An old town in Ayrshire at the mouth of the river Irvine, and part of a late twentieth-century New Town complex. Bruce confirmed it a royal burgh in 1308. It was at one time used as a seaport for Glasgow, but about 1620 the harbout began to sily up, and the Glasgow merchants eventually developed Port-Glasgow in place of Irvine.
In 1781, when Burns was twenty-two, he became dissatisfied with his prospects as a farmer. For several years, he and Gilbert had taken some land from their father at Lochlea, and as a speculation of their own, grown flax on it. At that time, flax was a paying crop. The poet even won a prize of three pounds for his linseed growing, as a notice in the Glasgow Mercury for 16th-23rd January 1783, reveals. Apparently, it struck Burns that their profit margin could be increased if they could heckle it themselves for the spinners. Accordingly, Burns went to Irvine probably in the spring of 1781 to lerarn the trade. The experiment was an unfortunate one, lasting only about six months, during which time he was often plunged deeply in a gloom which was reflected in: 'Winter A Dirge' and 'Prayer Under the Pressre of Violent Anguish'.
Concern over his son's health brought William Burnes over to Irvine to see him.
The house in which he started this unpleasant work was in the Smiddy Bar, but its exact site is no longer know. The end of the experiment came with the New Year: 'My partner was a scoundrel of the first water, who made money by the mystery of thieving; and to finish the whole, while we were giving a welcome carousel to the new year, our shop burnt to ashes and left me, like a true poet , not worth a sixpence.'
The Scottish novelist John Galt was born in Irvine in 1779, in a house on the site of which the Bank of Scotland in High Street now stands.
The Burns statue in Irvine, the work of a sculptor who was himself a minor Scots poet, Pittendright MacGillivray, was unveiled on 18th July 1896 by the then Poet Laureate, Alfred Austin.