A NEW book by a Kilwinning author looking at the history of the rows of miners' cottages in Dalry and the people who lived there has just been published.

The old Carsehead and Peesweep rows - the 'Dalry Raws' as they were known - were located to the east of the town and were home to hundreds of miners’ families from 1848 until the last residents moved out in 1955.

The book - The Dalry Raws - has been researched by Marie Shevlin, who was born in Dalry and lived there for most her her life.

In addition to writing about the history of mining and the conditions in the ‘raws’, Marie managed to interview a good number of former residents of the cottages, capturing their memories of their daily lives.

Irvine Times: Author Marie ShelvinAuthor Marie Shelvin (Image: Carn Publishing)

She told the Herald: "I had always known that my maternal grandfather had been a miner when he was young but through researching my family tree I discovered that nearly all of my male ancestors in Dalry had been miners and nearly all of the women had married miners. They mostly stayed in the Peesweep Raws.

"This was a revelation to me and I wanted to find out more about my ancestors’ lives when Dalry was a bustling centre of heavy industry.

"The workers lived in the most basic houses, owned by the mine owners, who refused to spend money on providing basic amenities such as indoor running water.

"I have brought together information from family history sources, maps, websites and publications but what really brings the raws to life are the oral histories of 13 local people who shared their memories with me of living in Carsehead and Peesweep raws when they were children.

"Despite the lack of facilities, they all have happy memories of life in the raws.

Irvine Times: CarseheadCarsehead (Image: Carn Publishing)

"Two men who were miners in the last operating mine in Dalry have also told their stories and I have researched mining in Dalry parish.

"I am sure there are people living in Dalry today who are unaware of Dalry’s mining history and their ancestors’ role in it.

"I wrote this book to record and share a history in danger of being forgotten.

"The history of mining in other parts of Ayrshire and Scotland has been studied, however mining in Dalry has received little attention from researchers so I have tried to redress the balance with this book."

Nothing is left today of either the houses or the mines that were the reason they were built - but Marie's book ensures they have not been forgotten.

The pits were dangerous places to work, and the raws were roughly and hurriedly built.

Facilities were basic, life could be a struggle - yet community spirit thrived beside overcrowding and hardship.

As well as being of interest to Dalry residents, those with an interest in the history of mining in Scotland and those whose ancestors worked in the mining industry are also sure to find it fascinating. 

What makes the book unique are the accounts by former residents who lived in the rows before they were cleared away, with Peesweep being replaced by council houses and Carsehead being returned to agricultural or industrial use.

Irvine Times: Carsehead awaiting demolitionCarsehead awaiting demolition (Image: Carn Publishing)

Marie was born and lived for most of her life in Dalry, but now lives in Kilwinning with her partner, Douglas.

She was educated at St Palladius Primary School, St Michael’s Academy and Glasgow University (where she studied chemistry and psychology) before becoming a careers officer.

She later retrained at Craigie College/Strathclyde University as a primary teacher and had a varied career working in primary schools and pre-5 centres, often with children with additional support needs, and social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties.

She also worked for a while at Renfrewshire Council's education headquarters.

She has two sons and three grandsons.

When Marie retired, her interest in genealogy expanded from her Irish ancestors to include the industrial history of Dalry, especially mining, since she discovered that most of her male ancestors had been miners.

Her other interests include playing with her grandsons, dancing, walking, gardening, studying French, Yoga and vegetarian cooking.      

The Dalry Raws is available from local outlets in Dalry - McInnes Newsagents and For the Love of Gifts - or direct from the publisher, Ayrshire-based Carn Publishing. 

It can also be ordered from online retailers.

It extends to 160 pages and is illustrated throughout with numerous maps and pictures.

The retail price is £15.