|Ailsa Craig Scrapbook||
This page contains articles sent in by fellow Ailsa Craig 'fans'. Reminiscences and stories to share with us. If you have any tales to tell, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be delighted to hear from you and to publish your fond memories and thoughts. Photographs are welcome too for the photo album page. If any of the material you have/send is factual and can be referenced it would be of great value to anyone visiting these pages to research the island - this information will be found on the page facts. All your contributions will be acknowledged but your contact details will not be shown unless you specifically ask that they should.
It was after receiving this
e/mail that I had the idea to create this page
- a big 'thank you' to Laura!
By e/mail 23 January 2001, Laura
I just wanted to thank you for your web page on the Ailsa Craig. My husband and I were visiting my family in Scotland in 1991 about a month before I became pregnant with our first child. My uncle drove us from Glasgow to Girvan to visit my great aunt (a fascinating old woman who had been a Kennedy nanny at the West Palm Beach Compound) and we became entranced by the Ailsa Craig. We named our daughter Ailsa. She is eight now and we anticipate the day that we can take her to see her namesake! Thanks, Laura.
The contributions are listed from most recently received - it's reassuring to know that my 'special rock' is your 'special rock' too!
sujo - Please note: All contributors contact details are treated
Whilst pleased to forward email enquiries to contributors, I will not pass contributor's addresses on without their express permission.
The Ailsa Craig is all things to all
people and I hope you enjoy the diversity represented by the contributors.
Any views expressed are theirs, not my own personally.
Your contribution here please!
Received by email from Jean Douglas, 10th May 2009
I came across your site quite by accident
while doing some research on the Ailsa Craig.
What a great site you have created! I loved reading all the stories and found them really informative.
I have a personal interest in the Ailsa Craig as my Great-grandfather's brother, Tom Douglas,was the lighthouse keeper there( I was told he was the 1st to light the Ailsa Craig- not sure of date but must have been late 1800s- early 1900s). He came from Campbeltown and was the son of William Douglas, General Merchant, who lived in Knockbay farm, Campbeltown. He drowned out there, apparently trying to warn some ships( ? during the war). Sadly his wife and daughter witnessed this.
His daughter, Isobel (Isa) Douglas, married a Canadian , Doug Porter, and they lived on a farm in Hamilton , Ontario. I would love to hear from anyone who my have heard of Tom Douglas as I've been unable to find anything recorded about his time there.
I know it's a long shot, but I'd also love to hear from the Porter family as we lost touch years ago.( They'd know me as Jean Kirk or Leitch). You never know, with their connection to the Ailsa Craig, they may come across your site! I have lived in Ayr for the past 12yrs and just love walking along the seafront and seeing the Craig . It is so special to me but, as yet. I've never made the trip over. It's on my wish list! Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Recieved from Thomas Dalley 10/09/07
Thank you for posting the Alisa Craig spot on the web. Very interesting.
I Googled the name only because the name come up in conversation today with friends and I realized I knew so very little about it. We always stop for breakfast in a quaint home/restaurant as we pass through the same named town in Ontario Canada (This would be on our way from Rochester, Michigan to Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada to visit relatives). It is a quaint little town, quite and beautiful. Originally found the name to be very romantic in tone, and had to stop. The name had since resonated in my mind.
The photos you posted, the stories told, and the facts shared are much appreciated. Thanks for taking the time to do this, your 'Brilliant Idea'. You have personalized for me, Elizibeth's Rock and Alisa Craig.
Sujo - so many things to many people - how wide the web. I've known about the existence of this Canadian town for quite a while but this is the first time that we've had a mention of it in the Scrapbook, so if there's anyone out there who knows more about the connection, please let us know. One can only assume that it was named by an expatriate who wanted to commemorate the real one - so many Scottish place names can be found all over the world. I don't know of any Elizabeth connected with the Craig, (In fact, if it's anyone's rock, it's surely mine!)
Received from George Graham by email 18/08/07
Received from Marilyn Mills 21/06/07 - a follow up to her original April 2007 email
Read Marilyn's story Ailsa Craig and me Marilyn Mills
I have since made contact with the new owner of Ailsa Craig and have written my story about Florence McClaren who built the house. Perhaps you would be interested in reading it so I have attached it for you.
Received from David Brind by email 02/06/07
Very interested to read the comments and look at the photos on your Ailsa site. Well done. I have been interested in Ailsa Craig for some years now. First saw Ailsa on my honeymoon back in July 1979 way out to sea from a high view point in Saltcoats. I had no idea what an obsession the rock was to become.
I have had art exhibitions based on Ailsa Craig at the McKechnie Institute in Girvan, The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. The Edward Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. The lighthouse museum in Fraserburgh and last year at the Barn Theatre in Smallhythe, Kent. A theatre that is now owned by the National Trust but set up by one Ailsa Geraldine Edith Craig, daughter of the great Shakespearian actress, Ellen Terry, back in 1947. Edward Gordon Craig was her son and they both took their names from seeing the rock. Famous in their own artistic fields, I have done much detective work to find out about their journey round the rock in 1883. They were accompanied by Sir Henry Irving and his stage manager, Bram Stoker who has written about their journey.
I worked for some years at the Barn Theatre as a scenic artist and set constructor, but only started to join up this story of a Theatre in Kent and its connection to Ailsa Craig relatively recently.
Meeting the wonderful Margaret McCance at the McKechnie in 1999 set a number of meetings and trips round Ailsa off. I have meet stone cutters, lighthouse men, a brilliant day with Mark McCrindle in the 'Glorious' sketching and getting Bernard Zonfirillo ( the rat catcher scientist) off the rock. I am in touch with two of Gordon Craigs grandaughters through the pursuit of finding out more about this enchanting place. I could write for ages.
Last Saturday I started another small oil painting tryptch of Ailsa. This must number amongst 150 works so far. I have the tomatoes growing in the garden. I have an Ailsa pond yacht on the wall in the bathroom and my wife and children think i'm nuts. This summer I hope to go round Ailsa with the Grandaughters of Gordon on
the Waverley if she's running. They are looking forward to it as much as I am. They have a feel for the history.
I have attached my original letter to Margaret McCance.
26th September 1994
Dear Mrs.McCance and Ian Mackenzie,
Thank you for sending the information leaflet on ‘ Ailsa Craig’. I am grateful to you.
As promised, I have some information regarding the naming of Edward Gordon Craig and his sister Edy. I have known part of this story for some time, but have investigated into more details recently.
In September 1883 Henry Irving and Ellen Terry were on a six week theatre tour ( working two weeks in Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh ) arriving in Glasgow on the 28th of August. During the weekend they were invited to go aboard Sir William Pearce’s luxury yacht, the ‘Lady Torfrida’. This yacht was built in the same year at the Fairfield shipyard in Govan. Henry Irving was a good friend of Sir William who had created a shipbuilding empire on the Clyde.
After their Saturday night performance in Glasgow on the 1st of September they all travelled down to Greenock where the party, consisting of Ellen Terry, Edith, Edward, Henry Irving and his tour manager Bram Stoker ( of Dracula fame ) were met at the station by Sir William and his son.
They all embarked on to a small trim boat that took them out to the ‘Lady Torfrida’. A hazardous journey on a very stormy night as chronicled by Bram Stoker in his book on Henry Irving in 1906.
Once aboard the yacht it was supper and to bed. At 8.00 a.m. Sunday morning they weighed anchor and sailed for Arran, having lunch in Wemyss bay. They sailed around Ailsa Craig in the early evening heading back to Greenock that night.
Seeing the rock was memorable and both Edward and Edy ( Ellen Terry’s children by the architect Edwin Goodwin) took the name up. Edward making it official in 1893 by deed poll. Edy used it as a stage name around 1895 and was known as Ailsa Craig.
Bernard Shaw writes of a performance in ‘The Saturday Review’:- "In ‘Bygones’ Miss Ailsa Craig succeeds in giving a tour of interest to the part of the ill-conditioned servant who knows the plot". By 1896 the name of Ailsa had been dropped for the stage, although her full name is recorded as Edith Ailsa Geraldine Craig.
She died on the 27th March 1947. One of her lasting achievements was to create the Barn Theatre and museum at Smallhythe, Kent, as a memorial to her mother who died at Smallhythe in 1929.
By good luck on his bike my father found employment at the museum and grounds just after the Second World War. He helped out as well at the nearby Priests house where Edy lived together with the writer Christopher St John and the painter Clare Atwood. He got to know them all and was there in the Priests house on the day that Edy sadly died.
It was to be some years later that I bumped into Anthony Thomas who had run the Barn Theatre since 1961. Talking to him on my first visit to the museum he immediately picked up on my interest in scene painting and Theatre Design and Dad’s past history. I have consequently worked on many summer productions at the Barn from 1974 to 1987.
I have always been interested in Ailsa Craig since seeing it for the first time on my honeymoon in Saltcoats in 1979. At the time I had no idea of its distant connection to a beautiful theatre that I had worked at or to the people that my father knew some 45 years ago.
My interest in Ailsa has grown over the years, going round the rock on steamers and fishing boats. I’ve spent days sketching and photographing this outcrop from shore and sea.
Now I am leading this interest into painting.
After spending one early morning sketching Ailsa from the Girvan shoreline and then walking into the McKechnie Institute and meeting you, showing such an obvious interest in the rock and knowing EGC- well, I found it amazing.
When I am up again I would dearly love to read the letters you have from Edward Gordon Craig if at all possible.
Thank you for such an interesting 10 minute conversation. I really look forward to meeting you again, but not so rushed next time.
I live in Stockport, Cheshire. I try and get up to see Ailsa when I can. It's never enough. To date, I have never set foot on Ailsa. That is a delight for the future.
Thanks. Must keep in touch.
Received from Marilyn Mills by email 12/04/07 (followed up 21/06/07)
My interest in Ailsa Craig is rather different to others. I live in Cape Town South Africa and for the last 26 years for some reason kept one of my children’s school books. It is a collection of poetry by Florence McLaren. Recently when I moved to a new suburb, Muizenberg in Cape Town, I again opened the book when unpacking and read the very first poem that I had forgotten about. There was a painting of a house where the author lived and to my astonishment, I now lived virtually opposite the house which is up on a hillside, but separated by a lagoon and several roads. The poem was written from the house, overlooking the sea and lagoon and far mountains in 1923. This house is named Ailsa Craig. The fact that I kept the book for so long when I had discarded all the other school books and the fact that I unknowing, had moved home so close to the author’s home where she wrote her wonderful poetry and stories, has prompted me to research her history. Finding the history of the island Ailsa Craig was rewarding and fascinating. Clearly Ailsa Craig was important to Florence and her husband as they named their beautiful stone house after it. The house today is still as it was in 1923 and I am trying to contact the current owners who seem to be away at present. If anyone has information about Florence McLaren I would truly appreciate receiving a response. My curiosity has truly been tweaked by this coincidence.
Best regards, Marilyn Mills
Received from Malcolm & Pat by email 24/02/07
sujo - I've often wondered if you can see the Ailsa Craig from the Isle of Man?
sujo - Not strictly "AC", but there is a connection with a letter from John Wilkins re this squadron being in this area.
Received from David M Burrowes by email 15/01/07 - History of 489 Torpedo Bomber Squadron RNZAF - based in UK during WW2
I would be grateful if you would publish this notice on your website
“Recently, I have completed a comprehensive history of the above Squadron in consultation with a team of 489 personnel, their families, and several researchers. It comprises approximately 300 pages of archival material, official and personal photographs, as well as reminisces by several 489 Squadron personnel. It will be ready for distribution in February 2007. There are a limited number of books being printed, with priority will be given to ex-489 Squadron personnel or their next-of-kin (at a cost of $NZ35 plus postage). They are invited to 489 Squadron Association Honorary Secretary, Jean Elliott, at email@example.com to request a copy“
take care -David
sujo - Hi Allison
Click to see the rest of Sandie's lovely old photographs
A series of emails received from Sandie Young 10/11 &17th July 2006
My mum has just bought the Living on the Craig DVD which she thoroughly enjoyed watching as there are photos on the DVD of her mother and father and my father so it brought back many happy memories for her.
My grandfather, and father were lighthouse keepers on the Craig in 1948. My mum and dad at that time were just 'courting' and we have some lovely old photos of them on the island.
Just thought I would let you know. I have also a daughter that I called Ailsa, just to keep it in the family.
Thanks for getting back to me. I have looked out a few photos from around 1948 from Ailsa Craig. My Grandparents, mum and dad (before they were married) and aunts and uncles are all in the photos, I don't really have any without people in them. My mum and dad are in the photos taken from the top of the Craig looking down to the lighthouse.
Hope they will be OK, you can pick the one you want to use (if any).
I watched the DVD again last night and find it really very interesting. I should have told you my Grandparents and parents names when I sent
over the photos to you. My Grandparents were Alex and Elizabeth MacLean. My mum - Flora MacLean and my father David Sinclair.
My Grandparents and my dad are in some of the photos on the DVD and seeing them made me very happy as they are sadly no longer with us.
I went onto your site yesterday to let my mum see some of the photos of the Craig and it brought back a lot of memories for her and seeing the
Lighthouse cottage that she used to live in when on the Craig. There are some really nice photos and some taken from different angles to what
we normally see.
sujo: thanks very much Sandie - great feeling from your photos. I agree the DVD is really terrific - everyone should rush out to buy it!
Received by email 05/07/06 from Ivan Gilbert
I am a Marine Electrician in New Zealand and have installed and connected many marine engines into vessels here. Over 30 years ago I connected an engine called an Ailsa Craig into a cruising yacht. I had never heard of the name before and I’m not sure how the owner came by the engine. But it is still going to my knowledge, Does anyone have information on where they were built? I was looking around the web and saw your site about the Island Ailsa Craig and wondered if you or one of your readers could supply me information about how the fog horn was operated and how long it has been there.
Your site has been interesting and a pleasure to read
sujo - Thanks for your email Ivan - I've come across the Ailsa Craig engine before. If you want information on it try following this link www.jerseyheritagetrust.org/sites/maritime/downloads/january03.pdf where you'll find research information on page 3. A search for 'Ailsa Craig boat engines' will bring up lot's more.
Received by email 1/03/06 from David Lowdon - Development Officer - Parks & Assets
sujo - this email delighted us and we were glad
to be involved with the project
- click the picture to read more and view photographs of the presentation.
Hi, I'm a Development Officer within the Landscape Section of South Ayrshire Council. I'm currently involved in a project with a group of the kids from Ballantrae Primary School. They are going to install a seat on the shorefront at Ballantrae, and are also going to install a 'viewfinder' information panel highlighting all the sites that can be seen from that location (eg. Ailsa Craig, Arran, the Mull of Kintyre, coast of Northern Ireland etc.). I am currently sketching the seascape for the panel, and I am writing some informative and historical text on Arran, Holy Isle, and Ailsa Craig. During my research on the internet, I came upon your website and couldn't help but notice the superb photograph of Ailsa Craig taken by Andy. I was wondering whether I could ask if Andy would give us his permission to use this photograph and include it onto the kids' viewfinder panel. The kids are very excited about this project and are wanting to put something in place, not only for the local community, but for all locals and visitors alike. The proposed installation site would ensure that Andy's picture would be seen and admired by many, many people visiting the area.
Best regards, David
Received by email 18/09/05 from Neil Stirling
sujo - Thanks Neil, glad you like one of our
photos best! Neil's favourite is also one of mine, it was taken by my
husband Andy and can be viewed in our 'Popular and Local Gallery' . All
our Ailsa Craig photographs are available as (un)/mounted prints in various
sizes and many are used to create our range of cards and mementoes. They
are also available under license for reproduction.
Received by email 19/04/05 from David Kett
The gifts I ordered arrived yesterday and I am very pleased with them. Thank you for your prompt attention to my order, and yes you guessed correctly - I am a fan ! My association with the "rock" is very much part of my life and you are welcome to add my story to your web site:
My mother was born and brought up within site of Ailsa Craig on a farm a few miles inland from Ayr before moving to Norfolk around 1930. I visited the Ayrshire coast as a child as we had relatives in Ayr and Troon and regularly had holidays on Arran. The highlight of the long drive from Norfolk was the first glimpse of the marvellous rock!
I left school, joined the Merchant Navy and married Janet in 1973. We had four children and as soon as they were old enough we returned to Arran for holidays, I talked of the rock so frequently that the children started calling me A.C. - and they still do ! In return I started adding a motif of the rock plus the initials AC to the back of envelopes whenever I mailed them. (Possible gift idea - An AC seal ? ! )
Having travelled the world for 11 years, I joined a ferry company in 1978 travelling from Felixstowe to the Continent. To my delight I was transferred to the Larne to Cairnryan route in 1996. During the past 9 years I have served as Captain on a passenger / freight ferry and have passed Ailsa Craig on almost 8000 occasions (We complete 7 crossings daily which amounts to 94 during my fortnight duty period ). When I awake and pull back the window blind Ailsa Craig indicates my day ahead. If the summit is covered in cloud its probably going to rain and if it's not visible its raining ! Occasionally ( not very often ! ) it appears in almost 3D with the sun highlighting the magnificent natural features.
I have recently read the Rev.R. Lawsons book Ailsa Craig published in 1888 ( highly recommended ) In the introduction it mentions the hill of Knockdolian in Colmonell parish resembling the rock in appearance and being called by sailors the false Craig. Ironically, when I first sailed on the Larne to Cairnryan route I was caught out by this on a couple of occasions during the first week.
I am probably retiring in the near future and what I shall miss most will be that marvellous sight when I open my blind each morning.
Received by email 06/03/05 from Ian Kennedy
I am a Kennedy with ancestry which goes back to Campsie and Gartmore in Stirlingshire, living now in England. My Ailsa Craig story is a sad one, one of my great great grandfathers drowned off the Ayrshire coast in 1878 and was washed ashore at Prestwick. According to reports from the boat he was last seen alive whilst passing Ailsa Craig. He was on a boat trip returning from Belfast to Glasgow on the steamship "Walrus". The story was reported in the Ayr Observer at the time. He was a master plumber in Glasgow and I haven't managed to find out yet whether he was buried locally or not. His name was John Paterson.
Would love to hear from any Kennedys from Glasgow or Stirlingshire doing family history or thinking of joining the Kennedy DNA genealogy project which I am a member of.
Received by email 06/02/05 from Gemma
Received by email 04/01/05 from Paul Gordon
Thanks - Paul Gordon
sujo: sorry Ailsa, I'm afraid I've not come across tales of AC witches .. perhaps someone else out there has?????
Received by email 11/12/04 from Ailsa Dyson
Hello, my name is ailsa, i was named after 'ailsa craig'. i'm 30 years old, and live in calgary, canada. i've always been facinated with the rock, and only recently looked her up. thank you for informing. i was told by someone years ago that the island use to be an ancient meeting ground for witches? can you please tell me if you know anything about that subject. thanks again!... ailsa dyson
Received by email 18/11/04 from Stevie Douglas
I have come across your wonderful site on the island, while I was doing some research on the place. The research I am doing is quite unique, you will either love it or hate it. My team and i are once the proper permission is sought, plan to go on the island overnight and do a paranormal investigation. The history of the island is unique and this is what attracted us in the first place.
We take all the latest technology and film it etc. Then we look into its unknown history if you like. A team then go and investigate it. We take along mediums as well as sceptics.
Here's a wee link to our website if you want to take a look. www.freewebs.com/aparanormal/
I have never been to the island although I have passed it on several occasion on boats going Ireland and driving by it in the car and it is always captivating.
Just thought I would let you know what we where doing. And once again good luck with your wonderful website. I will certainly be visiting again.
Received by email 09/10/04 from Pat Bender who sent us a lovely photograph of the Craig taken from above Dunure
I’m a distant Kennedy cousin from Ohio, USA – I just visited Maybole, Scotland in Sept. for the first time, to do genealogy, meet cousins, see Culzean, Dunure, Maybole, etc. I drove to Dally, went to the Collegiate Church cemetery where a Murray Cook did a wonderful job of a tourguide. I met Eleanor Jamieson at the Resource Center at Maybole, and David Killicoat. They are all wonderful people. I rented a car and drove to see Ailsa Craig from the highway on the way to Culzean Castle – next time I will have to take the boat out to it. I’ve been looking at your site for a while now, and have truly enjoyed the lovely photography of the craig! It is a natural wonder! I only got a few shots with a Kodak toss away camera, but one came out pretty well. I’ll attach and you can have a look at it. It shows the fields in foreground with only a ‘hint’ of the craig.
Thanks for your wonderful site, keep those wonderful images going!
Patricia A. Bender
On your web-page (Scrapbook) about Ailsa Craig, I stumbled across it tonight. I have lived in Scotland for most of my days (I am 30 years old on 5th October 2004). The other day I went to Arran with my girlfriend and a couple of pals (all resident in Glasgow).
Received by email 24/09/04 from Ailsa Kennington
I was in the library to day and by chance I just picked up a name book just to see if my name was in it which happens to be Ailsa and was surprised it was but was more surprised that the second name next to it was Craig and that happens to be my brothers name. Do not know were my mum and dad got that name from. I enjoyed you page.
Received by email 08/09/04 from Gary Corrigan
Received by email 21/01/04 from John Wilkins
Dear Susan (if I
may so address you):
My story starts many years ago. In early May 1942, on behalf of the RAF Ferry Command, I flew a Hudson aircraft from Gander in Newfoundland to the United Kingdom with Prestwick as my final destination. In doing so my flight path took me past the Mull of Kintyre and Ailsa Craig before following the coastline past Ayr and into Prestwick. It was my first glimpse of the home of the Rock - of the Curling Stones. In July of the same year, 1942, I was transferred to 5 (Coastal Command) Operational Training Unit as an instructor. This unit was based at RAF Station, Turnberry, in peacetime known as one of Britain's finest golf courses. It was (or is) located South of Ayr, next door to Culzean Castle and East North East of Ailsa Craig. For the next five months, Ailsa Craig presented a fine sight to our eyes on a daily basis, weather permitting.
A few personal items. I am a Canadian citizen and was a member of the RCAF during WWII. I was a flying instructor for a year in Canada before I was moved to the UK. In July 42 I was stationed in Turnberry for 5 months and then transferred to 489 RNZAF at Wick, Caithness, for 10 months. This was followed by a squadron move to Leuchars, Fife, where the airfield was located to all intents and purposes beside St. Andrews Golf Course. (I even spent a night in the Cross Keys! It wasn,t quite the same as the Savoy where I spent my honeymoon a few months earlier but both were pleasant experiences.
From 489 Squadron and Leuchars, I was moved to the Aircraft Torpedo Development Unit at Gosport with detachments at Weston-super-Mare and Crail, again in Fife, in November l943. A year later I was psted to the Empire Central Flying School at RAF Station, Hullavington. I returned to Canada in May l945 by sea but was almost immediately returned to the UK on the Ile de France, disembarking in the upper Clyde after passing Ailsa Craig enroute.
My workplace was at Air Ministry in London on the Kingsway. I returned to Canada in November 1945 on the Queen Elizabeth. I was accepted for a permanent commission in the RCAF and except for a four-year term at a NATO Headquarters (4 ATAF in Trier and later in Ramstein) I spent the rest of my service career in Canada. On retirement in 1966, I moved to Spain where my wife and I had earlier bought a property near the seaside town of Nerja - and that's another story.
We moved to New Zealand in 2000 to be close to one of our daughters in our later years and it was here that I began to use the PC and to search for items of my earlier years and on searching for Culzean Castle (castles in Spain, Italy and Scotland are included in my hobby of Castles) that I found your site and your invitation to send you an account of my encounter with Ailsa Craig.
Thanks for your patience with my tale and if there is anything else I might help you with, please write.
Vaya con Dios
John W. Wilkins
Received by email 4/12/03 from Brian Stewart
Another submarine sailor (and proud Scot) has fond memories of Ailsa Craig. As Tony earlier posted, it was our way of knowing when we’d definitely be reaching deep water soon when we were leaving the Firth of Clyde and it was a welcome marker for our return. Its size and shape were unmistakable even to those of us without the charts.
Thankfully, we no longer need to use beautiful Dunoon as a port for submarines but I do miss the Cowal Games, fish and chips, and the friendly people who treated this Stewart quite well.
Thanks so much. Brian Stewart, Cape Cod, U.S.
Received by email 11/11/03 from Mike Farningham View Mike's photograph taken from above the Castle, looking down on the lighthouse
Thanks for your reply to my email. I'm not very good on the technical side but I'll try to send an attachment with this - you can let me know if it's successful. If not, I'll send a selection of hard copies by snailmail.
Best wishes - Mike Farningham
Received by email 30/10/03
I've just come across your Ailsa Craig site. I was a keeper on the Craig (1963/64) and have quite a few photographs of the lighthouse and the rock.
Unfortunately my skills with emails and attachments aren't too good but I'll see what I can do.
Thanks for a great site and best wishes - Mike Farningham
Received by email 28 January 2003 from Sandy Gunn
Regards - Sandy Gunn
Both Venona and Ailsa Craig were designed by noted naval architect A. Carey Smith, and both were built at City Island. The owner of Ailsa Craig, James Craig built the first diesel engine in America and the engine in Ailsa Craig lasted the life of the yacht. In 1936 and with advancing age James Craig (in his 70's) felt he could no longer keep the yacht up but did not want her to fall in disrepair with another owner. During that season he took Ailsa out off Eatons Neck in Long Island Sound, opened the pet cocks, stepped on another yacht, and let her sink ceremoniously and with dignity in the deep water there. Ironically Mr. Craig lived well into his nineties. I remember seeing a mention of his passing in a Yachting magazine some time in the 1950's. I wondered how many summers he would look out on the Sound and wish he still had the Ailsa Craig.
SUJO - In response to Tom's request, I forwarded his email to Gretchen, who will got in touch with Tom and sent this enthusiastic reply to me:
Received by email 17 January 2003 from Gretchen Craig Scott
Thank you ever so much for forwarding Tom Nye’s note to me. I just sent him an email. I can’t believe there is someone out there that knows almost as much about our Ailsa Craig as we do!! I envy you your view of the original Ailsa Craig.
Thanks again – immensely, Gretchen
SUJO - Do let us know if anything relevant to this site crops up - we'd love to share!
Received by email from Danny 13 January 2003
I have just purchased an ex fishing boat called The Ailsa Lady, I found your site when I typed in her name, I see that a lot of people have travelled over to the Craig on her and would be grateful if anyone reading this could forward me any pictures they have of the boat as I would like to find out as much as I can about her. My email is (SUJO - I will forward mail to Danny if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) I have also found a very interesting video About Ailsa Craig from 1991 which has some pictures of my boat and a lot of information about Ailsa Craig.
With thanks Danny.
SUJO - I'm sure there will be a lot of
people around who are acquainted with the Ailsa Lady. My husband, Andy for one!
He often tells the tale of travelling out to the Ailsa Craig in the late1960s on the wildest sea that ever existed. As I remember it, it goes something like this:
Although it was fine and calm in the Harbour, one of the local fishermen told him that he was crazy to go out there that day, but nothing daunted, off they set. No sooner was the Ailsa Lady past the end of the pier when Andy realised the truth in that fisherman's words. The boat would rise up on one side of a wave and come crashing down the other side. It was a nightmare journey. For reassurance, Andy asked 'Old Ginger' (a name often mentioned in local folklore) who was steering the boat, if he had ever been at sea in worse conditions, and he replied with his usual: "A thousand times, boy, a thousand times". By the time they got there, Andy had had more than enough and agreed with the lighthouse keeper that he was out of his mind to have come over that day. He was all set to spend the night on the Craig but was assured that the sea would be quite different on the way back to Girvan, as it indeed proved to be. But he will never forget that trip and never tire of telling the tale!
"Duncan fleech'd and Duncan pray'd
(Ha, ha, the wooing o't!),
Meg was deaf as Ailsa Craig
(Ha, ha, the wooing o't!)...."
Regards, Andy Baird
My mother, Ailsa, born 1915 of English parents claims she was named after a ship called Ailsa Craig which her father had seen while with the army in Iraq I think or possibly Burma. Does anyone have information about this ship please?
Received from Robert Bentley by email 11 August 2002
During the early years of the 20th. century
(1900- 1920) my grandfather, one Harry Bentley, was Quarry Agent for Ailsa Craig
stone & lived I believe in Ayr. My father, used to tell me of his holidays
spent on the rock & one of the somewhat, unpleasant pastimes was to nail
herrings to unused railway sleepers & push them out to sea & then watch the
Cormorants dive onto the sleepers not suspecting the nasty result !
My father so loved his connections that I suspect that his three sons all received Scots names . It is strange that his Great Grand daughter should have gone up to work in Gourock & eventually married a Scotsman . Now my Grandfather has two Great, Great, Great grand daughters living up in Scotland close to Ailsa .
I was delighted to find your page about Ailsa Craig. I have been there so often and it is a very special place for me. My father, now in his late eighties, was born in Dalrymple Street in Givan and moved to Derby during the war. He married and settled there but every year we went back to holiday either in Maybole, where his brother lived, or at Turnberry in the Toll (owned by his sister-in-law).
We always went over to the Craig, originally in one of the licensed fishing boats - often the Ailsa Lady - and once to take the lighthouse keepers across. I am now 54 and last 2 years ago took my partner over on one of the launches that now make the trip. Of course the lighthouse is now unmanned and the tearoom (where we used to post our postcards to have them stamped "Ailsa Craig" and then they came back to land on our boat!) is derelict. We sailed round the island and saw clouds of gannets diving for mackerel - what a sight!
I have many photos of Ailsa Craig and stories (my father has many, as you can imagine e.g the man who rowed from Girvan round the island one day) also of Girvan, Maybole and Turnberry. I also have various bits of information gleaned from books over the years.
I hope this is of interest to you.
Regards - Joan Given.
Received from Hugh OHanlon by email 1 May 2002
It is such an uncanny coincidence that I should happen across the pages dedicated to Ailsa Craig today which I believe is 21 years to the day since my first and only visit to the rock! I was amongst a group of students from Glasgow University on a day off from our studies whilst on a residential stay at cottages on the grounds of Culzean Castle.
We sailed from Girvan on an old fishing trawler to spend a day on the rock and climbed to the top to enjoy spectacular views in every direction and wondered at the story behind the building of the derelict castle which is halfway up the trail to the top! Does anyone know the history of the castle or was it built as a type of defence or lookout tower? Later in the day we
sat on the pebble beach by the lighthouse and cottages and lit a fire as we waited for the trawler to return. On our journey back we sailed round to view the bird colony on the cliffs at the other side of the rock. It was a marvellous afternoon and one that I still remember quite clearly after all of this time.
It is a truly special place and all the more satisfying to know that so many people have such an intriguing attachment to it!!!
It might interest you to know that the lighthouse cottages were purchased some two years ago. The intention was to renovate them and to offer as self catering accommodation to travellers, twitchers, spiritual retreatists and so on. However, the purchaser has since decided against this and the future of the cottages now seem quite uncertain.
Regards - Hugh OHanlon.
Received from Ailsa Campbell by email 23 March 2002 - Canada
Hi Susan. I found you site while trying to locate the Kay Bonspiel website, which is temporarily unavailable. I was born in Glenluce, Wigtownshire and have visited Ailsa Craig. I was home in February to visit my parents (I now live in Canada) and bought my husband a small curling stone as a souvenir which several of my friends - all curlers love, hence my search for that particular website. Since coming to Canada, and even living in England before emigrating, my name was a source of interest. Even now, I still answer to Elsa, often Alisa or whatever!! I'm not sure about being named after a volcanic rock but it could be worse. My mother's best friend's dog was called Ailsa and she used to tease me I was named after it.
Regards, Ailsa E. Campbell
Received from Roger and Ailsa Wells by email 23 March 2002 - USA
Roger and Ailsa Wells, Schenectady NY USA
Received from Adam Quinan by email 22 February 2002
While looking for pictures of Ailsa
Craig (due to the curling stone connection and the Olympics), I came across your
site. I currently live in Toronto but in 1976 I made the first of a number of
sailing cruises in my father's boat from the Isle of Man up the west coast of
Scotland and Northern Ireland. On this first trip we spent a night in Stranraer
before leaving with a good steady breeze aiming for Campbelltown. We had seen
Ailsa Craig and decided to go a little out of the direct route to sail round
Ailsa Craig. My father always referred to it as "the plum pudding" and as we
slowly got closer, we started to see many the details on shore and were able to
watch the gannets plummeting into the sea with their vertical dives. We sailed
close up the east shore before turning round the north end. It was a fascinating
site and we would like to have landed but we wanted to reach Cambelltown before
On subsequent trips to Scotland, we always saw Paddy's Milestone but never managed to sail so close to it again. It was always a familiar and welcoming seamark as we approached the Clyde and an indication that we had left our home waters of the Irish Sea.
Received from Tony Page by email 18 February 2002
Dear Susan, It was nice to come across your website on Ailsa Craig. I live in view of this spectacular Island and have visited it several times. On our first trip 1991 we landed via a fishing boat on a sunny September day. We climbed to the top then lay on the foreshore for a hour or 2. That evening I had to catch a flight from Glasgow to London, and only just made it- too laid back after the trip. Unusually, the plane flew right over Ailsa and it was framed against a fantastic sunset. Later that evening I became very itchy, and it turned out that I was covered in rat fleas. In 1991 HMS Gannet dropped tons of Warfarin Rat poison to kill off the introduced rat population and allow the Puffin colony to recover. As a result the Island was teeming with homeless fleas during that summer and my friends and I became the perfect hosts. Unfortunately the once impressive Puffin Colony still hasn't recovered and only a few pairs can be seen amongst the thousands of gannets. Last summer (2001) two friends and I Kayaked out to Ailsa from Lendalfoot, circumnavigated the Island, landed and climbed to the top before Kayaking back to Lendalfoot under a heavy swell and crosswind (22 miles +1100 foot climb). This is the real way to visit this spectacular Island, paddling around the Island amongst the diving gannets and shearwaters is a great experience. Last year I named my first born daughter after the Island and hope to Kayak around around Ailsa with Ailsa in a few years time. Hope you like the attached picture of the Southern Foghorn and cliffs.
|All then Best
Received from Tony by email 8 January 2002
"Ailsa Craig", a sailors maiden.
Well, Susan, in the early 1970's I enlisted in the United States Navy and found my way into the submarine service. In the first three years of my enlistment I was assigned to a nuclear submarine operating out of Holy Loch. I know that my paternal grandfather was from Scotland but where exactly, I have not pursued. Anyway, Ailsa has always been on my mind since those days primarily since the Island was the last reference point we took on our way out to sea and more importantly was our first greeting on our way back in. I imagine that island is a significant point of reference to many a sailor in the region."
Received from Daniel Keller by email 13 December 2001
Hi Susan, I found very interesting information on your page. The paragraph written by Nancy Grossman about the origin of the village of Elsah, Illinois is of particular interest to me. I am doing some genealogical research about some of my great-great-great grand father's brothers who emigrated from Alsace to Elsah, Illinois circa 1858/59. On her message to you Nancy explains that the village was named after Ailsa Craig which is the official theory in Elsah but this is something I would love to discuss further with Nancy because lots of the first settlers of the village - like my distant relatives - came from Alsace or were from German origin. The Region of Alsace is now part of France but in 1858/59 it was part of Germany and therefore was written Elsass or even more often Elsaß (ß is a double s in German) so there is a possibility that the name came not from Ailsa Craig at all but simply from Elsass, written the German way = Elsaß and mistranslated into Elsah by "non-German Americans" people who had never seen or heard of the German character ß.
During the 18th or 19th Century some people from Alsace also Emigrated to Russia where there is now a village called Elsass. In many parts of the USA and in particular near Elsah and St.Louis you have now also lots of towns or villages with German or Alsacien names so my theory might be valid too.
Also when Mr Semple bought the piece of land where Elsah was build, that place already had a name (Jersey Landing) and it was only changed to Elsah a few years after he bought it, at a time when the first settlers were already there (some of them - maybe even the majority of them - from Alsace or other parts of Germany). If Elsah had been named by Mr Semple after Eilsa Craig (as the official theory says) how is it then that he did not changed the name immediately when he bought the land (at which time he was the only guy there) ?
Do you have Nancy's email address ? By learning more about the documents she has at her disposal would help clarify this little mystery and maybe too she would have some useful information for me about the first settlers so I feel it is worth contacting her. Maybe Nancy would know of some very early maps or documents once owned by the Semple Family on which the printing or hand writing of the name Elsah could be checker in order to assess if it could have been the German name Elsaß misinterpreted. Finally I know that another of my Alsacian ancestor who settled to St.Louis in 1879 (after a short stay in Elsah with his cousins) made his Atlantic Ocean crossing from Glasgow to New York, so maybe the settlers from Alsace and the Semple family from Scotland had two different but complementary sentimental reasons to give the village his current name of Elsah!
I hope you'll be able
to help me get in touch with Nancy. Thanks in advance!
Kind regards, Daniel Keller
sujo- This was forwarded to Nancy, who responded as follows:
sujo - I hope both of you enjoy taking this discussion further!
By e/mail 25 November 2001, Bruce Allen
An experience that you might be interested in. It's sad but noteworthy and an experience that I'm not likely to ever forget. During WWII sometime in 1944 we were flying in an Anti-U-Boat Leigh Light Wellington about 3000 feet and some miles west of the Island when a U-Boat on the surface fired 3 torpedoes at a High Octane filled Tanker about to enter the Submarine Gates at the Firth of Clyde. The results were terrible as the tanker exploded in a mass of flame. We dived on the U-Boat but by the time we reached his location he had Crash Dived and no sign of him was to be found. I have since learned that he was tracked by a Naval Vessel from Campbeltown several days later and sunk.
Yours Truly - Bruce Allen Ex RCAF Sarnia On Canada.
I received an e/mail from a lady called Suzannah in October and I promised that I would add it to the site - sadly I have lost it, so if you come back to see us, please could you resend?
By e/mail 07 November 2001, Tai Stinson
sujo - Thanks for the kind thought Tai - but there must be of lot of interesting stories to tell out there! So come on and share them with us!
By e/mail 28 June 2001, Peter Tucker
I've just found your website and thought I'd email you my Ailsa Craig story.
As a 20 year old back in 1982, I took a year out of my university course and started a year's work with the Northern Lighthouse Board. Based in Edinburgh, they were (and still are), responsible for the running and maintainance of all Scottish lighthouses. The NLB hired me as a Relief Lighthousekeeper - to be sent from lighthouse to lighthouse to cover for sick or holidaying lighthouse keepers around the country as needed.
In February '82, I was flown out by helicopter from Turnberry lighthouse to do my two week training stint, at Ailsa Craig. I was sent to that particular lighthouse as it was still powered by paraffin - honestly! - which made it more complicated and fiddly to start and operate than most of the other lighthouses that I was likely to encounter. It was therefore a good place to start: any subsequent lighthouse that I visited would be easy in comparison!
I was fortunate to experience the life of a lighthouse keeper. I came in at the tail end of that occupation and the NLB lighthouses are now all automated.
I have a lot of memories and some photographs from my time at Ailsa Craig which I'll document/scan for you when I have some more time.
All the best for your website,
Kind regards, Pete.
By e/mail 24/25 June 2001, Ailsa Napier, Glasgow
sujo Response - Hi Ailsa. Thank you for taking the time to send me your information. I have to ask - is there some significance in your name? Have you researched this yourself because of your name? If you can provide information about the source of your research this to add to the value for anyone else doing research. If not, don't worry - I'll be delighted to add it to the Scrapbook! If there is anything else you would like to add please feel free to do so.
By e/mail 24 May 2001, Gretchen Craig Scott, USA Please see the response to this email from Tom Nye, 17 Jan 2003.
I happened on your site quite by accident - doing an Ailsa Craig search on Google. Why I didn't do this two years ago when I got the computer . . . .?
Have never been to Scotland. My Grandfather, James Craig, was born in Glasgow in 1865, and came to the United States with his parents as a baby.
He was an engineer; building engines for boats. In 1906 he had a boat built for himself, and put his own engine in it, and named her Ailsa Craig.
In 1907 and 1908, the Ailsa Craig won the New York to Bermuda Yacht Race. My Grandfather did not enter her in 1909. If the race was won by the same boat 3 years running, the cup would be retired. The cup was eventually renamed after my Grandfather, and is now contested for off of Southern California.
The Ailsa Craig lived on until 21 October 1936, when she was sunk in Long Island Sound. He was too old to sail anymore, and had seen too many boats become derelicts. My Grandfather did not want his beautiful boat to be mistreated. So with the help of The Army Corp of Engineers, she was taken out and sunk.
I have pictures of our Ailsa Craig, as well as the Chelsea Ship's Bell Clock and a bench that was on her deck. My Aunt did get the opportunity to sail around the original Ailsa Craig about 25 years ago, and we have pictures that she took.
Thanks for allowing me to tell my story.
Gretchen Craig Scott
By email 7 May 2001, Nancy Grossman, US
By e/mail 8 March 2001, Chris Forbes, South Australia
I spent nineteen years on my summer holidays at Lendalfoot, always dreaming that some day I might go to Ailsa, then my grandmother's brother came for a holiday he was 84 but his last wish was to go to Ailsa and take back to Alberta a piece of rock as he was a great curler. I was also a very good long distance runner at the time so off we went he got his rock and I ran to the top drank a bottle of beer at the top and ran down again within the hour. This was in 1952 that was my hour of fame, what a view its still in my head after all these years, I live in South Australia now and come back to bonnie Scotland every night. I can even see the fish pond I built in my mothers old house in Rutherglen 50 years ago with the aerial view, I get a lump in my throat sometimes when I see some of the places I used to go to when I was a lad, what a wonderful world we live in.
Keep up the good work, regards Chris Forbes.
By e/mail 6 March 2001, Margaret Davidowski, USA
Hello Susan, I
was browsing around the internet and came across your site.
The photograph of Ailsa Craig is beautiful. I am originally from Troon and
know Ailsa Craig well. I have seen a few photo's of it but your's is the
Thank you for sharing it with us.
Margaret Davidowski - USA
Now, why don't you tell us why this page interested you? - we'd love to hear from you - SUJO
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