(NB: If you're reading this on Facebook, the original post is from my blog) I visited Movilla Abbey today (shown here, click to enlarge) on my way through Newtownards. It was a lovely clear crisp morning, with a wee bit of snow on the ground, so with camera in hand I snapped a few photos. One discovery was of the gravestone of "John Saunders, late Provest of Newtown who departed this life the 20 day of 1704"- the gravestone a reddish colour and is built into the east wall of the abbey ruins. "Provost" is of course an old Scottish term for Mayor.
John Corry from Dumfriesshire (1638 - 1708) was also a Provost of Newtownards. And Sir Hugh Montgomery was of course the first Provost of Newtown. Walking back to car I came upon a gravestone with the inscription "Erected to the Memory of Robert McCredie of Ayrshire, Scotland, who departed this life March 31st 1848 aged 47 years"..
As these gravestones, and the recent information I posted here from Billy Kerr in Irvine demonstrates, the Ulster-Ayrshire connection is very strong. I was pleased to find this online recently, from 2003:
Friendship Charter between Irvine Valley Regeneration Partnership, Ayrshire and Newtownards:
We, the communities within the Irvine Valley Regeneration Partnership Area (Darvel, Newmilns & Greenholm, Galston, Moscow, Hurlford and Crookedholm), Ayrshire, Scotland, extend a hand of friendship to the towns and communities within Ards Borough Council, Northern Ireland. Our aim is to foster and develop mutual understanding and respect between the people of the Irvine Valley and Newtownards and to improve the economic development of the towns and villages by the promotion of tourism. We will communicate and exchange visits with each other, thereby developing human and cultural relations and establishing a firm foundation for future understanding respect and friendship between the people of The Irvine Valley and Newtownards.
It would be great to see the Councils on both sides of the water develop these links for the present day. John Saunders and John Corry, the old Provosts of Newtown, would definitely approve!