Old Dailly Church and Churchyard / Dailly Parish

Dailly Parish

Old Dailly Church and Churchyard

Old Dailly Church and Churchyard

Ruined church at Old Dailly.   Photograph: Mike Bailey

The parish of Dailly was in ancient times named Dalmaolkeran or Dalmakeran, the latter being an abbreviation.   Sometime between 1404 and 1490 the title of the parish was changed to Daly or Dailly and this too may be a simple abbreviation of the original title. 

The church of Dalmaolkeran, dedicated to St Michael, was granted by Duncan Macdouall of Carrick to the monks at the Monastery at Paisley and this was later confirmed by Alexander II in 1236.   The church was afterwards transferred from the monks of Paisley to the monks of Crossraguel by Robert I and later by Robert III by a charter in which the church is named “Ecclesia Sancti Michaelis de Dalmulkerane”. 

Since the revenues of this church were received by Crossraguel right up to the Reformation, they in turn provided a chaplain to serve at Dailly.   The revenue yielded by Dailly to Crossraguel has been recorded as 260 Merks per annum. 

The ruined church stands approximately due east and west and each of the two gales is surmounted by a belfry.   A cross formerly stood on the eastern belfry but this was knocked down during a storm circa 1806.   The western bell was used prior to the reformation for summoning people to worship and the eastern or “Sanctus Bell” was only used when more solemn services were conducted. 

Gateway and ruined church at Old Dailly.    Photograph: Mike Bailey

The now sealed burial vault of the Dalrymple Hamilton family of Bargany at the eastern end of the ruin is thought to contain the “Piscina” in which priests would wash their hands and rinse the chalice at the celebration of mass.


The roofed crypt attached to the northeast of the ruined church is the burial place of the Cathcarts of Killochan and the unroofed portion of the ruin is still used as the burial place of the Dalrymple Hamiltons of Bargany. A walled enclosure at the eastern end of the church contains the burial ground of the Boyds of Penkill and the Hughes-Onslow family.


It is likely that the pulpit was situated near the middle of the north wall after the Reformation. Within the ruins lie the two Charter or Sanctuary Stones referred to by Sir Walter Scott in his “Lord of The Isles”. These stones are known locally as the “Blue Stanes” and the larger of these in international ‘stone lifting circles’ is known as the “Big Blue”.

Worship was discontinued at Old Dailly in 1695 when a new church was built by William Hamilton, 3rd Lord Bargany, at Milncavish which later became New Dailly and is now known simply as Dailly to distinguish it form the ancient church of Old Dailly which was scheduled as an ancient monument in 1999.

Old Dailly churchyard contains several early grave slabs and one headstone inscribed in Latin.   Eight covenanters of the district are commemorated on two stones in the churchyard but only five are thought to be buried here and the self-explanatory inscription details the background of those who were put to death or survived the “Killing Times”.

Apart from the Dalrymple Hamiltons who are buried within the ruin, the latest internment in the churchyard took place in the 1960s.

It is likely that told Dailly Church was originally built on the site of an earlier Celtic chapel and though the first recorded date is given as 1236, the date of confirmation by Alexander II, there must have been an earlier building dating back to Duncan Macdouall who became the 1st Earl of Carrick in 1225 and it is reasonable to assume that he had granted the church at Dalmaolkeran to the monks at Paisley sometime prior to receiving his Earldom.

© David M Hunter FSA Scot., 2001

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