memories of kirk close, by john mcgonigal,
we moved from glengarnock in 1939 to live at number 16 kirk close with my grandmother mary baxter, my mother maisie ( baxter ) mcgonigal and my sister may mcgonigal who was a year older than me, we lived there while my father benny mcgonigal was in the army, after the war we went back to glengarnock.
it was a very happy time of my childhood and i will try to describe kirk close. looking up from main street number 16 was the farthest house on the left hand side, the people who lived above us were david and kate littlejohn, working our way down towards main street, our next door neighbours were david and peter jack and their mother lizzie jack and her mother mrs nelson, above them lived hugh and betty crawford with their parents, in the last house willie and bertie king and their wee sister lived with their parents.
the houses were backed right onto the graveyard and stopped short of the church gate. then came the ' pen ' then anpther two houses, one accupied by a mrs sloan, then down to the coner at main street where jessie baird had her grocers shop and next door was the barbers shop owned by nisbet, whos son hamish was at school with me.
the ' pen ' which had a fully equipped joiners shop above it was a short-cut to the back doors of the properties on main street and all the children who llived there used to come and play in kirk close, i remember ross, jack and ronnie stevenson and the cattanach family ronald, harry, kenneth, john and the girls joanne and norma and also ann and billy barr, sadly billy who was my best pal died age 10 while on a sunday school trip to west kilbride, his granny old mrs barr lived in kirk close and we would get her messages and she would give us a jeely peice or a jacket tattie, it was a grreat treat.
on the other corner of kirk close and main street stood the volounteer arms inn which was owned by jimmy mccarroll and his brother in law terrence mcdermott. there was a side entrance in kirk close which was the family dept. and my granny baxter would send me there with a little bottle and two half crowns for a gill of whisky, next door to this was where jimmy and his wife mary lived, i used to go there with my granny when she and mary and her sister theresa were having a knitting b.
further up was the store / garage for the pub and above this was the british legion hall, my granny was the cleaner and i used to go with her. after that building the close opened out into a big space on the right-hand side and this is where the soldiers who were stationed at ryeside barracks parked their lorries, bren-gun carriers and tanks while they went to the canteen which was straight across from our house at number 16. it was a great adventure playground.
the next property on that side of kirk close was conn the painters yard who had a shop on main street, then it was a bakery who also had a shop on main street, the next property was a more modern two storey house which was quite posh i dont remember who lived there except a wee girl called laura slaven.
next to that was mcclymonts the butchers stables / workshop his shop was also on main street. after that there was some communal washhouses and then the army canteen, then a u shaped area with lock-ups called the port store.
the last house on the right hand side of kirk close was old mrs barr ( wee billy's granny ). above mrs barr lived john and helen gordon with their children jack and jean who married alex parker who played football for everton and scotland.