The Ayr Carnegie Library
An old friend, who still lives in the Honest Town*, inquired at the local library about the availability of my recently published book, Medville Matters.
They checked it out, and soon had it on their shelves (note the library tag).
This is a matter of particular pleasure to me, as I frequented this splendid building in my teen years, when I was at the local Academy.
As this photo proves.
Ayr is a long-established town, having been granted a Royal Charter (a licence to charge tolls and such like) by William the Lion, King of Scots, over 800 years ago.
Yes, my North American friends, at the beginning of the 13th Century, although there is now some confusion as to whether the year was 1202 or 1205.
But, regardless, this was almost 300 years before Mr Columbus set off to accidentally ‘discover’ your part of the world!
Although Ayr had a Library Society as early as 1762, it was not until 1890 that the building of the current library was commissioned.
Its construction was made possible by a gift of £10,000** from Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish philanthropist, who made his fortune in the USA steel industry.
The large stained glass window is an original feature of the 1893 building, and can be seen in the library’s stairwell.
The Latin inscription encircling the shield in the central pane reads ‘Sigillum Regalis Burgi de Ayr 1202’, the Royal Seal of the Burgh of Ayr, 1202.
In the centre is the royal castle of Ayr, of which nothing now survives.
On the right is a platter holding the head of St John the Baptist – the patron saint of Ayr.
On the left is the holy lamb associated with St John.
I want to offer my special thanks to the staff of Carnegie Library Ayr (shown above!) for their kindness in allowing me to share the attached photographs, as well as for providing much of the above information.
Their responses to my questions have been prompt and detailed, with nothing being too much trouble for them.
The other photographs, as attributed, are provided by my friend Margaret Muir, former wife of Allan, now sadly gone, who was Best Man at my wedding.
For myself, the presence of my book here is a powerful link to those formative years.
* Robert Burns’ (shown above in a bust in the library) says, in his magnificent poem Tam ‘o Shanter,
‘Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a town surpasses, For honest men and bonnie lasses’
** The equivalent, according to my admittedly shaky calculations, of around £2.5 million pounds today