STRANRAER, a royal and police burgh and seaport of Wigtownshire, Scotland. Pop. (1901), 6036. It is situated at the head of Loch Ryan, an arm of the North Channel (Irish Sea), 59 m. S.S.W. of Ayr by the Glasgow & South- Western railway, with a station in the town and at the harbour. It lies 39 m. E. by N. of Larne in Co. Antrim, Ireland, with which there is daily communication by mail steamer. Stranraer, originally called St John's Chapel, became a burgh of barony in 1596, and a royal burgh in 1617. In the centre of the town are the ruins of the castle of the 15th century, occupied for a time by John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, when he held the office of sheriff of Galloway (1682). The principal buildings within the parish are the old town hall, now used as a volunteer drill hall and armoury; the county buildings, containing the town hall and court house; the academy; reformatory and the Wigtownshire combination poorhouse. Dairy utensils and implements are made; there are several nurseries; brewing and milling are carried on, but the bulk of the trade is in farm and dairy produce. Pier and harbour accommodation has been extended and the shipping is brisk. The oyster beds, for which Loch Ryan was once noted, are not cultivated, but the fisheries (white fish and herrings) are still of some consequence. Three miles east of Stranraer is Lochinch, the residence of the earl of Stair, a modern structure in the Scots Baronial style. It stands in grounds 4000 acres in extent, which include the White and Black Lochs and the ruins of Castle Kennedy, finely situated on the isthmus between the lakes. This castle was erected in the reign of James VI. for the earls of Cassilis, and passed into the hands of the Stair family in the 17th century. It was struck by lightning in 1716 and burned down and never rebuilt. The estate is famous for its plantations and Dutch gardens, the pinetum containing the most representative collection of araucarias, deodars and other conifers in Europe. A mile south are the green mounds marking the site of the abbey of Saulseat, founded for Premonstratensian monks by Fergus, " king " of Galloway, early in the 12th century. It stood on the banks of a small loch and was known as the Monastery of the Green Lake from the mass of confervae with which the water was continually covered. Four miles west by north of Stranraer is situated Lochnaw Castle, the ancient seat of the Agnews, who were hereditary sheriffs of Galloway till 1747, when hereditable jurisdictions were abolished. The five-storied embattled tower in the centre dates from 1426, and the modern mansions from 1820. On the coast, 7^ m. south-west of Stranraer by rail, lies Portpatrick, formerly called Port Montgomerie. Owing to its proximity to Ireland (215 m. to Donaghadee), it was for more than 200 years a starting-point of the mail service between Great Britain and Ireland. In consequence, however, of the frequent violence of the southwesterly gales and other causes, the communication ceased in the middle of the 19th century, and the artificial harbour designed by John Rennie has gradually fallen into decay. The town is in repute as a holiday resort for its healthy climate and beautiful situation.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)