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At the junction of the rivers Garnock and Irvine, just south of Kilwinning, sits the town of Irvine, a Royal Burgh since 1372. The town has a rich maritime heritage, which is why one of your first ports of call has to be the Harbourside which has recently been redeveloped and which features the Scottish Maritime Museum. SV (Sailing Vessel) Carrick, the oldest sailing clipper in the world, is one of the attractions. The museum has tried to preserve the heritage of a once busy port. Visitors can climb aboard puffers and tugs and enjoy the exhibitions in the main hall. irvine location map
In the exhibit '122 Montgomery Street', the museum has recreated the interior of a ground floor 'single end' of the period, showing the living conditions of the shipyard workers of the early 20th century. 

There are many other features to explore however, including the town's four golf courses and the Magnum Leisure Centre, one of the largest recreational complexes in Europe. 

Irvine has many links with Robert Burns, Scotland's National bard, who was born down the coast in Alloway village. Places to visit include 

  • Glasgow Vennel, where Burns lodged, - now fully restored, Glasgow Vennel recalls the days when Irvine was Glasgow's main seaport and goods were transported to the city by cart. 
  • The Vennel Museum is set in a cobbled street and housed in a restored 19th century building. The gallery has an active programme of exhibitions ranging from local groups to international artists. Also onsite is the thatched Heckling Shop where Robert Burns learned to dress flax. At No 4 is Burns' lodgings where visitors can see a reconstruction of the 18th century room where the Bard lived in Irvine.
  • The Irvine Burns Club Museum. Irvine Burns Club is the oldest, continuous club in the world and was founded in 1826. Among the museum's treasures is a collection of original Burns manuscripts prepared for the Kilmarnock Edition of his poems (1786). 

Mary Queen of Scots has a strong connection with the town. Seagate Castle which is believed to date from the 14th century, although the greater part of the castle was erected in the latter part of the 16th century by Hugh, the 3rd Earl of Eglinton, was visited by Mary in 1563. this connection is celebrated annually with the week long Marymass Festival in August. For further information on Mary, Queen of Scots, click HERE