lands of yore,
dwell not in the realm of dreams
take only what is yours

Perhaps your flower is yet to come
in mountain, thoughts or clime
ne’er mind the times of centuries old
NOW  is your only time

River Garnock

Turn ye, turn ye hands of time
Like a clock about to chime
Running through a hundred towns
Claiming lives and rings and crowns

Giving life to work and mills
With your spout deep in the hills
Jacob´s Well I could not find
My Elders left no trace, no sign

Then in rage you burst your banks
People curse you, none give thanks
Wounded like an open knife
Knox´s Mill you still give life

The Grave of Lord and Lady Crawfurd

Friendly couple lie in stone
While kids walk past on mobile phones
Centuries old they mark their place
Beer cans, sweets, lie on their face

Now she feels the weight of time
Slowly tilted to one side
Too much love or too much wine?
For only one´s interred inside

Barony Kirk lies on their brow
They built the place, points at the clouds
Life, it comes and indeed does go
As they lie inside, their little row

Kilbirnie Loch

Stone age boats and sweetie wraps
Poisoned fish and old mine shafts
Factory buildings now collapsed
And you’re still here to tell us “aff”

Burst your banks and stop the trains
Entertainment for the “wains”
For once near you stood iron cranes
Houses, rows and tiny lanes

Fishing trips and walks to Beith,
Marshland, wellies, colder breeze
Freezing over, wobbly knees
Young men drown nobody sees

Steelwork slag dumped deep inside
Sweetheart secrets do confide
Joy riders drinkers out for a ride
Reflecting back their souls inside

For as we stare into your pool
As brown as beer or stained dyed wool
Reflecting back our wasted tears
And our wish for lasting years


The Churches of Kilbirnie

The Holy Church of God cannot, be found in brick nor stone
Nor enjoined to purchase man or sinfully disown.
Rather, The Church is Truth and Love which Man can choose to feel,
Loving daily neighbours, friends and showing God is real.

From oldest times our Churches stood, founded in acts of Love,
Yet now demand a bank account a suit and leather gloves
Built upon Faith principles where once the rightous stood
Without demands or politics from officers aloof.

Sentimental folks look back with tales of church pews full
Yet, where Love is not, remains a ritual, writ and rule
We are all born true faithful men to build up Love alone
But woe to man who mistakes this, for brick and crumbling stone

Tales of yore and missionaries reduce thought farther down
To human worship, personal, where egotism bounds
So when we see a man in pain with hunger and dismay
Go to church by helping him, instead of stone today.

Glengarnock Station

One thought I had of you today
As people crowded by
Of sending soldiers on there way
Till 1945

Mothers kissed and lover’s words
Then anxious notes you passed
Bringing news of hero’s deaths
Or home bound boys at last

Pavements wet with women’s tears
For boys, to welcome home
While others sat in darkened rooms
Both silent and alone

Then later in your ageing years
Cemented floors did bloom
With flowers, lovely colours bright
While mighty engines boomed

Then darkness came with Beeching’s words
Your branches they were slain
For all your older dearest friends
Were killed for London’s gain

Now you stand with empty home
No soldiers pass your way
A house lies derelict above
Where once a guardsman stayed

You carried folk to far off lands
To meet their boats and planes
Babies laughing, children coughed
Sheltering from smoggy rains

There’s few stand now in early morn
Upon your tired brow
Yet ne’r can match those wartime scenes
Of hundreds, cheering crowds.

Easter 2018

Gently rising over mountains and hills
the new April morning where birds gently shrill
new born lambs dance closely by mills
as Easter dawns in Kilbirnie

Sacred songs, worship, with words full of praise
in the Barony, chapel and places of faith
Children hunt eggs and voices are raised
as Easter dawns in Kilbirnie

Another ray shines, over those still asleep
shining in light, of spring from the glebe
A baby is born, little feet, mothers weep
as Easter dawns in Kilbirnie

Families do gather for dinner and wine
while others resent it and bitterly whine
cyclists ride bikes, on old railway lines
as Easter dawns in Kilbirnie

At the Grave of Mary Stewart Glass
(Kilbirnie Old Cemetery Lair: E1286)

Dwells there a shadow on your grave
A look that years impart?
Is there a thought of vanished hours
 a husband may come back?

A son from others shores returns?
A daughter from the way?
Waiting silently reposed
The passing of the days.

Now may your gaze be heavenward
Convictions deep and strong
Yielding Irish good luck charm
To all you chance upon


Your soul, upbourne on Ayrshire’s wings,
In brighter days will find
Life has a higher just reward
Than waiting for mankind.

So gaze no more on passing ways
To faces walking by
For we as strangers know your plight
With knowledge where you lie.

Strangers not, but family
With flowers to heal and save
A lonely soul long since forgotten
Blessed be your grave

Angel of Thanksgiving

Silent steps he takes by the loch,
Then, Like a blacksmith hitting an anvil
He declares thanks for provision,
Given through steel

With the gaze of an avenging Angel
He looks at the net upon his shoulder,
He declares thanks for his clothes
Given through the net factories

Rising, flying above the loch
His movement causes a ripple in the waters
Declaring gratitude for the schools
Built by the people to the town

His eyes burn like two black pieces of coal
Shining in the material darkness
And he remembers the mines
And all those who died in them

And at the forgotten war memorial
By the steel works, he ponders
And the names come alive for ever
Of a sacrifice for Love

Rising farther, he sees the old fever hospital
And the care given there
Giving thanks for the Home guard stations there in 1940

And then to us, the love we give each other
The warmth we spread daily to our family and friends
And he gives thanks.


My Grandmother

Standing at the window back,
Playing solitaire
Watching all the cars move by
Without a worldly care

No wifi box, nor mobile phone,
No longing in her eyes
A peaceful soul, that Love enfolds
Watching the day’s sunrise

A greeted smile, with teapot on
When e’er someone did call
Tales of yesterday were spun
Until the night did fall

And then arrived my grandpa home
“Came aff the 2 tae 10”
With dinner made she would persuade
Some chores before his bed

Just like the Queen of Hearts, she played
The cards she knew and dealt
We were appointed knaves and Jacks
And served her kingdom well

But woe the man who dared to say
Or challenge her kingdom
For with one stare or deathly glare
was banished e’er so soon


The Deck of Cards

If Glengarnock were a deck of cards
I’d chance to gaze at dawn
I’d draw a card for every street
My kin did live upon

Down by the loch I’d pick the cards
King, Queen, Jack and Ace
Remembering all the characters
Which built this little place

Then at the Longbar front I’d draw
The first card Queen of Hearts
Where the woman of all women lived
My clan’s matriarch

Next I’d draw the Ace of Spades
Right by the Hebron Hall
Where preaching never once did stop
Until the roof did fall

Then I’d walk a few streets more
Passed the Foundry Brass
I’d leave the King of Spades upright
Remembering James Moore Glass

On the site of Miner´s rows
I´d leave the Kings and Knaves
remembering all the work they did
which pushed them to their graves
Finally just at the school
I´d draw the Diamond Queen
remembering the wealth and power
this place has never seen
So if you chance to see a card
whilst carrying your wealthy load
remember first your ancestors
then those who built that road
The Nightingale
If Glengarnock were a nightingale
All day it’s song would sing
Around the houses, through the streets
Oh the joy that it would bring
It’s tiny feet upon the roofs
Of buildings, trees and lawns
Spreading joy on little wings
And chirping at the dawn
Songs of hope and thanksgiving
For all the good thats here
From Auchengree to Barkip farm
With eyes so crisp and clear
And by the station trees it sits
For all the passers by
None can silence joy and hope
As the bird soars in the sky
On the coldest winter morn
Or by the frozen burn
The bird will chirp its peace and love
At every waking turn
And on the happy days of spring
While children take to rest
The little bird at Longbar farm
Will nestle in its nest

Kilbirnie Walker Hall

(unfinished draft poem)

Billy Haleys Comets once sang here
Hifi Combo other years
Little Richard ´twas said was near
The dead building on Main Street

All my friends filled the place at Saturday Markets
My Gran and my Mama were there
Raffle tickets still there from the days of the dancing
A dead building and nobody cares

Glasgow´s great barrowlands had nothing on this
The place where my parents did steal their first kiss
Looking at it today, I´ll give it a miss
The dead building on Main street