Annual Report 2008

In response to the growing numbers attending the programme of talks the Kirkcudbright History Society chose the Parish Church Hall as the new venue for the 2007/8 programme. The winter session opened with an informative and wide-ranging talk entitled ‘Aspects of Tongland.’ The speaker Donald Henry wove a fascinating tableau of the contrast between the decline in the spiritual life of Tongland Parish and the rise of commercial activity over a period of eight hundred years. Founded in the middle of the twelfth century by Fergus, Lord of Galloway, Tongland Abbey was the focus of attention from the most powerful political and military figures in the land. Donald pointed out that its decline was best illustrated by the antics of its last abbot, Father Damian, who, in the presence of King James IV, attempted to fly to France from the ramparts of Stirling Castle. Unfortunately for his ego, but fortunately for his well-being, he landed in a midden and escaped with only a fractured thigh bone and put his failure down to the use of hen’s rather than hawk’s feathers. Just as the spiritual life was declining, however, Donald outlined the way in which many diverse commercial activities were springing up to continue Tongland’s prominent part in the region’s history. Dick Carter completed the evening’s talk by provided a more modern aspect of Tongland’s history through his well-researched talk on the evolution of the railway link to Kirkcudbright through Tongland.

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